Nick and I set off for a road trip that would take us over 1500 miles, driving through 4 states (NC, SC, GA,FL), visiting 10 cities ..2 states (FL. And SC)..and 1 country (Nassau, Bahamas) in 10 days!
This was our first major trip since becoming a couple almost a year ago and only our second trip total since we have been together. As I have mentioned we are major heavy metal fans and consider ourselves, The Rocker Couple, so when we saw many of our favorite bands would be on a rock and roll cruise we knew we had to go. After months of planning, we were finally Florida bound this past February. We would spend a few days exploring Fort Lauderdale and Miami, have our 3 day cruise, and then spend a few days in the Tampa area with Nick’s family. We ended up extended our vacation an extra day so we could go to Spartanburg SC to see one of our favorite bands.
We left in the wee hours of the morning on February 23rd for our big adventure and 700 miles headed to Ft. Lauderdale Fl. After an exhausting 12 hour drive we arrived at our hotel mid afternoon. We quickly checked into the Sheraton Airport and crashed out and took a much need extended nap. The hotel grounds were beautiful and the room was nice, but not quite I expect from a Sheraton.
The only thing we did after waking from our nap was head for the Hard Rock Casino Plaza. In addition to the Hard Rock Cafe..casino..and live venue, they have several other restaurants and boutiques. We had a dinner at Johnny Rockets restaurant. Then Nick headed for the poker room while I just walked around and took photos.
The next morning we would venture out to the stunning 1916 winter home of John Deering. Vizcaya is a stunning example of the homes the umber wealthy built during the gilded age. The mansions and gardens are open to the public and are a must see in the Coral Gables area.
After strolling around the mansion, we were starving. This area is lacking for fast food and we were about to give up and go into a store and get cheese and crackers when we spotted, KB Burgers. These burgers are thick, delish, and much better than fast food burgers.
After getting some much needed food in our tummies, we next headed to the Key Biscayne state park to climb the Key Biscayne Lighthouse. I managed to convince Nick, who is not a fan of heights, to climb the 119 steps to the top for some unparallel views.
After that adventure, we headed towards the airport to pick up our roommate John from Ohio. Our roomie Paul from Tennessee was already waiting for us at the hotel. The cruise included a pre cruise party for us at Exit 66 Nightclub. This massive nightclub even has a pool! The party featured the Van Halen tribute band, Atomic Punks, and 80’s metal band Kix. Several of the bands on the cruise would also be at the party giving us meet and greet opportunities.
The next morning we would wake up and head for the Ft. Lauderdale port for our cruise adventure. After passing several real cruise ships, including the Oasis of the Seas, we boarded our ship the MSC, Poisea. Having been on several of the major cruise lines, I really was not impressed with this ship and certainly not impressed with the company that chartered the cruise, but since it was a charter we didn’t have much of a choice. We were here for the Monsters of Rock cruise which featured a number of 80’s hair bands. It was 3 days of fun, concerts, and partying. And we are already booked for 2013.
When we arose the next morning, we were already in the fun and funky city of Key West Fl. Since the idiots who organized the cruise decided to do a meet and great while we were in port, we had to cut our day short. But we did manage to have our picture taken at the Southern Most Point. We got to walk around and enjoy this fun island. While here, we climbed the 60 stairs to the top of the Key West Lighthouse for some amazing views and finally got a full picture of our cruise ship. And we had lunch at my favorite restaurant, The Hard Rock Key West.
The next morning we woke up and went to breakfast while the ship was pulling into port and when I got to the dining room, I was greeted with an incredible lighthouse!!! I knew I would have a good day. We disembarked the ship and ventured into the capital city of the Bahams..Nassau. We decided to take a taxi tour of the island and had 2 hours enjoying this lovely island including about 45 minutes enjoying the scrumptious Atlantis resort and casino.
Upon returning we stopped into a bar so Nick could get a Bahamian beer and I could get a label for my collection. Then we headed for my choice of activity, the beautiful Ardastra Gardens..home of the world famous marching flamingos. Yours truly even got to participate in the show.
Once we returned from our rockin’ cruise, we headed to Tampa to visit Nick’s family for a few days. On the way we stopped at Florida Southern College. The college has the distention of having the largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright buildings in one place.
Before we headed to Tampa we stopped and visited with a friend of mine for a while. We all went out to Jimbos for some amazing BBQ ribs.
The next morning before keeping our afternoon appointment, we stopped into the Manatee Viewing Station. While we didn’t spot any manatees, we did see some pretty amazing sights and lovely gardens.
One of my favorite activities is Segway tours. Anytime there is one in town, I have to take it. Nick and I took a ride with the Magic Carpet Glide Segway tours of Tampa. The bonus was I got Nick to take his first ride and now he likes them too!
That night Nick and I would join his parents at the Sunset Lounge and Tiki Bar. Since it was Wednesday..it was Whacky Burger Wednesday. Everyone else took advantage of that but I had enough of burgers on my cruise so I opted for salad instead.
Our last day in Florida would take us to the lovely and historic, Ybor City. We had a scrumptious meal at Acropolis Greek Restaurant and even got a bit of a show before we left. Filled up and happy, we strolled thought the streets and stepped in at several bars before our destination of the night, the Orpheum where we would see one of our favorite bands. We had just seen Faster Pussycat several times on the cruise. But we love these guys and I have a huge crush on lead singer Taime Down and the bass player for the band, Danny, is a good friend of ours. The bonus was we seen quite a few people that we had seen on the cruise and got to hang out with them again.
Then came time to leave the Sunshine State and head back home. Before we left we had to have some lunch, so we headed to the Tampa Hard Rock Café and Casino. Nick and I had a great lunch at the Hard Rock Café and then he went and played Blackjack while I once again went and took pictures.
We decided to stop along the FL/GA border to get dinner and I asked Nick if Jacksonville would be OK. Using one of my new favorite apps, I located a restaurant that had been frequented by one of my favorite TV personalities, Guy Ferrier on Dinners, Drive Ins, and Dives. I had wanted to try a Tapas restaurant, and luckily I would be able to try one here and it was quite delightful. 13 Gypsies was to die for.
With just one more day on our vacation, we would once again spent it at a concert. This time we would see Faster Pussycat at Bailey’s Sports Bar in Spartanburg SC. Despite all the technical problems, the show was awesome as always. Nick and I always enjoy a meal out before a show so this time we stopped at my choice some good ole BBQ. As soon as we turned off the exit and stop for gas we see the sign for Southern BBQ. We had plenty of time before the show so we went in and much to surprise this BBQ restaurant in SC would several Lexington NC style BBQ. Which is my favorite and I walked away full and quite happy.