The blistering cold of a New York winter that has finally arrived painfully reminds me how hot and sunny it was only two weeks ago in Florida. It was mid-January, when I joined the flock of New Yorkers who take a trip down to Miami when the City is too cold to endure during those 4 cold winter months.
Flying to Miami from here is convenient. Landing at Fort Lauderdale or Miami airport and soaking in the sun for a couple of days – easily done. The flight is only 3 hours without any time difference, simplifying matters for a mini-vacation.
We booked our flight to and landed in Fort Lauderdale on a chilly Friday morning. With some cool 55 degrees (13 Celsius) blasting at me, I started wondering if I should have packed a jacket or two. Luckily, as the day went by, it turned warmer and warmer, until it reached the mid-70ies almost at midnight (bizarre, isn’t it?).
Since we had booked with a shared-ride company, we were pretty much stuck to see parts of Miami and Miami beach for a total of 1 ½ hours (!) while dropping off
a lot of some fellow passengers. Our first impressions were the hotels and then the people entering and exiting these hotels. The boyfriend smirked and let me know that this was exactly what he had expected Miami to be about: The flashy cars and suits, and people trying to act famous. It was a bit of a show, the entire time we were there, I have to admit.
We were glad when we finally arrived at our apartment, booked through airbnb (a site I can highly recommend). In the middle of South Beach we had rented out a lovely studio owned by an Austrian landlord who was eager to show us the hotspots of his adopted home. “I’ve lived here for 17 years” he announced in his strong European accent. “If you want good coffee, go to Las Olas, it has the best breakfast ever!” Oh Austrians and their “good” coffee!
Since it was noon by now, we did not check out this lovely spot but went on to a random Taco Bar, which served some excellent Tex-Mex food. Finding good Mexican food outside of California is always a feat. Miami has many Spanish speakers from Latin country so it was actually not that hard to come across a variety of their restaurants and little food shops.
Next, the beach. Pretty much the only thing we’d been anxiously awaiting since the time we got off the plane. It did not disappoint: Crystal clear water with a clear turquoise tint. White sandy beaches you only see in Florida. The only thing that did disappoint was the weather, of course (think 60 degrees by now). So we gave up on the idea of swimming on our first day here and strolled along the beach.
There is a fair called “The Strip” close to the water, which is most likely the most
primitive simple street fair I have seen in a long time. Tents are built up to show off some overpriced random souvenirs you can find in any other beach town. On Saturday, there were old-timers parked on this long road, but other than that I figured there is not really much to see.
We therefore decided to walk on the wooden roads leading close to the beach but still past the hotels and we got glimpses of their glamorous outdoor pools, their bar areas at the water, and the nice lay-outs you must only see in Miami. An afternoon drink at the Raleigh and a snack at one of the most Southern restaurants you will find in South Beach. The Yardbird is one institution – off the main hotel road, in the middle of the town. It serves peculiar items such as the Yam-hattan and the Cheddar Waffle. Yes, a sweet waffle topped with bourbon syrup, cheddar cheese and home-made pickled relish. Best culinary experience of the entire trip! Indeed, the boyfriend and I were so thrilled to try out their dinner special, that we spend our entire last night here, feasting on other Southern specialties and their locally brewed beers. Oh, and beware: Some dishes do not contain meat!
[For more pictures on Miami go to Miami Calling (Part I)]