Saturday, May 24, 2008

15th Street Fisheries

Today we rode south just a bit and had lunch at the 15th Street Fisheries at Lauderdale Marina. It is an old established eatery located right on the Intracoastal Waterway. They have a website with their menus, check it out.

People arrive by boat, personal water craft, and water taxi as well as cars and two wheels. We took a picture of someone’s Kymco scooter, brand new, nice silver one, with a case on the back that had a sticker saying Tow Away US so we think it probably belonged to one of the guys that worked for one of the many towing companies that park at the marina. We saw about a half dozen tow boats hanging around, guess they are waiting for someone to need their services.

Along with great food you can watch the boat traffic on the waterway, admire the mansions and the happenings at the marina.

The restaurant is quite large and has several unique areas. We ate at one of the outdoor patios. It has glass squares in the flooring so one can watch the fish swim under your feet. Pretty neat! And a wide open view of the Intracoastal waterway and the 17th Street Causeway bridge.

There are upstairs dining rooms that are more formal with great views of the Intracoastal. And a downstairs dining room as well as another outside patio dining area on the other side of the restaurant.

We started with an order of oysters on the half shell and have to say that they were some of the best we have had this season. Then we had grilled shrimp and lobster kabobs with small whole mushrooms, cherry tomatoes and pineapple pieces served over rice. Very tasty. Then we could not resist a chocolate torte for dessert. We are sure that we left there several pounds heavier, fortunately our Vespa 150’s had no trouble hauling us home.

Just outside the front entrance is a small fish pond with beautiful Japanese Koi fish. Some of them are quite large and so very colorful. We took a few photos of them.

This weekend we have a nice long 3 days so hopefully we can get some riding in. The weather is not too great in the afternoons so we try to ride in the mornings. Today we were lucky in that we got home right before 4PM and the bottom dropped out with thunder and lightening at 4. Talk about good timing.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

First Dip of the Year

Wednesday of this past week we took off work early and went to the beach. It was our first dip of the season. We are wimps and wait for the water to warm up. It is rare that we make it into the ocean before May so we are pretty much on schedule. Also the summer months are wonderful at the beach as the snow birds are gone and there is plenty of sun, sand and surf for us regulars. It was absolutely perfect Wednesday. The tide was out so that meant that along the shore the shallow water was quite warm. One could walk way out into the ocean and still not have the water over your head. And the sun was nice and warm without being brutal. One of those days when we say to ourselves, “This is why we live in Florida”.

One of the fun things Wednesday was to watch the large pelican birds dive for fish. They are so beautiful and look like bomber planes zeroing in on a target. There must have been a lot of little fish swimming around as we did not see any larger ones, but the pelicans were all around and diving frequently. We kept hoping they would not mistake us for a big fish.

A friend of our just bought a new scooter, (Roketa Maui 50GL), and has already emailed us that he has put 70 miles in 4 days just running around in his neighborhood. I bet he thinks up errands to run so he can ride it. We were emailing back and forth for a week or more as he was trying to decide what to buy and then what color to get. It was funny because he wrote us to ask our opinion of the color. The choices were Red, Yellow, or Blue. Afraid our answer just made it more difficult. We told him that the blue one was very pretty, the red one was more orange, the yellow was nice and bright and the advantage of the red and yellow is that you would be more easily seen on the road. Poor Guy! Well it got settled by the dealer, as they only had blue in stock, so blue it was. The blue one was really the nicest of the colors so he lucked out.

For the past week or so when we finish tennis, there has been a silver Kymco People scooter parked next to us. We park near the bike racks so the poor bicycle riders are being crowded a bit. But we always park far enough away from the racks so we do leave them open for the cyclists. We usually play early at 7:45AM but today were playing at 9AM so up rides the Kymco at about the same time as us. We were happy to meet and exchange stories about our scooters. He had bought his scooter second hand from a lady that hardly rode it and had just had it serviced. It is a 2 stoke so he was telling us that it goes up to 42 miles per hour instead of the 30 plus with the 4 stroke machines. He said that comes in handy when he has to take a short strip of a busy road on the way to the tennis club.

Our scooters have attracted quite a bit of attention and the first question everyone asks is, “how many miles to the gallon?” When we tell them, we can see them calculating how much money they would save if they bought a scooter. We expect to see more scooters at the tennis club soon.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Demise of the Small Family Budget Hotels on Fort Lauderdale Beach

Beach front accommodations on Fort Lauderdale Beach are fast becoming Out-of-Price for the average family on vacation in our area.

For the past few years small economical family style lodging have been bulldozed in favor of luxury high rise hotels with nightly room rates in the thousand dollar bracket. And now two more small, moderate hotels, the Avalon and the Tropic Cay are going to bite the dust in the coming year. I guess the city approval has already been granted.

The Avalon is advertised as one of the Waterfront Inns and is situated right on A1A facing the Atlantic Ocean with a standard room going for $99. You can get a bigger room or a one bedroom suite for a little more, but you had better hurry as their appointment with the Wrecking Ball is eminent. This small hotel offers 70 uniquely decorated rooms in 4 different low rise buildings featuring relaxed antebellum décor.

The second upcoming fatality is the Tropic Cay, which sits right next door to the Avalon and offers a standard room for only $89. Guess they had the misfortune to be in the line of fire by being next to the Avalon, or maybe visa versa. There are a total of only 43 guest rooms in the two story hotel, so it would be hard to get lost there.

In place of the above two small hotels will be an ultra modern resort, 22 stories high and 30 stories long called the Ocean Wave. Here is an artist rendering of the proposed hotel.

On one side of the new resort is the 25 story Q Club Hilton Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort that just opened one year ago.

On the other side is the new 24-story Trump Tower, under construction and scheduled to open later this year or early next year.

Just down the beach about a block further is the new St Regis Resort. Any of these hotels will set you back a few k's in a short visit.

The biggest fiasco was the destruction of a historical hotel called the Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel to build a new luxury condo. It was Fort Lauderdale's first art deco hotel dating back to 1936 and was designed by Roy F. France, architect of over 40 Miami Beach art deco and postmodern hotels. A dozen of France's hotels have been demolished, but 20 still remain.

Thru herculean efforts by the historical society, the developer agreed to preserve the front façade of the hotel. The results is shown below and certainly does not resemble the historic little art hotel it once was.

And opening in October 2008 is the luxury W Hotel and Residences.

There are still a few, like maybe 4 small hotels left on the beach, otherwise you have to go back a few blocks to find something decent for a moderate price.

One of the survivors is the Sea Club Hotel on the Fort Lauderdale Beach. It has a cute, open 2nd floor deck facing the ocean, where one can have a drink or eat a bite and watch the beach happenings.

There are others that will have to wait for another day and another post.