We woke up and cooked our own breakfast of bacon and eggs and cold-brewed coffee. After we showered and got ready, we set back out to relax at the beach some more. Same as yesterday, we walked through the intense heat to get there. We were not getting used to it. We met a very friendly lady out in the water who seemed to chat with just about anyone who was there. We watched a boat full of young ladies who we surmised were celebrating a bachelorette party just off shore. After a couple hours of sun and sand and hanging out in the water, we donned our clothes and went to catch a city bus toward South Beach again.
We decided a better plan this day was to head to the closest bus stop, which was just outside the park entrance. We rode down to the 60s-streets and hopped off. There were a bunch of restaurants nearby, so we only wandered for 5 or 10 minutes before we picked one that looked appealing. We went into Masa Taqueria and ordered a plate of tacos and a drink each. The drinks were cool and refreshing, and the tacos were really good! I got pulled pork with pineapple. Mandy got tacos carnitas.
With our bellies full, we crossed a few blocks to Oriana Tattoo to see if they could take a couple walk-ins. They squeezed us in! Mandy got a tiny paper airplane and I got a palm tree. We are very pleased with the work we got done. And the shop was very clean!
After tattoos, we hobbled to Las Vegas 6 because the sign said they had Cuban cuisine. Mandy got empanadas and I got another Cuban sandwich. It wasn’t quite as good as the one I got the day before, but it wasn’t bad. We also shared some sangria, which was good. After we settled our bill, we continued back north towards our place for the night, although we knew we wouldn’t walk the whole way. The weather was much more tolerable in the evening, so it was a good time for a stroll. We walked along the area between the beach and the boardwalk, and we were surprised to find a lot of large parties ongoing. It seemed like most of them were graduation parties, or maybe just large family gatherings. It looked like a really cool spot to have a get-together. We discussed how that would totally not be allowed near home.
We continued until we were so sick of walking that we had to find a bus. As we exited the park area, we cut through a feral cat sanctuary area, which was interesting. It looks like the cats are watered and fed, but fenced off so they have a place they can hang out unimpeded by humans. The fence of course is coarse enough that the cats can pass freely through it. It took way too long for the bus to finally come pick us up. We were relieved when it finally came. We just needed to get back to our space and plop on a comfy seat and relax. When we hopped off the bus, we had just a short 5 minute walk up the road to our place. We were pleased to pass by a live concert of classic rock covers. When we got up to our room, we stepped onto the balcony with a couple adult beverages and we had an unobstructed view of the stage, and the music was clear to hear. It was a lovely night for a show, so we relaxed in the chairs on the balcony until we were ready to sleep.
Sunny Isles: Day 4
We woke up slowly and made breakfast. This was our last morning in the sunshine state so we got our things all packed up and did a sweep of the apartment. Everything was in order so we hailed an uber and got a ride to the airport. The flight home was uneventful and we arrived in the late afternoon. We quickly found our vehicle in the parking lot and headed home to pick up Loki and unpack after another enjoyable vacation.
We took our time in the morning and woke up slowly. After showers we decided that we should start the day with coffee, obviously. We looked up coffee shops in the area and found one near the grocery store. We started walking and were immediately feeling the intense heat of the day. It was about a ten minute walk until we stepped into the Art Cafe. We each ordered a breakfast sandwich and a chocolate croissant. Rob got an iced coffee and I ordered an iced mocha. Everything was delicious and left us satisfied. We stopped at Winn-Dixie on our way back to the apartment and picked up bacon, eggs, coffee, and trail mix for the next couple of days. We planned to cook breakfast the remainder of the vacation but buy lunch and dinner while we were out exploring. The walk back to the apartment was quick in the hot sun. The air conditioning was a welcome reprieve as we dropped off the groceries before setting back out.
Before we left again, we put on plenty of sunscreen and packed towels and a few other items. We opted to walk to the beach, because it was pretty close. We were about halfway when we began to regret that decision. We felt like we were melting into the pavement it was so hot! We were used to the constant breeze in Aruba, which was non-existent in Sunny Isles. So although the temperature was approximately the same, we just couldn't stay cool.
Finally at the beach at Haulover Park, we found a spot to set down our belongings and all of our clothes, and went straight into the water. Though the water was warm, it was bliss. We paddled around and just generally enjoyed the relaxation of floating around with nothing at all to do all day. After a while, we decided to take back to the sand, and work on getting rid of some tan lines. We lasted a whole 15 minutes, at best, before we had to get back in the water. The heat was just so intense! The tide had gone out a bit since our arrival, and we saw a few other people far out from the shore, clearly standing. So we made our way out to the "Swim Area" marker, just because. We could walk most of the way there, about 100ft from the shoreline. We loved the beautiful sandy bottom and the crystal clear-blue waters here.
After getting out and back in the water another round, we finally decided to check out some more of the area. We made our way to the showers to wash off the salt and sand, and put our clothes back on. Then we walked down the sidewalk through the park, southbound. We stole into the shade whenever we could find it. Eventually, we made it to a large parking lot that had a bus stop, and we agreed it would be much better to take a ride. Our pace was quite slow on foot. Plus, the bus had air conditioning. Bonus! We got on just in time, because it started to rain pretty heavy once the bus started rolling towards South Beach. So lucky.
We rode the bus down to about the 20-streets by the time it stopped raining. We hopped off and checked out what was nearby to satisfy our newly-developed hunger. At 16th Street, we found the Liquor Lounge, which had seats outside, but under a roof, which was exactly what we were in the mood for. In case more rains came, we'd be covered, but we got to people-watch. We ordered a round of drinks and a pizza to split. I got a mojito. My favorite! There was a two-for-one on Long Island Iced Tea, so I got one, then another. They hit the spot, and then some. The pizza was better than we'd hoped for, so that was a nice surprise, too!
