I felt like we were in an episode of it!
15.03.2010 - 18.03.2010
Despite having to get up ridiculously early, our flight to Miami went very smoothly and we were making good, cheap progress on getting to our hotel. We flew into Fort Lauderdale so we then had to actually get to Miami itself which costs roughly $50 in a taxi. Obviously there was no way we were going to pay this so we’d looked at the public transport options. We found there was a train we could take which was $7.50 for the two of us and then we’d just need to get a taxi for the last bit, little did we know how difficult this would be.
Once off the train we stood and waited for almost half an hour for a taxi but there just weren’t any so we ended up on a bus. This is when we realised how many crazies there are in Miami. There had already been a guy on the train loudly pretending to be Bill Clinton discussing his affair with Monica Lewinsky and then he did a small skit as Michael Jackson. While walking to the bus stop though things got worse when someone said to Adam, ‘Don’t look at me or I’ll kick your ass’ and then once we were moving everyone seemed to be muttering to themselves. Unfortunately we had to get two buses to our motel and were approached by another slightly unhinged person while we were waiting for the second. He was helpful about which bus we needed to take but in a slightly manic way.
We were truly thankful when we made it to Motel Blu which was on Biscayne Boulavard, in a slightly dodgy area but at least we could now be off the streets. I have to say we’d been hoping and expecting more from our room which stank of stale cigarettes. It was costing us £40 a night which is obviously significantly more than we’d paid anywhere else in the world, but clearly not enough to get you something nice in the western world. The bed was absolutely massive though and there was a big tv with enough channels to keep us entertained. After all the travel we were absolutely knackered so we simply popped across to the supermarket which was again like running the gauntlet with tension on a knife edge and we both felt like someone was going to snap at any moment. There were people openly insulting others in the check out queue and we were happy to be back in the room with subway in hand, the healthiest of all the fast food options that were on offer.
In the morning we decided we would head for a mall first and so we needed change for the bus as you can only pay with $1 bills. We tried to buy something from the petrol station in order to get the change we needed but the man informed us that he didn’t have any. So in the end we were forced to eat a 99c chicken burger each from Wendy’s, first morning in America and we were eating burgers for breakfast. I think that says something. After avoiding eye contact with more insane people on the bus we made it to Aventura Mall unscathed. We have seen a fair few malls on our trip but this was probably the biggest of them, well at the very least the walkways were. It was a lovely mall actually, very spacious and had some very lovely shops. We stayed there until after lunch and then we caught yet another bus to downtown Miami which took a lot longer than we’d expected and got packed full of people.
We got off at the Lincoln Road shopping mall which is basically a street full of shops ranging from posh boutiques to tacky souvenir shops. We mainly looked in the tacky ones in search of magnets and other bits n bobs and were a bit stung by the prices but I think we found some pretty good deals. After looking round the shops we walked down to South Beach which I have to say is really quite impressive. The sand is beautifully white and the sea is a mix of greens and blues. It was surprisingly busy for a Tuesday afternoon and we both wondered why all the kids weren’t in school. We walked along the beach for a little while but we both felt over dressed because it hadn’t been that warm when we’d got up.
After the beach we headed a little further down and found our way on to Ocean Drive which is where all the art deco buildings are. The majority of them are now hotels, restaurants or both and there was definitely a very lively atmosphere.
A lot of people were alfresco dining/drinking as the eateries spilled out on to the pavement and a large proportion of people had a massive glass (it looked more like a bowl) of cocktail in front of them. I dread to think how much it would have cost to eat at one of those places. Viewing from afar we wandered down Ocean Drive and Adam snapped a few pictures of the buildings which did look lovely if properly taken care of. We both discussed how art deco is an attractive architectural style but as soon as the paint work starts to look a bit shabby the whole building looks scruffy. A lot of them though were nicely maintained.
A little further down the road we saw people taking pictures outside a particular building and we realised it was one we’d seen in a picture on a magnet earlier that day. Not knowing the significance we took a photo and I have subsequently found out that it was built in the 1930’s by Alden Freeman who named it Casa Casuarina. Then in 1992 Gianni Versace bought it and he expanded and embellished it, adding gardens and a pool. Now it is owned by Barton G. Weiss, a restaurateur who reopened it in 2009 as The Villa by Barton G.
After our little walk up and down Ocean Drive my knees were really sore and I knew that I was done for the day. All we had to do now was figure out how we were going to get back to the motel. A lady at a bus stop explained to us that there was no direct bus from here and we would have to change. This didn’t really appeal to either of us so we asked a cab but he said it would be about $20 which was too much. In the end we decided to take the two bus option and actually it wasn’t too bad as we didn’t have to wait long for the second bus. Once back at the motel we quickly went to buy a subway for dinner before heading back to the room for the night.
When we woke in the morning it was raining which kind of ruined our plans. We had wanted to visit Coral Gables fountain but it wouldn’t be much good in the rain. I still had a couple of things I wanted to buy like a present for my nephew so we decided to go to another mall. The one we wanted to visited was the other side of the airport so we thought it made sense to take our stuff, rather than leaving it at the hotel for the day and put it in a locker at the airport and this where our frustrating day began. We had to wait ages for the bus in to town, then we got off in the wrong place and there were no buses to the airport so we had to get a taxi which was expensive. At the airport they charged us by the bag to store our luggage which worked out to be expensive but we had no choice. With our luggage stored we went to ask at information about where we could catch the bus to the mall and I even gave her the bus number as I’d looked it up. The woman seemed a bit scatty and she said we should hurry out to bus stop three but she thought we’d just missed it. We went out and there was no bus but we presumed one would be coming soon. After about forty five minutes though Adam went in to check if she knew the timetable. There was now a different woman there who said that we had been waiting for the private shuttle bus which costs $10 each return and only comes once every three hours or something. The public buses go from down stairs and she said the 238 would get us there, which is the bus number I’d given the first lady.
Downstairs we’d just missed one and had to wait almost an hour for the next one. While waiting we looked at a timetable and realised it was going to take an hour to get to the mall even though it looked like it was only about 5 miles away. We didn’t have a choice now though and there was nothing else to do. It all meant though that when we finally got to the mall we only have just over an hour, so we had to rush down a burger king which made me feel sick and then run round the mall looking for what we needed. Then it was another hour and fifteen minutes back to the airport. I have to say that it wasn’t exactly the most enjoyable way to spend the last day of the trip but it pretty much rained all day so there wouldn’t have been a lot else that we could have done.
The rest of our time before the flight was just spent wandering around the airport shops which I have to say were disappointingly limited. I would have expected more from an American airport. Still I suppose it stopped us from spending too much money. Our flight was a tiny bit delayed but soon enough we began the check in process. We were seated right at the back which was good in some ways but our seats only reclined about an inch which was a tad frustrating. It was hard to settle because we were both quite excited and a bit nervous, I think we both only watched one film which I know I wasn’t really paying attention to.
Then finally after our twelve months away we touched down on British soil and we were home. Which was a seriously odd feeling. We made it through customs, then our bags were waiting for us and finally we were about to walk through the doors and see our parents. Adam said ‘I think I can see my parents and your mum!’ I think everyone had a tear or two in their eyes but nobody bawled which was good. The trip was over and it was hard to process that, but it was nice to be home!
More Soon, (just one more!)
Laura & Adam