Magnificent Miami

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Published: April 15th 2018

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My first trip in 2018 was Miami. I have always wanted to go there and my only experiences there was leaving to go on a cruise ship. I went with my friend Scott. We left from NY and the flight was very bumpy due to an excessive amount of clouds. It was a great flight for the most part. It was pretty cool that we got to fly over the Everglades. We landed 20 minutes earlier which I thought would help us see more things in Miami. However, we sat on the plane for awhile waiting for a gate. There was no movement on the plane and the flight attendants didn’t tell us a thing. The only thing that was told to us was it was an active runway and not to move. This was funny and yet annoying at the same time. We finally got to the gate after a long time of waiting. We waited an additional 20 minutes to get off the plane with passengers extremely slow with grabbing their bags. We had to check our bags beforehand since the plane was full with bags. We had to walk far to get to the baggage claim to grab our bags and finally we were on the way.

This trip it was our first experience with Air BNB. I didn’t know what to expect going in except that we were going to be staying at the residents side of the W hotel. I have mostly positive things to say out of the first experience with it. We grabbed a Lyft from the airport to where we were staying. It doesn’t make sense to rent a car in Miami and would always recommend Lyft or Uber. A lot of the drivers don’t speak English so if you know a little Spanish that will help. Thankfully my friend Scott did know a little Spanish. We got off the highway and can see this beautiful Stadium on the right side. It was the baseball team Miami Marlins that play there. You can see the huge buildings surrounding you and cross the car/pedestrian bridge as we approached the residence. There was a body of water underneath the bridge and boats stationed in the water. We got out of the car and went into the lobby to see huge statues and beautiful architecture. The lobby was clean and had a doorman. We messaged the host of the Air Bnb who spoke to the doorman and told us we could go upstairs. We went up and the room was finished being clean. This was a minor inconvenience, but it would only take another 15 minutes to clean so we went for a walk. The residence was right next to the W hotel so we walked around. The W hotel had a big lobby and was such a tall imposing structure to look at from the outside. The residence was right off Biscayne Bay and saw a lot of high rises, big coconut trees and water surrounding as far as you could see.

We got into the room and saw this huge balcony with 4 chairs. The room had a huge closet, done up bathroom and a stunning kitchen. The beds was a little low to the floor, but a large Queen size bed. We were hungry so we found this cute place called Lol on the Bay. It was outdoors in the back of a hotel near the residence. There was a pool on both sides of the restaurant. I had this Mahi Mahi in a spinach wrap with sweet potato fries with a Islamorado beer. The food was delicious and the beer was good having citrusy notes in it. On the way back we walked on the bay and saw dolphins which was pretty awesome. We went to a local market to get some groceries for the room and came back to relax in the room for a little bit. It was a warm day out with a nice breeze so that it wasn’t too hot. We went up to the W hotel pool which was included during the week as part of our stay. On the weekends I found out from Scott they try and charge the residence to use the pool, which I think is ridiculous. The pool was a long pool with beautiful views of Miami in all different directions and the water was very warm. There was a bar in case you wanted to get a drink, but you need to bring cash/credit card as you can’t charge it to the residence room.

We went back after to the room to change for dinner. We walked to Havana 1957 Brickell. It was a cuban restaurant that I had found online with great reviews. There was $5.00 happy hour which was a great deal. I got a guava mojito with sugar cane in the drink. It was very refreshing and not overpowering. There was yuca chips on the table to eat before dinner. I got a braised oxtail dish with rice and plantains for dinner. The oxtail was so soft and juicy. The service was fantastic and it was overall a great meal. We stopped for ice cream on the way back to the hotel. It was a delicious place that had a lot of different types of flavors they offered. We stopped off at the Brickell Mall. It was an outdoors mall with a lot of shops. The weather was perfect time to walk back and very enjoyable. We went back to the room and went to sleep.

It was noisy in the morning in the streets from the sirens. One of my favorite memories from the trip was having a cup of coffee and sitting on the deck looking at everything down below. It was so peaceful and can definitely do a lot of good thinking. We made french toast for breakfast then headed to the Botanical Gardens. We saw cruise ships on the way. The botanical gardens was free and there was so much to see. There was a wide variety of trees, plants, fish, turtles, tad poles, flowers, fountains, egrets, butterflies and figs on the tree. I would totally recommend it to anyone to see it. The day was warm with a slight breeze. The only downfall was construction ongoing nearby, which was pretty loud and disruptive. We went to the Holocaust museum next door after the gardens. This was also free and very well done and highly recommended. As you approach, there was a jewish ghetto statue with a big hand with bodies that appeared to be made of wood surrounded by water. You walk around and see different descriptions from world war 2, such as the places where concentration camps was and different artwork from the war. There was an Anne Frank statue. There was a long wall with victim names on it from the war. It was a very sobering experience. We walked into an area that had many statues in different poses in different ways people died. It was such a sad thing to see. The last image we saw was two statues of women lying dead.

