Tag Archives: St. Petersburg

Spring breaks in Florida

Spring breaks bring discoveries and surprises

By Emma Palova

St. Petersburg, FL- I’ve made many new discoveries this year during my annual writer’s break on the Gulf Coast. I spend some time in St. Pete’s with the family in a big blue house close to the beach on Tierra Verde.

The 5,600 square feet house had no furniture except for an old couch. The five bedrooms did have beds, most of them were queen or king size. And there were smart TVs. Big smart TVs. You sat on the floor to watch the TV.

The house had two flights of stairs, one of them was spiral, probably inspired by Salvador Dali. Sitting on the couch, you could watch from the top all those who were coming up a long bridge-like walkway. It took people forever to come to the only sitting area in the entire house.

St. Pete's beach
St. Pete’s beach

I was especially fond of the huge empty living room downstairs. It was more like a ballroom. I could easily imagine couples dancing down there deep below much like in the Disneyland haunted house. The professional wrestler Undertaker lived in the house at one time. So, goes the legend.

The reason we ended up in that upscale quarter without street lights instead of Daytona Beach were last-minute arrangements. The big houses that didn’t fill with reservations were cheaper and went fast like hot potatoes.

The renter hunk Rob didn’t realize that he advertised the wrong house.

“It’s not ready,” he said. “We’re fixing it up.”

Croissant & Co. in Venice
Croissant & Co. in Venice

“Don’t beat yourself up for that,” my daughter Emma said.

“The question is how much furniture will there be in the house,” Rob stated honestly.

Obviously, my daughter was looking for an adventure in St. Pete.

We had a backup plan if Rob didn’t come up with any furniture. We would split up our party and do necessary tasks. Emma and I planned to hit the local Goodwill to buy some beds. The other half would go and buy groceries.

We flew into Orlando already an hour late. On board the plane we demanded a free beer to make up for the lost hour. It was dark in an unknown city with yet a rental car to pick up.

Somehow, we made it St. Pete and knocked on Rob’s door around 11 p.m. But, first a couple of dogs came charging at us.

My writing station in St. Petersburg.
My writing station in St. Petersburg.

Rob was a fun character who made money on supplements before big box stores took over. Some really funky supplements remained in the kitchen cabinets. They looked very home-made with scribbling on them.

The kitchen even had plenty of utensils, and again it was very big more like a cafeteria. All seven of us could dance in there if we wanted to.

I like big things but everything in that blue house was enormous, even the Tupperware containers.

I don’t know if Rob was feeling guilty for our lodging or if he was just a nice guy.

Shooting pool outside.
Shooting pool outside.

“Hey, you can spend tomorrow at my other house,” he said. “It’s closer to the beach and the guests are not coming until later in the week.”

So, the search for the other house ensued after a breakfast standing up. The last time I ate my food standing up was as a student at cheap buffets in Brno, Czech Republic.

St. Pete, a city full of surprises, has a Gulf Blvd. and a W. Gulf Blvd.

Finally, we found it. It was much smaller, but it did have furniture. Moreover, it had a leftover box of low carb Ultra Michelob with only 95 calories per bottle.

“We earned it, we deserve it,” were shouts of joy.

We devoured the beer shooting pool outside. Then we grilled Johnsonville brats in the outdoors kitchen.

“You call that beer?” Rob laughed when we apologized. “I am from Wisconsin, that’s water.”

 

To be continued……

 

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Dali-St. Pete, Florida

Dali entrances in St. Petersburg’s enigmatic museum

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

St. Petersburg, March 12- On a misty Wednesday morning, we headed out from our base camp in Venice southwest Florida north on I-275 to St. Petersburg on Tampa Bay. Mom Ella feared crossing the Sunshine Skyway Bridge perched into the sky high above the bay.

The winds were only 25 mph, nothing to fear. The bridge closes to traffic when winds are over 45 mph.

St. Petersburg greeted us with a mix of sunshine and tropical rain like spring in the North. We parked on Beach Drive near the other big arts venue, the Museum of Fine Arts, ( MFA) in this fashionable city.

