I left New York early in the morning for my second destination. I got on another shared van, arrived at JFK in no time and boarded a jet to Miami!
South Beach Miami
I had been wanting to go to Miami for years, but I never found a destination right to pair it into one trip. I thought it would be a nice change up from all the cities in the North of the continent that I would be and have visited. And so I was in for some lounging on the beach, getting my shop on and exploring Miami Beach and downtown Miami.
Selfie time! I am really doing this!
Art Deco District
When I first arrived in Miami my ankle, which I had strained the day before, was too sore to really be doing much. I had set out to explore, but within an hour I went back to the hotel after getting some groceries, because I could no longer walk. My ankle was bruised and swollen and hurt like hell. So I went back and sat with my foot propped up on a pillow watching tv for the rest of the day.
So my Miami visit didn’t truly get started until day 2 in the Sunshine State. But the swelling had gone down and I decided to wear my walking boots despite the heat as I felt those would allow me to walk for the longest distance. And so I set out at 9 AM to walk around Miami Beach. I left the hotel and walked along the boardwalk along the shore all the way to the tip of South Beach near the Portofino Tower. On the way I already passed by Ocean Drive and plenty of palm trees.
I rested for a bit near the tip and walked along the marina to go back into town. I walked around the Art Deco district for a bit and set out for Lincoln Road Mall. I shopped some make up at CVS, Walgreens and Ulta. Yes, fellow beauty lovers, Miami Beach has an easily accessible Ulta, so that is worth checking out if you like that sort of thing. I went back to Ocean Drive to grab a bite to eat and by this time I had been up and running for nearly 12 hours in super stuffy weather and so I was beat and ready for bed in no time.
Ready for my air boat ride through the Everglades!
On my to do list for my days in Miami was to go to the Everglades. Whenever I visit cities in the US, I always try to go out and see some of the beautiful nature that’s around and you aren’t likely to find in Europe. Since I don’t drive my options are limited, but there are usually companies that take you on tours so you can still see some of it. I booked a trip with the Miami Tour Company as they also included a pick up service.
The Everglades are only a 3o minute journey away from Miami. It is the home of many different animals as well as vegetation. It is not a large swamp land, but in fact the Everglades is a very slow moving river that is not very deep. Of course it is best known for housing alligators and if you are lucky you can see them lying on the banks while they are drying. I was lucky enough to see 3 different ones: one was lounging around and just as we passed it again, he said out to leave. We also saw a baby and when we were heading back to the starting point of the trip, another one came swimming into our direction.
The boat trip was taken by airboat. If you’ve seen CSI Miami, you know the type of boat I am talking about. After driving the boat through some shrubbery where you can see the alligators, birds and turtles, you end up in this vast open land that looks like grass that is under water. And that’s when things sped up. Those things are fast! So after that thrill, once I was back there was a wild life show and I had my picture taking with 3-year-old alligator Larry. Those animals feel very strange! His belly was very smooth, yet a bit scaly and because he is a reptile he felt slightly cooler than I was.
Upon my return in Miami, I felt like taking a bit of a boat ride and the same company offers those as well for an extra fee. The boat tour takes you around the harbor and close to Fisher Island, Star Island and the Venetian Islands, i.e. the homes of the rich and famous. That was one part of the trip I was quite indifferent to, but it was nice to be out on the water for a bit, get to see some amazing views and hear crazy tales of people spending way too much money on imported palm trees. I arrived back at the hotel around 6 pm and despite the fact that I didn’t walk much, I was still beat. I grabbed a Subway from a place nearby and crashed.
The last two days in Miami were rather uneventful to be honest. I was set on exploring downtown Miami and Little Havana on my third day, but due to a lack of good information, I spent half a day getting no where. Miami Beach is the place all the tourists go, but hardly anyone seems to want to go to Miami it seems. There was no general information on public transportation anywhere and the website only allowed me to search direct bus lines. So I never knew exactly where I was going. I think that having a car would make it easier or go on one of those gaudy tourist buses, but from what people told me a short Metro Rail journey followed by walking a few blocks should get me where I wanted to go.
The area I ended up in was actually quite shady and I decided to catch the first bus out of there, back to down town. I never felt more out of place in my life! In the downtown bus station I found a bus that would take me all the way to Aventura shopping center and so I went there. I initially wanted to go to the Dolphin Mall, but that would mean taking two different buses and 2 more hours of traveling to neighborhoods I wasn’t sure of. I’m sure I’d have been safe though as the people in Miami are super nice and even if they speak more Spanish than English they will at least make an effort to help you. But still, my gut was telling me no and that has never let me down yet.
So Aventura Mall it was. I found it had a decent sized Sephora, shopped a bit, went to Cheesecake Factory for dinner and then watched the Minions movie. All in all, not the most productive of days, but I did get to see lots of Miami from the windows of the many buses I took. The last day was even less eventful. I went to the beach and then it rained, for hours on end. So I sat mostly cooped up in my hotel room watching bad day time television. It was nice to have a slow day though as by now I had been on the road for one week and I knew I would need my energy for the final three destinations.
What cities are on your to visit list?