My mother and aunt are involved in an organization called FCSU (First Catholic Slovak Union), which is a fraternal group that also sells life insurance. (As an aside, if you're part Slovak and want life insurance, I can totally
hook you up.) Every few years, the FCSU has a convention somewhere to all meet face-to-face, have elections, revise by-laws, and other administrivia. This year's was at the Boca Raton Resort & Club
. The reason it was held in such a luxurious place is that, between the heat and hurricanes, it's the off-season down in FL, so they got a really great deal on everything.
I wasn't really looking forward to summer in Florida, but the whole area was a lot nicer than I thought it'd be. Even the weather was more bearable than I'd feared; my skin was *loving* the humidity.
"The Boca" was just about as nice as the pictures make it seem. The service and food were just amazing; it was like eating at a wedding for every meal. Beef tenderloin with shrimp, huge cuts of pork, asparagus, potatoes, salads.... And the desserts; oh, my. Tables of chocolate torts, apple crisp, and some of the best cheesecake I've ever had.
One particularly nice touch was the tea: they had these fancy pyramid-shaped silken infusers
with some of the best tea I've ever had. It was flavorful, with a lovely smell, and not a hint of bitterness. You can order them online
, but they're rather expensive. Even the 48ct. boxes are about $1-per. Other stores carry them, but they don't seem to be much cheaper.
On Saturday, since the convention hadn't yet begun, my family and I drove up to Palm beach to visit the Flagler Museum. It's a real reflection of the Gilded Age
: vaguely along the lines of the Biltmore Estate and Hearst Castle, but done a bit smaller, and with less timeless taste.
Next we checked out The Breakers resort
. Wow! Now that's
a Florida hotel! They were setting up for a wedding reception in The Circle
, and I was just bowled over. I must stay there someday.
After that it was a short drive to check out Worth Avenue
, the "Rodeo Drive of the East Coast". So, yeah, streets lined with very nice, expensive cars and lots of prissy shops targeting the undersized overrich. It was nice to see, but we didn't stay long.
The convention proper started up that night, and even though I wasn't part of the delegation, there were a lot of things I had to attend. In the end, I had less time on my own than I'd hoped; maybe 2 days total.
Monday morning I explored the hotel grounds a bit, and then my friend Chris picked me up for lunch. I hadn't seen him in ages! It was so good catching up with him again; I wish he lived closer. *sigh* Sadly, his work schedule precluded us spending more than 2 hours together, and since he's in a monogamous relationship, there wasn't any hanky-panky. If only we'd met years ago...
When I returned to the hotel, I took a few hours to check out the sauna, steam room, beach, and outdoor whirlpool. After dinner was some nightswimming. Later that night, my cousin and I went down to the relatively new Hard Rock hotel/casino
in Hollywood, FL. It was attached to this thing called Seminole Paradise
, which was some sort of Las Vegas/Universal Citywalk crossover. Interesting, in a train wreck sort of way.
On Tuesday, my cousin and I had planned to visit a japanese garden, but they were closed when we got there. Oh, yeah, it's a holiday. Oops. So pretty much everything was closed that day, which sucked. We ended up just driving around a bit, checking out the area. After lunch, I just sat in the hotel room, just enjoying doing absolutely nothing.
That night was fireworks. Oooh, I do love my fireworks. The local display was pretty good, but the best part was having a background of the next show down the coast, and the next, and the next.... It was quite something. I still miss the Oswego show
Wednesday morning was spent cleaning up, packing, and checking out. We tried to take a river cruise in Ft. Lauderdale, but the timing wasn't working out with regards to our flights. After returning the car to the airport, and checking our baggage, I found out my flight was delayed about 2 hours. Drat; we should have gone on the river cruise. Instead, we all sat down to dinner at Sbarro (which was surprisingly good).
At which point, my latest adventure began...