Buenvenidos a Miami

What a perfect night to be blogging about my trip to Miami! It is snowing outside, I have my tree lit with Christmas music playing in the background and a cup of hot green tea next to me. I can reminisce about warmer weather and a great trip while enjoying a few of my favorite things about Chicago and the holiday season as well.

The weekend before Thanksgiving, I had the opportunity to meet my friend Amy and her friend Roberta in Venice, Florida. Amy and Roberta currently live in London but are both originally from Africa (Amy from South Africa and Roberta from Swaziland). I met Amy in 2011 during my first trip to Europe and we became instant friends. I have had the opportunity to see her a couple of time since then (in London a couple of years later and then in 2014 when I met her and some friends in Greece) and always have fun when we are together.

I flew down to Tampa on a Friday night after work. My flight was supposed to leave Chicago around 6:15 but it was after 9 before we finally departed from Midway. I finally made it to my hotel in Tampa around midnight on Friday night. While I was waiting to deplane in Tampa, I texted my friend Olivia to see if she wanted to meet for a quick breakfast the next morning. I had only mentioned that I was going to FL to her in passing so I wasn’t sure if she remembered I was coming. I was excited when she responded the next morning and was able to meet me. The luck I was having on this trip had turned around. After breakfast, I drove down to Venice, FL, where Amy and Roberta were staying. I picked up Amy (Roberta decided to stay in Venice with her dad) and we set off for Miami. I had only been to Miami one time before. It was for a conference for work so my beach and exploring time were very limited. I was looking forward to spending more time there and exploring a bit more of the area.

Choosing a hotel in Miami was a tough decision. It is pretty expensive to stay in Miami Beach but I didn’t want to stay too far from the beach so I had to find the right compromise. The two hotels a friend recommended were both sold out so I ended up going with the Redbury Hotel. It had good reviews and was reasonably priced. It was a good decision because Amy and I both really liked it. It was clean and seemed safe (most important) and the decor was really cool too. I actually wish the bathroom from our room at the hotel was the bathroom at my apartment. An added perk of this hotel was that were able to use the really nice pool and beach chairs of its sister hotel across the street. We took advantage of this perk both days we were there.

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After we checked into the hotel, we took off to spend some time on the beach. It was a nice albeit slightly cool day but totally fine for laying in a beach chair by the water. I enjoyed it immensely. The photo below was the view from our chairs. They were setting up for a wedding that took place soon after we headed back to the hotel.

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One of the restaurants everyone recommended to me when I told them I was heading to Miami was Joe’s Stone Crab. Apparently it has been around for a long time and is only open from October-May. We decided to check it out and as expected, there was an hour wait to get a table. We were able to get a booth at the bar in the meantime and passed the time drinking martinis (which were very delicious) and catching up. For dinner, we had a delicious salad and the stone crabs. I have to say, I was slightly disappointed with the crabs. They were served cold, which apparently is normal for stone crab, but I am used to crab being served hot and decided I prefer them hot. So while good, they were not as good as I expected.

While waiting for our table, I enjoyed a Lychee martini and a salted caramel martini. The Lychee one was good but I LOVED the salted caramel martini. The whipped cream and caramel on top were my favorite part!

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Amy and me while waiting for our tableimg_0436

After dinner, we stopped by Broken Shaker for drink. Broken Shaker was highly recommended to me by a friend so we were excited to check it out. It was an outside bar with a neat vibe but it’s actually quite hard to find. Once we finally found it, we each enjoyed the house punch while enjoying the weather and people watching.

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The next morning we headed out for breakfast at the Delano Hotel. The Delano was one of the hotels that my friend recommended that was sold out but she also mentioned that the restaurant there was good too. I had the smoked salmon eggs benedict and it was the best eggs benedict I have had in a long time. I really, really liked it. Plus, they had the same brand of tea I used here in Chicago so it was a win there too.

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After breakfast, Amy wanted to walk around and explore the streets around Miami Beach to find some souvenirs for her former housemates while I wanted to hang out by the pool so we split up. This was my view for my last couple of hours in Miami. I could have stayed for a couple of more days for sure.

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After spending time hanging by the pool and shopping, we loaded up the car and headed west. On the way out of Miami, we stopped by the American Girl Doll store so Amy could buy a doll for her niece. I was surprised they don’t have them in London, even as British Girl Dolls or something. Apparently, it is commonplace at Amy’s workplace for people who come to America to bring back the dolls for their daughters and nieces. Who knew?

My final thoughts about Miami are all very positive. I really enjoyed our time there and hope to go back again soon! On a side note to end this post, within 12 months, I managed to make it to some of the furthest points in the USA – from Hawaii to Alaska to Florida. I cannot wait to continue exploring this great country in 2017!

 

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