Me in Miami

As part of my mission to travel more in 2023, I have enjoyed a mini-holiday away to sunny Miami, Florida. Whilst most of my travels will be local (UK) and solo, the opportunity presented itself and I couldn’t resist it. [Enter carbon footprint guilt here.]

My friend Ernie came up with the plan as we’d not seen each other since March 2020 – just days before the world locked down for COVID19. (It wasn’t our fault; honestly.) It was a great excuse to break out my summer clothes in the middle of winter and buy a much-needed new swimsuit. So, off I went for a cheeky wee sun holiday to America!

This is the first time I’ve been to Miami which meant loads of new experiences for me. And as my friend is a little more of a holiday planner than I am*, one of the experiences was being presented with an itinerary for our visit. When I first got the email with the proposed itinerary, it was a little intimidating and I may have even remarked on how “schedule-y” the plan was. However, it worked well, given that there was a great deal of flexibility built into the schedule. (The only “timed” things were tours that we had to book in advance.)

My visit was short, but I feel that we packed quite a bit in. That said, we never started before 10 am and were always done with adventuring before dinnertime. So, it was both busy and restful. If that’s possible.

Palm trees in the sunshine

Day 1 (arrival): It was cold and snowy when I left the UK, so I left later than scheduled. And that means I arrived a bit later. Also, because it was cold and snowy when I left the UK, I had to strip off layers as soon as I arrived in Miami because the heat was too much for me. But that’s why I layered the way I did: So that I could go from winter wear to summer gear in 30 seconds. (Success!)

Because of my late arrival, we didn’t have time to really enjoy sightseeing. Instead, we just enjoyed the views from the hotel’s rooftop bar then we walked into town for some street tacos. It was a gentle introduction to the new time zone and the new temperatures!

Day 2: Our first activity of the day was a visit to Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in the Coconut Grove neighbourhood. The mansion house was built in the early 1900s on 180 acres of land along the shoreline. Inspiration for the design of the house and the gardens were heavily influenced by Mediterranean architecture from the Renaissance period and includes reclaimed architectural elements from around Europe as well as custom-designed reproductions.

There was so much I loved about the house and the quirky little details that were included. But I loved the gardens even more! They were designed with a strong Italian influence and I often found myself thinking about Venice (a place I love because it’s part of my own love story). There were several little pockets of whimsy around the estate and I found myself in a constant state of joy when I was there exploring.

And yes, I was like an excited child every time I saw a lizard. They make me happy!

Lance the Lizard (yes, I name wild beasts)

After touring Vizcaya, we returned to the hotel to freshen up a bit before heading back out for a Cuban culture and walking tour in the Little Havana neighbourhood. We were part of a small tour group with a local Cuban guide who shared a little bit of history and some (probably biased, but that’s OK) advice on the best places to eat in the neighbourhood.

The tour was good, although maybe not as much walking as I would have liked. But there was plenty of great food and drink though – with bits of walking in between each course. We started out with delicious empanadas and a wee café Cubano (Cuban espresso). Then we sipped on some ice-cold mojitos in an outdoor garden area before enjoying Cuban sandwiches on delicious Cuban bread. (I had more Cuban bread throughout my visit. I must find some of that here in Scotland!) After our sandwiches, we walked around the neighbourhood some more before our final stop for churros.

At the end of the tour, we stopped for some guava ice cream and wandered around Little Havana a bit more, soaking up the culture and enjoying the various bits of graffiti and street art. It is certainly an area I could spend a lot of time in – especially if it meant more empanadas!

Day 3: This was another walking tour day. This time to the Miami Art Deco District in South Beach. It is the largest concentration of Art Deco architecture in the world and it was the start of spring break madness. That means that it was quite an entertaining day out, between the beauty of the buildings and the enjoyment of people-watching.

After the tour, we spent a little bit of time on the beach. But it was very crowded with rowdy and intoxicated young people and we didn’t really fit the demographic. So instead, we wandered around a little bit more before heading back to the hotel to clean up for dinner. And given that I splashed on the water a bit, a quick shower was in order!

It’s too crowded here!

We then enjoyed the sunset from the hotel’s rooftop bar before heading out for a delicious – but unexpected – dinner. We are both fans of ceviche, so went to the Peruvian ceviche bar not far from the hotel. Only when we got there, we learned that Peruvian ceviche is not the same as Mexican ceviche, which is what we had each had (separately) in the past and what we were looking forward to. I’ll say this: It was really good and I will absolutely have it again. But it wasn’t what I wanted for dinner that day, which was a little disappointing. But… I learned something new, which is nice!

Day 4: Whilst we didn’t have organised activities for our last full day in Miami, we did have a full day of activities planned! We started out with a visit to the Wynwood neighbourhood to see the Wynwood Walls and the Museum of Graffiti. The entire area is an art district renowned for its street art; every surface is covered in colour.

I want to tell you all about each painting, but there’s no way I could do it justice. And because there are far too many photos to share in this post already, I have created a separate gallery page for the street art that you can check out.

When we were done taking in the colours, we stopped for (more) ice cream then we made our way across to Key Biscayne for a gentle walk and some time on a quiet beach. The bay here was nearly free from people, but there were several boats off in the water. There was a nice sandbar that allowed us to walk quite far into the water, but mostly we just enjoyed the views and the peace and quiet. I’m not a sunbather, so whilst Ernie laid on a towel soaking up the sun, I splashed in the water a bit and took some photos of the local flora and fauna.

A coastal walk at Biscayne Bay, Florida

As it was our last night, we went out for a nice meal after the day’s adventure. I don’t often get a chance to dress up these days, so it was an opportunity to wear one of my lovely dresses. I didn’t get a photo, so you’ll have to trust me when I say I looked fabulous!

Day 5 (departure): Each of us had evening flights booked for our different home locations, but with international flight check-in (and hotel check-outs) we only had until 3 pm to play in Miami. So we began the day with a nice, relaxing breakfast at a nearby Cuban café (where I had more of that lovely Cuban bread). There wasn’t really time to visit any museums, so instead, we visited a couple of parks for some geocaching.

Once we were checked in and through security at the airport, we enjoyed a late lunch of empanadas and ceviche before saying our goodbyes. Then we were off to our different bits of the airport for our flights.

And, once again, the snow in the UK meant a delayed flight for me. So, I had time for an airport mojito as a final goodbye to Miami.

I am really pleased that I agreed to go on this little holiday. It’s been many years since I had a proper holiday away (I don’t count staying with family and friends) and I really enjoyed being a tourist for a few days. More than that, I really enjoyed having someone to share my holiday with. I’ve been a (mostly) solo traveller since Paul died and whilst I am used to it now, it sure is nice to be able to share experiences in real-time with a real human!

I don’t have any more “proper” holidays planned at the moment. However, I will be enjoying a couple of UK weekends away in the coming months, and then I’ll be off to America to see my family in the summer. But who knows, maybe someone will present me with an opportunity for a fun holiday away again before long!

* You could be forgiven for assuming I plan my holidays. But I rarely ever do, beyond booking accommodation and a general idea of things I’m interested in doing/seeing.

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