Yesterday in South Beach Miami (December 2013)

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December 3rd 2013
Published: December 3rd 2013
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Yesterday we went to South Beach in Miami. Everybody knows South Beach Miami – the Art Deco hotels and the steroid-enhanced men and surgically-enhanced women parading on the beach and the drag queens! We expected it to be very tawdry and tacky but it wasn’t at all – another preconception destroyed by the experience of travel. It was a fun and interesting place to spend a day strolling the famous Ocean Boulevard and Art Deco District and studying the restaurant menus of the Esplanda Way (the best-looking of them closed on Monday) and browsing stores on the Lincoln Road (especially the ice cream store and the Books and Books store). We rambled and people watched and noticed, among other things, that there were very few kids around the town. Usually they are everywhere: gangs of pre-teens and teenagers just hanging around – but here they were very conspicuous by their absence. The crowds consisted mainly of young couples. The locals are of either Cuba or Colombian descent and label themselves YUCA (Young Urban Cuban/Colombian Americans). Some of these YUCA’s are quite exotic looking, stunning and beautiful – both women and men. There is a unique ‘vibe’ here – neither American nor Caribbean as we have experienced it, nor South American – but perhaps a ‘Latin’ fusion of all these.

The grey, rainy and windy weather of the previous two days had convinced us that we needed to be mobile again so we rented a small car for the rest of the week. Joan is seeking sunshine and I am happy to be out of the motel room (even though I haven’t caught up entirely on the backlog of facebook posts – I will ... I promise!). We collected it, a maroon Nissan which we christened Ruby N (daughter of Rudy V) and headed south.

We travelled along the A1A from Fort Lauderdale to South Beach, Miami. After looping inland around the bay and international ferry port (where a lifetime ago we boarded a ferry for a Caribbean cruise), the road follows the Atlantic Coast and passes a series of fine sand beaches starting with Dania Beach. From there the roadway becomes a narrow peninsula between the Atlantic Ocean and Biscayne Bay and culminating in South Beach. It stretches for nearly twenty miles of immaculate beaches. You only see the beach, however, in glimpses through gaps in the resort complexes and high rise apartment developments. These too are architecturally very interesting and the gardens and grounds surrounding them quite beautiful in their lushness.

There are over 800 Art Deco buildings in the South Beach area; Ocean Boulevard is where the most famous and photographed of these are located. We walked the Boulevard twice – the first time on the beach side of the road the more to view the architecture and then back closer to the buildings themselves to feel the vibe. Most of the buildings are restaurant/hotels and the competition for diners is fierce. At each there are beautiful men and women assertively offering menus and discounts on drinks. It was like running a gauntlet at times: it reminded us of the food hawkers in the Jeema el Fna of Marrakesh (although they are not nearly as aggressive here as they are in Morocco)!

Today we are going north of Fort Lauderdale, to the area known as the ‘Gold Coast’, again on the Atlantic-hugging A1A, to explore the area and beaches and wander around Boca Raton and find some sunshine for Joan to bask in for a couple hours!

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