Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Wednesday started out like most days since we arrived in Florida. We got off to a leisurely start and got ourselves sorted out at the motel. We then got on the laptop and scanned the Hotels.ca web site to book our lodgings for the night. For tonight we selected the Best Western in Naples a large modern Motel/Hotel that we had stayed in when we were here in January. It is well located (if you have a car) and very price competitive. One of our goals today was to hit a big outlet mall near Ft. Myers on the way to Naples. So early in the afternoon we headed off the I-75 and did a little mall cruising for a couple of hours.
We then headed back out to I-75 towards Naples. By late afternoon we reached the Best Western on the East side of Naples. Upon checkin we were delighted to find out that due to overbooking they had upgraded us to a suite. That is hard to beat, you book on the cheap thru an online site and then get upgraded to a suite. Wow what a juxtaposition from the micro room at Microtel. We had a full kitchen an eating area, a large living room and a separate sleeping area. Essentially we had a large one bedroom apartment. The apartment even had its own outside balcony. So we got unpacked poured a nice long drink sat out on the balcony in the late afternoon sun and listened to another chapter of Harry Potter.
For dinner drove down the road a few blocks to a nice little local fish restaurant called Steamers that we found on our last trip. Ths is nothing fancy, just a cheap and cheerful neighbourhood fish restaurant that seems to be always packed with locals. Once again Steamers did not disappoint.
Once back at the hotel we made the decision to head off to Miami on Thursday rather than stay another day in Naples. Once again we got on the Internet and searched out a hotel. Hotels.ca didn't have much to offer so we decided to hit Hotwire.com. Hotwire is an interesting site. You select the level of hotel you want, two to five star, the location and then search. The site returns you a listing of what is available without any names or exact locations. You have to make your mind up on the basis of that very limited information. Once you book you can't change or cancel your reservation. So why would you use this site? Price my friends is the answer, especially for more expensive properties. So we found a hotel for $106 per night near where we wanted to end up in Miami and pulled the trigger on the web site. Bingo, we had a room at the Sheraton. As usual it turned out to be a lovely room in a classy hotel - ya gotta treat yourself once in awhile.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
We had breakfast at the Best Western and met a lovely couple from Oakville who had been staying there for the week. That place is one busy place in the morning. It has a very large breakfast area and is just bustling. It has 4 waffle makers, a hot tray of eggs and breakfast meats, cereals, juices, bagels, toast etc. Other than running out of food because there are so many people, it is one of the better free breakfasts we have found down here.
We checked all our e-mails, updated our expense logs, and did some research on the various places we would be visiting on the cruise, and packed up and headed out towards Miami shortly after 11 am. We stopped at Costco (for Hazel's weekly fix) and Walgreens and headed over to the Naples Beach area. We cruised down along the beach and turned into many of the small roadways that run to the beach. It was very difficult to find any parking at all. There are a number of spots which have meters and others which are reserved for those with “beach permits”. We finally found a spot after about half an hour of searching and headed out for a walk on the beach. We were a bit surprised by the large number of people on the beach – it was really quite crowded especially compared with the gorgeous uncrowded beaches we had been visiting slightly to the north of here. The beach is also a little smaller in depth – but clearly a lot of people loved being there. This visit with the crowded beach and difficult parking made us a little less enamoured with the Naples area.
We headed out down the Tamiami Trail towards Miami. It was another beautiful and warm day. We arrived at the Sheraton near the airport shortly before 6 (which we had booked on Hotwire last night). It is a nice property right on a golf course. As with many of the higher end hotels in airport areas, parking is not complementary – so the original price of $106 increased by $13. That is still a good price for a very nice room in an upscale hotel.
We settled in, had a cocktail, checked e-mail and Hazel wrote e-mails and blogs while Dave did some work for Lafarge. We had a nice dinner right in the hotel and got organized to do a quick laundry tomorrow before the final packing of what we will take on the ship and what we will leave in the car.