Traveling the world, learning languages, and immersing myself in new cultures.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Miami, FL: New Year's 2014

Synopsis: Fresh off our cruise, my parents and I stay in Miami to celebrate New Year's. But we don't just stay in Miami, we do all of southern Florida.

Trip Overview:
Day 1: First things first, I go to an Apple store in the mall and buy an iPad mini. Then, I can breathe, eat, drink, and use the bathroom. Gotta have priorities. We drive down to Homestead AFB, where we will stay for a couple of days. En route, what do I see? Krispy Kreme donut stores abound. We are passing the 3rd one on this road alone! Well, when in Rome... or when in America, eat as much as you can!

Thoughts: Driving about 20 miles down the highway, I saw 4 McDonalds, 3 Krispy Kreme's, 17 car dealerships, and 4 shopping malls. Talk about a consumer-driven society!

First picture taken with my new iPad mini

Yummy! Don't worry, I only ate 2... dozen

Day 2: We want to go to Key West, so we set head that way in the early afternoon. We stop here and there to take photos and check out some sights. We do not realize that everyone else is now on vacation too, and will be heading to Key West as well. Traffic jam. After a few hours in traffic and with about 70 miles to go, we give up and turn around.

Back at the hotel, our bellhop gives us some free tickets to a concert in Bayside Park. When my dad and I go later to check it out, we see that it was either canceled or extremely unsuccessful, as there is no one there and they are already cleaning the stage up.

Thoughts: Not really in a hurry to do anything or go anywhere, so we can change our minds if we want. That is a good feeling.

In Key Largo, sitting in a chair of a place I never made it to

The Travelin' Trio

As far as we made it

Day 3: New Year's Eve. Decide to do a hop on/off bus tour around Miami beach and around the greater Miami area. It rains a bit and it is a bit chilly. When the two tours finish, we walk around the Bayside Marketplace. 

The New Year's celebration is in Bayside Park, right across the street from our hotel. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of people sitting along the water and in/around the park. There are food vendors everywhere. We walk up and down a few times and check out the festivities. We position ourselves in front of the Intercontinental Hotel, where the orange goes up. 3, 2, 1, Happy New Year!! Fireworks and celebrating.

Thoughts: Good ol hop on/off to get orientation in the city. Plus since it was raining a bit, it was easier than walking around. I cannot think of a better way to bring in the new year, than in a tropical location with my favorite people. 

Ahmed Al-Bahrani's War to War exhibit

Hop on/off bus tourists

Starts raining on the hop on/off

Dad getting his grub on

Last handstand of 2013

Just before the countdown

They had a photo booth set up and we did a happy snap

Day 4: Hop on/off again today, but for public transport. First stop is Miami Beach. We are going to walk the whole beach. Stop at the workout area where Barstarzz are often working out. Head up the beach along the water, taking in the sights. Hop back on the bus to the other route so we can check out the Cuban area and eat at Versailles. Then, Azucar, a Cuban ice cream store with super cool decorations, for dessert.  

Thoughts: The weather was pretty nice during the day, but got a bit cold at night and all I had on is a tank top! Oh well. Miami is a really nice place and I think I could live here; sports, culture, night life, Spanish language, and so much more. 

First handstand of 2014

Mom doing a partially folded human flag with only a gentle breeze blowing

If you can't read Spanish, it says "Miami Beach"

That water was cold!

We basically walked all of Lummus Park

We didn't eat here, but the chicken was too cool not to pose with

Apparently, President Obama likes eating here. It was delicious food

This was some good ice cream, and a very well-decorated store

Day 5: Today, we go to Everglades Holiday Park to ride the airboats through the world-famous Florida Everglades and to see a live gator show. The airboat is really loud. Our guide is funny and gets us close to various wildlife, including a few gators. Now, I'm sitting on the edge of the boat, but thanks to Hollywood and movies like Lake Placid, as that gator gets closer, I start sliding toward the middle of the boat. Who says they can't jump out the water and snatch me out of the boat? I am super delicious, after all. Not chancing that!

After making it safely back to land, we go see a gator show, where a guy literally goes into a pit with 10 gators and picks up one up and starts wrestling and "playing" with it. This dude has lost his mind! The gators all seem sedated, but even still, you wouldn't catch me in there. But, for our entertainment, he risks his head, literally by putting it in the gator's mouth, yet survives. 

Thoughts:  Thank God for white people! Can't think of anyone else who would willingly go into a gator pit for other people's entertainment. Just sayin'.

Such an interesting experience that is must-see for anyone on

See how my parents wisely sat in the middle of the boat

The Everglades are very beautiful

And picturesque

See how he is looking at me like I'm a piece of steak

These guys are on the Discovery Channel, so that means they are good?

You are seeing correctly, that is his face in the gator's mouth

My dad, iconoclasting (yes, its a word) my earlier comments... only white people... with gators for fun...

Famous or not, I had to get a pic with this guy

I JUST saw a guy doing this earlier...

Day 6-9: Today, we are supposed to be flying home. My parents make it out, as they don't have to fly to the northeast to get home. I, on the other hand, have to fly through New York, which is under 20 feet of snow, so I'm not going anywhere. After waiting in line for two hours, I find out when I can get another flight. Three days from now. Airlines don't pay for hotels because of bad weather. I set out a hat and start tap dancing to raise money for a hotel. 

Thoughts: Hanging out in Miami would be cool if I had some spending money, knew people, or had something to do. Guess I'll head to Walmart and buy three days worth of food and supplies for less than $20.

Final Thoughts: I am glad my dad doesn't mind driving, because he did an awful lot of driving up and down Route 1 these past few days. I was chillin' in the back or on the passenger side, enjoying the ride. I've been to Florida many times, yet had never done the everglades. That was a nice experience.

I guess I can thank global warming for this crazy weather in the U.S. this winter. Being "snowed-in", or more accurately "snowed-out", was a bit of an inconvenience, but 2 extra days in Miami, can I really complain too much???



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