Of course I had the LMFAO song ‘I’m in Miami Bitch’ in my head on repeat for most of the 2 flights (via Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago) to Miami. And then I got to Miami Beach and I had this moment of internal contemplation that maybe it is not ‘Bitch’ but ‘Beach’ and I have been singing it wrong all this time. ‘I’m in Miami Beach’ would be so geographically correct and appropriate, but too academic for the singers and not really a title befitting a #1 hit. Then I saw the t-shirts that confirmed that of course it’s not ‘beach’. Crisis over.
9 nights in Miami Beach had a bit of everything: sun, swimming, tourism, party, sleep, vegetating, ridiculously expensive meals out, rain, TV, celebrities, basketball, hot people, omg people, shopping, and old men randomly singing on buses. Arriving Saturday 1 November, I had been up since 2:30am Suriname time to get a 6:10am flight and landing in Miami at 12:30pm. Getting the Miami Beach Airport Flyer Bus was easy and cheap at $2.65 and dropped me off a 2 block walk from my Ocean Drive prime position apartment between 9th and 10th Streets (love how the street names are so basic). The walk was short but a sensory overload. On a beautiful day, it was crowded and still busy with Halloween revellers. I wasn’t expecting or wanting a party atmosphere (this time), but that’s what I got, and I should’ve realised this but wasn’t exactly here for that. It’s got a Cancun vibe where everyone drinks from way too big glasses and is dressed to impress. Give me a couple of days (hours?) and I’ll adjust.
With such a chunk of time to spend in one place, I am glad I stayed in a vacation rental apartment rather than a hotel or cheap hostel. Here I felt like a Miami Beach local and could do my own cooking etc. I did this in New York City for a week a few years ago and it is still one of my most memorable trips. Plus an easy way to save money. This was $94/night and for the location is incredible value. The idea was to stay put for a large portion of my 19 day break to catch my breath and explore a little. Miami has not really been high on my travel list, but there were still a few things I wanted to see. And I am glad not to be somewhere (like a NYC or Rome or London) that I would be out of the house every day exploring or sightseeing. Here are the highlights:
Miami Heat NBA Game: I rate it an 8 out of 10 experience with great seats at the American Airlines Arena versus Houston Rockets. Game started off competitive and entertaining, T shirts parachuted from the ceiling rails at half time, but people started leaving with 5 mins to go when obvious that Miami were getting embarrassingly beaten. Houston player bounced ball for last 15 seconds. Then they all just walked off court. Jumbo hot dog not so Jumbo. Beers $8. Burger tasted like artificial display burger. Lots of food outlets though and a very well run event.
Lincoln Street Mall and Holocaust Memorial: 7/10. The outdoor mall is like many in the world. I bought some new Oakley sunglasses and a jumper/sweater cause it is colder here than I hoped (mid-twenties). I was going to avoid the holocaust memorial cause I’ve seen so many but I glimpsed it on a bus and it looked unique. I’m glad I took a closer look. All outdoor and very well put together with an emotional experience walking through an enclosed hallway to the centre of the memorial where a sculpted girl is crouched down reaching for your help as hymn music plays. This opens out to circular area with some of the most emotive sculptures I have seen.
Everglades National Park: 6/10. I did a little research into tours and you know I hate choice, so I just went with the tour recommended by the tourist centre – Everglades Safari Park. The 4 hour tour satisfied my Everglades curiosity. Airboat ride, swamp, alligators, interactive wildlife show, gator burger. Reminded me a little of the Okavango Delta in Botswana, but with fewer wildlife encounters. I guess going in the heat of the day means not seeing many animals. If I went back, I would explore with a car and head down towards the Keys area.
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens: 9/10. Fascinating mansion south of Miami and easy to get to by bus and train. Built in 1914, it looks like a much older Italian villa and has some elements of my dream home. I did the audio guided tour and was really interested in the history and place showcasing some of the excess of the gilded age in the USA when new millionaires wanted to show off their wealth by largely copying European aristocracy.
Beach and Clubbing: 7/10. Usually it needs to be 32C+ to get me into the water, but I couldn’t leave Miami Beach without a beach day. And then a club crawl tour where you pay $25 to meet up with others (rent-a-friends! Perfect for the solo traveller), get cheap drinks, and free express entry to 5 pubs/clubs. I hesitated about doing this as I am a bit shy (!) but sucked up the courage and glad I went.
Websites Used to Make this Trip
Booked the vacation rental through www.flipkey.com
Found basketball, concerts and other events at miami.eventful.com/events
Bus and train routes www.miamidade.gov/transit/routes.asp
Club Crawl pubcrawl-miami.com/
Art Deco Welcome Center for museum and really helpful people to make the most of your trip www.mdpl.org/