Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A Trolley Ride in Tampa

We have been averaging one or two days per week when the weather has cooperated for us to be out and about.  The weather has been either wet, or windy and quite cool.  On Monday the weather forecast was for a sunny day and the temperature in the low 60s.  And it was a day to spend with Melissa and Nathan, which meant we had to keep our touring simple, and get it all done before his nap time.  A trolley ride through downtown Tampa seemed the ideal activity for the day.
All the trolley stops are marked by a decorated small trolley car, pictured in the foreground above.  The one titled above is "Encore Tampa!".  It has musical notes and instruments painted on the trolley.  Also notice in the upper left hand corner an object on the ground in front of the car.  That is a homeless person sleeping on a concrete divider between the trolley tracks and the street.  A warm spot, but to my mind a bit dangerous!  Also notice in the right side of the picture our daughter and her son Nathan.  While waiting for the trolley he kept quite busy looking for any kind of box with buttons to push- like newspaper stands, atms, or parking meters.   A young man on a mission!  Fortunately for us the trolley eventually came.
Nathan thoroughly enjoyed the ride.  He kept saying "going" when the trolley stopped to pick passengers up.  In his vernacular that meant "do not stop I am enjoying this too much".  Our ride took us along Port Tampa where we saw a couple of very large cruise ships docked.  It was certainly one interesting means of seeing the downtown area of Tampa.
Our ride took us to the end of the line, which is Ybor City.  I mentioned this town before in another posting when I referred to a Cuban area of Tampa.  You may remember it because I wrote of chickens roaming the streets.  When we got off the trolley what a surprise- our first sight in Ybor was a rooster strolling down the street!  The city has, besides chickens, some very old buildings dating to the turn of the twentieth century.
Pictured above is Vicente Martinez Ybor- pioneer of the cigar industry in Florida as well as founder of the city of Ybor.  He was born in Spain in 1818 and later his family immigrated to Cuba.  During the Cuban revolution in 1889 he fled that country and settled in Florida where he bought some scrub land outside of Tampa.  He founded the city of Ybor at the age of 77 years and died in 1898.  Other cigar manufacturers joined him and Ybor city became the cigar capitol of the world.  Walking down the main street of the town we saw a few cigar shops, with women rolling cigars in store front windows.  Other than those shops, there is not much more to see of the Cuban influence in Ybor today.  Some of the restaurants advertise Cuban as well as Spanish fare.  Quite popular here and in most eating places in southern Florida is the Cuban sandwich, which is ham (including or instead of there maybe other variations of meat) and cheese between slices of Cuban bread.   It was a popular food of the Cuban immigrants in the last century.  We did find a nice sandwich shop for lunch, which had grilled cheese quesadillas for Nathan.  After that it was a hurried walk to catch a trolley which would take us back to our car parked in Tampa.  In the foreground of the picture below is another trolley sculpture, this one looked like a trolley with wings.

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