Three days of abandon
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I came prepared with the proper ammo of anticipation, excitement, and a keen desire to leave the last few months of my life in the dust. A perfect sanctuary here for my soul, a place for my spiritual reawakening. perhaps i wax too lyrical here, but I had been feeling the frustrating itch to travel since my return from Germany in May. I needed a true advent, to immerse myself in everything that had made my life so rich and full thus far. and, it was decidedly so, that i had to close the weary chapter of my past life and begin anew.
during my shuttle ride, i was rewinding the weekend that had yet to arrive. lost in thoght, i soon noticed the retro dazzle and glamor of the art deco disrict. fortuna has always smiled on me, and beamed brightly when she showed me to my temporary domicile at Haddington Hall.
No time was wasted on settling in or unpacking bags. My dear friend Michael and I were soon on our way out the door to explore more than a mile of restaurants beckoning for our favor. It was here, on Lincoln Road, that I was charmed and mesmerized by the ambiance of this Miami night. It felt surreal, in fact, as nearly all of the restaurants were Italian. Itlian pop songs streamed from the welcoming doors, proprietors stood expectantly outside bribing us with free bottles of wine or half price dinner menus.
Perhaps it was 10 or 11 in the evening, we werent sure - nor did we care. We had one destination and one desire: adventure. We hiked south towards the Segofredo espresso bar, which literally does turn into a bar at night.
After the bottle of Pinot for dinner, and our two sumptuous cocktails, we were feeling great and cozying up to the locals. We soon discovered that nobody we spoke to was a local. We joined up with a small gang of swiss boys, whose german was much better than their english - so i was having a terrific time.
We slept well into Monday, but woke to grumbling bellies on this 70 degree day.
Fox Cafe. The deciding factor, ultimately, was that everything was half off. Drinks were two for one. The catch was that we had to buy two to get two, but we didnt learn that until it was too late. In adition, our menu selections were not part of the half off special (market price) We ordered two strawberry mojitos, the waiter asks if we would like large, and of course we agreed.
We waffled the drunken hours away on the beach, crawled around in the surf, took ridiculous photos of each other with our plastic cup mojitos, photographed a couple, made friends with a dog, and met Antonio - the beach park janitor. We got into an intellectual conversation about nightlife, put him through a question and answer trial, and walked away with the knowledge that "Wet Willi's is the shit." back on Ocean Boulevard, we met a bum and took him to Table 8 inside the Vinci Hotel for pomegranate martinis with basil, and coronas. All I remember is singing Don McClean songs with this man at the bar, while Michael disappeared to empty his lunch and mojitos inside the posh water closet at the Vinci.
Our night was over by 8pm. Our best laid plans were waylaid. We were beyond repair, and repaired back to the hotel for another good night's sleep. Tuesday would be our cultural day of exploration, which is when we went on the city tour of Miami.
The absolute best way of starting your day is at Jerry's Famous Deli, (where food and people mix) a 24 hour eatery which happened to be located next to our Hotel. The menu was larger than the top half of Michael's body, and we pored over that thing like the Sunday Newspaper. I could tell you what wasn't on that menu, there were so many choices. From Kosher Brats to Hungarian Goulash, this place had it all.
With happy bellies and sunny dispositions, we got on our shuttle to the Miami City Tour. In retrospect, I wish we hadn't. There were two exciting aspects of the tour, one of them I did not have the pleasure to experience. The rest was mundane and unexciting. Even Miami's history did little to enthrall me.
The tour began with a sprint via shuttle through the port of miami, downtown miami, the financial district, and coconut grove. All of them tedious, unexciting, and virtually like any other city tours. No striking architecture to speak of, save for the quaint homes of Coconut Grove.
Our second to last destination was Little Havana.
The best was saved for last, as we returned to South Beach for the "art deco" tour. Chagrined by the fact that the best part of the tour took us through an area of Miami that we had explored extensively n days prior, we held out just a little bit longer for our "Star Island" tour.
As always, life is what one makes it. We learned quite a bit about Miami history, though I won't make this missive even longer by going into detail. My purest joy in travel is experiencing the culinary delights of the region, and it was my keenest wish to find a Cuban restaurant that night. It seemed the only Cuban fare to be found on Ocean Boulevard was at Lario's. Owned by Gloria and Emilio Estefan, it was the proper nod to island life that I had been seeking. What I loved: Papa Rellena, (round breaded potato stuffed with beef creole) croquetas de hamon, (ham croquettes) tostones rellenos con camarones,(Stuffed green plantain cups with shrimp creole) and the nightime candlelit ambiance that accompanied our dinner.
A short trip, a fantastic getaway! I am yet again inspired by our country, with its incredible mix of so many beautiful cultures. Fortunate I am to take part in the glory!