By Catherine Cervone

Sometimes you just need to get off campus.

So that’s exactly what my roommate Ann Kast and I did Saturday morning. We’d had it marked on the calendar for weeks: March 25 was our “fun day.” Our day to get away from the stress of school, jobs, and extracurricular activities wasn’t even planned for a particular place until a couple days before the weekend; we just knew we had to get away.

Both of us being early risers, Ann voluntarily, me because my body has adjusted to my 8 a.m. class sleep schedule, left campus early and headed to our first destination: Piquant, a locally-owned French restaurant in downtown Tampa. They’re known for their farm-fresh ingredients and pastry cases full of mouth-watering desserts, and neither disappointed. Ann and I, being big breakfast fans, both went for the “Waffles and Strawberries.” The meal featured lemon and thyme waffles, fresh strawberries and cream, and delicious maple syrup, and definitely started the day off right. The restaurant was cute as could be, and a lot of families were taking advantage of the early morning breakfast hours. We finished off our meal by buying chocolate croissants out of the pastry case for later. That was hands down the best chocolate croissants I’ve ever eaten, and I’ve had a lot of chocolate croissants.

Our next stop was Buddy Brew, known in Tampa and in the surrounding area as a place to get great coffee. Though I’d had their coffee brewed at other local coffee shops, I had to try it for myself. I got an iced cold brew, and let’s just say that Tutu’s pales in comparison. Buddy Brew also had a great atmosphere to it. Young adults were scattered around the small shop, some in workout gear, others just enjoying a slow start to the morning, along with families and a few older gentlemen enjoying their morning coffee and a newspaper.

After that, Ann and I took our time, wandering around the Hyde Park area. It’s a charming little part of Tampa with shops and restaurants, and is a hit with young adults. We peeked into some locally-owned boutiques, and went into the Lululemon store, where we made friends with one of the employees as we chatted about our love of candles. We wandered through a cooking store called Sur La Table, where we found a coffee maker that cost multiple thousands of dollars. We daydreamed as we mentally picked out the items we would buy for our kitchen in our apartment next year. The same was the case with Anthropologie, and then with Francesca’s. What can I say, we’re stereotypical sorority girls who really like things that are pretty. Before we left Hyde Park, we also visited an adorable store called Paper Source, featuring greeting cards, scrapbook paper and a wide selection of paper craft supplies, including everything from stamps to Washi tape.

We soon left Hyde Park and headed over to the Tampa Museum of Art, which was just a short drive away. Students can get in free, so remember to bring your student ID. The museum has a few different exhibits right now, but mine and Ann’s favorites were one exhibit featuring a selection of art from the Classical World, an Alex Katz exhibit and an exhibit on the history of sports photography. I was extremely fascinated by the sports photography exhibit, but I’ll admit, my communications major may be showing through for that one. I don’t know very much about art in general, so Ann, the art history major, had a wonderful time explaining all the different pieces to me in the other two exhibits. There were beautiful works of art and pieces that have been around for thousands of years. Sometimes it makes you feel so small, but in a really good way. It reminds you the little things don’t matter so much.

When we arrived at the museum, we noticed that the parking garage was very full that day, but as we exited the museum, we finally understood why. We had stumbled upon an event called Bark in the Park. The event is put on by the Humane Society of Tampa Bay every year, and featured over 50 vendors and food trucks, live entertainment,and most importantly, dogs. It seemed as if there were at least a hundred dogs in the park that day, from big German Shepherds to tiny Chihuahuas. It felt like heaven.

After we stopped drooling over the dogs, we walked to a local food truck to get acai bowls. We ate them by the Riverwalk, then decided to head back home. Where we promptly headed to Black and Brew and started in on our homework.

We might not have gotten a long vacation, but it was nice to be away for the day. And sometimes, being away helps you realize just how great we have it here.


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