There we were, mesmerised by the white sands of Clearwater Beach. The sands could easily have been mistaken for the snow that had fallen in upstate New York. Pelicans and cormorants were roosting on Pier 60, waiting for the fish to present themselves for dinner. Hotels and condominiums (some charging $8,000 a month) lined up the beach. Trip Advisor calls this the #1 beach in the United States. Having been to the beaches in California and Hawaii, I am not so certain of that ranking but what’s the point of debating it. Clearwater is a half hour away from St Petersburg (or “St Pete” as the locals call it), which we had come to visit a second time in six years. I was speaking at a major energy conference and had packed a few days of vacation into the trip. The Uber driver from the airport in Tampa did not know if town’s name had anything to do with St Petersburg in Russia. He was a young man from Paraguay who had only lived in Florida for a few years. His English was fluent and we talked about life in Latin America. It turned out that he had done a summer internship at one of the world’s biggest hydroelectric dams in Brazil. We had not seen the dam but had seen the adjacent Iguacu Falls in our first visit to Brazil 2010. So we got to chat with him about Brazil and Chile, where one his cousins lived. Interestingly, a few days later we were riding with another Uber driver who had just returned after living in Brazil for 20 years. This time we discussed linguistics and Brazilian politics. Trip Advisor calls this the #1 beach in the United States. Having been to the beaches in California and Hawaii, I am not so certain of that ranking but what’s the point of debating it Besides its various beaches along the Gulf of Mexico, St Pete has a number of museums, theatres and restaurants. We were able to see a few. We were staying at the Vinoy hotel, a landmark property with a stunning exterior. It is the venue of many events including auctions, weddings and conferences. But despite having undergone several renovations over the past century, it feels dated on the inside. Nevertheless, it’s hard to beat the Vinoy’s location. It’s right on the beach and near several of the major attractions. Less than 10 minutes away is the Museum of Fine Arts. The exterior architecture evokes Rome. The collections range from Indian art to Roman and Greek art. They had also have an unusual collection of insect art. Another 10 minutes away lies the James Museum of Western Art. It’s relatively new and its collections highlight the life and plight of Native Americans. The sculptures are awesome as are some of the paintings. But it was the Florida Holocaust Museum, with its exhibits highlighting the cruelty of man to man, which cast a spell over us. A railway car was parked there, with descriptions and pictures posted on the sides showing how a hundred people were stuffed inside and taken to an unknown destination. There was no air conditioning nor any bathroom. Some did not survive the journey. When those who survived arrived at their destination, they discovered it was a prison where they were doomed to spend the rest of their life. At some point they must have discovered that the Nazi’s had rounded them up simply based on their ethnicity. Soon they were grouped into camps and forced to perform hard labour, men, women and children alike. As some weakened, they were sent for extermination in the gas chamber. Their bodies were later burned, turned to ash, and buried. To escape this fate, some would cut themselves and spread the blood over their faces so they would look healthy and avoid death by at least a few days. St Pete is also the location for a Dali Museum and an artistic Museum of glass art. We had seen both the last time. There were at least a dozen eateries near the hotel, offering British, Indian, Italian, Mexican, and Spanish cuisine along with traditional American fare. Just about every menu featured seafood, including the local Grouper fish, crabs, lobsters and oysters. Many other restaurants including French and Vietnamese were located in the Central District and it also had the usual pizza and hamburger joints. One day we checked out the Sunken Garden. We arrived only to discover that we had seen it on our prior visit. With its amazing collections of flowers, parrots, Koi Ponds, and Chilean flamingos, it proved worthy of a second visit. It also had a spacious garden set aside for weddings. With its tall hedges, trees, and bougainvillea surrounding a lush green lawn, it was the embodiment of happiness and grace. One evening we walked a half hour to see a musical, “We shall rock you” at the Mahaffey Theatre. It was an adaption of the movie, Bohemian Rhapsody, and had many songs from the British band, Queen. Some science fiction elements had been added to it, along with a series of male-female debates, giving it an unusual kitsch plot. Some of the risqué dialogue escaped me but it certainly resonated with many in the audience. During one of our daily walks, we passed by the Palladium Theatre. A man was crossing the street bearing a large sign, “Impeach the Traitor.” He got quite a “honking” nod from the passing cars. Perhaps the live street theatre was more interesting than whatever was being staged inside. There is a free trolley in St Peter which covers the beach and adjacent downtown area with 20 stops. We took the ride one day just for the heck of it. An electric bus was also making the rounds. We also saw a few electric charging stations, a few electric cars (Tesla Model 3s), and a sign promoting solar energy in a shopping mall. So St Pete also had a nerdy side. One evening we took the ferry to Tampa. It was a 45 minute ride but not one that offers any views comparable to what you get from ferries in San Francisco or Sydney. Tampa also has a zoo and an aquarium. But we had run out time. They would have to await a future visit. The flight home was delayed by three and a half hours due to an engine problem with the incoming aircraft. When it arrived, the crew had timed out so we had to wait for another half hour for a replacement crew member to arrive from New Jersey. Ultimately, all things fell into place and we took off. The flight home was smooth as silk.