Our stay on Miami Beach – Surfside, at the Best Western was a great experience! The views of the Atlantic were beautiful, the staff very accommodating. We enjoyed the beach, pool, and full apartment, and were able to do a lot of sight-seeing via the local bus system, water taxi, and my cousin Steve Knese as chauffeur and tour guide extraordinaire in his tricked out Mustang convertible.
On Tuesday, April 2nd we took the bus to downtown Miami to Bayside Market. It’s a huge open-air mall with many water-front restaurants, music stage, boat tours – always something happening. Spanish is the main language here, and it is such an international and multi-cultural city – it felt much like we had traveled to another country.
We enjoyed lunch and mojitos at the Largo Café, and walked around the shops. We met a fun young couple from Switzerland and enjoyed their company.
They are touring much of the US in a rented motor-home. The four of us took the water taxi to South Beach – there’s no where like it – especially Ocean Drive with all its art deco architecture and open air restaurants.
We decided to do a little shopping on Wednesday, so walked to the nearby Bal Harbour Mall in Surfside. Saks Fifth Avenue was our first stop – we’ve never experienced sticker shock quite like that! The cheapest price I found for a dress was $1,100; we saw really cute strappy heels for $1,595, and an ordinary-looking pair of men’s swim trunks for $295. Wow, we were in the wrong place!! All the shops in the mall were upscale beyond anything I’ve ever seen, and not many people walked out with shopping bags swinging from their arms. Once outside, 3 Rolls Royce’s were lined up in the parking lot.
Back down to reality, we split a pitcher of beer and chicken wings on one of the sidewalk tables at Flannigan’s, then walked back to our hotel.
Thursday we packed up a few beverages and found a nice spot on the beach. We played backgammon, snacked, and had fun in the big surf. From there we went to the pool, and played a few more games of backgammon. I cooked up dinner in our room, and we had a quiet evening relaxing in our spacious living room. The hotel life was getting easy to take – clean linens every day, dishes washed, and of course the view of the Atlantic out our windows!
We were hoping that the boat would be repaired by Friday, as we had to check out of the hotel (no room in the inn). But on Friday Marine Max had not even gotten the parts. My cousin Steven Knese picked us up and drove us to the boat so we could drop off the cooler. It rained off and on most of the day, but we had a great time – He gave us a tour of South Beach, showed us where he lived there for six years, was a wealth of helpful information, and a great communicator with the locals, as he has good mastery of the Spanish language.
We walked along Ocean Drive and lunched at Gloria Estefan’s Cuban restaurant – Larios on the Beach. Steve had to get to work at Miami Dade Community College where he teaches computer classes. We took the Mustang to our new temporary place of residence – the Shalimar Motel, on the north side of Miami. Steve changed into his work wardrobe and we got checked in. It was so good to re-connect with him – to get to know him as an adult – and we so appreciate his dry witty sense of humor!
The Shalimar is nothing like our stay at the Best Western. We are right on Biscayne Blvd. (Hwy 1), on the bus route, on the north side of Miami, a much seedier part of town. We have seen a mentally ill homeless person pushing a shopping cart down the sidewalk, garbage diving for survival tidbits. It is certainly a city of diversity – from the richest of the rich to the poorest of the poor. The motel is basically one room and a bath – no ice machine, no Kleenex, no bath-tub. But we wanted to be within walking distance of the boat, and it was difficult to find a place with a vacancy.
Yesterday we had a really fun day. First we walked to the boat (1.2 miles); then took the bus back downtown to Bayside Market. We took a 1-1/2 hour tour aboard the ‘Island Lady’ which tours all around Miami. Star Island, one of the main attractions, is home to mansions of the rich and famous. Owners have included Sylvester Stallone, Don Johnson, Elizabeth Taylor, Shaquille O’Neil, Gloria Estefan, Will Smith, Jackie Gleason, Madonna, and Rosie O’Donnell. Many shows and movies have been filmed here including Cocoon, Scarface, Miami Vice, and the Adam’s Family.
After the boat tour we enjoyed happy hour at the Mojito Bar, and took turns trying on clothes at a fun Cuban-style shop with Tommy Bahama wear across from the bar. I found a hat I had to have, and a couple of pair of shorts – Jim even bought a hat – and a fabulous white silk shirt that I think he’ll wear to Calvin & Kristin’s July wedding back in Minnesota. More mojitos followed – then we walked past the American Airline
Stadium where the Miami Heat game was going on, to the bus stop and hopped aboard. Back at our room, we ordered pizza, and sat outside in the balmy evening air and enjoyed our late dinner and drinks.
Late this morning we walked to a nearby restaurant for brunch – then to a funky consignment shop where I found myself laughing hysterically in the dressing room. There are so many fun clothes down here, but my middle-aged physique doesn’t look good in very many of them! We then strolled through Legion Park to the water’s edge, then back to the room.
Tomorrow we will check out of our room and carry our luggage back to the boat. It is our hope that the lower unit and mercathode will be delivered and installed within the day. Although Miami was a great place to get stranded for a week, we are so looking forward to being aboard on own boat (home), and being back on our Great Loop trip. Unfortunately, because of the expense of repairing the boat (about $9k) and the price of gas and water in the Bahamas, we won’t be making the trip there at this time. But I’m sure it will happen sometime in the future.
Let the journey continue!