I have been sleeping so well here… last night asleep by 9pm and then awake at 5… but then went back to sleep until 8.30..! The mystery tour was picking me up at 9.45am so I went downstairs to the foyer and there was a massive fight going on. This lady had fallen in the foyer and 2 hours later appears to say she wants MONEY!! It was just crazy and a full on screaming match. Her arm was ‘hurting’. Like if you were so hurt why would the first thing you would be yelling would be how you want some kind of compensation?
Well my tour van turned up and I had my 20 year old Real World contestant again as my guide! It was a full bus and the tour started with a drive around Collins Avenue, Washington Avenue and then Ocean Drive. We pull up outside Gianni Versace’s home, where he was killed and it was just too cringeworthy with everyone pointing their cameras through the bus windows trying to get a good photo of the place. Argh!
Another thing, he was driving and narrating and doing the tour in English and Spanish. And he had a hand held microphone so he was driving one-handed! Talk about multitasking… but it meant that the tour took double the amount of time that it should of. At least I got to put my four years of Italian to use and see what words I could kind of understand!
We then drove out of South Beach and down to Little Havana – basically you feel like you are in Cuba. There is nothing in English.. we stop and well what a surprise at a ‘souvenir shop’ – it just reminded me of Contiki so much. I walked around a bit and grabbed a Strawberry sundae at Maccas where even the menu board was half in Spanish and all the people there were talking Spanish. It really was like another world.
We jumped in the touristmobile again and headed to Coral Gables. If there was anywhere I would live here, Coral Gables would be it. It reminded me soooo much of Bel Air/Bev Hills – I love the Spanish style of houses and they look so cool in the heat – I wonder if we should adopt this architecture at home because just looking at the homes makes you cool – they are gorgeous and Coral Gables was a stunning area. I posted a picture of their local swimming pool on my Flickr account – just stunning. Also, in the Coral Gables area is the Biltmore Hotel. WOW – for some reason we were able to go through into the swimming pool area (the largest hotel swimming pool in the US) and also into the Lobby area. If I was a guest there, the last thing I would want while I was sitting beside the pool would be a gaggle of daggy tourists taking my photo but we were able to for some reason! I think I will start up a Paypal donation account for everyone to put money in to allow me to stay at the Biltmore on my next holiday – it was just stunning.
After that it was time to go to the Bayside area for our cruise. Oh-my-goodness. Ok so Gator Land was interesting. Well I had images of this cruise being on a nice little white boat and sailing around the islands like in a Jennifer Lopez filmclip. No no no. I hopped out of the tourist mobile and my quaint boat was a – PIRATE SHIP. ‘Aye Matey… my gosh – they had music blaring and I was squashed up the top part with so many people and cameras I was tempted to jump overboard there and then… let me walk the plank, anything! It was just awful!
We start the cruise and the guys who work there are all like Robbie the waiter from Dirty Dancing. The narrator boomed over the microphone – “Go down to the bar guys – lots of drinks, hot dogs (?) and chips!” My visions of a glamourous cruise were ditched totally.
To get us into the spirit of things they chucked on a soundtrack that was just blaring that the fish under the boat would’ve been scared away. Soundtrack started with One Love by Bob Marley followed by Kokomo!!! Arghhhhhh!! It was 80s at its best. I couldn’t stop laughing to myself. Here I am surrounded by people drinking budweiser and stuffing themselves with hot dogs and swaying to KOKOMO! Then when Kokomo finished on came the Miami Vice theme. As we saw each celebrity home (or former home that a majority were) they would play a song from that person – even for Vanilla Ice.
This went on for an hour and we were then told about the tipping which is the most easy to understand speel of the day. We were let off back at the Bayside Mall area. If you think the previous experience had been touristy enough – think again.
We only had 1/2 an hour for lunch so there was no way I could go to a restaurant and they were all packed so I saw a sign for a foodcourt on the upper level. Picture any food court – now picture about 30 people lining up at each food place and people actually sitting on the floor and eating because there aren’t enough seats. I kid you not. Everyone was wearing these big cards around their necks. In fact there was a uniform it seemed for everyone there –
*Pure white unmarked runners
*Some t-shirt from some touristy 5 t-shirts for $20 shop
*A big name tag
Aha! A cruise ship had docked and EVERYONE converged on this foodcourt. All I managed to get was a pretzel and ate that walking around – I had never seen anything like it.
There were some things that screamed tourist at the Bayside mall – some observations I made –
*Multiple shops that do hat embroidery
*A shop purely dedicated to glow in the dark products
*An american flag vest and bow tie – in sequins
*More than one singlet shop – with slogans like ‘Princess’, ‘Miami gal’, ‘Miami’, ‘Hottie’ etc on them
*Lots of others that sell multiples of the following – fridge magnets, keyrings, pencils, BIG pencils, patches and badges.
Enough was enough! I made it back to the bus and just wanted out!
So tonight I will walk around the Ocean Drive and Collins again before settling in for another evening watching the Anna Nicole saga unfold. I am checking out at 6am for my 7.15am train to Orlando and I won’t get to the hotel until the afternoon there.
Miami has been a great way to have a ‘real’ holiday – there is sightseeing but not a crazy amount – it is a real destination where you come and do nothing and I definitely need more holidays of this kind.