We left in a lyft and went down Collins Avenue and Ocean Drive. We saw many shops and pedestrians. We went to the Art Deco historic district. It cost $5.00 to get in for the self guided tour. You got to see what Miami Beach housing looked like in the 1920’s and 1940’s. There was different styles of housing and buildings. The history of Miami Beach was explained as well as the transformation of the city over time. The city was founded in 1915. The influence of Latin music was very prevalent in shaping the culture of the city. It was worth the money spent, even if it was a small display. We left and rented Citi Bikes down on the boardwalk. I had never done this in New York and was very excited to do this activity. It was a lot of fun. We got to see Collins Street and see why it was such a popular street with all entertainment, restaurants and hotels. It was a 2 mile bike ride on South Beach with beautiful beaches on the right side and a lot of pool type clubs on the left.

We finished the bike ride and went to CJ’s crab shack for lunch. I got a rum based green drink that was very tasty. I had 3 blackened shrimp tacos with fries and salsa and kraut. It was overall a tasty meal. A woman selling cigars in a little cart was part of the restaurant and tried to sell them to all customers. Interestingly enough there was a service charge for tip of 18% added to the bill. It was odd since we were only two people eating. We walked down Ocean Drive to South Pointe Park to the pier. We got to see all the cruise ships docked and a few that was leaving when we arrived. There was beautiful coops, homes and clear water all around as far as the eye could see. It was such a picturesque views.

We took a Lyft back and there was so much slow traffic getting back to our place. We finally made it back and showered and got ready. It started to rain very hard and saw a lot of traffic outside. It took us 3 lyft drivers to take us to dinner due to the traffic. The woman went very far out of her way and didn’t speak much English. Thankfully, Scott had some knowledge of Spanish and was able to communicate with her. Many of the Lyft drivers didn’t speak English fluently so definitely prep up on your Spanish! We went to Yardbird for dinner. If you recall in the Las Vegas blog, my friends and I had went here, but this was the original restaurant that opened. It had a different feel on the outside with a sheek looking interior. We ordered the biscuits with jam and butter. It was just as amazing as I remembered it. It was soft and pillowy. We also found out from the waiter that they are opening one in New York so I can’t wait for that. I ordered the 1/2 chicken similar to what I got in Las Vegas. It was soft, juicy tender, with a hint of spice and some hot honey sauce. In addition, I ordered a bourbon lemonade drink. I would totally recommend the cocktail if you are a bourbon fan. With desert, we ordered beignets covered in sugar and stuffed with Nutella. It was as great as the one I had in Cafe Dumont in New Orleans. Overall the meal was excellent.

We walked from the restaurant to Lincoln Mall. It is a huge outdoor mall with so many restaurants and shops that spans about 10 blocks. It was lively with people out for dinner and hostess trying to convince you to go into their restaurants. There was machines that if you brought a water bottle you could refill it up with filtered water for a small fee. I thought that was an interesting contraception I had never seen ever. It was a cool and comfortable evening to walk around. We got a Lyft and went to the Fountainbleu. We were going to see the rapper Lil Jon perform. I had no clue what to expect with the crowd or what the hotel might look like except I heard it was bit crazy the nightclub. We got to the hotel and so many fancy cars lined up the front. We walked down the hallway and saw old black and white photos with celebrities from the past. The hotel wasn’t impressive at first glance and seems to be placed in the middle of nowhere on the street. We went out to the back and saw a lot of pools, hot tubs and cabanas. The hotel itself had a weird old musty smell as walked around. There was a lot of top notch restaurants in the hotel.

LIIV nightclub was very disorganized. It said on the ticket we would be allowed in at 11, however we sat outside waiting to get in around 11:30. It cost $32.00 for a beer and a rum and coke which is ridiculous though still cheaper then when we paid 42 dollars for 2 drinks at Calvin Harris in Vegas. It was a cool night club, but it was tiny dance floor that got crowded too quickly, Lil Jon didn’t go until 1:30. We got close to the stage to see him. Fake and real money fell from the ceiling, along with confetti. There was women dressed in scantily outfits dancing during the set and someone dressed up in a neon suit that lit up who danced. The ceiling went up and down with a cool light show. Initially, I didn’t know a lot of his songs, though he mixed in some old school songs, such as Vanessa Carlton “A Million Miles” or “No Scrubs”, which made it an excellent set. He spun more than he rapped which really surprised me and was toned down compared to what I had expected. The security at the club was extremely pushy and rude. I tried to stand a few times in a spot or sit down in an area and was yelled at to move even though no one was over there and it wasn’t a restricted area. We left the club and got home to bed by 4AM.

