An Extended Stay in Florida – Miami and a Half Day

Monday started off as a cloudy last day in Florida before heading back home. All I knew getting up was that I did NOT want to have another 3-4 hour drive back and forth to a destination, so keeping things relatively local would be a must. My consideration of Key West was bust because it was simply too far to go for the forecasted possibility of rain once there. Instead today we’d make the most of Miami.

Morning started off slowly. I figured we’d have a later breakfast in South Beach. The weather was looking to cloudy at first and then clear up. Perfect! Plans were to see some of South Beach’s best spots and restaurants, then watch ships sail past.

After getting together and making our way down the highway to Miami, I drove along A1A to get a feeling of how busy things were. Fortunately some people were out and about, but it wasn’t a zoo. Being a Monday, it was not party kind of day obviously. Still I wanted to keep things simple. Mom seemed to be having an even harder time getting around today. I made this easy by just pulling the Camry up to a valet, giving him some money, and asking him to please park it nearby. This way we were right on the sidewalk and cold find a good place for brunch within a shorter walk. No parking miles away today.

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I had enjoyed brunch at a place after my cruise on Carnival Splendor in 2014. I was having the damnedest time remembering what it’s name was though and was at this point, relying on what I remembered the place looking like. The issue there was that many of the places look a like themselves. I chose a place that seemed to resemble the one I dined at before. I wasn’t feeling up to wasting time over what would be a similar view and similar food. It seemed like the view was the exact same and the food and menus may as well have been the same. I ordered the Yuevos Rancheros and some fruit. Many people enjoy their brunch along A1A for good reason. People watching mostly, but also because it’s just nicer dining outside. I could see the sun beginning to peek through the clouds as we had breakfast.

After breakfast, It was time for a little walk to the Art Deco Museum. We crossed the street to walk along the paths nearest the beach. Mom’s legs got a little tired so she sat for a little while I walked out onto the beach and put my feet briefly in the water. It was a little chilly, but being as how the day had started as overcast, it was expected. Once I had my minutes on the beach, I met with Mom again and walked over to the museum.

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I wish I could tell you how cool the stuff inside the Art Deco Museum is but unfortunately, I can’t. Why? Because EVERY SINGLE DANG TIME I try to see it, it’s closed for one reason or another. Today’s reason is because the museum is closed on Mondays or something. Alas, today we’d just see what was in the gift shop. If you’ve ever been there, you’d know about all the weird yet interesting stuff the place has. Of course the place brims with Art Deco memorabilia, but there are also souvenirs from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. You feel sort of like you walked into a prop room that the B-52s might have used for their music videos. There is sort of a Pee-Wee’s Playhouse theme to some items too. Salt and pepper shakers in the form of a porcelain shark and human leg. I bought a t-shirt like I usually do. Mom wasn’t too interested in much of the stuff and I couldn’t blame her because most of it was pricey. We both headed outside where Mom wanted to have a seat again.

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While Mom sat some more, I headed back across the street to Mango’s Tropical Cafe. I had been here before, but it had been a long time. I remembered the drinks, music, and salsa dancers (I don’t know where they find the girls, but I want to find out!). I sat down at the bar and ordered a beer to have for a little bit. I figured I’d let Mom sit for a little while and rest while I did so myself. While sitting there I bought one of the t-shirts. If you ever want to go to Mango’s and are a bit intimidated by the night crowds, go earlier in the afternoon. A little less showy, but good music, good food and drinks. Lots of eye-candy.

After Mangos, it was back across the street to grab Mom and walk the strip a little more. There was a store that featured art more popular in the Miami area. The Effusion Gallery. Here they had prints of beaches through windows, Britto merchandise, car sculptures, etc… I bought Mom a Britto version of Disney’s Goofy, but sort of wished I could buy more cool stuff.

After this walking around, it was time for a late lunch. We walked back meet the valet who we left our car with as we’d have to drive to our next stop. The Big Pink.

