Updated: Jun 16
My final day in Florida paradise... better make it a doozie.
I had one very important mission to complete today. Another damn COVID test.
Turns out it's either FREE or ridiculously expensive here in the ole United States of America. Had I been SMART... and gone yesterday or the day before, it would have been free.
When you need it by tomorrow at 6am... it's not so free.
Not so free at all.
In fact, it was upwards of $385 more than free.
I was kicking myself for not getting my act together.
I kicked myself even harder when the man at my Miami Beach hotel told me there was a place around the corner doing them for free and getting kids their results within mere hours.
I had found a little place in downtown Wynwood, with a lady who gave me all the gory details about her weight loss regime, all the while keeping a keen eye on my rental car, because "the police were ticketing everyone lately."
That would have been the icing on the cake for my already ludicrous fee.
I had also been informed that I had to fill out an ArriveCan form, which I did through Google on my phone, as opposed to downloading the free app.
This cost me $65 US.
And I pin myself as an experienced traveller.
Not at all.
I'm an idiot and I do stupid things ALL the time.
So yes, I got the cotton swab stuck up my nose again. In fact, I got it up both nostrils this time. Considering I had paid $385, they really gave me the full swab treatment. BOTH nostrils.
The price we pay to travel.
I then drove through Wynwood, a district in Miami known for its many colourful murals. It was pretty cool, I have to admit... and I found myself back wondering, once again, why Mission didn't embrace it's local street artists more. Shame.
I stayed at the James Hotel in South Beach.
This 1940's quirky hotel was like nothing I have ever seen before. It was fully decorated with every flea market trinket and bad Christmas gift you could ever possibly imagine. The unique decoration extended from the exterior right into the front lobby. Too bad the rooms didn't quite match the unique decor, as that would have really taken the cake.
Figurines, colourful tiles, stained glass, garden decor, vibrant paintings, chandeliers, toy boats, magnets, sea shells, funky furniture, butterflies, turtles, frogs, dolphins, handcrafted signs, lamp posts, ceramics, vases... and all goes to prove that one person's trash is another person's treasure.
It had complimentary parking, which I liked... and it was located directly beside the hotel.
I wandered through the Art Deco District, Lummus Park, Muscle Beach and along Ocean Drive. It was a beautiful, sunshine-filled day and the place was oozing fabulous and style. Everything was bright and colourful and people were out and about, unapologetically doing what they do best.
I saw landmarks like the Versace Mansion, the hotel where the Birdcage was filmed and the 11th Street Diner. They say it's an architectural wonder and has the highest concentration of Art Deco buildings in the world. Their preservation has saved the South Beach skyline from becoming a canyon of condos... and that's incredibly fortunate considering all the buildings were almost destroyed by developers in the early 70's.
I found myself a seaside diner and indulged with a colossal margarita and delicious jalapeño salad. I had such a fabulous time, just sitting there, watching all the people go by.
I had booked a sunset bay tour with the Island Queen, and I figured I would make the trek there on foot. I had time to kill, it was a beautiful afternoon, I needed the exercise and it seemed like a lovely sightseeing trek.
Google maps informed me it was 5 miles and would take me approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes. I gave myself 2 hours.
It took forever.
Of course, I didn't stomp along quickly, head down. I meandered along Venetian Drive, admiring the view, taking selfies and scenery shots... I was laid back in my afternoon stroll. Then I started to watch the time and realized I had better pick up the pace.
After a little while of pace-picking-up, I realized there was going to be no way I would make it in time, and I set about trying to get myself a taxi... or an Uber.
Of course, my WIFI was non-existent, my cell data was limited out and when I finally got through to a local number, they told me there are no taxis in the area I was in. Odd.
So I had to walk faster.
My plan had been to find a restaurant, use their WIFI or their land line, and call a cab... but with the new-found knowledge of no taxis in the area, I was completely on my own.
I was almost in a full on run... a definite speed walk.
I found each and every available short cut and I MADE IT... IN TIME... but then I couldn't find the place to check in. I had actually walked right past it, and it was all my fault for not carefully reading the departure information they had sent me.
Remember the part about not being a very experienced traveller?
Ya... not good.
