A February 2002 trip
to Crystal Beach by Ally
Quote: During my relaxing and casual vacation in Crystal Beach (near Tampa and St. Petersburg), Florida, I could see why so many people retire there! Warm weather, nice people, casual atmosphere, low cost-of-living, what more could one ask for? From beaches to museums, I experienced the highlights and the local life.
Try the key lime pie here - yes, it's good!
Hotel | "Sutherland Crossing Resort"
Our house contained the standard things that a timeshare has, i.e. dishwasher, fully furnished, etc. There was one floor of living space, all upstairs, as the downstairs was simply the open carport. While the spaciousness was nice (one large master bedroom w/attached bathroom, one room w/a bunk bed, and another bedroom with two twin beds, and an unattached bathroom,living room with couch, 2 small T.V.s, dining table, fully furnished), not so wowing was the very outdated furnishings (from the 70's? early 80's). We had a beach themed interior, complete with pictures of shells, etched bird glass hanging, brown & tan colors. There were also a few scary artificial flower arrangements that I worried housed spiders and other things.
The bed linens were less than impressive. I usually get cold at night and these beds only came with sheets and a polyester cover. I know that FL is usually quite warm and humid, but I visited in early February and the temperature got down to the 40's-50's at night. There were a few raggedy yellow and brown blankets in the closet that I had to throw on top of me. Oh, and there was something weird with the mattress; I think there was some strange plastic covering on it (to keep it clean?) so that my sheets would slip off at night (and I really don't move much when I sleep). To ameliorate that, I ended up wrapping a blanket around the mattress and putting the fitted sheet around that.
One thing that I truly abhore is being "nickled and dimed," especially when I'm on vacation. Unfortunately, this place did, for things like garbage bags, dishwashing and laundry soap, tissue (hey! I only started off with a half-full box!), toilet paper (yep! they start you off with 2 crusty rolls for the week) etc. We went to the grocery store for extra TP of higher quality. Since my regular timeshare is in Palm Springs, Sutherland Crossing really didn't measure up. . . Since I''m on a roll with complaining, the biggest complaint I had was discovered when I was lying in my bed, reading a book. All of a sudden, I felt the house gently shake. EARTHQUAKE!!!! Is what I initially thought, being from California and especially sensitive to earth movement. It seriously made me want to run to the doorway! But no, Florida isn't known for that kind of action, so I investigated and found that it was just someone puttering around the kitchen. . . this shaking regularly woke me up when the earlybirds in the house were active.
Enough about the house. . . The timeshare area has a tennis court (doesn't look very used but it is well-maintained). Also has a pool with deck for sunning - convenient since there's no beach next to the water; just a pier that goes into the water, offering a nice view. Also available are a pool table (50 cents a game! Why bother charging?!), a tiny gym with outdated equipment, videos for borrowing (free), and a small cafe serving sandwiches and snacky foods. There are some activities offered, i.e. Sunday social for $1.50, nature walks, etc., but we were busy doing our own touring, which seemed much more exciting than what was offered.
Member Rating 1 out of 5 on February 26, 2002
Sutherland Crossing Condominium Association: Management Ofc
962 Sea View Circle
Crystal Beach, Florida 34681
Attraction | "Epcot"
The park contains Future World and the World Showcase. The former includes areas such as future communications (sponsored by AT&T and featuring interactive story-telling) and agriculture areas (where you can see veggies growing from hanging pots and automated watering). There are "rides" to explore how one tests cars for safety, the body, energy, exhibits of "the living sea", a parade (which includes a lot of nice colorful bugs, drums, and catchy music, but not much more), and fireworks show at night.
The World Showcase highlights the countries of Canada, Morocco (the first country to recognize the US as a country), France, Great Britain, Mexico, Germany, China, Japan, and a few others. Each country has a building with an exhibit, film, or ride about it's culture/history, a giftshop (of course), and an eatery where you can try out the authentic food. What is nice is that Epcot has people who are from that particular country working at the restaurant and giftshop.
Besides viewing each "country," we visited the Moroccan Restaurant Marrakesh for lunch, where we feasted on sweet chicken bastillas (my favorite! it's like a little chopped meat pie with a flaky crust topped with powder sugar), lamb kabobs, and cous cous, while watching a belly dancer and listening to live music. We also dined at the French Les Chefs de France for dinner. I sampled a nice french onion soup, and polished off a very tasty and tender canard with orange sauce. After our leisurely 7PM dinner, we went off to see the fireworks show. Epcot used to have a laser light show along with it, but that's been toned down, I guess. But fireworks are always a nice way to end a good night!
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 26, 2002
Walt Disney World Resort Epcot Theme Park
Regardless, the streets are lined with many bars (reminiscent of New Orlean's Bourbon Street, but with a lot less flair), a few restaurants and small shops - antiques, cigars, and second-hand stuff. Besides these, there is a new outdoor mall and theater, patronized by the students of the local community college.
With the recommendation from a guidebook, we dined at a wonderful restaurant that served Cuban sandwiches, delicious steak, and my favorite - fried sweet plaintains. Service was friendly, "natives" filled the restaurant, the bar area looked fully stocked and ready for weekend partiers, and the fish decor was quite amusing.
Although not quite as much the cultural corner of town we thought it would be, Little Havana is a neat area to stroll around for the afternoon, and experience the nightlife of Tampa Bay.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 27, 2002
Crystal Beach, Florida
Perhaps due to it's age, there has not been much expansion of this small park; one can see everything well within an hour. We stretched our visit to an hour. Local elementary classes are taken on outings and attend the plant/animal lectures that are offered here. We also saw a small tour group of older folks.
A path winds around the gardens, bringing you to beautiful tropical birds, flamingos, alligator, Royal Palms, fruit trees, flowers, a wishing well, and a large grass/lawn area that is used for small wedding ceremonies. Of course, there is also is a gift shop offering souvenirs and a snack counter for burgers and stuff. I can't really imagine anyone buying the food there though.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on February 27, 2002
1825 Fourth Street North
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704
New York City, Afghanistan