Thursday, May 13, 2010

Pre-Cruise: Tampa’s Historic Ybor City, Day 2

A closer look yesterday confirmed that historic Ybor City has a bit of Key West-style architecture in the form of clapboard houses that have escaped the clutches of developers, but the main area is pure Spanish. Similar to New Orleans’ French Quarter (which is actually Spanish-inspired), the buildings along 9th Avenue feature second floor balcony-verandahs and many have similar iron grill work. The street lamps are gas light Victorian style.

Shopping along 9th Avenue and in Centro Ybor was a delight for Mel. There’s a cigar store every few yards, some with on site rollers to fill their humidors. A cup of Cuban coffee at Casa del Mojito perked me up mid-afternoon. Mel’s travel humidor is now filled and he looks forward to savoring his smokes in the cigar lounge on board Carnival Inspiration during the Malt Shop Memories Cruise.

After dinner we dropped in on the pre-cruise party at Gaspar’s Grotto—the shiny red Studebaker parked out front made it easy to find. With our Sixthman hosts on hand, a couple hundred of our fellow Malt Shop cruisers were having a great time dancing to 50s and 60s music and even sharpening their hula hoop skills. However, we skipped any additional late night “clubbing” in Ybor City—the area’s trendy nightclubs attract a younger crowd—and instead turned in early for a good night’s sleep. We’ll be heading to the Port of Tampa to board the Carnival Inspiration at about noon and hope you join us for the entire voyage as we share the exclusive shows and other Malt Shop Memories cruise activities on board and in port as we sail to Cozumel, Mexico.

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