Sunday, December 30, 2012

One Human Family: Days 5 and 6

December 22, 2012: Key West, FL to Miami, FL
We woke up on Saturday morning to colder temperatures again, and so we sadly decided to save a visit to Bahia Honda for another trip.  We wandered up Duval Street, stopping at Cafe Moka for some truly awful coffee, and visiting Dogs on Duval to look at the dachshund puppy in the window there one last time.  (Roger desperately wants a dachshund, but it just isn't in the stars for us right now.)  We saw a chicken and some adorable chicks, grabbed a bit of frozen yogurt for breakfast, and then decided to hit the road.

The drive to Miami up Route 1 was lovely again, but in all honesty, if I had it to do over, I think I would prefer to fly directly to Key West, and skip renting the car all together.  It really isn't necessary in Key West, where you can walk or bike anywhere (except maybe for Bahia Honda, if you're trying for that), and we're not great at road tripping, I think.  Maine worked out really well, because we knew ahead of time what towns we'd stop in and what we intended to do in each, but in Florida, we hadn't researched ahead of time what the best places to stop were.  Since we're just not terribly good at being spontaneous, we ended up not stopping anywhere at all, and just driving straight through, which really isn't the best method for a long drive.  Something we need to keep in mind for our trip out west in August - plan stops ahead of time!

We arrived in Miami at around 4pm, and checked into the Hyatt Regency for the night.  It was a nice, business-y hotel, but Downtown Miami is a bit of a ghost town, so I wouldn't recommend it very strongly.  We talked to the concierge, who suggested we take the free Mia-Mover to the Bayside Market while we waited for dinner time.  It's pretty much just a mall, but it is on a lovely bay front, near a park.  We split an arepa from a cart, and then grabbed some mojitos at one of the (many!) bars in the mall before wandering around and doing a bit of shopping.  (We bought Roger's mother an ornament, and I bought myself an early Christmas gift.)

View of Miami from the MIA-Mover
Then, we headed out to one of the other best meals we had on the trip, Cuban food at Versailles in Little Havana.  Interestingly enough, this was our one chance to take the car somewhere, but we were worried about finding parking, so we took a cab.  (They had a parking lot.  Of course.)  We really pigged out here, eating more than we had at any other point during the week.  We split the appetizer sampler platter, with empanadas, croquettes, and fried yucca, and then Roger had skirt steak with plantains and rice and beans, and I had the sampler with a tamale, roast pork (out of this world!), picadillo a la criolla and boiled yucca.  (Needless to say, we brought some leftovers back to the hotel.)  And, to finish it all off, we had my favorite cake, tres leches, which was just wonderful.

December 23, 2012: Miami, FL to New York, NY
We spent most of Sunday morning in the hotel bed, eating leftovers with our hands.  It was a pretty fabulous way to start off our last day on vacation, and we savored every moment.  We finally checked out at noon, and headed over to the Miami Art Museum, which was mostly closed, but had one interesting exhibit of new works on display.  My favorite piece was Gideon Barnett's "Landscape with Fallen Child," because I love Bruegel so much.  The museum was free for students, which was great, and there's a history museum and library in the same plaza.  Otherwise, though, we didn't find too much else that was worth doing in downtown.  We had wanted to stop at a friend's brother's restaurant, the Filling Station, partially because it belongs to our friend's brother, but also because it's gotten really great reviews, but unfortunately, it's closed on Sundays, so we missed our chance. 

We walked around for a bit, and then headed back to Bayfront Park to sit for a while and relax.  Finally, around 4pm, we drove back to the airport and dropped off the car, and stopped by a TGIFriday's for dinner in the airport.  We boarded our flight, and to our delight, ended up in a row with just the two of us.  We stretched out and I was able to finish my second book of the trip while we flew back home.  We arrived back at the apartment at 11pm, fed the cat, and packed up some warmer clothes before heading back to our hometown for Christmas Eve.

Goodbye, Florida!

Overall, our first beach vacation was wonderful.  There are a few small things we'd change (like going straight to Key West and skipping Miami), but for the most part, it was everything we needed: relaxing, quiet, and peaceful.  Our next trip will involve a bit more traveling around, but I hope we can take the relaxed attitude from this trip and bring it on all our future trips.  It's much more fun to travel without any pressure!

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