Museum of Fine Art in St. Peterburg
Museum of Fine Art in St. Peterburg

Since, it was lunch time, we walked the Beach Drive in search of the perfect joint.

We found one at Parkshore Grill. But, along the way, I peeked into some fashionable boutiques like Bella Moda.

The Parkshore reminded me of the decadent cafes in Prague and Brno, always full with old ladies drinking coffee. We sat next to a round table taken by a group of dames wearing print blouses.

Overall, the place buzzed with conversation and carefree laughter.

Our waiter Dakota fit the bill. He was entertaining and multilingual. We ordered small plates for $16 which consisted of Caesar salad, jumbo sautéed shrimp with angel hair pasta and a mini dessert.

In the tropics, no lunch is complete without a cocktail. The Pisco Margarita with reposado tequila and aloe nectar was smooth like the day. I watched the tropical rain whip the sidewalk with café umbrellas.

The enigma bubble of Dali Museum
The enigma bubble of Dali Museum

Après lunch, we cruised down First Avenue to Dali Boulevard.

This was my second visit to the Dali Museum located on the marina on the bay at One Dali Blvd. The three-story futuristic building, constructed in 2011, is just as striking as the artist. It was built in the shape of a rectangle with a glass bubble erupting out the backside facing the bay. The bubble made of triangular pieces of glass is known as the “enigma.”

A spiral staircase reminiscent of the DNA molecule and Dali’s obsession with spirals leads to the galleries on the third floor.

This time I took the audio tour rather than the docent-led tour to take in the impossible; that is Dali in all his greatness.

The second largest collection of Dali’s work after his homeland gallery in Figueres, Spain was made possible by his close Cleveland friends, Reynolds & Eleanor Morse.

America brought fame to Dali in 1936, when the Time magazine featured Dali on the cover. Dali and his wife Gala lived in the USA from 1940 to 1948 to escape German occupation.

A sculpture depicting Dali's overexaggerated mustache
A sculpture depicting Dali’s overexaggerated mustache

It is divided into his early work, anti-artist period, surrealism and nuclear mysticism.

The audio describes in-depth featured paintings mostly turning points in Dali’s career.

I was absolutely blown away by Dali’s double image paintings such as the “Slave Market with the Disappearing Bust of Voltaire” and “The Three Ages”, oil on canvas 1940.

His epic “Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea which at Twenty Meters Becomes the Portrait of Abraham Lincoln” is a prime example of double imagery. The title describes precisely the 121-pixel painting that at second look from a distance becomes a large head of Abraham Lincoln filling the entire canvas.

The Gala/Lincoln painting reminds me of the 3D pictures popular in the mid-90s. At first you only see the blocks, but staring deep into them will uncover a unique 3D scene. I loved these, I wish I had kept some of them.

My other fascination with Dali is his depiction of progression of time as in “The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory.” This painting has the famous melting watch. He was inspired by an oozing cheese melting on a hot day in his studio.

The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory with melting clocks
The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory with melting clocks

I often ponder the twisted clocks as I am sure Dali wanted us to do just that; ponder and contemplate over his paintings and images.

Like Einstein & Dali, I have my own fascination with time; not as it’s measured with devices, but its progression and evolution in space.

My major work, literary novel manuscript “Fire on Water” has been labeled by agents and critics as having no sequence in time or a juggled sense of time. The story moves between various episodes loosely connected, like Dali’s “Still Life-Fast Moving.” In the novel, just like in the painting, everything all of a sudden is thrown into action, only to be brought back to stillness.

I don’t know if that categorizes me as a surrealist writer that has skewed perception of time. As a writer, my goal is to connect the past, present and the future into one fluid movement. Along the way, the writing path winds, twists and bends as life itself.

In my stories, whether fiction or non-fiction, I attempt to fuse time in its different phases into one powerful elastic body of work.

Related links:

St. Petersburg chamber http://discoverdowntown.com

City of St. Petersburg http:// www.stpete.org

Museum of Fine Arts http://www.fine-arts.org

Parkshore Grill http://www.parkshoregrill.com

Dali Museum http://thedali.org

Copyright © 2014 story and photos by Emma Palova