MIAMI, THE CITY OF SUN, Pınar Çetin | 15.03.2016

Everything began with my friend Gurbet moving to Florida. This gave me the chance to move Miami, a place that I dreamed of visiting, up in my vacation list. After making all of the arrangements I picked the most beautiful time and took a flight on December 30, 2014. As of October 2015, the direct flights from Istanbul to Miami on 3 days of the week make it much easier to reach the city.

Miami is one of the places most worth seeing in America.  It is the second biggest city in the state of Florida. 70% of the people speak Spanish. It is likely that you will hear people speaking Spanish in the streets.

We headed for the city center on the morning of December 31. We were accompanied by Will Smith’s song “Miami” on the way. Gurbet had prepared a few small surprises for me so that I would get to fully experience the city. Once we reached the city center, we parked our car and found ourselves at Lincoln Road. Lincoln Road is an avenue closed to traffic where you can find stores of various brands, restaurants at every step, and many places where you can buy souvenirs.

You can have a rest at a café after buying some souvenirs for your loved ones. However, trying to avoid the sun in the open air restaurants may be a good idea.

We went on towards Ocean Drive. This avenue, which runs parallel to the coast and divides Lincoln Road in two, is the avenue that features in the video for the Will Smith song and on TV series such as Dexter and CSI Miami.

All of the cafés at the side of the road have "happy hour" offers to draw people in and the fact that drinks come in huge glasses is also quite inviting.

Eventually, we reached South Beach. South Beach is full of people exercising and playing volleyball. South Beach is wide and long enough that it can host many activities. We spent a while here until the first minutes of the new year.  We wished to see in the new year on South Beach, because the most glorious New Year’s celebration takes place there. The beach was full of tourists as far as the eye could see. Latin music coming from the cafés of Ocean Drive, which become bars with the first lights of the evening, reached our ears.

As midnight passed, we celebrated with an amazing fireworks show.

Our plan for the first day of the new year was to visit Key West. Key West is around 160 miles from Miami and the drive takes 4-4.5 hours. But don’t have any concerns about the trip being boring. With the two-sided ocean view alongside the straight road which reaches the horizon, I can guarantee that you will love the landscapes.

Key West is an island linked to Miami with the Seven Mile Bridge. In fact, it is the last island linked to it. Most of the islands that you pass on the way to Key West have "Key" in their name and they all have incredible landscapes that are worth seeing.

Islamorada is the most popular of these islands. It is particularly attractive for those interested in scuba diving.

Highway 1 of the state of Florida, which is nicknamed the "Sunshine State," ends here. Hence, Key West is also called 0-Mile." Our first stop on the island was the southernmost point. However, we had to wait in a long line in order to take pictures with the buoy that marks it. You can feel a Latin atmosphere on this island, which is located 90 miles from Havana over the ocean.

After taking our pictures, we chatted with the coconut juice sellers and had some drinks before exploring more of Key West. I felt this might have been the prettiest island we’d seen up to that point. The cute little streets, decorated cafés, old American style single homes, and bars on Duval Street gave us the feeling of being in a fairy tale.

You can find brand stores and many original bars to have a bite to eat at on Duval Street, which is never without street performers. They even have a Hard Rock Cafe at Key West. We were rushing as the sun was about to set. The square at the end of Duval Street contains one of the main reasons for our visit. Watching the sunset here, if the weather allows it, is the single most wonderful thing you can do. You can take in the sights at the pier with many others,

Other great things to do at Key West are seeing the house of Ernest Hemingway, going to Sloppy Joe’s Bar, and most importantly getting to eat some Key Lime Pie!

We ended the day with a long dinner at an enjoyable venue that we picked.

Our plan for the third day was a bit hectic. First on the itinerary was a trip to Wynwood. This is a residential area where every street is covered with graffiti. Taking pictures or getting your picture taken is great, although you should still exercise caution as we heard that it isn’t the safest place because it is very isolated.

Our second stop was Little Havana. This is an avenue which makes you feel like you are in Cuba with the many Latin American people who maintain their culture in the district. You can see many stores selling cigars imported from Cuba.

Our third stop was Bayfront. You can’t come to Miami and not go on a tour to see the mansions that celebrities live in. Bayfront is a harbor where you can take a ferry tour like you can in Ortaköy. It also hosts a shopping mall and seafood restaurants. Interesting groups perform shows in its square. We took the Millionaire Tour which started here and lasted around 1.5 hours.

On my last day in the city we went to the Everglades National Park, which is 1 hour away from Miami. Here, we got the chance to observe alligators in their natural habitat from a boat in which we moved through the reeds.

If you can’t imagine going home without going to some outlet stores while you are in America, you can go shopping at Sawgrass Mall, which is one of the largest malls of Miami. You can find a plethora of brands within.

I took my flight home with the thoughts of Miami being a sunny city where happy people live, etched into my memory. Thanks to the great effort and attention of my close friend Gurbet, I had the chance to do an incredible amount in only a few days. I can tell you that if you have chosen Miami for a vacation you’ve made a great choice. Have a great trip!


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