The Traveling Steve's

Another weekend in Tampa and new iPhone!

After a couple days at home from my North Dakota trip, DOS and I went to Tampa for a quick weekend getaway. Tampa is only a couple hours drive from our house in Orlando, and we again stayed at the Grand Hyatt, across the airport. I’ve blogged about this property before, but it’s a deluxe business hotel with a resort-like feel to it as it’s located on Tampa Bay. IMG_3128

We checked in the hotel, and as a Hyatt Diamond member received a nice 12th floor corner room with an outstanding view of the Bay and main pool area.

After getting settled in, we drove to the nearby and very upscale International Plaza Shopping Mall. I say upscale as we walked in thru Neiman Marcus, passing the valet-parked cars out front including a Maserati, Porsche, and ultra deluxe Mercedes convertible. Once inside, we did glance briefly at their Christmas section (yes, it’s only Sept 26th), including this ‘if you have to ask you can’t afford’ Nativity scene. DOS did peak at the camel price tag, and it was $2,500 for the camel alone! Oh, yes, we would love the set but can’t bring that home in our suitcase! LOL!

We then went to Dillards, which was having a fantastic 40% clearance, on top of already reduced mens shirts. I bought a couple Polo shirts as well as the nice silk Hawaiian type shirts as we are heading to Maui in a couple weeks.

On to the main reason of our visit to the mall – the Apple Store!  DOS got up early this morning to make a reservation at the Apple Store for our new iPhones, and fortunately we were accommodated between 4 and 4:30pm at this Tampa location.  This is the second day the iPhone 6S Plus has been on sale, and the Apple store was mobbed with others just like us wanting this new and much larger smart phone.  I must say that Apple was super-organized with loads of helpful staff on hand to assist.  First we entered the store via a roped-off line area where we provided our reservation name and time, and then waited only a few moments for our Apple host, ‘Brian’ to assist us.  By reserving ahead of time, Apple guaranteed our two new iPhones would be in stock, as well as minimizing any time delays for us.  We were amazed at how seamless and quick the process was to get our numbers transferred over to our new iPhones! While we were waiting for our phones to be updated with our old iPhone data, Brian showed us some of the new features on the iPhone 6S Plus.  Our favorite new feature is “Live Photos”, which takes 3 seconds of video with the photo, providing an interesting effect.  After getting the phones activated, we also purchased cases to protect the sleek looking phone; DOS got a dark blue, while I got a tan leather case. IMG_5541  IMG_5542Super satisfied with our new purchases, we headed back to the Hyatt for a bit of relaxation before our 8pm dinner at Armani’s. We had a great view from our 12th floor corner room. IMG_0056

We took the elevator from our 12th floor room to Armani’s Restaurant on the 14th (top) floor of the Grand Hyatt, and were promptly seated slightly ahead of our 8pm reservation. We were seated this time on the city/airport side of the restaurant as opposed to the Bay side, but with the storm rolling in, the view didn’t too much matter.  Looking out the window, It was pretty cool seeing the lightning strikes light up the darkness of the night, overlooking the airport.  We started with the Italian antipasto buffet, which we shared.  Beautifully displayed, we selected probably a dozen different bite-sized items, including shrimp cocktail, meatballs, prosciutto, assorted salamis, several types of cheeses, multi-colored carrots, asparagus, clams, etc – perfect for the two of us.  We each took a plate to customize our choices; here was mine with the shrimps, meatballs and cheeses.IMG_5544

We also bought a bottle of Sequoia Grove Cambrium Cabernet Sauvignon, which was the premium Cabernet at their vineyard we had visited in Napa a couple years ago.  It was nice to see this exquisite wine on the menu, and our waiter Freddy nicely decanted the wine for us.  We enjoyed our Cesar Salad after our antipasto appetizers, which was spaced nicely and leisurely which we enjoy with fine dining.IMG_5551

For the main course, DOS had the Ossobuco, while I had the Chef’s Special of Filet Mignon, topped with Kale and baby shrimp.  Both dishes were beautifully prepared, and paired wonderfully with the Cambrium Cabernet.IMG_5558 IMG_5555

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We took a photo of our waiter Freddy taking photos of other diners, and then he took one of the two of us. IMG_5549 IMG_5552


After dinner we took a short break before having our dessert.  We both had the Chocolate Dome, which is a new dessert for Armani’s feature chocolate, mouse, gelato, and a coffee type liquor.  I also had a small glass of port, while DOS had coffee.IMG_5563 IMG_5565

After dinner we went down to the lobby for a nightcap around 10:30pm, shortly  before the lobby lounge closed at 11pm.  I had a couple light brewskis, while DOS had water.  We met a fun couple from South Florida and we had a fun time chatting and discussing travel stories. IMG_5567

We ended up leaving after the bar had closed for the night, and called it yet another fun day.

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