“On The Fringe” – Cool Places I’ve Been: Ybor City, Florida

On the Fringe

Somewhere around February, 2012, I decided I was going to take a trip to Florida for my “milestone” birthday that summer. Mainly it was because my mom and dad already have a place in Florida, therefore lodging would be cheap. Also, as all paranormal enthusiasts know, the St. Augustine Lighthouse (in St. Augustine FL., of course), is one of the holy grails of ghost hunting…and by God I was going there! Then, one afternoon after I’d made this decision, I was puttering around the house with the T.V. on in the background. As per usual, I’d flipped through the channels to find something ghosty and found “Dead Files”. I had never seen the show before, but the premise was that a detective (the facts-type person) and a psychic (the, ah, psychic-type person) team up to investigate allegedly haunted places. In this episode the two were at the Don Vicente Inn, also known as “Hotel Hell” in Ybor City, Florida. I didn’t really pay that much attention to the details other than this place was in Florida just like St. Augustine. I made mention of it to my mom (she went on the trip with me – she is such a good sport!) and she arranged for us to spend a night there.

We got to Ybor City towards the end of our Haunted Florida trip. The city itself is an eclectic mix of old and new. It has a rich history of immigrants of various ethnicities working together and creating hand-rolled Cuban cigars by day, then partying in separate facilities by night.

We made our way to the Don Vicente Inn and checked in. “You are in room number 305“, the desk clerk told us. “Is it haunted?” I asked jokingly. She looked at me like I’d asked if the world was round. “Umm…yeah”, she said. “Oh…is the whole place haunted?” I acted like I was joking again. And again, I got that look. “Yes.” She replied. I can’t remember what I said next, but it was probably squealy and geeky.

The inn was old and ornate and full of antiques. Our room was one of only sixteen total in the whole place. The first thing I did after we settled in was book a ghost tour for that evening. On our way out, we hit the basement button instead of the lobby button of the elevator. The door opened up to a brick room with a couple of tables, an area that appeared to be a stage of sorts, and some bizarre looking black statues. The investigator in me had to take a peek around, but we did not stay long because my mom was seriously creeped out by the space.

We met up with Joe, our tour guide , near a statue of Mr. Ybor. We learned more fascinating city history and got to visit the Cuban Club, which we were told was considered the third most haunted place in America. Eventually our tour ended up in front of The Don Vicente Inn. My mom innocently pipes up “Oh, this is where we’re staying tonight.”
I thought Joe’s eyes popped a little bit “What room?” he asked.
“Room 305”, we answered.
“Did you ASK for that room?”
“Not really, I just mentioned that she liked haunted things” my mom gestured at me.
“Oh…well… hopefully you’ll still want to stay there when we’re done.”
(YIPEE!) (that was in my head)

Because of a conflict of events, instead going into the Don Vicente when the above conversation took place, the inn became our last stop on the tour. Joe took us down to the creepy basement my mom and I had landed in earlier by accident. He told us how the hotel used to be a hospital and that to this day an apparition of a nurse appears in two different forms; both as an older hag nurse and a beautiful young nurse. He also told us of a young, spoiled, wannabe doctor who probably incinerated bodies down there in the basement. We invited Joe and the rest of the members of our tour (there were six others) up to our notorious room where we heard how a murder/suicide had taken place there. Also, the apparition of the hag nurse appears there. Also, electrical appliances (the TV, the card reader for the door) tend to screw up in there. (YES!) After a bit, the group thanked us profusely then they and Joe left.

I’m pretty sure it was because I was hyped up from the tour, but I had a hard time falling asleep in room 305 that night. When I finally dozed off, I was visited by the hag nurse. Think of a black form that looked like the witch who gives Snow White the poison apple. She was over top of me and I was pinned to the bed, scared to death and unable to move. (Get OFF of me!) (Yes, I shouted that in my head, because I was also unable to speak). The form evaporated and I sat bolt upright, trying not to wake my mother who was asleep in the other bed, but also trying to stop my heart from racing. I can tell you that there were no electrical problems with the TV that night, because I was wide awake watching it until the morning sun.

When my mom woke up, I asked how she slept. She said good, except she had this crazy nightmare in which an Indian boy came out of the wall from under TV. Then other people started coming out of the wall, too, and they were all mad that she was there. This sounds pretty insignificant until you see this episode of The Dead Files at about the 25.05 mark. And how do I know my mom never saw this episode? Because her TV viewing pretty much consists of American Idol, Dancing With The Stars, The Amazing Dr. Pol, and whatever sporting event my dad is watching.. She leaves this paranormal stuff to me.

So if you enjoy the paranormal and are planning a visit to Florida, check out Ybor City. Make a reservation at the Don Vicente Inn. Book a ghost tour with Joe. And then let me know how it goes…

I'll talk more about this little lady a little later...
I was getting too much rest and relaxation on this vacation anyway…

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