Dunedin Florida; more decidedly different than you'd think ... Jaunt.ca deal of day
DUNEDIN, FLORIDA - There's a sign showing a Scottish bagpiper when you cross into Dunedin from next-door Clearwater. And the guide books still talk about the kilts and tartans and all that Scottish heritage.
But, aside from the name, I gotta say I've never felt this town has any more relationship to Edinburgh than it does to Whitehorse or Tokyo. Yeah, they do a Celtic Festival in November and there's a Highlands Games week in spring, but the pubs on fun and pretty Main St. are called Skip's and O'Flanagan's and Blur. The shops on Main St. tend to sell tropical signs that advertise directions to Aruba and Jamaica or pink flamingo night lights, not shortbreads and tams.
Mardi Gras is a pretty big deal down this way, as is Oktobeerfest (their word for it) and Martin Luther King day and even Cinco de Mayo.
Anyway, the point here is that I started spending tons of time down this way when I covered the Blue Jays from 1992 to 1998, and I've been coming here steadily since for the beauty of the coast and the nearby beaches and the food and the shopping and the laid-back attitude and, yes, diversity.
I'm only here (truth be told, I opted to stay on the beach at the lovely Sheraton Sand Key resort in next-door Clearwater, as I'm a sucker for sunsets and having sand between my toes) for about 36 hours. But the diversity point was driven home pretty quickly. When I got in on Tuesday night, I parked outside the bank on Main St. and walked up to a newish spot (for me, anyway) called Pan Y Vino. As I strolled past the nightclub that's attached to Kelly's restaurant, a long-time fave, I could see a group of cross-dressing guys belting out a tune inside.
I don't know how it started, but there's been a gay-friendly, drag queen-filled place on quiet little Main St. in Dunedin since I started coming here 20 years ago. And it's a hoot. I confess to never having been inside, but I always chuckle about it and think, "Well, good for you to be so open-minded." Just to make the point even more obvious, I noticed a sign outside the club for an upcoming night of Drag Queen Bingo.
A woman at a shop on Main St. told me she's proud of her city's tolerance. She thought I was stretching the point when I said it's kinda like a miniature, more subdued Key West but I think she got the idea.
The town has changed quite a bit over the years, with more and more offerings for tourists. A few months back, a fun shop called Middle Earth Olive Oil Company opened just below Main St. on Broadway. They sell olive oils from Morocco, Italy and Greece and more, and they also have a ton of flavours, including lemon pepper and basil. Ditto for the thick, flavourful balsamic vinegars you can taste, including chocolate, blueberry and lots more.
There are new pubs and shops and cafes opening fairly frequently, so if you haven't been in a while it's worth a peek. And don't forget we're less than a month from the day that Blue Jays pitchers and catchers report for spring training. So don't despair as you shovel and shiver; happier days are at hand.
JAUNT.CA DEAL OF THE DAY
Jaunt.ca, a division of Torstar, has a deal for a lovely getaway to Cabo San Lucas in Baja California, Mexico. It's priced at $1,505, including $240 in taxes. Here are the details:
- All-inclusive 7-night stay at adults-only RELAX at Pueblo Bonito Pacifica Resort & Spa, located in Los Cabos, Mexico
- Includes return air from Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Regina or Saskatoon to Los Cabos, with hotel/airport transfers in Mexico
- Accommodations in a Deluxe Room, featuring 1 king or 2 queen beds and a balcony or patio. Maximum occupancy: 3 adults
- Daily breakfast, lunch and dinner, and unlimited alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks
Why We Love It:
- Enjoy unlimited a la carte dining at several on-site gourmet restaurants
- The resort features an award-winning spa
- RELAX features include separate check-in, in-room bottle of alcohol and more
- Valid for travel on the following departure dates:
Toronto: March 15, 16, 22 & 23, 2013
Vancouver: March 7 & 28, 2013
Edmonton: March 9 & 16, 2013
Regina: March 14 & 21, 2013
Saskatoon: March 7 & 21, 2013
- Pricing (rates are per person, plus tax):
- Valid passport required for travel from Canada
- This offer is 100% non-refundable at time of booking