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Trip Report See Naples and Cry - when you are leaving, that is.

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This Trip Report to Naples Florida has a focus on food, hotel, beaches, food, nature, side-trips, and food.
You might find it of interest and maybe give me some tips on how to shed the pounds I have gained.
Background: this trip coincided with both my birthday and me and Mrs Lyon’s anniversary. We both love Florida, and I like it especially for the various birds you can spot.
We flew with American Airlines for approx. $800 each round trip, from Manchester to Miami via JFK.
The Hotel Trianon where we stayed came highly recommended and we were not disappointed. It is in a very good location and although a half an hour walk to the beach is well placed for many of the fine dining restaurants on 5th Street South. It is about a half an hour walk away from the old part of Naples where the pier is located and more fine dining on 3rd Street South. Near the hotel is Tin City where Naples Bay starts, this is a waterway that goes out to the sea and has a few good restaurants around it. We booked a better room in the hotel as this came with a big balcony. The room and bed was large and the bathroom had both large shower, and a bath. Customer relations are excellent and we were made to feel very much at home. The room charge includes a very adequate continental breakfast. There are rather poor coffee making machines in the room, my only complaint, these are too complicated, too meagre, and deliver cold coffee. The hotel has a pool which occasionally gets crowded especially in late afternoon.
http://www.trianon.com/oldnaples.html
Our first meal (lunchtime as we awaited the room to be made ready) was at a lovely and fairly cheap Café overlooking the Bay at Tin City: “Pinchers Crab Shack” and we shared a tasty Grouper Sandwich with Salad and a couple of beers for $30. We also returned here for an evening meal where Mrs Lyon had one of the most tasty pasta dishes she had ever had.
http://www.pincherscrabshack.com/locations.php
Our first evening meal was at Bistro 821. This is on Fifth Street South. We joined at starters of calamari and gorgonzola and pear salad – this was incredible although there was too much calamari. Mrs Lyon had a divine dish – stir fry prawns – lots of prawns and very tasty. Mine was a disappointment– seafood risotto (poor despite the mounds of seafood) the rice was overcooked and I eventually left it. Mrs Lyon had also been served a portion of overcooked rice. For such a well recommended restaurant they need to learn how to cook rice, but I appreciate we may have been unlucky and this may have been a ‘one off’. The cost including wine came to $115.
http://www.bistro821.com/
For my birthday surprise we went to the Caffe Del Amore near a wonderful beach called Lowdermilk. The food was incredible, a leaving customer suggested that the soup was to die for and we went with her suggestion – it was wonderful. Mrs Lyon had one of the best lasagnes she had ever eaten – I had a taste and wish I had chosen the same thing. I decided on Crab and pasta in a lemon sauce which was very tasty although a bit on the oily side. The chocolate cake we shared was an amazing experience. The cost including wine came to $140.

http://www.caffedellamore.com/
Near 3rd Street South is a wonderful pub called Old Naples Pub who serve really tasty sandwiches with real chips washed down with a pint of Smithwicks (Irish beer) – highly recommended for lunch.
http://oldnaplespub.com/
We had a number of sidetrips including a disappointing trip to the Everglades, be careful which airboat ride you select. After a poor airboat ride (I had forgotten the book and its recommendation until we had set off) we found that Everglades Town National Park organise their own nature trips, I think this would have been better. We had a lovely trip up to Sanibel (about an hour), although the beach was not as I remembered it and not as nice as those at Naples. They do have a great nature trip at Sanibel: James J Dingling Nature Park and these do an excellent guided safari. There are lots and lots of other nature parks in the vicinity which are well worth a visit including Corkscrew Swamp and Ten Thousand Island’s refuge. Alligators are visible from the road between Naples and Miami. If you like nature you can not go wrong. All the time you can spot various egret, osprey, pelicans, and white ibis, and in the sea, dolphins are visible both at Cayton Dock and by Naples Pier. One of the best trips to see dolphins is the boat trip from Tin City.
http://www.purenaples.com/cruise/eco-cruises/cruise-options/
This was a highlight. Great value and a must do. It is a very sensitive trip which is well narrated. It ‘bigs’ up many of the owners of the luxury mansions in Naples and quite rightly mentions their many charitable projects. Somehow, this gets obscured by the fact that many of the buyers of these mansions immediately rip down the buildings and build their own. This can not sit well with the notion of conserving resources, and ironic that when we get back to our hotel there is a notice in my bathroom talking about saving resources by reusing towels.
The beaches are fantastic, getting in the sea at Naples is like getting in the bath. We liked Lowdemilk Beach, Naples Beach by the pier. Clam Pass Park Beach is beautiful and you get to it via a boardwalk or there is a free trolley bus to take you there and back. Lovers Key about 3o minutes from Naples has great nature side walks and a lovely beach (but only as good as those in Naples. Beaches can be expensive on parking – it took us a while to figure out how to use the meters but they do take credit cards. Places like Lovers Key charge $8 for your parking.
Back to food, our final meal was at a Thai restaurant where we had some lovely Thai soup followed by Thai curry, very cheap but far too big in portion.
http://www.sushithaitoo.com/Home/Welcome.html
Other places we ate at: Greek Gourmet – great service, and food okay and cheap. Mangrove Café – a place the Brits kept on plugging to us on account of its meal deal, two mains and a bottle of wine for $38. Riverwalk – great setting and good food.
Other top tip, if you are visiting the Everglades make sure you smother yourself in anti-mosquito repellent.
All in all, a fantastic trip and thanks to all the Fodorites (especially NeoPatrick, SusanMargaret and Scotia) for giving so freely their advice and helping us with a memorable trip.
Steve

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