Two days back home and already I’m itching to get back to the land of sun, sand and Spring Breakers renting motor bikes they’re completely incapable of driving (true story, but whether it had to do with alcohol consumption or plain idiocy is for you to decided). That’s right, Miami Beach sunk its sunny little talons into me and won’t let go, even now, as I sit, back in my office in downtown Columbus, Ohio, trying to get it through my head that just because the sun’s out here, it doesn’t mean I don’t need three layers and a parka, scarf and mittens when I walk out the door. Ah… home, sweet home.
Fortunately, in just 6 days I was able to tuck away enough Floridian memories to keep me warm for the next month or so when our city will (god willing) finally thaw out. Without further ado, my friends, I give you….
The Great Escape : Miami, Florida (Part 1)
Bleary-eyed, we set out into the dark, chilly morning. Temperatures in Ohio had dropped overnight into the 30’s again, so we rode in winter coats and flip-flops to the airport with J’s roommate, a true gentleman and badass for getting up so early, at the wheel. No problems at the airport, a breeze getting on the plane, everything on time. The problems arose (and let’s face it, I knew they would), when the jet revved its engines for takeoff. It had been a few years since I’d flown, and not because I never get the opportunity, but because I refuse, I REFUSE, to fly if I don’t have to. Airplanes instill in me a claustrophobic, terrifying sense of impending doom. Every time we take off or land, I fully expect that we will crash and my brief flame of a life will extinguish before I can say, “WTF?” Every time, you’ll find white, knuckled, teeth clenched, eyes misting up in resigned anticipation. But – to my surprise and great relief, we landed effortlessly every time. (Seriously? No ice on the wings? No loss of cabin pressure mid-flight? Not even a GD bird sucked into the engine!?!?! Come on… YOU’RE MAKING ME LOOK STUPID!!)
Moving along, J’s brother (who shall be referred to as R furthermore), picked us up and drove us into Miami Beach, to his apartment (our accommodations for the duration). Serendipitously, J’s father, who lives in London right now, was in town on business and was going to be able to meet us up for a long lunch before catching his red-eye back to England. He and R had chosen the relatively new Smith & Wollensky (my review on Yelp), situated at the most southern point of Miami Beach. A bit on the hoity side, the maitre d’ raised an eyebrow when we said we had a reservation and that we’d like to sit outside. “We don’t take reservations for the patio, and it is currently full,” was his explanation. Hmph. With little choice, we accepted the indoor table for the time being, waiting for J’s dad to arrive to decide whether to stay or jet for another, more al fresco friendly location.
It wasn’t a long wait, and when J’s dad arrived (I would call him R Squared, but that takes too much space, so we’ll stick with J’s Dad), he simply said, “Let me see what I can do.” I should clarify that while he holds a good position in finance, J’s dad is not the noisy, weight-throwing type of businessman. He’s relatively soft-spoken, but highly effective. Apparently. Because the next thing we know, he’s coming back around the corner, waving us over to follow him, and the maitre d’, out to the patio. Score 1 for us.
We still had to wait one drink’s time at the outdoor bar (no sacrifice there, I was just happy to be free of the A/C). Turns out it was “Wine Week” at S&W. Apparently this simply involves various wine reps continuously trying to pour you a new taste of wine until either your table is so littered with glasses that you’re forced to abandon ship, or you’re so sloshed you can’t climb the stairs to leave and your drunken logic tells you your next best option is obviously to chuck your clothes, dive into the harbor and swim home. Which ever comes first. That’s 2 for 2.
At any rate, this meant people were lounging even longer than Maimians typically lounge, but we were finally granted a table adjacent to the water. And completely open to the afternoon sun. A fantastic breeze kept us cool, but I was the only one with the forethought (read: freakishly obsessive need) to put on sunscreen before leaving the apartment, and we weren’t drunk enough yet to find sunburn hilarious. Instead, we made buddy buddy with our server, Richard, and stared frequently at the ladies at the shady table next to us in an attempt to intimidate them into leaving (Richard came through with the assist, bringing them the check before they’d even asked for it; apparently they’d been there since the restaurant opened at 11 am). And, voila! Finally they tottered off, and we slid on over. Although, I did notice that the manager was FURIOUS. It seemed he had promised an arriving group the next patio table (the shady one) and now they would have to settle for our overly bright reject. Furious managers = priceless (and hilarious). And…. hat trick!
After what J’s dad terms a “3L” (Long, Liquid Lunch) by the sea, it was finally time for his car to pick him up for the airport. So we parted ways (he’ll be returning, along with J’s mom and sis, to the states at the end of the summer, so we can get into more trouble soon), and the evening was ours. On our way home, we took a spin through South Beach, making a quick stop at Segafredo on Lincoln Rd. Part coffee shop, part club and mostly patio, this was one of my favorite spots we encountered on the trip. Lounging fountain-side in high-character furniture under large umbrellas, drinking mojitos and my favorite brandof Italian espresso = priceless.
After begrudgingly removing ourselves from our cozy chairs, we decided it best to head home and take it easy after the long day of travel. That, and we were pretty well tanked at the hour most people start drinking, so there was little choice but to call it a night. Put in a movie, crashed hard before it was over. Which was probably for the best, as we still had 5 days of adventure ahead of us.
(To be continued…)