Florida – March 2011

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Wednesday morning, bright and early at McNamara Airport in Detroit. Such a nice airport. Any airport that has a tram running constantly is pretty neat. And caters to the lazy (I walked to my gate - ~1km away). The first day was uneventful after my flight, I simply checked into my hostel and lazed on the beach the rest of the day. The second day, I found a nearby bistro for breakfast. I love Coffee Lodge and all, but the view isn't quite as good as this.
The weather forecast was calling for a stormy day by noon, so I headed to downtown Hollywood (about a 40 minute walk) to wander around and find places to relax inside. The highway from the beach to downtown was pretty quiet - this was about 10am on Thursday. Just as I got to the downtown core...the storms rolled in.
There were several waves of them, creating tornado warnings in the region and an absolute downpour of rain. I found a good little restaurant and hid out from the rain with my Kindle. In between storms, I moved a bit to a cafe/chocolatier and had this awesome little dessert. The rain resumed shortly after. Once the storms broke around early evening, I walked back to the beach. The storms did result in a pretty nice sunset over the Intercoastal waterway though!
This is the main boardwalk in Hollywood along the beach, called the 'Broadwalk'. Pretty quiet on a weeknight though. And during next morning it was pretty quiet too. Just joggers and early morning walkers. Yesterday's storms were all that were expected - nothing but sun and warmth for the rest of my trip! I walked south this time, heading towards a water taxi to take me to South Beach in Miami. I thought about it.
I had some time before the water taxi was to arrive, so I crossed the Intercoastal waterway again and kept walking. On my way back, a larger boat was passing through. I was quite surprised to see how vertical the bridge spans went. My Water Taxi! It makes 1 trip daily to South Beach, which takes about 1.5-2 hours by boat.
Going south along the Intercoastal, this is known as Condo Canyon apparently. Just endless highrises all the way down pretty much. We were joined for a short while by a pair of dolphins! And now, downtown Miami! Unlike most downtown centers, almost all of the highrises here are condos, not business towers.
After getting off the boat on the West End of South Beach, I headed south to the very end of the beach, and started my way north. Pretty quiet this far away from the action. Ocean Drive, a famous drive in South beach, nearest the water. Pretty crazy seeing the crowds of people *everywhere*. Sure enough, the people lived up to expectations - lots of silicone, bronzed bodies, generally what you'd expect from one of the fakest places on earth. I was amused. But I also put my camera away at this point and just wandered around for a bit (and had an excellent mexican lunch) before getting back on the boat later than evening and heading back to Hollywood. The following morning, my delicious breakfast. One of my favourite things about being down south - the abundance of great fresh fruit.
I rented a bike for an hour and headed as far north as I could along Hollywood Beach / Dania beach. I couldn't quite get to Ft Lauderdale unfortunately. This was pretty much as far as I could go, a large fishing pier. The beach, still beautiful and sandy, was empty. So instead I returned the bike and took another water taxi to Ft. Lauderdale. We passed through Port Everglades - the busiest cruise port in the world. There were *8* cruise ships currently in port when we passed by.
We passed too many luxury yachts and sailboats to count. This one looked really cool though, and must be a long distance boat. After departing the water taxi, I hoofed it over to the main part of Ft. Lauderdale beach. The yacht there is Steven Spielberg's. It is worth $200 Million. It wasn't even the most expensive yacht around, though it was up there. The traffic was insane. I walked faster than the traffic and got to the beach before them.
The city was celebrating 100 years. Taking a break after walking and finding lunch by a pier, waiting for another water taxi. Now to Las Olas Blvd, a trendy spot nearer downtown Ft Lauderdale. I bought a new pair of sunglasses (finally, after a year or two of looking!), and had an outstanding sushi dinner.
Taking the water taxi back to the main hub now, we passed numerous mansions worth multiple millions of dollars. This one, in the bell tower, has a pool under the bell tower, and in the middle level of the tower is a hot tub. Just another one of the many massive mansions. Ft. Lauderdale is nicknamed the Venice of America due to the extensive canal system. I can see why now - and the amount of opulent housing surrounding the canals was astounding.
Finally taking the water taxi back to Hollywood at night, all nicely lit up. Not where I stayed (I was in a simple hostel on the beach), this is the very fancy looking Westin Diplomat. My last full day in Florida. I simply stayed on the beach and relaxed, and in between treated myself to such treats as this - a Gelati, which mixed Gelato and italian ice. It was very very good, as you can imagine!
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Description: I took a 5 day trip down to Florida to escape the dreary and cold winter in Sarnia. I stayed in Hollywood, which is between Fort Lauderdale and Miami, and visited both cities while also spending copious time on the beach.
Location: Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Miami

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