After lunch, we wandered around a bit, just looking at all the sights and fancy cars. Bentleys and Rolls-Royces became mundane, there were so many of them around. Eventually, we hailed a ride through Uber to take us to the mainland for our next meal. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to us before we began this leg of the journey, there was construction on the bridge. This caused a huge amount of traffic. So we were averaging about a city block per 10 minutes or so. Our driver spoke only very limited English, so I tried my best to communicate with him in Spanish, but I'm a little rusty. So we couldn't say much. But he was very friendly, and he tried his best. Eventually, we broke through to the other side of the bridg. From there, it was smooth sailing into the heart of Little Havana.
He dropped us off and we said our thanks. We walked around a couple blocks trying to find a good spot to grab a seat for some food. We found El Pub Restaurant and grabbed a table under the awning on the sidewalk. A few minutes later, we noticed some extremely dark clouds rolling in fast. The skies opened up again and dumped so much rain. It was a really impressive storm, and it brought a very welcome cooling effect. We watched from the shelter of the restaurant while we sipped sangria and patiently waited our much anticipated Cubano sandwiches. This was the main event of the trip, in a way. When we saw that return flights from Aruba to Boston had a layover in Miami, we decided to do an extended layover so we could get Cubans.
The Cubano sandwiches were tasty but not quite as delicious as we anticipated. They were pretty good, but didn't blow my head off. The ingredients were great but the bread that was used could have been better. We enjoyed our meal while watching the intense rain storm. We were happy that we chose one of the tables further undercover as we had contemplated sitting right next to the sidewalk. Once we were finished eating we waited for a break in the rain storm to continue walking down Calle Ocho and explore more of Little Havana. We stumbled upon La Colada that specializes in Cuban coffees. I ordered a capablanca. I ordered a tres leches. Our coffees each came with little cookie. I highly recommend checking out this coffee shop if you are in the area. Everything was so delicious and the owners were very friendly and chatty.
After our coffees we began walking again towards the heart of Miami. We didn't really have a destination in mind but were just planning to see where our feet took us. It was still drizzling outside but eventually the rain started to pick up a bit. At this point we decided to call it a day and get an Uber to take us home. We relaxed for a bit on our balcony until the coffee buzz wore off and we drifted off to sleep.
Today is a travel day. But it’s a pretty relaxed one, so very low stress. We woke up and made breakfast. Mandy made it, not we. Credit where it’s due. We packed up all our stuff pretty slowly, and went over to the grocery store on foot. We wanted to pick up a couple things for snacks at the airport and on the plane. We’d been told to arrive to the airport 3 hours early because we would go through customs twice. This was a little unorthodox, but it’s because U.S. Customs and Border Protection has an office in the airport on Aruba. So you “leave” Aruba and “enter” the United States all inside the same building, before you fly across the Gulf of Mexico. The line was not long at all, and we moved through much quicker than the 3 hours we planned for. So we had plenty of time to chill in the airport before takeoff. We saw some of our party in the airport, and a few of them were even on our flight. We said our “his” and “byes”, and eventually made our way through the gate onto the airplane.
Once we got situated on the craft, we heard the occasional baby noise, and didn’t think much of it. Once we were up in the air and climbing, the noises became more frequent. They were emanating from the seat immediately behind us. At cruising altitude, we listened to nearly incessant screaming for the entire remainder of the flight to Fort Lauderdale. I’m pretty sure this is the least enjoyable flight I’ve ever been on. Someone probably told the parents at some point that having children would be ‘fun”. They were pretty nonchalant about the whole situation. Not that there was anything to be done about it, but they expressed no discomfort whatsoever. In fact, they chuckled at the thought of how many people around them were probably annoyed at their hellspawn’s antics. When the plane finally landed, we couldn’t run up the jetway fast enough. We booked it all the way outside the airport, ecstatic to be in the stifling heat, sweating almost immediately. What a relief!
We caught an Uber to our new temporary home in Sunny Isles, Florida. The ride was nothing noteworthy, and we arrived to our place around 6pm. We checked in and turned the air conditioning down. Or is it up? We never know. What do you call it when you make the setpoint colder? We dumped our bags and hit the street on foot. We found a restaurant online yesterday that we were excited to check out. It was right across the street, so it was pretty easy to get to, although Google Maps was trying to take us some roundabout way. We found a footbridge over the highway that Google apparently doesn’t know about, and that saved us about half of the distance.
We got to Chayhana Oasis in about 10 minutes, walking. We opted to sit outside on the sidewalk, since the weather was perfect. We chatted with our super friendly waitress about different types of Georgian wines they had, and she picked us out a bottle of sweet red that we could not read. But we could taste it! And it was quite good. We ordered some Uzbeki bread and one pumpkin samsa and one beef samsa. They’re sort of like empanadas, but not quite. We’d never had them before, but they were fantastic. The beef was so tender that we had to have more of it. So we ordered a beef kebab. And we figured we should have one with chicken too, just because. They were served with pickled onion and a sweet sauce. We also ordered a plate of pilaf which is cooked with lamb. When the food came, we feasted. It was the best meal we’d had on the trip yet! The chicken kebab uses thigh meat, so it’s naturally tender. The beef was even better than what was in the samsa! And the pilaf was awesome, too! We even enjoyed the pickled onion! We probably ate a tad too much, but we couldn’t help it. We people-watched a bit, and wondered if we were perhaps a bit early. As we were cashing out to leave, around 9pm, there were still people arriving to dinner. We walked a bit of the food off, but not nearly enough. We relaxed in our place for a little while before we crashed.
"It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to."
- Bilbo Baggins
We're just an adventure-loving couple with a puppy looking to share our stories with the world.