When I finally found the departure desk, my ship had sailed. The girl hardly seemed interested in my breathless banter about how I'd run from the other side of the world to get here... and just printed out another ticket, handed it to me and said, "Come back at 5:30."
Quick drink at the Bayside Marina... and I was on the boat!
We sailed past the elite of the elite. This was REAL money here.
They call it Millionaire Row... and probably, being honest here, I'll never live there.
I'm ok with that.
Shakira apparently moved from her home there because of the lack of privacy. I'll probably go live somewhere near her.
But yes... we saw the shoreline, front gardens and mansion façades of the likes of Madonna, David Beckham, JLo, PDiddy... and even the once owned home of Frank Sinatra. We sailed past Fisher Island, which is a 216-acre, man-made luxury island, situated just off the coast of Miami. There are no bridges or roads to reach Fisher Island and it is only accessible through ferry or private boat. Or yacht. And not anyone can just GO to Fisher Island... they only allow residents, their visitors, hotel guests and club members. I had a look at real estate on the island and average price? Around $15 million... no biggie.
Famous Island residents? Pavel Bure, Oprah Winfrey, Tiger Woods, Tom Cruise... Joanna McBride. lol
I read that there is a bowling alley, liquor store, movie theatre and a grocery store/market! I think I would be perfectly happy on Fisher Island.
Too bad I only have $7.
Due to the fact that my phone sucks and I'm slow, it was a bit of a later cruise than I had originally planned on, which made it quite dark while we were out there. Not good for my curious peeping toms! But the sunset backdrop against the Miami skyline was unbelievably beautiful.
Well worth the 90-minute sightseeing tour!
Remember that quick drink I had on the Bayside Marina?
Well... after going to buy, yet, another drink, I suddenly discovered my credit card was missing.
I ran back to the original place I had my drink and frantically asked if I had left it there when I'd taken off to board my sightseeing tour.
Yes. It was there.
I'd already lost so much during the course of this entire trip. Imagine adding my credit card to the list of casualties.
My Uber driver was mean. What is it with me and the recent influx of horrible drivers? He didn't say one word. Not one word to me. It was awkward silence the entire time. And he wasn't deaf or dumb, because he confirmed where I was going.
Saving myself a lot in tips! Holy moly...
I decided to spend my very last vacation evening at a vegan restaurant, located right bedside my hotel, called Full Bloom Vegan. I had the Tailgate beyond burger with soy cheese, jackfruit, tempeh bacon, pickles and served with yuca fries.
It was... different... and not sure I would order it again, but I ate it and enjoyed my first full Vegan dining experience.
I was up very early to head to the airport and everything about the drive annoyed me. The signage was horrendous, and I managed to miss almost every turn I was supposed to take. I was completely at the end of my rope... and I actually pulled over at one point and screamed.
I just sat there in the car, screaming.
I allowed myself to have the moment I needed to try and work out my frustrations, and then I tried to carry on in a calm, registered manner.
Even arriving at the airport was annoying.
The car drop off location was miles away from departures. There was a train to take you to departures, but no one could give me firm directions to find it. I was low on cell phone juice, I couldn't get WIFI... my pack was massive and severe.
I hated every minute of it.
This was my Facebook posting...
"I have been in approximately 50+ airports in my lifetime. None of them have managed to deliver the level of hassle, hinderance or grievance that Miami International has.
Sheer frustration. Tears of fury, exasperation and surrender.
Maybe if I could have found the turning lane, the ramp, the rental drop off, the people mover trolley, an escalator that worked, a complimentary luggage cart, the departures lounge, check-in, my airline, my flight on the screen, someone in customer service, a place to sit down… or a damn coffee… life might be better…
Hands down… worst airport. I’d take Panama City over this one…
Good morning, everyone! Don’t mind me… it’s 3:25am… I’m exhausted, I’m fully at the end of my tolerance tether and I’ve just been metaphorically slaughtered… and this just cost me $15…"
Remember that quick drink I had on the Bayside Marina?
Remember the instant relief I felt when they gave me back my card?
Remember how I mentioned I was happy not to have added my credit card to the list of casualties?
Ya... over $600 spent online at Tommy Hilfiger and Walmart.
I can't make this stuff up...
I need a new trip.