After our crazy week in New York, we arrived in Florida ready for a week of chilling on the beach to get ourselves ready for travelling. We stayed in a condo in Madeira Beach, a place that I have been coming to since I was little and that Dan visited with me for the first time two years ago. It’s an easy 40 minute drive from Tampa and a perfect spot for a sunny getaway.

It’s a lovely area – the condo is right on the beach and within easy walking distance of some great little beach bars and restaurants. It also has a supermarket just opposite, which was ideal for us as after a week of liver bashing and indulgent eating we were quite looking forward to cooking ourselves some healthy meals!

The weather was beautiful for our entire stay, with cloudless blue skies and sunshine every day – and of course, it was pretty hot! We spent most of our time when outside swimming lazily in the pool or taking walks along the beach.

After a few days of eating well and catching up on sleep we decided to go out for dinner to the Salt Rock Grill, a local restaurant that has been open for as long as I can remember yet seems to be as popular today as it always has been – I don’t think I have ever been in there and seen empty tables. The menu hasn’t changed much over the years, but clearly it doesn’t need to as the food is always fresh and delicious. The seafood in particular is fantastic, as you would expect from a seaside restaurant. A firm favourite of mine (that I have without fail every time I go) is the Coconut Crusted Shrimp, and Dan speaks very highly of the steak. And the Key Lime Pie, a local favourite, is an absolute must for dessert!

On Sunday we met up with some of our oldest and dearest family friends for dinner. My parents have been friends with them since before I was born, from when their son Timmy and my sister Michelle were only toddlers. We have spent so many summers with them, having barbecues at the beach or dinners at their house in Tampa, and Dan and I were thrilled to have a chance to see them before we head off on the rest of our trip.

We went for dinner at the Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club in Tampa, which was founded in 1916. The beautiful buildings are set beside the immaculate golf course, which hosts the prestigious Gasparilla Invitational golf tournament. The food, of course, was amazing – the seafood bisque starter in particular was unlike anything we have ever tried before.

The rest of our time in Florida has been spent doing admin and preparing the next stage of our trip – we booked a hostel in Cancun, scanned in our passports and travel insurance info, and re-packed our bags into a much more manageable state. Next stop, Mexico!

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