Tag Archives: travel

A Weekend in Miami

 

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Miami is like New York.  It is full of culture and history.

Miami is like Pattaya, Thailand.  Beautiful beaches lining its coast.

Miami is like Denver.  There are bars and restaurants on nearly every block.

Miami is a tourist dream paradise, it is a city well-connected by flights, the food is delicious and there is plenty to do no matter what time of day.

The city is dominant by Spanish language which wasn’t a huge surprise to me given the geographical location to Latin America.  I was surprised how many people spoke Spanish to us in Spanish and not English first.  The majority of the drivers and a few restaurant workers spoke to didn’t speak English which made it difficult at times to get around.

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Ocean Drive

Miami Beach is an entirely separate city from Miami proper.  To reach Miami Beach you travel over a bridge.

The heart of Miami is undoubtedly South Beach.  Home to clubs, restaurants, hotels, shopping and the occasional celebrity sighting, the community provides something for anyone visiting.

The southern tip of South Beach is home to Ocean Drive.  There you have the legendary Art Deco buildings, the late Gianni Versace’s mansion and multiple locations that were featured in Hollywood motion pictures.

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The Birdcage staring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane was filmed at The Carlyle.  Bad Boys and Scarface filmed scenes along the area.

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728 Ocean Drive was the location of the Sun Ray Apartments in Scarface.  Here the legendary chainsaw scene took place at the back of the property before Johnny Rockets occupied the location.  It is currently being remodeled into a new CVS.

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Expensive mixed drinks are available at bars and restaurants with views of the beach across the street.

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Espanola Way

Tucked in a palm tree lined pedestrian street, Espanola Way is a throwback to Old World Europe.  Take your pick from Cuban, Italian, Japanese and Mexican food.  Walking up the street, hosts from every restaurant greet you outside with menus readily in hand.

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Havana 1957

Transporting you to Havana in the 1950’s, Havana 1957 allows you to relive the glory and glamour of Cuba.  I was treated to my first and long overdue experience of Cuban food.  I ordered Vaca Frita, a dish  with grilled shredded beef, onions in Cuban mojo. Served with white rice and black beans.  I paired it with local fresh red Sangria that was the perfect compliment.  While I cannot recall the name of our server, he was a very classy and knowledgeable fellow who shared stories coming over from Cuba and his artwork created.

Hosteria Romana

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My last evening in Miami began with a return trip to Espanola Way at Hosteria Romana.  The interior of the restaurant held the essence of central Rome that provided you with a brief trip to Italy.  From traditional music to exquisite plates of Roman Jewish cuisine, Hosteria Romana brings South Beach the culture of Rome, Italy.

We ordered an appetizer of freshly sliced prosciutto ham and melon.  Unlike traditional meats found in delis, this was the freshest that I have come across.  For dinner I ordered Bucatini o Rigatoni Amatriciana.  The name is lengthy but the dish boasts robust flavors of tomato, romano cheese and an Italian bacon (pancetta) sauce.

I can be rather picky when it comes to quality Italian food.  Other than the restaurants that occupy Little Italy in New York, Hosteria Romana is the most authentic and appealing Italian restaurant I have come across during my travels.

Take Away

For my first experience in Miami, despite the humidity it truly lived up to its expectations of a party city and full of culture.  While I am not sure when I will return, it has earned a return someday..

 

 

Alaska: Braving the Arctic cold at Mendenhall Glacier

 

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The state of Alaska truly is “The Last Frontier” due to its geographical location from the U.S. mainland.  Accessible only by airplane or boat, Alaska fits the typical statement for being “off the grid” from civilization, with the exception of it’s largest cities Anchorage and Fairbanks.  Located on the panhandle in southern Alaska, the state capitol of Juneau is the only US capitol besides Hawaii that does connect to the rest of the state or the U.S. Mainland.

I was presented with the opportunity of a lifetime to visit Juneau with a friend.  Early in the morning we boarded a flight in Seattle for a 2 1/2 hour direct flight to Juneau International Airport.  Well aware that the weather for November in Juneau averages in the mid-30’s, packing warmer clothes was the only option.  Growing up I spent many weekends each year camping in cold weather and the occasional snow while I was in Scouts.  Upon departing the aircraft and into the airport terminal, the weather was colder than I had originally anticipated requiring adding additional layers of clothing.  Being a native to California we experience all of the seasons through-out the year but nothing near the drop in temperature that Alaska experiences.  65 degrees in California is extreme cold to a select hand full of locals.

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A 10-minute taxi ride North of the airport you will discover Juneau’s most coveted natural landmark, the Mendenhall Glacier.  The 13-mile glacier ends in Mendenhall Lake providing guests picturesque views of the glacier and floating icebergs.  Immediately after stepping foot outside of the taxi, you arrive at the visitor center that provides an introduction to the Mendenhall Valley with a brief history of the area.  It’s common to experience a bear sighting or two while in the area, especially in the Spring season.  What stood out to me were posted signs along the 1.5 mile hike to the glacier regarding bears and what do should you come across one.  The rangers strongly suggested that flavored gum and beverages be disregarded and to speak to the bear in a calm tone.  Never knew that. Anyone see Yogi Bear around or Boo Boo?

The Mendenhall Valley lies within a secluded area of Juneau that blends lush green vegetation and massive trees that could be utilized properly come Christmas time.  During the Winter months, the lake reaches freezing temperatures with build up of ice along land.  As we learned, the ice can be very thing that should be used with extreme caution if walked on.

Before arriving at the glacier Nugget Falls resides a short distance away.  The natural waterfall created from the gradual decline of the glacier is a good opportunity to get in a quick break.  The view from Nugget Falls is the closest and best you will have of the glacier unless you decide to take the hike into the ice caves into the glacier.  Overall this is the best experience to pay a visit to while in Juneau.

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