The drive there was nowhere as crazy as people kept warning us it would be. We made it in record time with the only problem when we went to park.
I booked us a bay view suite with The Embassy Suites. Of the Hilton family, these are so far my favorite to stay at for two reasons.
1. Open Bar + Snacks from 5:30 to 7:30 at night
2. Very nice breakfast buffet with made-to-order omelets.
So, it was a no brainer when I was choosing the hotel I would go with this one. Well, we ran into a couple of problems and one was our very first experience with this specific Embassy Suites. You can only valet park at this location. They're downtown, so I didn't see this as a problem. We were going to have to pay for parking regardless and then we would just leave our car there. Except when we arrived at 11 am, four hours before our check in which I have done for many other events at hotels before and just waited to check in, they told us their lot was full and they weren't accepting cars until noon.
So no one at Embassy Suites thought to let people know that booked this hotel during a busy weekend for said event?
The valet quickly rattled off a place we could park for $4 cheaper, but we still had to wait for other people to unload their people and stuff at the hotel. We weren't the only ones put out by this and yes we saved money but when you spend that much for a hotel you don't expect things like that to happen.
One of the elevators on our side would not hold a floor number on the way up. Going down, it was fine but many people would get close to their floor and then all of a sudden if a light wasn't lit because they had all gone off, the elevator would start going down and they would have to start over.
Then that SAME elevator had dog poop or something smeared all over the floor when we got in to go down for breakfast at 8:30. We went to the other side to ride the elevator the rest of our stay.
All in all, we didn't really need to stay at a hotel because neither of us drank as much as we were expecting, but it definitely created a calming feel for the whole event even with the hotel having a few issues. I will say this is the first Embassy I've stayed at and had issues like this.
Now, onto the fun part of the weekend...the pics!!
The views around the area were FANTASTIC! I've only been to downtown Tampa a handful of times and if I was an out and about girl I might try to make it back there to explore more.
We got to our "spot" for the parade at noon. The parade started at 2:00. We were almost at the end of the parade, so we had three hours to waste. I spent the first half sitting...I would bring a chair or blanket next time. I made sure I had a scarf, hat, sunnies and booze. I was not thinking about not standing for the wait time. We did end up making some "friends" with the people we stood next to and that's how I ended up right up against the barricade with the bruises to prove it.
Anyway, during the three hours we had to wait and inevitable lulls we were entertained by pirates, police officers and random Budweiser trucks rolling through the parade route. Also food, like ginormous corn dogs, yum!
A lot of my pics had a lot of this.
We wanted to stay until at least float 50 passed us because we had people we knew in floats leading up to then. After that I didn't care when we left. I kind of had a goal to get at last a dozen beads and surpassed that by doubling it. Our only regret is not just hanging around for the parade to end when we were done getting beads. Even though we were toward the end, we still had to walk probably 10+ blocks to get to a place we could cross back to our hotel. My steps for Saturday were GREAT!!
Who knew Mario Lopez would be part of the Gasparilla parade?! I think he was one of the only people with security, but I'm sure he needs it. #crazyfans
The guy with the tits button walked up and flashed the girls next to me his button but they all shook their heads no. Good for them!! Then the guy on the phone?! I mean...really?
I had a good time, and got some beads for myself and to donate to my moms class but other than that it's not really my thing more than once. I mean, there were people there from out of state specifically for Gasparilla. Like how people vacation to Mardi Gras, it's the Tampa version. I just expected people to be from around the area, lol.
I'm glad I can say I've been once!
How was your weekend?
Linking up for weekending with B Loved Boston and Champagne and Suburbs.