Category Archives: Naples, Florida

What to do in Naples, FL; Fifth and Third Walk

One of the to do’s in Naples Florida is to take in Fifth Avenue, and if you are a walker add Third Street to the journey. If you make it to Third Street, time it so that you reach Third slightly before sunset. Then, while you are enjoying Third, stroll over to the Naples Pier, you can see dolphin hanging out around the Pier as they come up for air. Manatee hang there in season. You may also catch a glimpse of a sea turtle if you are there during the right time.

Ok, so now for the details. Start at one of the two parking garages. They are free, and both are located on the east end Fifth Ave. One garage is on the north side, the other is on the south side. Follow the “Blue P” signs. There is also ample parking in the streets, but be aware of any permits that might be required. The parking garages are the safest bet.

Numerous restaurants and shops flank Fifth Avenue. A partial list of eateries includes, Chops, Yabba, Pazzo, Bistro 821, Vergina, Bellini, Café Luna and many others. Café Luna advertises the best value on the strip. Their tagline is  “A Veally Good Deal“. You might have guested, it is Italian food. There is a link to each of the websites here. Check them out directly to determine you own cravings.

Walking all the way down Fifth, that is, in the opposite direction of the garages, puts you right onto the beach. So if you do not feel like hiking over to Third to see the sunset from the Pier, you can catch the sunset and a view of the Pier from the beach at the end of Fifth.

If you take the stroll to Third Street you will turn left onto Third Street from Fifth Avenue. Know that streets run north and south and avenues run east and west. The sun sets in the west over the water. Being an east coaster, making that adjustment was DSCN0002slightly disorienting at times, as on the east coast the program runs the opposite with the water being east.

The sunset is beautiful over the Gulf. Hope for a few clouds and you can really get a great light show, with different hues of reds bouncing off all the clouds, lighting up the area in a mind-blowing spectacle when the sun is below the horizon. So sometimes with random clouds, the real color shows up five minutes after the sun falls below the horizon. Hope you do not see the green flash.

Stroll back along the beach to Fifth if you want, take in dinner at the numerous places along Third, or head back to Fifth for a dinner alfresco.
Whatever you fancy, this is the basis to a fun evening, customize it to fit your own schedule. You will not be disappointed.

Keewaydin Island, Naples

Someone sent me this video about an adventure to Keewaydin Island in Naples, Florida. I think the videography, editing and the music are very professional. The very last scene in the video captures a moon, not the lunar kind. I just wished they had edited that one out. But I elected to go with the video because in my opinion it is not really offensive. We have all scene bums. This one is from a distance for a split second. But the rest of the video is enjoyable, really.

The Beauty of Naples Beaches

“Hey, are you going to be brave today?” Command Sargent Major Robert Sloanes said to his longtime friend, as the two swam in the Gulf.  Ursi was a dolphin. The Major named him after their scientific name Tursiops Truncatus. Ursi was a male.  But when he was named, the Major was not certain of Ursi’s gender. In fact, he knew nothing of Dolphins. Now he has become proficient in Dolphin behavior. He has watched Ursi grow. He knows that Ursi has moved into the alpha male position of his pod of Atlantic Bottle Nosed Dolphins. Over the years, the Major observed other dolphins in the pod with new “tag along” little ones.  Ursi never had one. It was then that he figured Ursi must be a male.DSCN0023

Ursi and the Major have met every morning like this for the past 25 years.  It is not sure if the Major or Ursi made the first advances, as it was the Major’s morning swim ritual, anyway. Come to think of it, it was probably Ursi’s too.  There was always a little bit of distance between the two that made Ursi feel comfortable.  The Major wanted more, and he though today might just be the day that he and Ursi would touch.

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For some strange reason, the Major’s diving mask fogged up.  He took it off, Ursi at his side, He spat in it and rubbed it all in his mask, removing the fog.  He placed it back on, and continued. Years ago when he purchased his mask, fins and snorkel, Command Sargent Major Sloanes saw the relationship between the two blossom. They swam together every morning before the multitude of beach goers showed up to enjoy the pristine beaches all along Naples’ coast.

DSCN0028Ursi waited every morning for the Major; and swam with him for the half mile swim down the coast and back.  At the end of the swim, the Major would float, simply relaxing from the exercise. Ursi would circle him, and at times even stop with head above water, as if talking to the Major. After a small visit, and the Major finished sharing his troubles and other life experiences with Ursi, he would say, “See you tomorrow Ursi.”  Then, with a shake of his head, a quick spin and a flip back, Ursi was back to his pod, until the next time.

What a way to start the day, thought the Major. Where else could I find such tranquil beauty, such life-giving energy? Thoughts like these ran through the Major’s mind most mornings. The world is a wonderful place, and Naples is the place for me, concluded the Major.


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Just Chill

As he sat there at the bar, enjoying his favorite drink in the afternoon, a Golden Margarita, Retired Command Sargent Major Robert Sloanes remembered those assignments acting the part of an ultra wealthy man.  The times he worked for the Bureau. The times he spent in counterespionage.  Then his time in the private sector, jetting around the world on the private planes of billionaires, he became well-known for his honesty and hard work. It was a job that made him millions but almost killed him in the process.

Riverwalk, located in Tin City, in the City of Naples, Florida was one of his favorite spots to hang out in an afternoon.  It was his respite. Situated along the river at Naples Bay, amongst all the yachts of the massively wealthy City, it is a rustic atmosphere, relaxing and tropical.Riverwalk

Sal, on certain afternoons, is the entertainment, a guitar player and singer. He wore his hair in a ponytail half way down his back. At age Sixty, Old Sal looked good and could entertain the crowd. Interaction was his key. Sal, was a social guy and liked mixing it up with the patrons.

