Monday, March 9, 2015

What I learned about Miami on a short trip

Enjoying Cuban coffee at La Carreta restaurant on the Calle Ocho

There were many highlights to a short trip that my wife and I took to Miami Beach last year, which coincided with Spring Break. I will mention just a few casual observations I made based on our experiences there.

The Art Deco district in South Beach was fun, and definitely worth the price tag of reserving a room in that area. We stayed at the Park Central Hotel, which was right in the center of the area of South Beach we wanted to visit and even had its own small pool, which some of the other Art Deco hotels didn't have. We had continental breakfast at their adjoining sidewalk cafe and could order eggs if we wanted to pay a little extra.I could float in the water at South Beach. Normally I can't find water calm enough to float in except in an enclosed bay or where there is a coral reef offshore.

The local advice is if you move to Miami to work, never live more than five miles away from your place of work, because traffic is so congested. The roads don't seem to be enough to handle all the volume, though for ourselves as visitors, nothing we experienced seemed unusually difficult.

The party animals are kept corralled. The police on South Beach kept watch over the Spring Break kids partying in a cluster on the beach, jumping up and down as if part of some ritual, and collectively making a noise that sounded like a beehive.

We liked the selection of Latin food that was available in Miami, especially La Carreta restaurant on the Calle Ocho. The restaurant has expanded to other locales as well, but it felt especially enjoyable to be sampling Cuban food in that location, and especially the Cuban coffee called "cortadito" served with milk.

The threat of hurricanes always looms in the background. In fact, we saw a TV commercial there that proclaimed, "In South Florida, the question is not if, but when," and smart homeowners will have hurricane shutters and other precautions worked out in case one hits. Still, Miami has been fortunate not to have had a serious hurricane in the past ten years or so, and hopefully it will remain that way. Its residents seem, by and large, willing to exchange the risk for the opportunity to enjoy the mix of American and Latin in a warm, inviting atmosphere.

Antique car parked in front of the Park Central Hotel, an Art Deco hotel in South Beach
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