Thursday 26 Dec, Hollywood FL day 3: Visit Miami at long last.
It’s windy and rainy again. Showers all night and looking like set to continue. In a rare patch of blue sky we set off in the dinghy, tie up at our usual place and we are on our way south to Miami.
We drive down the A1A coast road passing Golden beach, Sunny Isles beach, Surfside, North beach and onto Miami Beach. To our left side the road is lined with condo tower blocks, one after another, just an endless row of them mile after mile. And we ponder on the real estate value on this Florida coastline. No wonder it’s one of the most affluent states in USA. Unfortunately the dark clouds and rain squalls don’t really show it at its best.
As we arrive into the main Miami Beach it’s suddenly much busier. So the car gets parked for $20 (for just 2 hours!) and we set off exploring on foot through the Art Deco historical center. Very quickly we realize there is something special about the architecture. It is all very 1920’s Art Deco. Very surprising such a style has survived in the USA (Chrysler tower in New York is another example).
It’s very interesting to see all the buildings in that style and most of them renovated to top condition. Most are now boutique hotels (as they probably were originally) and along the sea front the ground floor of each building is a restaurant with terraces not unlike what you’d find in France. In fact, it has a real French Riviera feel to the place, especially with all the tourists around. Definitely more up-market than the Las Olas beach front in Lauderdale. During our wandering the first stop is for gelato (best we’ve had for a while) and second stop is for a cafe latte.
Before our parking runs out, we take a walk along the promenade which runs between the beach and hotels, just north of the Art Deco area. It’s a very nice walk, sheltered from the onshore wind and allowing you a glimpse of the hotel terraces and pools. Again, it’s very busy and we can see why so many people chose Florida for a winter beach vacation. The beach is amazing even on a cloudy day like today. So wide.
We get back to the car with less than a minute to spare, and head off across the water passed all the huge cruise liners, to Downtown Miami. First stop is to look at Miami City Marina. Again a very busy area with restaurants surrounding the marina and lots of tripper boat arriving and departing. No surprise that our pilot tells us this is a marina where you will struggle to sleep!
From there we transit several streets of the downtown area. Like many central parts of big US cities (Houston is another) the main city is just a mass of office tower blocks with no sole at ground level. In fact some of the back street look very sketchy! So we chose not to walk around here, but instead head off to Key Biscayne. This is about the only place in, or near, Miami where Cloudy Bay could access for anchoring. The water in the central city is either too shallow for our 8ft draft, or our mast too tall to get under the many bridges.
Key Biscayne is about 8 miles from the city – a totally manicured residential area with a state park on one end. We discover the best bay to anchor in has zero dinghy access to land and the tiny “no name” bay is in the middle of the state park which shuts its gates at 5pm! And, it’s absolutely jam packed with anchored boats, all with fenders out, for good reason. The slightest misaligned boat-swing and there would be collisions. We had hoped to anchor somewhere near to Miami so we could have new year here. But it looks like not to be. We’ll have to come back when we have a smaller, shorter boat. Or as Oana says, “we’ll come by plane like normal people on a normal holiday ”!
On our way back to Miami Beach for the evening, we again transit the skyscrapers city and again decide not to stop. We instead spend the evening eating and wandering the Miami Beach area. After dark the place lights up in quite a special way.
By 9pm we have explored pretty much every street in the Art Deco Historical Center. All very nice but we’ve also had one rain shower too many so we head back to the boat in Hollywood.
We go via a place to refill our propane tank which we brought with us. It’s far from empty but we want them both full before leaving USA. That supply should last us at least a year. Now, where in the world, other than USA could you google “propane refill station” and not only find one nearby but also open till 11pm the day after Christmas?! I tell you, this country may not be cheap but it certainly knows how to service its customers (USPS excluded!).
Back at the boat our Christmas exploration is over. The car has to go back tomorrow, but not until we have shopped and done laundry.
Tomorrow will be a utility day.