Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Miami

After having my backpack thoroughly searched by an immigration officer in Guyana who singled me out for being white (I assume she thought I was a drug mule), I was on my way to the States!

The US wasn't originally on my list of countries to visit this trip. However, my Brissy friend Shandell was trying to drum up participants for her birthday celebrations in Las Vegas before I left. I said I would try and go if I was still travelling and had the money. It turned out I was and I did. Then conveniently I could fly directly from Georgetown to Miami. The Vegas plan was coming together nicely.

So, since I had to fly to Miami first, I decided to spend a week there. And why not? It always looks good on CSI Miami, Burn Notice and Dexter (RIP awesome shows).


I stayed in the heart of Miami Beach, which is a very cool place and where all the action is. The hostel I stayed in was also very cool. I really liked it except that it was basically two huge rooms and therefore really noisy. After a night of not sleeping in the front room, I moved to a bed right up the back and it was much better.


What I liked most about being in the US was being back in a country where there isn't rubbish everywhere, you're not constantly avoiding building rubble and/ or holes in footpaths, and people/ children aren't constantly trying to sell you shit/ scam you/ rob you because they are poor and automatically assume you are rich. Also the cars are roadworthy, people know how to drive properly, and everyone wears seatbelts like you're supposed to when you're in a moving vehicle. There is definitely a positive correlation between GDP and driving. 

Ah the developed world. I've missed you. And your shops.

While I'm travelling I try to only buy what I need so I don't have to lug stuff around. Nine West did suck me in with a $20 shoe sale though. I bought some new flats to replace the ones I had, which had not travelled well and needed to be binned. So despite going into a lot of shops and wishing I could buy stuff, I mostly just went to the beach or the rooftop pool at the hostel after that.

This is either South Beach or Miami Beach. They run into each other so I don't know where one ends and the other one starts. But it was pretty cool. The beach was clean and the water temperature was lovely. I liked it.






I also had my first Whole Foods experience while I was in Miami. I love, love, love this place! So much organic, vegan, and raw food. I pretty much went here every day since I wanted to try as many things as possible. I also stocked up on a bunch of toiletries that I was running low on since you can get loads of cruelty free, organic brands here at good prices. Seriously, I was in veggie heaven! I also liked that you create meals from their hot/ salad bars to eat at the tables outside. This is good if you're Aussie and hate obligatory tipping cos many nations (America is one of the worst) seem to confuse minimum wage with minimal wage. Anyway all of this healthy deliciousness and not tipping means that Whole Foods would definitely be my number one reason for living in the US.

One of the things I really wanted to do in Miami was go to this vegan restaurant. It took bloody ages on public transport but it was awesome and totally worth the travel time. Despite all the nutritionally void fast food, high fructose corn syrup, and Monsanto sponsored GMO ingredients that make up the bulk of mainstream American's diet, clued up Americans do vegan very well. As you'd expect, America also knows how to make awesome vegan cheese. I'd read about Daiya on vegan blogs and I finally got to taste it.

Anyway, being downtown for Choices Cafe meant I could go exploring afterwards. Downtown wasn't that exciting and seemed kind of empty. I guess everyone was either sitting in their office tower cubicles or at the beach.

Look how clean and nice everything is!









They even have a Botero statue here. He is a famous Colombian artist from Medellin, whose work is awesome. Ah Medellin...



Monorail!



It amuses and amazes me (in the negative way) that nothing can be implied in this country. Everything needs to be written down. For example, how would sex offenders know they aren't supposed to hang around children's playgrounds if there wasn't a sign?



Of course my trip to America wouldn't be complete without a gun story. 

One night I went out with the immigration officer who let me in. He seemed pretty cool and I thought he'd know where the good bars are. Plus anyone that thinks you're still vaguely attractive after getting no sleep the night before spending seven hours on a flight and generally looking like shit, is either A) vision impaired or B) ok. Anyway, we go to this bar but he'd come from the airport, so he had his gun in his car. But then he got paranoid someone was going to break into his car and steal it so he borrowed my handbag (which is a boring, unisex style, travelling one. Not one of my awesome ones which are all in a storage unit. Sigh.) and went back to his car and put his gun in that. He comes back and asks if I want my bag back. I'm like "um, what I am American? I'm not carrying that around!". So he had to carry my bag. But I did feel the bag and guns are really heavy! Another good reason not to carry it around. Even though he is police or Homeland Security or whatever, it did make me wonder how many other guns where in that bar. Hmm...

On one the days I was there I did the South Beach Duck Tour. I did this a few years ago in Boston, when me and my friend Heather scored a work jolly from London. It was a pretty fun tour so I had high hopes for the Miami one.

The Duck Tour was good. Basically they point out stuff like rich/ famous people's houses and houses that were used in movies or tv shows.








This is some crazy cat lady's house. 



She died and left this multi million dollar home to her cats (only in America). It is not allowed to be sold while the cats are still alive. I guess there's also a clause about not killing the cats prematurely either. And they keep breeding which is a problem.

Obviously I now need to post a picture of the Crazy Cat Lady!


Famous people's houses. I forget who. Maybe Gloria Estefan or Roseanne or someone...




Miami Beach is also home to over 800 art deco style buildings, which give it a unique and interesting feel. These buildings were pretty much all saved from the bulldozer by one woman, Barbara Baer Capitman. Good on her!





  

  
This is Gianni Versace's house at Miami Beach, where he was shot dead.



I also like all the 'green' buildings in Miami. It's a particularly nice way to hide ugly carparks!





Of course all the rich people need an expensive boat.




To get to Vegas I booked a cheap flight out of Fort Lauderdale, which is about 40km up the road from Miami. I spent one night here and it definitely was more laid back than Miami. Seemed more like a family place. 

Hollywood Beach was nice though.




Duff Blimp!



There was also an organic brewery at the end of the street I was staying on, which did some very nice beers. Just a shame I had to get up 4am the next morning for a flight.

All up, I really liked Miami. It is a very cool city with a good vibe. It was odd hearing more Spanish than English walking around though, thanks to all the Cuban exiles living there. Ha, Cuba, my least favourite country of all. But I'll get to that.

Next stop: Vegas baby!

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