We returned from our small vacation in Miami last night and we sure had a nice time. I will say this, Miami is an interesting place: different than other parts of Florida that I had visited, more interesting and diverse, though at some point the heat is a bit much. I realize the reason you go away is to get away from your everyday life, but the heat in Florida just never lets up, and I for one get tired of being hot and sweaty all day and all night. Then again, I guess that's why you go swimming and live in air conditioning, but more on this later.
Having never been to Miami but having seen plenty of it depicted in popular media, I had some sense of what to expect, and sure enough, those images were not inaccurate. What I liked most about being there was the sense of ethnic identity that is a world apart from where we live, which for the record has it's own unique culture and feel that I personally prefer, but again, more on that later. Pretty much from the moment we landed we got a sense that we weren't in New England anymore, and not just because of the heat. Miami has a rich Latin culture that is heavily influenced by Cuba, and that's what makes it so much fun. The food, the music, and the overall vibe is Latin influenced, which I am not alien to having grown up in Southern California, except that in Miami it's like it's on steroids.
We stayed in a hotel/condo high rise that was right on the beach but away from the trendy section of South Beach, which had the benefit of being cheaper (which always speaks to me), not to mention quieter and more sane. A few miles down the beach in South Beach, it's nutty, not to mention tackier and more tourist oriented. The condo, The Monte Carlo, is like most of the hotels and apartments along the coast: massive high rise buildings that literally line the beach. In Miami they've built up every inch of the sand, and the mentality there aligns with all this modern development, because all people do there is shop, eat, and act like royalty. There's not what I would consider a true beach culture, and people who go there would probably like Vegas as well for the same reasons.
Even though the building was this fancy high rise, we rented a condo, so the location was good but we didn't get room service and there were no meals included, which is a bummer, but again, we were in Miami, so anything you want is within walking distance. Personally I don't even like room service because I don't need clean sheets and towels every day. We put the "Do Not Disturb" sign on our hotel door because we can use towels an extra day or two. The location was nice because we were close enough to whatever we wanted to see in terms of Miami proper, but we were also right on the beach so we could swim, which we did a lot. In fact, it's so hot, all you can really do is swim or sit in an air conditioned space. Even just walking around was excruciating with the heat and humidity.
Another bonus with staying at the Monte Carlo was that it included parking and there were two pools in addition to easy access to the beach, so we could swim all morning in the ocean, spend some time in the pool before lunch, then go back in the ocean and end the day in the pool. It was centrally located within Miami Beach, so stores and restaurants were within walking distance, not that it really mattered because Miami Beach is a modern city so wherever you stay you are within reach of whatever you need, especially if you want ethnic Latin food, which I love.
All in all, it was a fun trip, and we really had a sense that we were on a beach vacation. Florida is pretty affordable in terms of practical logistics, including air far, rental car, hotel, and food. Everyone seems to go there, though it's worth mentioning that English was the minority spoken language at our hotel. I was surprised when I heard it spoken, though everyone can speak if need be. I get a sense that people want beaches and warm weather, but American tourists tend to gravitate more toward South Beach just down the road, which is more like Disneyland in that there are chain restaurants and tons of shopping. You gotta love the American way of vacationing, it's all about eating safe and familiar food and shopping.
More on our trip later. For now, it's good to be home, though the trip home was rather brutal, and we missed the 4th of July fireworks, but that's the price you pay for being a worldly family.
Until the next time, thanks for reading, and thanks to mokastet for the pic.