Thursday, February 24, 2011
The Square On The Circle...
One of the wonderful aspects of vacationing on Lido Key has to be St.Armand's Circle. For this eccentric lover of life, a glorious outdoor shopping district of four circles connecting magnificent shops with fine dining equals an amazing people-watching experience.
Pictured here is a bronze statue of John Ringling of the famous Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus. As the real estate market exploded in the 1920's, Mr. Ringling and his wife, Mabel, designed a magnificent winter home and museum for their extensive art collection. Sarasota became the world headquarters for his famous circus and a playground for wealthy socialites as the "it" place to be. I find the circus reference completely appropriate as on any given Saturday this is exactly what the traffic on St. Armand's Circle turns into; hence, why we are visiting on a Thursday.
Today, beautiful Sarasota still beckons to the wealthy. Yours truly, being neither wealthy nor a socialite, gives thanks to the glorious concept of time-shares, which dear husband and I purchased over ten years ago when we were young and foolish. (Thank heavens for young and foolish!) Here you can see my oldest daughter (in the white skirt) strolling along one of the circles window shopping the quaint St. Armand's shops. Even if one has no intention of buying anything as they have committed to adhering to the strict budget and getting out of debt this year (raise your hand of this applies to you...I mean me...I mean us...) a walk around St. Armand's cannot be missed.
Upon entering the Circle off of Lido Key, your senses are abducted with the luscious delectables of Kilwin's Chocolates. Here we you can see one of the candy/ice cream makers hand-dipping one of their delicious cones. At any time of day a pass by the window will reward you with fudge, brittle, candy, and so on being hand-crafted by these artisans. My tummy is growling just remembering...
Passing several street musicians, this shop (Fanta Sea) gives an idea of what one can find on the Circle. When I made my maiden voyage around the Circle back in 1991, shops such as Ralph Lauren were populating the scene. Now most of the shops are of this nature, catering to the whimsical and one-of-a-kind treasures. However, I am pleased to report those fans of the higher-end clothing line will not be disappointed, as Black & White, Tommy Bahama, Lily Pulitzer, Chico's, and Soma Lingerie can also be found throughout the spheres.
Of all the shops, this one is hands-down my favorite. My daughters and I make the pilgrimage every year to gaze/drool/dream over the lovely new items displayed throughout. Upon entering, I feel as if I have been welcomed into a home in Provence. I create a wish list of items I will keep an eye out for when trolling Ebay or consignment shopping as I visualize new ways to "Frenchify" my home. What could be better?
As the people watching comes to an end and you find yourself back to where you began, look straight ahead. The sun setting over Lido Key is simply breathtaking and you find yourself giving thanks for all that is beautiful in your life. Or at least...that's what I do. Thank you for being with me on this journey. Now I shall stroll off into the sunset and finish my ice cream cone.