Trip to Florida offered a lot of lessons


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Every trip, be it long or short, yields lessons and this 10-day visit to Florida’s east coast has been exceptional from the beginning.

The first lesson was deciding not to tote a laptop. It is such a hassle going through security at the airport and there is always a complimentary computer in hotel and motel lobbies.

Wrong! At the Plaza Ocean Club where I am staying there is a computer in the lobby but the charge is 20 cents a minute. I am a fairly fast writer, but it was the principle that stopped me from paying.

The solution is an example of the hospitality I have found in this part of Florida. After pleading my case to Moe at the front desk, she said, “follow me” and she offered me the computer in her cozy office.

The beach, with more than 200 hotels and condominiums jam-packed on a 23-mile strip is promoted as the world’s most famous beach. Since I have been here, temperatures in the 80s every day have attracted swimmers, but I prefer to walk on the beach near the thundering surf or just stand on my balcony at dusk with a glass of wine and drink in the nice weather and beauty.

The reason for this annual trip is to visit with my cousin Joyce who is in a rest home here, but there is also a heart-warming family bonus. Six-month-old triplets Isabelle, Juliette, and Mariska Jarboe, her great-grandchildren, were baptized Jan. 13 in Sanford. They are the children of Daniel and April Jarboe.

Those of us who prefer to travel from Toledo Express Airport like to have a reason to fly to the Sanford/Orlando airport. Allegiant flies to and from there every Thursday and Sunday in a non-stop flight.

We were two hours late leaving Toledo. When I asked for a glass of water in flight I found out just how no frills and frugal this airline is. I was told water is $2 a bottle. When I booked the flight the base round trip fare was $152, but after paying for all the extras, including an assigned seat, a suitcase, and insurance, the price jumped to $306.

Visiting different restaurants adds interest to all travel experiences and the brief stay in Daytona Beach was no exception.

The French toast ordered at the cafe at this hotel prompted me to ask to meet the chef. He is Michael Taylor, a graduate of Daytona State College, who surprises guests with unusual spins on basic foods. The French toast is one example. Corn flake crumbs put the crunch in the french toast batter. “I wanted to combine the toast with breakfast cereal,” he said. And he uses whipping cream in the batter and adds a dollop on top.

Twenty nine floors up, the Top of Daytona is more than the best view of the area. It is also a restaurant that offers early bird specials. My choice was flounder, served with feta and spinach and draped with hollandaise sauce. A glass of Riesling was perfect. The price was $16. Claude, the waiter, also worked for my friend Sophia Kay Petros, the former owner.

Because the seating follows the circular window wall it reminded me of the top floor restaurants that were popular in the 1980s and I believe a signature of the Stouffer’s chain. I just felt that it should begin revolving at any minute, but Claude assured, “It has never moved.”

Mary Alice Powell is a retired Blade food editor.

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