Friday, November 15, 2013

Sun Shines Through Lido Key & Mote Aquarium

My friend Lynn and I woke up to the bright sunshine at the Lido Beach Resort. It was our first trip to the western keys off Sarasota and had been a good one so far.

I had breakfast through room service and thoroughly enjoyed chocolate chip pancakes with blueberries while watching the waves off my balcony. We had a pretty full day and I was hoping to have some time to also get close to those waves.

We were starting the day with a trip to the Mote Aquarium and Research Center, which is dedicated to the ocean life in the area. We learned about Eugenie Clark, still diving and supporting the aquarium’s research into her 90s. We saw some of the research in the form of a project trying to breed octopus in captivity.

One way the Mote Aquarium and research laboratory raise money is through farm by raising sturgeon to harvest caviar and sell it. I found it to be quite fascinating as the process was explained.

Sea turtles are a big part of life here and the aquarium hopes to educate those in the water about respecting their space. There is a full laboratory for research and a hospital to help heal rescued marine life.

This included manatees found in the area injured from boating accidents. We also saw and pet some stingrays while they were enjoying the shade.

Before we left the aquarium to head back to Lido Beach Resort we spent some time with the resident bottlenose dolphin. Moonshine is a rare pantropical spotted dolphin that was rescued after being stranded in the Keys. He’s quite friendly and seemed to enjoy doing tricks and getting attention from the crowd around him.

I had read that the Brunch at Lido Beach Resort was one of the best in the state and it did not disappoint. It was wonderful, but nothing was as good as the view. From every window of the restaurant there seemed to be another picture-perfect scene. We toasted brunch with a glass of champagne, before sampling the buffet. There was quite a lot of seafood, which Lynn and I are both allergic to, but there were still plenty of options to leave us satisfied.

We started with some cold salad items, including a Caprese Salad with yellow, orange and red tomatoes. We passed on the custom-made omelets in favor of some of the hot dishes. I think the Blintz were my favorite, filled with creamy cheese. I also enjoyed the Chicken Florentine.

Dessert was a tough choice, offering everything from bread pudding to warm chocolate chip cookies (my favorite).

After that full meal I took a walk on the beach and then enjoyed a Wolfberry Mojito at the pool. By that time I had digested all that food and even did a few laps.
In the evening, we drove to Siesta Key for dinner and to check out the beach, which has been voted the “Best Beach in the U.S.” It was quite nice, but it does take a lot to impress me having grown up near the beach and seen so many around the world.

It was just before sunset and we were told that locals gathered at this time on Sundays for a drum circle on the beach. We stayed for a bit to listen to the music and watch the dancing, but it was rather cloudy so we didn’t see much of a sunset.

We did find a little Italian place in downtown Siesta Key called Falvios. It was a great choice and we shared a plate of ricotta and spinach filled ravioli as well as a perfectly cooked pasta with tomatoes, eggplant and fresh mozzarella.

We were pretty exhausted by the time we got back to the Lido Beach Resort so it was an early evening before another big day in Florida's Other Keys. 

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