The next morning I took a Lyft to go see my grandfather who was an hour up north. My grandmother had recently passed so I wanted to make sure he was doing ok. I got in the car and we got stuck in traffic in the city. There was 25 cops on motorcycles, bicyclists and ambulances that passed by the car. It took 45 minutes to go to Fort Lauderhill, The driver didn’t speak much English unfortunately. I had a fantastic time seeing my grandfather for 1 hour sitting outside in the sunshine by a lake. It was so picturesque and peaceful. I had a great Uber driver going home who spoke English and had a lot of interesting knowledge about Florida. I got back to the residence and found out from Scott about the pool charging him money to use it. We went to lunch at a local place and I got a chicken caesar wrap which was very tasty. We got to sit outside which was nice on a cool day. We rented a citi bike to go to the Wolfsonian FIU museum. We wanted to get it for an hour and figured it would be an easy ride to get to the museum. It was a 3 mile bike ride. We got to ride on the A1A to the interboro. It was very windy and hilly to get to the destination. There was amazing views of the water, boats, homes and high rises all around. We dropped off the bike right exactly at the hour thankfully and didn’t get charged for over an hour usage.

We got to the museum and saw some cool artifacts. It was free to get into and well worth to see. The elevator didn’t work so we had to climb stairs after bike riding and walking a little bit to find the museum to go upstairs. It was 3 floors up then 2 then 1 to get to each of the displays. My favorite display was the Julius Klinger display. He was a designer artist from Vienna that was killed in World War 2 by the Nazis. He had some really graphic and politically inspired pieces. We walked to Monty’s on South Beach restaurant after the museum. Its was sunny with a cool breeze. It was right on Miami Beach marina with many yachts, fishing boats and bicyclists with beautiful views of the harbor. We met up with my friend Brian from college who I hadn’t seen in many years. I had a conch soup, Miami vice drink and Grouper sandwich with chips. It was a delicious meal and excellent company. We went back to the room and tried to go up to the pool as they usually had a club up there. There was a private party ongoing that was black tie. We were dressed in shorts and short sleeve shirt. The patrons gave us a lot of dirty looks so we headed back to the room to relax.

We checked out of the residence and wanted them to hold our bag. They wouldn’t hold our bags which was a huge aggravation. The W hotel next door allowed us to leave our bags but for $10 fee per bag. It was a cool day out and we went to Philip and Patricia Frost Museum. This was a huge bargain to see as there was a lot of floors to explore. It cost $29.00 to get into the museum. There was an interesting display on the outside on water consumption and purification of water. The admission included one ticket to interactive planetarium. There was some fun displays on space and beyond. It talked about space technology usages in daily life and exploring space. We went to each floor seeing very interactive displays and there was a lot of kids around so it was fun for people of all ages. I got to learn about large fishes in the world like the paiche. There was a small aquarium with different fishes, coral, sting rays, seahorses and octopus. There was a petting display that you could touch a starfish or crab. There was an exhibit on flights in rockets and animals progressing. You got to see reptiles, dinosaurs, insects and owls statues. You could do a rocket launch by pressing a button to increase air into a glass containing the rocket and make it move up into the sky.

There was a section where you could throw paper airplanes in a wind tunnel and you could increase or decrease the wind with the airplane attached to make it go a farther distance. There was an outside display with real life crocodiles, owl, egrets, fishes, birds, stingrays, hammerhead sharks, corals, rattlehead and other snakes on displays or tanks. This was my favorite part of the museum. We got to the rooftop and it offered amazing views of the city. There was solar panels that the museum uses for energy, sunshine and people in the park, just an incredible day. The final display that we went to was a health display. It talked about different things like stress, lack of sleep or being hungry and the effects on the body. In addition, learning about eating properly and brain memory tests. They had a lot of ancient artifacts like pottery, lacrosse sticks and dining equipment that went back many years ago. There was a separate brain display on the different parts of the brain with the usage of each part such as smell, sense, touch, etc. It explained what happens in the brain when someone smiles, cries, etc. You got to learn about neurons and how different animals have smaller amounts than human. In addition, learned about the impacts of drugs, love, health, etc can have on the brain, as well as the brain evolution over time from the cavemen to now. There was an explanation towards the end how technology is impacting trying to find a cure for different brain diseases, such as Parkinson and Tourettes. It was overall a fantastic museum.

We got a Lyft to the hotel to get our bags and then went to the airport. It was a comfortable flight with only a 10 minute delay leaving. At one point I was asked to move to another seat because a babysitter wanted to sit with the family. After I move a couple wanted to sit next to each other so I moved closer to the front of the plane. Despite all the movement I enjoyed the flight and the trip was a great experience.


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