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©John R. Turner

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March 25, 2010

When I was a teenager, the grand pink pile of the Don CeSar Hotel on St. Petersburg Beach struck me as the epitome of luxury. I used to promise myself that when I grew up and got rich, I would go there and stay for a week or two. As I've grown older my ambitions have become less florid. Since the standard rate at the Don CeSar is about $300 a night, I don't any longer think staying there would be worth the price. However, just last week, I decided that lunch there would be sensible and fulfill my desire, at long last, to enter the scared precincts. So, along with wife and daughter, I went.
Out and About with Word and Image of Vermont

The Don CeSar Hotel
It was a pleasant enough experience. My daughter, who has grown up among more sophisticated institutions than I ever knew as a boy, wasn't overwhelmed by the Don CeSar. She said, in fact, that it symbolized Florida's instinct to be expensive and cheap at the same time. But I wasn't much abashed. I was inside the Don CeSar and, actually, happy enough to be there.

We walked through the main lobby -- which maybe was a bit garish -- and found the main lunch room on the lower floor, right beside the outdoor veranda and pool. The food was not astounding, but it was good enough for me, and I thought the bread basket that came with it rose well beyond the average. I sat back in the plush chair and realized one of my boyhood dreams.
Later, we drove a couple miles south and walked on the beach a Pass-a-Grille Beach. It's a place I also used to visit as a boy, so the whole day was a triumph of nostalgia. I enjoyed myself immensely.