Dear Room 516 at the Fullerton Bay Hotel: You were beyond posh and had every amenity and even more than a girl could think of (and even more than this girl from Alabama could dream of) from a pillow menu (cutely tucked into a miniature pillow) to a tv over the bathtub to a master panel of light & drapery controls in the nightstand. (I've never closed and opened the curtains from bed before but sure could get used to it!) Your spacious balcony with a scene - looking over the river to the Marina Bay Sands resort, ArtScience Museum and the Singapore Flyer; to the left at the pier and Merlion Park - was so inviting and comfortable. Our time together was far too short but I promise to never forget you!
I definitely wasn't in Alabama anymore!
* * *
This story begins with my coworkers giving me a very generous travel certificate as a retirement gift. I really wanted to do something special with the certificate and happened upon (after hours of research 🙃) a cruise leaving from Singapore. Perfect! Booked the cruise and then the flight. My flight arrived early the morning before the cruise departed so I needed a hotel.
My first idea about a hotel was to go to Raffles simply because I'd heard so much about it and it is an iconic piece of Singapore. So I looked online and started looking at other hotels too like the Marina Sands Resort (the three buildings with the ship on top). Having never been to Singapore before though I just couldn't decide so kept moving "make Singapore hotel reservation" from "to do" list to "to do" list. A couple of weeks later a travel agent that I had reached out to via email regarding an unique tour in another country called me. While we were talking I asked her about Singapore and she immediately suggested The Fullerton Bay Hotel.
Goodness gracious, am I glad she did! Fullerton Bay Hotel is most certainly worth the splurge if you are in Singapore. Besides all the greatness I'll mention in a minute - the thing I liked best about Fullerton Bay Hotel is that - despite my schlepping into the hotel after a 16 hr 49 min flight (that had been immediately preceded by a 5 hr 56 min flight) and looking like a mix of something the cat dragged in and a bag lady (two suitcases, a backpack, a nylon tote bag with the zipper about to burst because I know my granddaughter will want the business class pouch of goodies from the plane) I immediately felt comfortable and welcome! The staff is out of this world attentive, professional and just plain nice. Check out the foyer that was all decorated for the Chinese New Year.
I love me a good cruise! And when I'm planning is cruise I always have to decide how much, if any, time to spend in the departure port city. Some of these cities have more to offer than others (um, Rome vs. (no offense) Baltimore) and ain't nobody got time to waste precious vacation days on a boring port location.
Tampa, FL is a port city that you can easily spend a few days prior or after a cruise and be completely entertained. The weather seems to be great always. (Visit Tampa Bay says Tampa has 361 days of sunshine a year!) A few things you can do in Tampa are: visit Ybor City, take the kids to Busch Gardens, go to St. Petersburg, enjoy a day on the beach in either St. Petersburg or Clearwater, fish, kayak, take a lunch or dinner cruise, walk the longest sidewalk in the U.S. on Bayshore drive, heck you're only an hour from Disney too ... I recently spent a few hours on the Riverwalk (with my honey) and just took the long way around to say that's what this little bit is about - Tampa's Riverwalk.
Recently, (two weeks after I retired (WooHoo!)) I was lucky enough to spend a few weeks on Anna Maria Island. What a treat!. This seven mile long island is chock full of everything you’d want for a beach getaway - six (!) beaches; warm weather; friendly faces; delicious eateries; hometown feel; activities for everyone; plenty of day trips; free trolley; and so on and on and on!
My absolute favorite activity on the Island is catching the sunset. In my book there’s not a lot that can beat getting comfy at the beach with a refreshing drink and witnessing an unforgettable sunset. Somedays I took a glass of wine from the little cottage we rented, walked across the street to the beach and enjoyed the view while pinching myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming but actually did retire! Other days as the sunset hour approached I walked or took the trolley to one of several outdoor bars/cafes and shared the experience with new friends that were either locals, seasonal locals or tourists. Any way you slice it the sunsets on AMI are a winner. Here are a few of the gazillion sunset photos I took. Pretty eh?
There’s a whole day to fill before the sunset starts to roll in and AMI offers many choices: kayaking, windsurfing, jet skiing, paddle surfing (really cool mix between surfing & jet skiing), fishing, dolphin & manatee spotting, parasailing, hop on a sunset cruise, rent a golf cart or scooter to take a fun ride along the coast, boutique and artsy shopping, treating yourself to a massage/spa treatment; taking a Segway tour, just to name a few.
Ok. I’m gonna be honest … as much as I kinda want to be training for a marathon … I am possibly the most nonathletic person you’ll ever meet in your life. (And always have been. My junior high school coach made a deal with me that if I’d run one lap of the track he’d spot me the other three laps. :)) Shared that little tidbit as a lead in to say that of the activities listed above here’s what I did during my stay on AMI: fishing, looking for dolphin & manatee (on a boat tour), sunset cruise (or three), massage (or two) and seriously tried to boost the local economy by shopping. Oh gracious, almost forgot that I also spent several (or many (depending on how you count)) afternoons at Bridge Tender Dockside Bar with a “Teri Gets Kraken” watching and cheering on other folks as they parasailed, kayaked and jet skied. Technically that probably counts for me too!
AMI has no high rise condos or hotels and no drive thru fast food restaurants but it does have quite a selection of very good restaurants in various settings. Pretty much whatever you have in mind - Seafood, Mexican, Indian, Chinese, American Comfort, German, Fish You Just Caught (and bring from the dock for the restaurant to prepare); Beach Bars, Casual, Fancy, In-Between; Inside, Outside, Beachside; Music, Live Music, No Music - you can find it on AMI.
The three weeks I was lucky enough to spend on Anna Maria Island were completely delightful and I am looking forwarding to another visit. Maybe I’ll see you there!
Happy & Safe Travels!
p.s. If you are thinking of visiting AMI and have any questions or want restaurant recommendations or anything just ask in the comments below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Come along with this southern girl on my fun travel adventures! I’m taking the tours; seeing the sites; trying out the hotels; dining at the restaurants; cruising on the cruise ships; and sharing the experiences on this blog. I hope you enjoy reading about my travel escapades and that they will be inspiring and helpful when planning your own fabulous adventures.