Wednesday 6 April
Late check out, shuttle to Avis car hire to be met with some totally in customer focuses staff. First in line, have to wait over 5 minutes with no apology for two staff just walking out and ignoring me – not a good advert for the firm!
Get car and out with a SatNav that is playing up and despite me twice telling it we are in Florida continues to direct me thinking we are still in California.
Eventually it works and we head for Anna Maria Island, a long strip of not very high land, virtually totally built on but peaceful once you get past the initial traffic jams.
Our room is ground floor and unlike the Tahoe lodge has limited but sufficient kitchen equipment.
Drinks on the patio followed by a walk to the pier to watch the Pelicans dive bombing the fish, lots of youngsters wading in the water collecting shells, some of which still contain fish.
The restaurant at the end of the road is absolutely packed (and was every time we went past the rest of the week.) but is expensive.
I should have come in earlier from the patio as there are lots of midges or biting type insects around and I am well and truly bitten!
Dinner in, and copious amounts of American investigative TV watched before bed.
Thursday 7 April
Late wake up (just before 10!) and a leisurely day with food shopping and a general view of the area. The area is so peaceful, virtually no traffic and a lovely 25 mph speed limit which helps.
Another walk on the pier this evening but no diving Pelicans, shame I didn’t take the camera last night.
My back is covered with midge bites, they obviously like me and now they are starting to itch so it is just as well we bought the Eurax.
Friday 8 April
Another leisurely morning with a walk along the beach looking at some of the wonderful waterside houses and then out to find a book shop and a few other shops just to get more food.
The pier walk tonight was even better than last night with Pelicans flying around, a couple of dolphins swimming underneath us, seagulls fighting and young girls still looking for shells.
Saturday 9 April
A bit breezy and cooler today although understand that there was snow in the Isle of Man today!
Mel will be pleased as she has just got back from the Californian beaches.
Drive all along Anna Maria Island from north to south, over the bridge to Longboat key, off the other end to St Armand’s circle and over the bridge to Sarasota.
Along the way, passing many condos, small holiday lets and only a few individual houses. Nowhere to park in St Armand’s circle unfortunately.
We are going to the Botanical Gardens, an oasis right by the waterfront.
Different areas representing differing areas of the earth, bamboo area, desert area, rainforest area to name a few.
Strategically placed benches allowed us to sit and stare out to sea to watch the Pelicans diving, seabirds flying around and fish jumping, all in full view of us at the far end of the gardens, behind the wedding venue.
Youngsters were catered for as well with a good play area and a carp feeding area.
The adjacent house was included in the price but only the ground floor.
Apart from the wonderful marble floor and an exhibition of Cost Rican masks from Boruca there wasn’t a great amount to see in the house.
The masks were developed as long ago as the 16th C to frighten the Spanish invaders.
One of the hottest days today with temperatures hitting 100F in the car when we returned to it.
Very welcome A/C as we head inland to a local JC Penney for some retail therapy afterwards and back for dinner and a walk on the pier.
An enjoyable place to spend a few hours when the sun is out – so much to see.
Sunday 10 April
We didn’t use the car today, just stayed by the villa, did the washing and walked to and from the other side of the island before venturing out again onto the pier for sunset.
Monday 11 April
A drive to Bradenton for a walk along the waterfront watching the rail lifting bridge lowered to allow two work vehicles pass and returning for lunch at an ice cream parlour.
Drive out to a very empty Premium Outlets at nearby Ellenton but only a pair of shoes and a gift bought.
Back for a dinner and a walk on the pier. Over 3 miles walked in all today.
Tuesday 12 April
Knee not good overnight so an early wake up but do manage a walk towards the other pier stopping at a sheltered picnic site and returning.
Stop to watch the fish under the nearby bridge and a Manatee suddenly appears underneath and swims out to sea. Why was my camera lens on and the camera turned off? Missed a good picture.
A couple of the villa staff have recommended Captain Kathey’s boat as a good boat ride so off to try and find it but get lost as Sat Nav doesn’t recognise what I put in, we end up in Target at Bradenton for a few supplies before heading back, finding Captain Kathey’s this time.
Book a 2 hour boat ride tomorrow at 2pm although only because a local phoned her for me.
Wednesday 13 April
No Manatees this morning down by the bridge and no dolphins in the water either. Manage a paddle in the sea before lunch and off for our boat ride.
Location of boat ride a bit difficult to find, but it is behind Starfish restaurant.
