The US Diaries – Part Four – Florida

By October 1, 2016Travel, Writers
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South Beach

I recently arrived back from a trip to the USA where I attended Worldcon and had a much-needed holiday. It was absolutely fabulous so I thought I’d share what I got up to.

You can read about my time in LA here.

You can read about my time in Kansas City for Worldcon here.

You can read about my time in New York City here.

So, after spending a week in the concrete jungle of New York, I decided to spend my last few days somewhere a little more laid back. On the beach in Miami was a great choice – despite it being storm season!

Day Fifteen

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Wynwood Walls

Largely a travel day, I managed to get to my hotel in enough time to relax and dine poolside, which was nice. There were quite a few people about because apparently the Miami Beach Kizomba Festival was being held at the hotel. Oh, and a free room upgrade on check-in was a lovely surprise! Thanks Eden Roc Resort!

Day Sixteen

For my first full day in Miami I opted to do a city sightseeing tour during the morning, then a tour of the Everglades National Park that afternoon. The morning city tour started with a walk through the art deco area of South Beach, which was cool – I love all things retro. The main strip is across from the beach and lined with plenty of cafes, bars and restaurants, as well as the famous Versace mansion. Next stop on the tour was the Wynwood Walls graffiti art area, which was also very cool, with more cafes and art galleries to boot. You could easily spend a couple of hours there. Lastly we paid a visit to Little Havana where we ate lunch in a Cuban restaurant, watched handmade cigars being rolled, and watched the locals playing Dominos in Domino Park. I had a great time and if I ever go back to Miami, I’d like to explore all these areas again.

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Cigar shop, Little Havana

So then it was off to the Everglades NP for an airboat ride to try and spot some gators! I’ve always wanted to check the Everglades out and ride one of those fan boats so it was fun to finally do so. We didn’t see many gators however, thanks to the overcast and stormy weather. Apparently they tend to hide in these conditions, but we did still manage to see two or three. As part of the tour after the fan boat ride, we sat in on a brief wildlife show which involved a rather large snake and some caged gators. It was an interesting talk/show, but after visiting the Malcolm Douglas Wildlife Park in Broome, Western Australia, it paled in comparison. Still, a long but awesome day was had!

Day Seventeen

Speaking of long days…. When researching the area before my visit, I had decided that I wanted to check out the Florida Keys and take a ride on the oversea highway to Key West. Key West is the southernmost point of continental USA. It’s also a nice little holiday spot where Ernest Hemingway used to live and various US Presidents used to visit. It takes about

Everglades NP

3.5 hours to get there from Miami, so a round trip makes it a long day, but it’s quite cool to be travelling on that elevated highway with nothing around you but ocean! Key West itself is a nice little spot and all the chickens and roosters strolling about and calling out made me laugh. If you want to check it out, I’d recommend you stay down there for a few days to make the most of the bars and relaxing island atmosphere.

Day Eighteen

On my last day in Miami, I made no plans. I slept in, had a long slow breakfast, then took a short cab ride into the art deco district of South Beach again, to stroll around. I did a little bit of shopping, then stopped for lunch at the News Café, which apparently was where Versace used to eat – and did so the day he was shot on the steps of his mansion just a block or two down the street. Robert DeNiro is apparently also a regular when he’s in town. So who am I to argue?

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Key West

Wanting a lazy afternoon, I went back to my hotel room, which overlooked the beach, and spent some time writing the first draft of an article I’m doing for a Canadian SFF website. Then I took a stroll along the beach, checking out the kite surfers and cute lifeguard posts. After that I took a walk along the river (my hotel was bordered by both), where I eyed off all the luxurious boats I’m going to buy when I win lotto.

So after the full-speed-ahead holiday I’d had so far, it was nice to wind it down on the last day. Just as well I did too, because it took me two days (three if you include the day you lose flying west across the Pacific) to get home to Australia. My flight out of Miami was cancelled (not due to the hurricane that approached, but due to engine troubles – the fuel was overheating!), then the next flight was delayed too (we had to wait for the onboard crew to arrive), which meant I arrived in LA at 10pm that night, and my flight to Australia was due to take off at 10.15pm. Ooops!

Needless to say, I was actually relieved that I had to stay in LA that night. After taking a whole day to get there from Miami, I was done with airports and planes for the day. LOL.

That last hiccup (and the NYC hiccup) aside, I had an absolutely FANTASTIC holiday and would do it again in a heartbeat!

Now, to plan the next one….

About Amanda Bridgeman

Author of the science fiction space opera series, AURORA, Amanda Bridgeman studied film & television/creative writing at Murdoch University (BA Communication Studies) and has been published by Pan Macmillan. Aurora:Meridian was a finalist for Best Science Fiction Novel (Aurealis).

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