Saturday, May 02, 2009

Miami Beach

We drove down to Miami Beach in the afternoon once school was finished. A few things thrown into a bag: t-shirts, swimsuit, sunblock, wallet. Hot and balmy, the radio playing. It's still so sunny out at five, six, seven p.m., and it's only an hour to Miami from Boca. Everyone is in a Friday mood. Short sleeves, short shorts, sunglasses: this is South Florida.

Once in Miami Beach, we found our hotel: The Clay. This is an old hotel and hostel, the place that Al Capone ran his gambling ring, where Desi Arnaz danced, and where Miami Vice was shot. It's very charming, with hall murals and old fixtures and a cool lobby. It's also one of the best deals around: we wanted a family room with a couple of big beds for the four of us. They gave us a quote of $115: quite reasonable for the area, with most other places being at least $150. When we got there, they had run out of big family rooms and instead gave us two adjacent rooms with a connecting toilet for the same rate.

One of the rooms had a bit of a musty smell, but all in all, it was a good experience, if a wee dive-y. As I've said before, I'm partial to dives.

We drove into Little Havana to eat at Versailles, perhaps the most famous Cuban restaurant in Miami. Something that is really cool and interesting is that Miami is truly a Spanish-speaking city. I thought I knew what a Spanish-speaking city was, having lived in L.A., but Miami has Los Angeles beat. At more than half of the places we went in Miami, they spoke Spanish exclusively and automatically, not even bothering with English at all. It was really fun to be able to flex my Spanish skills without being an annoying "let me practice on you" kind of person.

In the morning, we put in a stop at the famous South Beach area of Miami Beach, ogling the beautiful people and grabbing a few caches there as well. Eight-year old Halo loves caching: a new convert!

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