Day 14 - A multi-vehicle pileup in St Petersburg (Mileage about 40 miles in cabs, legs and segways)

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September 20th 2013
Published: September 26th 2013
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Finally, this blog carries news of the accident and subsequent medical attention that I'm sure most of you that read this blog have been hoping for... a chance for a bit of Moore chaos and calamity on tour!

The day started of beautifully with clear blue skys and a morning wakeup call from the ducks. Overnight we had left the awning up and hadn't realised just how much rain had fallen but it was pretty 'bowed' holding about 2 foot of water when we woke up and I was surprised it hadn't split the awning open. Opting to let one side of the awning down gently to let the water run away I unhooked the clip, completely underestimating the weight that was up there. The clip gave way, the arm collapsed and hundreds of gallons of water came crashing down! Much of it over me. The bang was so loud the neighbours came running thinking I'd let off a gun....and had a good laugh when they saw the resulting flooding around me!

No pain and no damage thankfully, apart from pride, we set off in a Batt's taxi for a 30 dollar cab ride into downtown St. Petersburg. Having read up on the guidebooks and asked the site managers advice, we set off for the pier which appeared to be The main place downtown to start. It was very hot and the cab dropped us off on the waterfront with what looked like a half to three quarter of a mile walk to the end of the impressive pier. At the end looked like an upturned five storey high colourful pyramid and we were keen to explore. It was a very quiet and after a very hot walk along the pier but as we got to within 100 yards of the end it became clear was closed for demolition. What looked like a quite modern and funky building is actually (apparently) a 40 year old crumbling mess and is due for demolition any day. We were given the great news by a security guard and turned around and sent back down the pier. By this point the heat was unbearable and walking in it was proving difficult. We were atbthis point overtaken by a group of tourists on segways moving at much faster speeds with a lot less effort and we stopped the guide at the front for some details of their tours.

Unable to walk much further in the heat, we settled in on a lovely restaurant at the 'land' end of the pier called Frescos Waterfront Bistro. Whilst the well heeled of St Petersburg were heading for the views from their outdoor deck over the harbour, we rushed into the sanctity of the inside restaurant and it's air conditioning and several pints of cold water and coke!

Adamant we weren't going to be doing much more walking in the afternoon heat, we set off across the waterfront park on a short stroll to Courigans Irish Pub for a little more refreshment and to sign up for the Segway tours they run from there.

We were a group of four plus tour guide for the afternoon on a 2 to 2.5 hour tour of the waterfront district. The segways are reasonably easy to ride and we had done a similar tour on them a couple of years ago in Madrid. After an initial chat, signature of waiver and some tuition, we had a gentle practice around the park opposite the bar. After five minutes you realise it's all about shifting your body weight around to go forwards, backwards and for sideways steering movement and no matter how much you waggle the handlebars around, it makes no difference! Even for someone of my significant body weight it was quite easy, although I was slightly slower than the other more lighter members of the group.

With confidence for all four established, we set off following our guide Tom, zig zagging through the waterfront parks along the shoreline. This tour is more of an 'experience' tour than a formal guided tour and whilst Tom did point out various sights along the way, it was more about looking around at what the city had to offer rather than a formal history or Geography lesson. Time on a Segway takes its toll on feet and calves and Tom had several stops built in on the waterfront, in a local park (where you had a chance to go off and 'freestyle' or just stop for a fag!

Having reached the end of one end of St. Petes seafront, we turned and followed a slightly different route back to the 'pier of pain' we had already walked along in the morning. This time it was a lot cooler on the segways with the airflow from travelling at 10mph and less effort required than walking in the morning. From the pier which is awaiting a city decision on it's replacement (looking for something akin to the Sydney Opera House apparently according to Tom!) it was on past the current ground of the Tampa Bay Rowdies soccer team (no Rodney Marsh and Best these days but Carl Court is currently playing) not an impressive pitch these days, its actually a converted local high school baseball field for the second tier team. We circled the harbour and stopped at the harbour masters office for refreshments and a loo stop.

On setting off one of the group realised she had left her helmet behind and whilst they doubled back to retrieve it Shas and I wobbled around in the harbour carpark waiting for their return. The thing about segways is that they are very stable unless one wheel comes into contact with a stationary object whilst the other is free. Whilst virtually at a standstill, our two wheels touched and both segways spun throwing us both off onto the carpark floor just as the others returned. Picking ourselves up, Shas had a teeny graze on her knee that spouted claret all down her leg and of course it was all my fault!Whilst weconsidered I was banished to the back of the line at least 50metres from all other members of the group to avoid any further accidents!

We cruised on past the futuristic Dali museum on the waterfront, thankfully Segways now allowed inside and then it was a short trip across the park back to the Irish pub. It had been about two and half hours with 3 or 4 stops and one medical emergency, but we had seen a huge amount of the St. Pete's waterfront that we would never have seen on foot.

We returned back to the site via another BATS taxi with a great ZZ top lookalike cab driver who wanted to talk about the royal family, the Muslims, hitch-hiking, gun control and his love of sofa surfing with contacts he meets around the world...strangely enough we choose not to offer our own sofa in Mogador should he be passing but it was a very entertaining journey and an 'interesting' view of world and US politics from a very big, friendly but slightly misguided local!

Being our last night in the RV it was time to return to the camp, pack the bags, unload the remaining bread on the ducks and prepare for the return to Orlando in the morning. Our last barby was a sumptuous feast of everything left in the fridge then it was final CSI/X factor on the RV entertainment centre and bed ready for a very early start in the morning.

Additional photos below
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27th September 2013

Fancy stopping for a fag but not the Dali museum......I am disappointed in the 2 of you!!!!!!

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