Wednesday, August 17, 2011


We are finally reaping the benefits of Matt's travel with two free nights at the Mariott Renaissance. This hotel is connected to a decent mall in Tampa. By the time we arrived Friday night we only had the energy to grab a quick dinner then get some sleep.

I guess we were tired because we didn't wake up until 10:30 on Saturday morning. We walked the mall to get Matt a few new shirts since his "resort casual" wardrobe is not quite up to snuff.  Then the clouds rolled in and began to rain.  Since most of the day was gone and the pool was out of the question we decided to see a movie. This is a rare event for us; it is so hard to justify the cost of a movie plus a babysitter for two kids that we typically rely on Netflix.  The movie choice could have gone two ways: perceived sappy love story for Crazy, Stupid Love with Steve Carell or Cowboys & Aliens with Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig. The times worked out for the latter and it was surprisingly a good movie.

Matt and I are big fans of the Trip Advisor website.  It provides reliable information for activities, hotels, and restaurants.  We've found some great restaurants using this app while traveling. The goal was to go for one non-kid friendly place for dinner and we fond a winner!

Osteria Natalina is situated in a strip mall next to a sushi place, and you would never see it driving by.  The name of the restaurant plays homage to the owner, Spartaco's mother in Italy.  There were about 15 tables in the whole place and a ton of carry out business.  It truly is a neighborhood gem.

Spartaco was running the dining room solo tonight because his other waiter was out. That didn't stop him from having great conversations with all the patrons. My mouth waters when I think about the shrimp and scallops.  Picture Homer Simpson drooling over donuts.  

On our drive back to the hotel we noticed an interesting placement of adult houses of indiscretion in what appeared to be normal retail corridor.  The main street had a Target, Home Depot, two strip clubs, and a Sonic.  A neon building with a woman's silhouette is not what I want to see while enjoying my cherry lime-aid.  Oh well, maybe they think it saves people some time on their errands.  Who am I to judge?

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