Friday, August 4, 2017

Sun, Fun, Miami, and Mojitos - South Beach

The plan for the Florida Keys was one day in Key West, one day of snorkeling, one day to spend in Miami, and one free day.  The reality turned out to be the Key West day, the 'free day' was spent on a futile effort to see the Everglades when weather took away our day of snorkeling, and then a day going on a glass bottom boat tour.

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Miami would have to be pushed back to the last day, where another potential problem reared it's head. Our flight home from Fort Lauderdale was to depart at 9:05am. Being 'special assistance' passengers mean we have to get there extra early...we shoot for two hours before leaving to make sure we have time to drop off the rental car, check in luggage, go through TSA, and find an airline representative to make sure they gate check Tim's chair and are aware of our needs. Yes, it is a bit easier when you're not in a wheelchair but such is life for us - we deal with it.
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That means getting to the airport at around 7:00am. Doing the math, with decent traffic, that means we need to leave our hotel in Key Largo at around 5:00am, which means we have to get up...damn, do we even get to go to bed?

Letty convinces me that this is not an ideal solution so we come up with a new plan of attack for our last day...move to Miami.

We really weren't in love with our hotel, the Hampton Inn and Suites, in Key Largo anyway. It did it's job but is really kind of a tired property in need of a rejuvenation in a quite stunning location. I went to the desk manager and cancelled our last night there.

Instead, I made reservations at the Homewood Suites near Fort Lauderdale airport for us to spend our last night there.  As a bonus, I was able to land the plushest suite (at least according to their website) for about $100 less than the rate we were paying in Key Largo.

Now, the plan is to leave Key Largo, head up to Miami, and spend a few hours there before checking in for the last night. I set the car's GPS for South Beach and off we go.

We make it over without too much drama.  The main, waterfront drag in South Beach is Ocean Drive and it's a bit crowded today. I make Letty and Tim a deal, if I can find a parking spot (which looks highly doubtful), we can stop and get out.  I go north to south on Ocean...nothing.  I go the other way and one spot opens up. I pull in and put in an hour's worth of change.

It's loud and a touch crowded as we navigate the sidewalk in front of all the art deco hotels, weaving in and out of crowded bars and tables before we find one with a lot of empty tables.

The staff at Mango's Tropical Cafe assures me they're open so we park to have a couple of mojitos for Tim and Letty while I get by with a Diet Coke.

The hostesses...and to the loud salsa music coming from inside the bar as we sip our drinks and people watch on the sidewalk of South Beach. Inside, there's a faux jungle and waterfall surrounding an island bar near a stage where full floor shows take place each night.

We're content with our drinks and wander around afterward, eventually crossing over to the beach.

Ripped bodies occupy the workout area while volleyballers spike on each other in their area.

Tim and I find a temporary mat that allows wheelchairs to roll over the berm to the main sandy part of the beach so we do and take a gander at the water and all the people laying about.

It's fun but about all there is to do at this time is to drink, walk around, take in the sights, and maybe lay out on the beach.  When our parking meter expires, we pile into the car and head over to Little Havana on Calle Ocho.

So here we are, after passing a massive traffic jam going the other way across the bay towards South Beach, in the heart of Little Havana.  Problem is, it's a Sunday and this very Catholic neighborhood is in church or otherwise at home...nothing is open and it is ghost town quiet.

I only see one man barbecuing dinner for his family in their driveway...and it was very tempting to just crash that party...but, otherwise, deathly still.

Except we found one bakery open so we grabbed a box of sweets for later while we head over to the last stop on Tim's list.

The Marlins were out of town this week, so we couldn't get inside to make it an official stadium visit, but we did drive over to Marlins Park so Tim could take a look at one of baseball's newest stadiums.

It was all blocked off but we managed to take a slow lap around before heading off to our hotel.

One last note about the hotel, the Homewood Suites at the airport was just as advertised...a very nice, plush hotel with a lot of room in the suite and big, comfy beds to rest up for our 9 hour flight home in the morning...and we only had to get up at six instead of God knows how early in Key Largo.

Darryl Musick
Copyright 2017 - All Rights Reserved

Photos by Letty Musick
Copyright 2017 - All Rights Reserved

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