September 28th, 2008 – by: jagnroz
Condomania in Miami - more condominiums per square mile than anywhere
Happy little me: I got to sleep in this morning. It felt soooo good! I slept like a rock on a very comfortable bed in a beautiful room with a glorious view of the entire city of Miami and its surrounding areas. Having wonderful and thoughtful hosts is the frosting on this cake.
Baba took us on a tour of the Miami area. What a city! In many ways it reminds me of the San Fernando Valley section of Los Angeles: mini-malls are everywhere. It also is mindful of Honolulu: the tropical plants and coconut palms everywhere. This being a Sunday, the traffic was not too bad. That is one way it differs from SoCal. The downtown area was our first destination.
Although many of the skyscrapers are commercial, the vast majority of these behemoths are condominium buildings. It is incredible. There are rectangular and multi-angular and round buildings. There are white buildings, blue buildings, green buildings, yellow buildings, pink buildings. It is amazingly colorful here. It is a bit more garish than I am used to, but it is fun. In that way, Miami reminds me of Las Vegas, Nevada. One of the condominium buildings, still under construction (but nearly done), has pillars in front that are supposed to be sort of Polynesian sculptures of faces. Instead they look like Idaho potatoes! So it has now become known in our car as the Potato Building. Ye Gads! I have never seen anything so ugly. What was the architect thinking and, most all, how could the owners approve this misbegotten design? Beats me!
Front of the "Potato Building"
We next went out to Key Biscayne, a place of contrasts.
On the way are white, sandy beaches with people sitting under colorful umbrellas and children playing in the warm water. There are beautiful hotels and shopping centers and all are done in tasteful colors (for the most part) with terra cotta tile roofs. At the end of the road is Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. It is a natural preserve, but it also holds beaches with very calm water lapping at the sand. There are, of course, palm trees and other vegetation and we saw a raccoon trying to get into one of the (tightly closed) trash cans. There is a pretty white lighthouse, but we did not climb to the top. By this time, after a long walk in the heat and truly awful humidity, I was ready to pass out.
"Potato Building" pillars
I was becoming dehydrated because I was foolish enough to forget to bring some drinking water. Duh! By the time we returned to the car, my stomach was on the verge of cramping. We stopped at a nearby supermarket where I bought some water bottles and some salty pretzels. I wanted to gulp that water down, but kept myself under control: I did not want to get sick. The salt on the pretzels also helped a lot.
Downtown Miami skyscrapers - all are condos in this view
By the time we reached Miami Beach, I was fine. The air-conditioning in the car really helped. I was more than ready to see the gorgeous old Art Deco buildings for which this part of Miami, known as South Beach, is known. Those old hotels and apartment houses are truly wonderful.
Art Deco is my favorite style of architecture, as I think I have mentioned earlier in this blog. I was completely enchanted by the beauty and colors of these buildings. The area was very crowded with people having a pleasant afternoon, sitting under a rainbow of colorful umbrellas, drinking coffee or something rather stronger. Traffic moved very slowly and people would stand in the middle of the road in order to take photographs. That gave us the opportunity to take plenty of our own pictures.
Key Biscayne Lighthouse
We went on past the continuous line of gigantic condominium buildings. It is really amazing. This city has nowhere else to go but up: land is very valuable and developers are smart: why build 50 houses when they can build straight up for 50 stories with 20 apartments in each story.
They can sell 1000 units in the same space as 50 separate houses! The cost of each of these flats is quite high - probably in the neighborhood of $750 thousand and, in the case of the penthouses, over $10 million. We drove through the ultra-exclusive Bal Harbor section, then returned to Baba's place.
Why did the iguana cross the road? I do not know!
Baba and Pierrette's daughter, Sabrina; her husband Michael; and their adorable 2-years-old daughter Isabella (Bella for short), joined us for dinner. They are all great fun to be with. I was reminded of Asha because Sabrina is, of course, half-Indian and very beautiful. She is a criminal lawyer, specializing in rape and drug cases. Bella is an extremely bright little girl and as beautiful as her mother. It is so cute: she calls her grandfather "Bo".
Michael is very personable. He is an insurance salesman and says he enjoys his work very much. They are both well situated, money-wise, and also live in a condominium, but near the downtown area close to Sabrina's work. Why we didn't take any photographs of this beautiful family, I will never understand.
One of South Beach's famed Art Deco hotels
Baba prepared a delicious dinner of beef and pork ribs, barbecued downstairs on the grills supplied by the building. It began to rain and thunder and this made me happy as a little clam! The squalls came in and out. One could follow their progress across the entire city. It poured in typical tropical fashion. Since the grills were outdoors, although under a canopy, the grillers got good and wet. Jag got soaked to the skin. In any case, it was worth it: the ribs were terrific.
With full tummies and totally relaxed, this "vacation from our vacation" day came to an end. Tomorrow we will go to see wild alligators (I hope we actually get to see some!).