Let’s wrap this sucker up, shall we?
Having crashed at last around 5 in the morning, we slept a large portion of Sunday morning away. Realizing upon our awakening that a Miami day was melting away before our eyes, we sprang into action to hit up the beach. R stayed home to relax and get some work done, but J and I were soon suited up and out the door.
Zee boardwalk... Home to walkers, joggers and guys trying to sell you crickets made of banana leaves. (Takes all kinds, no?)
Hell bent on finding perfection this time around, we hailed a cab and took it down to 40-something St. where we’d found that great public beach access and the start of the boardwalk. Following along the boardwalk, we had our pick of hotel-kept beaches. Coming to a slightly less crowded stretch, we hobbled over to a little beach shack where they were renting chairs, umbrellas and cabanas. A chalkboard sign listed the cost of rent for each: All day rental- Chairs – $15 for two, Umbrellas – $15, Cabanas – $20, Beds – $50.
I looked over, and, indeed, there were two full-sized platform beds with big, blue cushions. Seriously? Does anyone think this is a good idea? Do you KNOW what those cushions must be like? The amount of microbe colonies – no, CIVILIZATIONS that probably thrive within?
“We’ll take a cabana, please,” I told the shirtless guy at the counter.
“That’s it? How ’bout a couple of chairs?” he pushed, jovially enough.
“I don’t need chairs,” I turned him down, equally friendly.
“How ’bout chairs and cabana for $25?” he said.
I looked again at the sign. Hmph. It was a good deal.
I started to pass my credit card over the table. “$20 if you give me cash,” he offered. Shady? Yes. But it meant free beach chairs, and we were able to scrounge up the $20 in cash, and before we knew it, another employee was carrying our chairs over to a great spot on the beach and dragging the cabana over to shade them. I was pleased with the deal.
The water here was much clearer, and a shallow sandbar created warmer, calmer waters to swim in. A middle-aged hippy-type had approached us earlier on the boardwalk and, among other things, told us that we had great karma and that we could restore our chakras by dipping ourselves under the water together 11 times (she also said this would improve our love life, which is when things got a little strange). But we figured it couldn’t hurt, so, warmed by an unhindered sun, we ventured out into the crystal blue waters. The waves rose steadily to our middles, then soon we found the elevation rising and we were only knee-high in water. Sandbar found. We knelt down in the water, waited for a wave to pass, grabbed on to each other and dunked ourselves sloppily 11 times, laughing and snorting water the entire time.
I don’t know about my chakras, but our spirits at least were sky high when we eventually emerged on the beach again.
When the sun finally began its descent, we decided to seek out a happy hour at one of the bars along the boardwalk. The sound of reggae led us to what turned out to be a Carrabba’s (I still don’t believe this was actually a part of the national chain of Italian restaurants – it was an outdoor patio/tiki bar with live Jamaican music). (See my review on Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/carrabbas-italian-grill-miami-beach) Two sangria’s a piece later, we teetered out and began to walk home. Emboldened by the alcohol and revitalized by the bar food (more later on the restorative powers of homemade kettle chips smothered in blue cheese…) we decided to walk the beach the entire way home.
Three words: Happy. Hour. Sangria. (Two more: Double. Fisting.)
One helluva walk later, we arrived back at R’s building as the sun began to set. It was time to hit up the showers and prepare for dinner. We’d been craving sushi since we arrived (recall the utter disappointment of Iron Sushi, which was supposed to sate us until we could get the real deal) and now had our sites set on Sushi Samba, one of the trendy see-and-be-seen spots on Lincoln Road.
In hindsight, I’m not really sure how J and I were still standing at this point, much less walking, talking and ready to hit the town. My guess is some kind of vacation hormone which acts much like adrenaline, but with less fight-or-flight and more photography. We didn’t arrive on the Lincoln Rd. strip until 10:00 or so, but the patios were packed with diners still and the wait for a table at Samba had us headed inside to fend for ourselves at the bar for a good forty minutes. (Btw, that girl made THEE best mojitos we had the entire week – and the most expensive, go figure…)
Sushi Samba: Killer sushi, Nazi Hostesses
Turns out the wait was well worth it. After a few appetizers, our badass little server, (Rebecca? Rachel? Shite, I thought I’d remember) delivered a huge plate of some of the best and most innovative sushi I’ve ever tasted. Finally, the sushi monster that dwells perpetually in my stomach was quelled (although, it’s been so long now that I swear I’ve heard it grumbling again…). As we were polishing off the last of the rolls, just when we thought life couldn’t get any better…. it. did.
Aforementioned Killer Sushi (Currently causing me to drool on my office desk...)
Because THAT’S when Amazing Adam sauntered over to our table. At first, we all thought this was some lowlife with a deck of cards who was going to harass us until we paid him off to do some trick and leave us alone. Oh, no no no no no… Amazing Adam is no hack, my friends. In less than a minute, he’d intrigued me into fishing $10 out of my purse to see his full routine, and it was worth EVERY PENNY. I was floored by the way he could move the cards, even before he started in with the tricks. He performed right next to our table, all three of us watching him from different angles, and none of us caught a single flaw the entire time. It was like watching a magician back when you were a kid and still believed in such things.
Still in an Amazing Adam haze, we paid our bill and strolled down Lincoln to finish the night at Segafredo, which was now in its nighttime mode, all house music and hipsters. The perfect ending to what was my favorite day of the entire trip.
Not that the last day wasn’t memorable, mind you. Monday we ventured inland to Coconut Grove. Which I loved. Suffice it to say if I ever moved to the Miami area, this is where I would live (you know, if we throw all practicality to the wind). Here I finally got my first taste of the legendary cafe con leche (strong coffee pulled with sugar and mixed with just a bit of milk, topped with froth) which was everything I’d hoped it would be and more. Who knew the latte could be that infinitely improved upon? The Grove is also home to three (count ’em) French bistros, but I can say confidently that we chose the best of them when we stopped into Le Bouchon du Grove (again with the Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/le-bouchon-du-grove-miami).
R and his crock o' mussels @ Le Bouchon du Grove
Our plan after that was to pay the $1.50 toll and drive out to Key Biscayne, however (long story short) we took a wrong turn out of the Rest Stop of Confusion and found ourselves headed back out of the tollway with no escape (read: no u-turns anywhere, WTF?). So it was back to South Beach for one more sunset by the pool and then dinner by R (Surf n’ Turf a la George Forman, and quite tasty).
And that, mes amis, was that. Not much time the next day for anything but gathering our belongings (now scattered about R’s apartment) and getting to the airport. (However, there was time for one last hurrah in D.C. We had a three hour layover in which we took a train a couple stops out, met some of J’s freinds for lunch and St.Patty’s Day drinks, and got back just in time to run through the terminal and catch our flight home… becuase, you know, we didn’t really get enough excitment in Florida.)
So, what now? Stay tuned and I’ll fill you in on the little bit of info we got upon our return that will change our lives very shortly.
R's cat Charlie - We sorta had this love/hate thing going by day 6. (Before that it was mostly a hate/hate thing)