Monday, 15 September 2014

Welcome to Miami - via Atlanta, May 2014

And so it’s back to the US for the second time in 2 months. This time it was to Atlanta, to do a family road trip to Miami with the in-laws. It seemed like a good idea in the planning stages but the reality of a 15 hour drive (including stops) was slightly different. 

Uncle imparting words on wisdom on the rocking chairs outside Cracker Barrel

Our first stop was at Cracker Barrel, which I’d never been to before. The breakfast menus were gigantic (true American style). From there, our next stop was Long Beach to visit a family relative. And then finally, after hundreds of miles of motorway and four petrol filling stops, we reached Key Biscayne; a picture perfect island just off Miami. It looked like the kind of island where people left their doors open and crime was minimal if at all. This was confirmed later in the holiday when we spoke to some locals.

Strong husband

Didn't quite work the other way around

So, here we were, in Miami. The weather was hot! Much hotter than I liked but thankfully there was a lot of cloud cover for the first couple of days so that kind of eased us into things gently. We were staying in a condo and cooking our own meals, hence my discovery of Winn Dixie

We spent a somewhat relaxing day on the beach, teaching the kids to fly the kite we had brought them (and teaching ourselves as well for much of the process)

Our day tip to South Beach wasn’t as organized as I would have liked, which can be one of the downfalls of travelling with others not as militant as myself when it comes to planning and organisation. We made it to the beach and managed a bus ride – bus circles the area for 25p a ride. But unfortunately missed out on Little Havana, which was the main area I wanted to see. Excuse to visit Miami on another occasion, me thinks!

The highlight of the holiday had to be the Miami Heat NBA final. For years I’d been wanting to see a game and it doesn’t get any better than this for a NBA first. The atmosphere was electric, the game fast paced and crowd crazy about the game’s star player – LeBron James. The chat ‘Let’s Go Heat’ followed me back to the condo that evening and stayed embedded in my brain for days later. Needless to say, the Miami Heat beat Indiana Pacers. Hubby thought it was the perfect birthday treat!

Key Biscayne was a lovely place to explore. The streets were pristine and some lovely, unexpected, wildlife.

Ashes to ashes...

I absolutely love engaging with locals when away and had a few interesting conversations on this trip. The first was with one of the security guards at the condo. Our nephews insisted on wanting a swim one night, so we accompanied them down to the pool but as the water was too cold, I let them swim while I kept watch. I got chatting to a security guard called D Best who was attracted to my accent. Her reaction to finding out I was from London was “Yah’ll really from London? There got black people in London? What kind of jobs they give black people in London?” Her sincerity was somewhat comical but thus is the reality for many Americans who have never left the country and with no contacts in the wider world. We had a long chat about our cultures. She explaining that to have a job in Miami you had to speak Spanish. I hadn’t realised just how heavy the Latino influence was in Miami. That was until I had visited a Walmart with one of the boys looking for a pair of sunglasses and had spoken to no less than four members of staff who didn’t speak English! I was amazed that someone could get a job working in customer services, in America, without speaking English. D Best was similar surprised that in the UK, black people had such high profile jobs as lawyers, doctors, MP’s etc. The conversation continued by her asking how come we decided to stay on Key Biscayne when it was so expensive compared to a hotel on South Beach then in the same breath saying it was just as well because crime was quite high over on South Beach compared to KB. The police cars we say each day as we drove into KB were stationed there so they could effectively deal with any reported breaches of law taking place in the village, before the perpretrator could flee.
The second conversation was with some congregation members of a local church after Sunday. Many had come from various areas of the USA but all agreed, Key Biscayne was an amazing place to live.


Conquering my fear at top of the lighthouse 

No trip to America is complete without a spot of shopping and seeing as there’s nothing else to do in Atlanta ;)… let’s just say we made the most of those designer outlets. A little lug her to sat that the Nationwide credit card, charging no interest on purchases may abroad, is a great companion for shopping holidays.

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