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a heart across the ocean

My Mini-Summer Break 1: Freedom!

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Museum of Fine Arts

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Museum of Fine Arts

The first time I saw the simple Palladian-style building of Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in St. Petersburg, Fl.  I was immediately enthralled. Founded by Margaret Acheson Stuart, the museum was opened to the public in 1965. It is said to be one of the few museums in the state where one can see a comprehensive art collection that extend from antiquity to the present day: the very reason why I really looked forward to visiting this museum.

The moment my husband and I stepped in at MFA’s beautiful entrance, the feeling of reverence immediately enveloped me. I don’t know if reverence is the right word to use, but I noticed that there is something about its collection and arrangement of artifacts that made me whisper my words and watched my steps – like I am attending a Sunday mass in a cathedral.

The museum has extensive unforgettable portraits, landscapes, photographs, and decorative relics. Just a few of them I would not really consider spell bounding,  but still I lost count on how many times I uttered the word “wow!” during our entire tour of the gallery. I believe the work of photographer Ansel Adam is a must-see.

My favorite among the paintings was Julia Foster Ward (1880) by French artist Jules-Joseph Lefebvre. From a distance, I felt like I was like looking at a real life image of Julia instead of a painting: her eyes, skin, hands, and silk-wardrobe – oh my, they were all beautifully painted, and life like!

Julia Foster Ward (1880)

Julia Foster Ward (1880)

It was already drizzling when we stepped out of the museum. Despite our attempt to rush to Paciugo Gelato & Café Shop to avoid the pouring rain, still our plan to enjoy an afternoon of ice cream was dashed. The place was crowded by stranded gelato lovers who were waiting for the rain to stop. There was no table, no chairs available, except for outside seating. My gelato melted and dripped as fast as the rain came down, and I had no choice but to eat it like I was in an ice cream eating contest. My tongue barely tasted its chocolate treat. From my mouth, it goes straight to my esophagus and then for digestion. As much as it was well-advertised to me by acquaintances, all I can say is – BOO!

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Downtown, St. Petersburg

This was not my first time to visit the downtown, St. Petersburg. I have visited the place several times before. As always, the fascinating blend of historic and modern buildings and architecture of the city continuously struck me with awe and admiration.

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 Home to a number of art galleries, shops, restaurants and entertainment, downtown St. Pete is rocking with  a beautiful art exterior, as well as a stunning waterfront setting – all that says, welcome!

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A military vessel (?) in Vinoy Basin. Just just in front of the MFA

I wish it was not raining that day; we could have explored more the shops and enjoyed the scenery of the city. Also, instead of a fleeting glimpse, we could have had a better look at the different interesting artwork and design displayed. Too bad!  Well, maybe next time…

Pass-A-Grille, St. Pete Beach

After our interesting visit to the Museum of Fine Arts, I decided it was time to have some fun in the water.  I agreed to join my colleague from work and her sisters to try paddle boarding at the beautiful Pass-a-Grille Beach.

Located in historic Pass-a-Grille district, Pass-a-Grille Beach has been voted several times as one of the most beautiful beaches in the country – not to mention, one of the most favorite Beach Wedding destination in the state. Wonder why?

Pass-a-Grille Beach sits at the southern tip of St. Pete Beach, providing seclusion to the busy bustle and hustle of busier beaches. The quaint blue water, sugary sand, sand dunes in endless mounds all whisper tranquility and romance. Free from tall buildings and hotels on the sand, Pass-a-Grille provides a slice of old Florida feeling. Every time I visit the place, I always enjoy its eclectic shopping, restaurants, and humongous residential homes that are truly delightful to behold.

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Paddle Boarding (Mis) adventure

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What I thought would be a fun paddle boarding adventure turned out to be a misadventure. My fault, however, because I went to a battle without properly arming myself: no sufficient training; no life-vest jacket, and not knowing what I was getting myself into. My friend called it spontaneity. I insisted, it was dumb.

My first attempt was not so bad, actually. After coasting on the water; paddling right and left like I was cooking a beef stew, I was able to keep myself on the board without falling until I made a bad turn and my board crashed into the shore. I should have stopped from there – but no, I tried it again with my colleague from work paddling this time (2 persons on a paddle board? Again, wrong decision! I didn’t know at the time this is not a team sport!). My colleague is more experienced in the water and it was indeed a good ride until the wiggly me lost balance and fell off the water. Oh boy! The water was over my head, and I panicked as I realized we were in the middle of Gulf of Mexico. I don’t want to go into details what happened next because it was a big embarrassment and a nightmare combined, but yes, I almost drowned myself. Albeit I can swim,  I am a weakly meekly bobber type.

I agree that there is nothing wrong in jumping right in to enjoy the moment and the experience; however, safety first, as my husband would always say. The misadventure, thankfully, didn’t take away the joie de vivre in me. When I think about it right now, I can’t help seeing the comedy in the turn of events. I will definitely go back to paddle boarding again, but not until I attend a lesson, have a life-vest jacket, know how deep the water is  I am frolicking in, and with my husband on the sidelines with my best interest at heart. 🙂

Photography Class

My photography class the following day took my mind away from my paddle boarding (mis)adventure. I met with the members of my photography club and we spent a couple of enjoyable hours playing with our lens. Here are few of my favorite shots:

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Fishing Escapade

My husband couldn’t understand why I wanted to try fishing. Honestly, I don’t know the answer myself; I guess I was just curious… Living on the beach, the view of people both young and old on the shoreline, pier, and saltwater with fishing rods and buckets is pretty common. I sometimes watch them and wonder how long will it take for their bait to tempt a fish. Some of them, I was amazed, are pretty fast. You have to see their excitement on their faces when they feel a tug on their line. It’s pretty contagious!

I longed to experience that excitement, so after convincing my husband about the idea, I got myself a fishing rod, secured a fishing license, and, today after a long wait, for the first time in my life I experienced casting a line and waiting for a bite.

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Like any beginner, I was a mess. I was very careful of my fishing rod. My major concern was to avoid tangling my line. Casting also needed a little bit of a technique, but after trial and error, I was able to sort it out and before I knew it, I was acting like I knew I was doing.

I caught some seaweed and dirt, but no fish, no crab, no shrimp, and no fingers (thank God) *smile. But, I really don’t mind. For me more important than catching a fish is the smile I brought home after the experience. Tomorrow I’ll be back to work and hopefully I will see you on my next mini-summer break. Thanks for reading!

“Life is either a great adventure or nothing.” – Helen Keller

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