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I always question what The Big Pink is supposed to stand for, but I don’t care that much. Their food was awesome! We had pizza and spinach and artichoke dip. The menu is really extensive and the entrees could feed families. Of the 3 times I’ve dined there, I’ve never been disappointed. Not being on the beach or along the a waterway though there wasn’t much to look at. This was a place you’d go for the food alone.

After The Big Pink was our final stop in South Beach, South Pointe Park. We hang out for a little while before having apps and dessert at Smith and Wollensky, watching the ships pass. The park is beautiful and very well kept. There are numerous places to have a seat along the water’s edge to watch the marine traffic. You can wall all the way down to the pier, or the other way towards the marinas and jet ski rentals. one of the best features is the sole restaurant there, Smith and Wollensky. After some walking in the park and taking photos, we took one of the outside tables for drinks, apps, and desserts. The place is known for steaks, but seeing as how we had a large lunch at The Big Pink not that long before, neither of us were particularly hungry. Dining was more or less a reason for us to have a table there as the ships passed. There were a couple of stray cats who kept us company while we ate.

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Mom ordered a caesar salad while I had shrimp. I had wine while we talked about what a trip we’d had. Before too long, Royal Caribbean International’s Majesty of the Seas passed.  Us and some of the other patrons noticed that a medium size boat seemed to be getting particularly close. It wasn’t much long after that the Majesty sounded its horn. Thankfully the boat didn’t get any closer. After Majesty passed, we ordered desserts. I had a Nutella creme brûlée which was so damn good. Mom ordered a piece of coconut cake that may as well have been the entire thing. Carnival Ecstasy sailed past as we ate what we could of our desserts.

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We waited a little for Norwegian Sky to turn and come out of the channel, but it began to get a little late. Not only was it taking the ship a little too long, but MSC Divina wouldn’t even sail until much later after it. We gave up on both and headed back to Fort Lauderdale to pack. I finished the wine that we didn’t drink from the cruise and walked around the piers outside the hotels for a while. The next day we’d only have until 11 to enjoy the warmth before going home. I walked past all the yachts again. Steven Spielberg’s was still moored across the harbor.

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Waking up on the last day was saddening. Aside from seeing my dog again, I did not want to go home.

That morning, we had breakfast at the Japanese restaurant, Nankang, in the hotel. They offer both continental and standard buffets for a steep price. The food was good (and 100x better than Rodeway’s), but I wasn’t sure it was worth it.

After breakfast we drove to Fort Lauderdale Beach. Mom decided to split her time between shopping and sitting, enjoying the scenery. I walked the beach. I always try to enjoy the sand and sea as much as possible before returning to the druthers that is the daily grind. There appeared to be some rougher surf overnight. I passed numerous jellyfish that looked similar to Portuguese Man o’ Wars. People on the beach in the morning were mostly older crowd or families. Younger people didn’t tend to get to the beach until the afternoon. I walked back the other way on the sidewalk, thinking of stopping in a store or two. I didn’t end up doing so though as I had already spent more than enough on souvenirs the days prior. I was certain I’d be in Fort Lauderdale again.

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Meeting up with Mom, we got in our rental and head to the airport. Our luggage was already in the car as we had checked out of the hotel after breakfast. We stopped briefly to gas-up the Camry which I was beginning to get attached to. Typical of Fort Lauderdale, we were held-up by the marina draw bridge on the way back to the airport.

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At the airport, it was a sad time waiting for the plane to take us home. I was enjoying myself in Florida and not looking forward to return to post-snowstorm home. I sat there and reflected on the trip we’d had. There were some bumps along the way, but overall, it wasn’t bad. Mom had made great memories, had her fill of Disney, and enjoyed some great food in Miami. Brian and Kristin had a great time as well, particularly post-cruise in Florida. I myself? Well, Anytime I can be near or at the sea, I’m truly happy. Life is best with palms, sand, and breakers.

Thank you for reading.

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