Our next day we had decided to hit the beach, but before we could do that, we had to remedy a problem that came up the day before. My friend Amy had dropped her camera at the zoo and broke it, so we had to go find a camera shop. The hotel recommended a little shop in Little Italy, very close to the hotel we were in. So, off we went into the big city!
(That's the view from our balcony.)
There was a lot to see, from beautiful grottoes...
...to huge, brightly colored buildings.
It was a great place to be in the morning bustle on a Saturday. And I never even had to wonder why it was so busy down there, because four steps into Little Italy proper...
...we ran smack into the middle of a farmer's market!
It was a buffet of tents full of pastries and fruit, breakfast type stuff for those of us who hadn't eaten breakfast. I looked at the pastries, but since we'd eaten crap the day before, I wanted fruit. And what better place to get fresh fruit?!
We bought two oranges and a white peach. They were AMAZING! Seriously...the best fruit I've ever had. The orange was so juicy it made a puddle when I peeled it. And it was so juicy I made a puddle when I ate it.
Shortly thereafter we found Nelson's Camera and the crazy guy inside who was such a great local personality that we hung out and talked to him for a half hour or so about random stuff. He told us about some local stuff we'd have never known about on our own. We'd be visiting one place later that evening--but I'm getting ahead of myself.
We caught the train to the bus depot and the bus to our destination for the day:
It is a beach with an amusement park close by, complete with old an old wooden coaster, The Giant Dipper.
But the sand was calling us, so we left the coaster for another day (unbeknownst to us--another story).
It was a bit crowded, which I was thankful for. It left a lot of other people for the beachgoers to look at besides me and my neon pale skin. Despite my best efforts, I hadn't become tan in the least before leaving for vacation. Boo. And you won't get the pleasure of seeing any of the three photos I took of my terribly pale self, sadly. One of them didn't turn out; another looks so awful I can't even think about posting it; and a third is good, aside from the fact that it looks like I have wood...so...yeah...not gonna put that one up here.
Anywho...moving on quickly. Let me show you something to take your mind off of that unfortunate mental image...
and, of course, BOYS!!!
This last one was teaching this girl to surf. I met her while I was out in the ocean, and I asked her how it was going. She was from Alabama and hadn't ever surfed before. She asked if I knew how, and I was sorely tempted to tell her yes, but I just smiled and said, "I'm from Chicago...we don't HAVE surf." For it being her first time, she was doing really well! And her instructor? Let's just say that if he'd been teaching me, I would have been to distracted to learn a thing...
So, after all the sun and surf,
we decided to head back to town and grab some dinner. The camera guy had told us about the best place in Little Italy to get food, so off we went!
We showered the beach off, not noticing how burnt we all were quite yet...and headed out to get some chow. Swimming makes me hungry, without fail.
Fillipi's Pizza Grotto was this little hole in the wall place I wouldn't have thought about going into had it not been recommended.
When we got there, a line was forming out the door and down the sidewalk. If Ollie's Frozen Custard here in town has taught me anything, it's that when people line up for food, it's gonna be worth the wait.
So wait we did. Once inside, though, we found ourselves at a little deli counter:
It was torture for those of us who were starving and LOVE cheese. Argh.
But we finally got seated and fed, and let me tell you something: TOTALLY WORTH IT!!!!!
Seriously. It was the best food I've had in a REALLY long time, and the best lasagna I've ever had. HUGE portions and great waitstaff. It was simply wonderful. Afterwards, we all were slipping into pasta comas, so we decided to walk to another destination the camera guy suggested.
It was a beautiful sunset stroll.
And we found ourselves at the Hyatt (don't ever stay there...they apparently hate on the gays)...
I immediately felt out of place in my shorts and t-shirt, especially considering the bride and groom in the gargantuan lobby of this amazingly beautiful hotel.
We sprinted to the elevators before anyone could discover we didn't belong there, and it was a surprisingly short trip to the top floor bar/observatory. We spent an hour or so enjoying beautiful views of the harbor...
...and the city.
It was a spectacular way to end a wonderfully tiring day. Little did we know how sunburnt we would feel in the morning...