The Major appreciated Sal’s liveliness and would send him a scotch about every third or fourth song.  The more Sal drank the better he got at interacting with the clientele, the more that happened, the more Sal made in tips.

The energy at the Riverwalk is infectious if you want it to be; or it could be completely island relaxing if that is your goal. The dress is casual. The major preferred his cargo shorts complemented with an expensive grey t-shirt. The same cargo shorts but with a Hawaiian shirt is Sal’s favorite attire. It just fits with the theme of the place.

A visit to the Riverwalk fills the Major’s need for social interaction. It is a place to share tales of past experiences for him. But it is also a place of solace relaxation and a complete battery recharge, situated in one of the best locations, on the river in Naples, Florida.

Say hello to Sal when you go.

A Chef De Bonita: AKA Figaro’s Debris Field

The broiler sizzled as the fresh mahi mahi was gently placed upon the fire. “Start the salmon and plate the pork chop prime rib,” yelled Alex, the Chef of Café Figaro.  The front of the house was packed as usual.  Nick, the rapt young buck handling the front of the house, was attending to the patrons’ satisfaction.  Some of the older women, probably longing for days gone by, flirted with Nick. But he knew it was just their fun game. To the dismay of many ladies, Nick had eyes focused elsewhere. Madeline was a much younger European lady, fluent in the same languages as the strapping mnan yobek.DSCN0007

The Mahi, Mahi with mango chutney arrived. I could not wait to dive in. Our other plate was the salmon. A third we had tried, in a prior visit, was the pork prime rib.  Perfectly done fresh fish means not even a hint of a fish smell but moist. They nailed it with these two dishes.  I have always shied away from ordering fish, in any restaurant, if I can smell even the slightest indication. From my fishing days as a child, fish never smell “fishy” when they were first caught, in other words, when they are fresh. So to this day, I judge seafood freshness based upon that childhood olfactory memory. It has not failed me yet.

Nick came back, joked with us and made us feel at home. He commented on the cleanliness of our area, witnessing first hand our DSCN0008last debris field performance. But in this particular case, the palate satisfaction was so great, not even the debris field could be saved.

In much the same way as Figaro, that crafty Barber of Seville matched perfectly the Count with his bride, Café Figaro has blended exquisite cuisines of American and Mediterranean influences, with affordable pricing and a quaint atmosphere.

As for Nick, he is still fending off the ladies…for now.

Where can I have it all at once, eats, sunset,and sand between my toes in Naples?

Naples, Florida is one of those places I would label pristine by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I have heard it called too sterile at times. I mean really, you could eat off the sidewalks. Well, I wouldn’t recommend it, but you get my drift.  Even the leaves on the trees are combed.

While most  coastal Florida cities have the strip of restaurants and entertainment venues along the beach, Naples has elected to design itself a bit differently. Finding that beautiful spot to have dinner, watch the sunset over the Gulf, and even option some sand between your toes is not as easily found in Naples as in most other beach side communities. So here are my top picks, from north to south, for meeting all those requirements, dinner, sunset, spotting a dolphin in the gulf, and opting-in for sand between the pigs.DSCN0002

Baleen at La Playa Beach and Golf Resort offers a fine dining experience. A visit to Baleen provides tranquility with no lists of who’s who, and a pleasant  beach side atmosphere for breathing in the lightly salted fresh air blowing gently across the Gulf.  There the sun offers an enchanting light show of purples, reds, oranges, and yellow hues bouncing off the intermittent cottony cumulus.As is typical with Florida sun sets, the bells ring as the grand fire-ball hits the horizon, but don’t leave,particularly if a few white puffy clouds are bouncing around.   The light show continues for the another thirty minutes.

Passing through the grand entryway to a terrace with seating overlooking the beach plants you inches from the soft sandy gulf beach.  After dinner stick around take off your shoes and sip an after dinner drink around an intimate fire pit.The Tiki bar pool side also garners such attention from the brilliant closing of another day in paradise.

 

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The Turtle Club at Vanderbilt beach offers seating on the sand. You read that right. Your toes sift through the sand as you indulge in some of the best seafood, steaks and chops. Do not spread the word too much though, because this eatery is the ‘secret’ place for the locals to dine. The Turtle Club in consistently voted the tops in waterfront dinning, not to mention, what a cool name, The Turtle Club. At the Vanderbilt Beach Resort a great experience awaits, pleasing your palette, playing footsy in the sand, and visually enchanting.

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Gumbo Limbo, a property of the Ritz Carlton, is accessible from either the beach or through the Ritz Carlton. Nestled amidst the mangroves, this raised boardwalk-type restaurant is ideal for sunsets.

After the ball drops, the bell rings, and you’ve had your fill take a stroll along the immaculate Vanderbilt Beach. Stop at the Turtle Club or even La Playa to enjoy all three for a night-cap as you then stroll back to your starting point, sand between toes. Ahhh, Paradise found.

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Last and certainly not the least, the Naples Beach Hotel and Golf Club is one of those last great properties from the early days of Naples. Golf is located just across the street. You do not need a shuttle here.HB'sr

HB’s is the signature restaurant.  Watch incredible sunsets, and dine on fresh seafood. Or slow things way down at the Sunset Beach Bar and Grill, I think the name says it all.

These dinners, sunset and sand combos will not disappoint.