Day 28, 29 & 30: Miami & Fort Lauderdale

Trip Start Jul 01, 2008
Trip End Sep 27, 2008

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Flag of United States  , Florida
Thursday, July 31, 2008

We had hoped we might get a chance to check out Miami for lunch on our way through Fort Lauderdale, but the promise of a swim in the hotel pool had the kids demanding to know how many minutes until we got there, from the moment we left Key Largo. Dinner was a pleasant change - we had driven by a strip mall Japanese restaurant on our way to the hotel and couldn't shake the thought of sushi, so after a quick drive around Las Olas Blvd and a peek at the beach (in all it's dark glory) we ended up cramming in to an obviously very popular neighbourhood joint.
Day 1 we drove to Miami - and loved it. Our image of Miami was vastly different from the reality - we were thinking Miami Vice crime levels & Gianni Versace slayings - but it was far more sedate and kid friendly than we expected. We did a car-cruise of the Art Deco hotels and buildings - it was too hot for walking, and we were keen to get to South Beach - the kids and I for a swim ... Matt, well I'm not sure what was driving his haste to get there. The white sands (apparently imported??) and turquoise waters were much more like the Florida of our dreams and we swam for ages taking in the bikinis and bodies that give this part of town it's well deserved reputation. Next stop, the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables where Johnny Weissmuller (Tarzan) was the original lifeguard so we could check out the world's largest hotel pool, and satisfy Tom who announced at South Beach that he doesn't like salty water. We drove up to Valet, said we were going in for a drink and moments later found ourselves poolside with a cocktail. Seemed foolish to be so close, but not get wet, so in we all went and nobody seemed to mind at all. We hadn't thought to bring Tom's bubble to cocktail hour, so he chose that moment to show us he can swim without it and proceeded to give demonstrations of his Olympic Gold style freestyle. Johnny must have left something in the water all those years ago. Not content to have two swims in Miami, we then went to the local pool called the Venetian which was carved from a limestone quarry and home to caves and waterfalls. Very cool. Starving after all that swimming we found our way to Little Havana and had a Cuban meal which we enjoyed, but liked the Cuban coffee even better.
Day 2, the Everglades. The kids were not at all excited about visiting a river of grass - in their minds a return to a swamp, but the Air Boat ride lifted their spirits. I'm still not sure it was an environmentally sensitive tour to have taken, but it was fun and we did see the occasional alligator, one turtle and 2 birds. We had planned to venture further into the Everglades, but it was a stinking hot day and Tom had already given us a demonstration of how he felt about being there, so we took the easy road and headed back to the pool. One thing we were pleasantly surprised about - hardly any bugs. We have been over-prepared for an onslaught of bugs ever since we crossed the Florida state line, but either we have hit Florida during bug-holidays, or those issuing the bug warnings have never lived in Sydney. A few mozzie bites (or maybe sand fly bites) while we camped next to the mangroves, but otherwise we've not been bothered at all.
Day 3 was a trip north to Palm Beach which we enjoyed but for all the driving we wished we'd stayed put on the nicer Fort Lauderdale beach right near our hotel!
Tomorrow we leave Florida, which is why we can now make comment about the bugs without fear of jinxing ourselves, and into Georgia. A long drive - we are one DVD player down, so it may be a Very long drive, but we're up for it after a couple of weeks of sun & fun in Florida, the sunshine state!
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