15.03.2016

THE OCEAN CITY OF MIAMI

THE OCEAN CITY OF MIAMI, Nazlı Tezcan | 15.03.2016

The new availability of direct flights to the sunny city of Miami in the United States of America is the reason we changed our vacation route. We ventured to this ocean city that seemed so familiar thanks to the many movies and TV series that we have seen set here.

After a flight of almost 11 hours we reached Miami. I knew that Spanish was widely spoken but I never knew that I would find myself in a place that was almost a Latin American country. Signs around the city are in both English and Spanish.

The hotel we stayed in was in South Beach district. This district, SoBe for short, is a little difficult to reach with public transportation. The nearest subway is around a 30 minute walk. Because we were tired and the distance was relatively short, we decided to take a taxi. The city is divided into districts and taxis fix a price for each district. As such, taking taxis for transport is very convenient.

We reached our hotel at around 21:00. After leaving our things in our rooms, we went straight back out to explore. After a short walk we reached one of the liveliest spots in the city: Lincoln Road Mall. Hoping to find a place to eat, we noticed that there are many cafés and restaurants lined up side by side. All of them were really busy. The most interesting thing was that in almost all of them there were people smoking hookahs. Even though the city is largely populated with Latin people, the authentic feel of the east is reflected in the cafés.

We picked Pizza Rustica one of the most crowded spots on the avenue. When our orders arrived we saw that we had chosen well. The serving sizes are quite large and the food is delicious. If you can afford to wait a little due to the crowd, it is worth a try. The heavy meal after such a long trip weighed down on us. We went straight back to the hotel and slept right away, hoping to wake up spry in the morning.

Our program the next day took in Ocean Drive and the Art Deco district. During this season the weather can be quite variable. It is worth carrying an umbrella with you. The weather can change in an instant from sun to heavy rain. In such moments you will see many people bunched under the café awnings trying to avoid the rain.

Ocean Drive is the most popular avenue in South Beach district. It is very lively throughout the day thanks to the restaurants, cafés, and clubs that line the street. Don’t be surprised to see showgirls dancing on the tables at midday in front of one of the clubs. You may choose to lie on the grass at the side of the road and watch this entertainment from afar without getting into the crowd.

After Ocean Drive is the Art Deco district. Art Deco is a design movement that originated during the 1910s and became a mainstream visual arts style in Western Europe and America during the 1920s and the 1930s. The buildings here were built in this style, giving the district its name. This is the sole district that may be identified as historic within Miami.

As we had tickets to the Miami Heat – Memphis Grizzlies NBA game that evening, we didn’t want to tire ourselves out during the day. Miami Heat play at the American Airlines Arena, which is located in the downtown. After resting a while in our rooms, we went to Washington Avenue to take the bus. The 2 USD bus fare is paid to the driver. I would advise you to have the exact amount on you as they don’t provide change. We waved goodbye to 1 USD as we only had a 5 USD bill. After an approximately 30 minute ride we arrived at the American Airlines Arena.

We went straight in to both avoid the crowds outside and because we were curious to explore the arena even though it was still 45 minutes until the game started. Inside we found a center of many attractions. There are food and drink outlets on every floor, alongside stores where Miami Heat merchandise is sold. Americans have a reputation as people who love to eat. Maybe for this reason, all the outlets were very busy. After a short walk around the floors we went to find our seats. We had great seats on the upper deck at the end of the row from which we could see the whole court. Because so many spectators are busy eating until the very last minute, the seats don’t fill up until the game begins.

We saw a very competitive game where the cheerleaders put on dance shows in the breaks. The Arena erupted into joy when Miami Heat won the match by 3 points after trailing the Grizzlies up until the last 2 minutes. Feeling fatigued from this outpouring of emotion, we headed back to our hotel after the game.

Early the next morning, we went to the boardwalk, which runs northward from SoBe, for our daily walk. This place is a very enjoyable wooden walking trail along the coast surrounded by palm trees. There are paths to the beach at fixed intervals and open showers at the start of each for everyone’s use. There are even free sun lotion dispensers at some points. The sea isn’t as nice as it is in the photographs. But the beach is so wide and long that you can go there during the day to rest and relax even though it may be crowded.

Once we were done with our walk we began researching a tour of Key West, which we aimed to go to the next day. The tour agencies on Lincoln Road provide reasonably priced two-way bus trips. We made a deal with one of them to be picked up from a spot close to our hotel early in the morning and went to the beach to enjoy some drinks by the sea. After finishing the day here with the sunset, we headed back to our hotel to get some rest before our early start the following morning.

What are the chances that two hotels with the same name are located on the same street? This rare occurrence happened to us the following morning and we realized that we missed our bus to Key West. Fortunately, we found a taxi immediately and caught up with the bus on the way. We reached Key West after a trip of around 3 hours, all the while listening to our guide who didn’t seem to stop talking. At least we had great landscapes to look at on the way, which slightly reduced the jarring effect of the sound of the guide on our ears.

Key West is the endpoint of America and is only 90 miles away from Cuba. Key West, which is a proper tropical island, boasts evergreen streets, Ernest Hemingway’s house filled with cats, and colorful structures. Watching the sunset here is even more enjoyable. But if you wish to dip your toes in the sea, it is hard to find those turquoise beaches here. But it is still a place that should be visited for a day.

We got back to Miami in the evening, exhausted from the heat and fatigue. Because we had an early flight to catch, we sadly had to go back to our hotel on our last night in Miami.

We didn’t have time for Little Havana, which I really wanted to see. Thinking that this would be a great excuse to return, we said goodbye to Miami.

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