Turtle's Progress

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Life In South Beach Miami

Tom and I just returned from a week long vacation in Florida. He was working for part of it but for four wonderful days he was all mine and we spent the time down in South Beach Miami. We did the usual tourist things – took a tour (water and land) around the area to hear all about the place from the tour guides’ canned spiel. But the rest of the time we were on our own. The car stayed in the hotel parking garage and we walked or rode the local shuttle.

Watching people hop on and off the twenty-five cent “South Beach Local", as the brightly colored buses are referred to by those living in the area, got me to thinking about how living in a big city is different from living in a rural area or a suburb. The first ride on the “local” was just to see the sights. It dumped us out at the end of the line which was a Publix grocery store. What an eye-opener it was to see folks bring their grocery carts full of purchases out of the store and push them onto a conveyor belt (or a large elevator) which took them up to the store roof parking deck. Those without cars brought their purchases out and hopped on the “local” for a ride home. It made me think how much more complicated forgetting an item would be. The ease of driving to the store, parking in the lot, running in for the item and heading back home is non-existent when you don’t have a car or the parking deck is on the roof.

We also did lots of walking. I loved it! When we wanted lunch, we walked to the nearby café. When we wanted to peruse the local thrift stores we mapped it out and walked the ten blocks to get there. For dinners we headed up Ocean Drive and stopped at one of the many restaurants (not franchises!) located in the bottom floors of the old Art Deco hotels built in the 1930’s and 1940’s. The best way to see all of the beautiful Art Deco architecture from this era is by walking. South Beach has over 800 buildings which are protected by historic ordinances (you can see some of them here), and it seemed every time we turned a corner we came across another unusual building with lots of chrome or geometric shapes incorporated into the structure.

When we visit a large city we are often enamored by the “city life” but I don’t think we ever really know exactly what it would be like. Grocery shopping, as I noted, would be very different. But so would other kinds of shopping – most cities don’t have room for large scale malls with acres of parking lots, so the shops are in the store fronts of high-rise buildings. South Beach’s “Lincoln Road” is the country’s first “pedestrian mall” – five or six blocks of Lincoln Road have been closed to automobile traffic and opened to pedestrians. The area which was once a road is now full of tables for eating outside, trees, flowers, and kiosks selling trinkets and jewelry.

City life would also mean having a private yard give way to enjoying city parks. Lummus Park, the oceanside lawn right next to our hotel was constantly in use. It was a favorite place for folks to walk, play with, or train their dogs. This part of Miami is extremely dog-friendly; this park even provided “doggy bags” to pick-up after your pooch. Everywhere we went we came across people who had their dogs with them, some with more than one, each on their own leash; walking easily without becoming tangled. Many restaurants and café’s offered water bowls for their patrons’ pets. Seeing so many folks enjoying their canines made me miss Cali!

And, of course, no vacation diary of South Beach Miami would be complete without a passing mention of the beach itself. South Beach is extremely cosmopolitan, liberal, and open. Gay couples walk together freely and affectionately, and the beach is known for allowing topless sunbathing. We spent one morning out near the surf and observed a few of these bathing beauties. Tom tried to “discreetly” take a few pictures and cursed the slow shutter speed of his digital camera which caused him to miss every "perfect" shot.

We had a great time! Now on to California to meet my new granddaughter, Charlotte, as she makes her entrance into the world.


At 8:12 AM, Anonymous Joyce said...

Well, what a great time you all had. You're such a shutter-bug and traveler, these days, Terry! I too, would love the idea of walking so much, as I look forward to my daily walks here. Can't imagine using their system of grocery shopping; as I might get confused and god forgive if I took someone's cart with groceries...not sure that I would try and find that person to whom I left with their goods-in-hand?!Love the idea that it is, " dog friendly!" Gee, if you're single, that would be a great opportunity to meet someone! Now for Tom taking pictures of the topless....stand back, give thought to that shutter, with a few seconds in mind...ready..set..Go! ( Not that I have done this before) Saw a segment on the Today Show...Really!!! It's so good to get away and renew your relationship. See you soon, my friend.
Love You Lots....

At 9:12 AM, Blogger lori said...

Sounds like you two had a great time. You forgot to tell us about the CD giveaway! See ya on Wednesday. Love Ya

At 12:03 PM, Blogger erin said...

The CD giveaway?

I love how it ended ...
"we saw lots of boobies...now off to meet Charlotte"

Okay, I'm paraphrasing but still. It was a nice juxtaposition. Kinda like the Grillin' Grandad apron...

At 1:51 PM, Blogger A.K. said...

don't you wish we could walk around our hometowns to get all our errands and daily living done like that instead of having to drive cars and sit in traffic?! sounds like a great trip!

At 12:39 AM, Anonymous Margaret said...

Wow Terry...Your trip sounded like so much fun! All I know about South Beach is what I see on CSI Miami...and that's mostly the
not fun part of Miami...although it does show the boobies...ANYWAY..
Can hardly wait to see pictures of Charlotte when she makes her arrival in the world. Wish we could be in that part of the state..so we could see you too..


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