On time, Captain Kathey, her dog and a mate arrive, disgorge the passengers from the previous tour settle us in and we are away.
No safety briefing for the 5 adults and two 7 year old girls who appear not to be offered life jackets although they were available for the previous tour which had children.
The other passengers are from Glasgow although some spoke with a Manchester accent. Away up the inlet underneath both Cortez and Manatee road bridges and off to Gilligan’s island where we get off.
A real desert island moment as it is completely uninhabited (except for the midges that is).
My days of rope swinging are over though.
Back on the boat we head for a sand bar where we are lucky to see a dolphin whilst Captain Kathey finds us a conch and a crab to see and some sand dollars to keep.
Off to the other side of the bay to see some of the boats moored around Bradenton Beach some of which were lived on and included one clearly cooking his dinner on a BBQ at the back of the boat.
Living on the boats is apparently a bit of a problem for the city.
Back over to a bird sanctuary where we see loads of Cormorants and a pink pelican.
Our two hour trip ($30 each) was soon over and we are back on dry land for a somewhat early dinner at Starfish, a very popular place right on the sea front with Pelicans for company.
Usual walk to the City Pier for another lovely sunset.
Thursday 14 April
Take free Bus to end of island to have a walk on Coquina Beach, quite busy, even on a weekday.
Quite popular is the parascending and the sailing just off the southern end of the island – maybe something for the future when we have better knees.
We will be back here tomorrow for a swim but have one back at the chalet first.
More walks on the pier tonight.
Friday 15 April
Drive out to Coquina Breakfast for our first breakfast out in Florida with a view to having a sit on the beach and a swim. Trust us to choose a day with cloud and dropped – to 75F – temperatures. did manage a quick swim though. Brrrr!
Walk to end of island, about a mile, disturbing some of the birds resting by the shoreline.
Walk around historic area and drive to Bradenton Beach area for a polo shirt.
Saturday 16 April
It’s Saturday so football on the TV before we have a brief walk & lunch before a Skype call to Sarah & Harry who were a bit jealous about where we were, 100 yds. to the beach.
Walk to Rod & Reel pier and a brief walk on the beach to the north of the island, then drive around some of the other roads with their lovely houses.
More midge bites.
Sunday 17 April
Another football morning, and a swim at Coquina Beach father a walk through a farmer’s type beach market selling mostly non food items including some interesting beach signs on Decking type wood.
Skype Flic & Gary – no news on selling Flic’s flat sadly although a couple of viewings recently.
Monday 18 April – Our last day. 😂
Try to hire a golf cart /buggy for a couple of hours but no joy, none available.
Proof of car insurance is also required anyway or we would have to hire without insurance.
Walk through church grounds instead to canal side for views of some wonderful canal-side properties followed by a walk on the pier with it’s planks of dedication, it is still windy.
Off to Bradenton for a bit of retail therapy for a specialist item and then back for a swim by the pool after watching an entertaining Stoke v Tottenham football match (0-4).
Dinner out at Olive Garden, our second meal out whilst in Anna Maria Island – eating in has saved us probably $50 a night.
Our last night, so last sunset at the pier.
Tuesday 19 April.
Last walk on pier with an appropriate flypast of Pelicans.
Say good bye to friendly staff at complex and off via I-4 to Celebration, for a walk around the lake and a lunch followed by a leisurely sit by the lake.
Very sorry to leave Anna Maria Island, possibly the nicest place in Florida and one we should certainly want to come back to, possibly in November but it is off home
Usual crowds at Orlando airport but security line exceptionally long, it taking us over 30 minutes to get through by which time they have dispensed with asking people to take iPads and computers out, “everything in your bags” was the cry – why is every airport different?
Plane not full at all which is why we were quoted over $850 for a upgrade to Club Class.
There were empty seats in Club, only half full in World Traveller Plus and a good number in World Traveller.
Unfortunately, some of the seats were occupied by children some of whom took it upon themselves to keep everyone awake with their crying and general noise.
Wednesday 20 April
Only about 90 minutes sleep was achieved last night which of course wasn’t good as we landed 30 minutes early and had over 7 hours to wait until we could drop our bags off. An awful breakfast, orange juice warm and croissant cold and hard.
We are now travelling back home wearing the chunky walking boots and thick jumpers we had on whilst in Lake Tahoe as we were up to the limit for our EasyJet flight home.
An ELO concert in London next.