Emily’s Weekend Getaway to Grandma’s – Part 1

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Emily:  I love being able to use our miles and points to see family and friends!  A few weeks ago, I used Southwest points to book a non-stop flight to Tampa.  My grandmother, Vena, lives near Tampa, so I was excited to spend the weekend with her.  My mom was also visiting, so I got the bonus of seeing both of them!
Tampa Trip Report
Say Cheese!

Ideally, I would have used Daraius’ Companion Pass to travel for free, but he was off on his own adventure, so he couldn’t make it.

On Friday evening, I left work for the evening flight.  I got in to Tampa at 11 pm, and picked up my rental car at Avis, which Daraius booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards mall.  Unfortunately, Avis only had minivans left, so I was stuck with one.  This was my first time driving a minivan!

Tampa Trip Report
My Minivan for the Weekend!

The next morning, we went for breakfast to Panera.

Tampa Trip Report
Breakfast Time

Vena got a Spinach & Bacon souffle, I got an Asiago Bagel Breakfast Sandwich, and my mom got a Sausage, Egg & Cheese sandwich on ciabatta bread.

Tampa Trip Report

I had planned two surprises for them that day, and they had no idea where I was taking them!

Surprise #1 – Tampa Theatre
Tampa Trip Report
Vena & Connie by the Ticket Counter

The Tampa Theatre was built in the 1920s during the heyday of American movie theatres.  Back then, the production companies (MGM, Paramount, etc.) used to own theatres, which is why some of them were so lavish and ornate.

Tampa Trip Report
Inside the Tampa Theatre

The theatre gives free tours most Saturday mornings.  There was a large crowd when we arrived, and I was surprised to see so many people.

The Theatre has a distinct architectural style, called Mediterranean.  It was meant to make you feel like you were in Italy or France on a romantic summer evening.  First, the guide took us upstairs into the balcony.

The man giving the tour was very knowledgeable.  He talked all about the theatre’s history and what it was like during its prime time.  The detail in the theatre was eye catching.

Tampa Trip Report

The first floor was also very beautiful.

Tampa Trip Report
First Floor of the Tampa Theatre

We could peer over the railing and see the theatre below.

Tampa Trip Report
View From the Balcony

We saw the ladies’ parlor.

Tampa Trip Report
Ladies Parlor

And a sitting room.

Tampa Trip Report
Sitting Room
Tampa Trip Report
Inside the Theatre

There were lots of antiques.

Tampa Trip Report
Tampa Theatre

We reached the balcony and loved seeing the theatre below.

Tampa Trip Report
View from the Balcony

On our way back downstairs, we stopped for a picture next to Christopher Columbus’ ship, the Santa Maria.

Tampa Trip Report
By the Santa Maria

We even got to go backstage and see the dressing rooms.

Tampa Trip Report
Say Cheese!

After seeing the backstage, we went to sit in the front rows to hear the organ being played and to learn more about the theatre.

Tampa Trip Report
Tampa Theatre Stage

We loved hearing the organ, and hearing about its history.

Tampa Trip Report
Playing the Organ

Vena plays the organ so she really enjoyed this part of the tour.

On our way out, we stopped for a drink of water by the water fountain.

Tampa Trip Report
By the Water Fountain

The Tampa Theatre is a real treat and I would recommend going.  The tour was especially nice because we could understand more about the theatre’s history.  The theatre also had many other events, such as Oscar-Nominated Shorts and WineFest.

What was the second surprise? Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post to find out!

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