Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Miami... Farewell North America

Our trip from LA to Miami was notable for just two reasons. Firstly we'd neglected to realise that we'd chosen to fly on the worst possible day: September 11th (ie, 9/11)... Though on reflection, maybe it was the best day as security definitely seemed to have 'beefed-up'. Secondly we had arranged to meet friends Chris & (Mi)Chelle at LAX Airport.

It felt very strange meeting someone you hadn't seen for months in an alien environment and sharing a Starbucks* But as usual within a few minutes it felt like we were just down the pub having a chat (except that our friends were probably knackered from the transatlantic flight and eager to start their holiday). Lovely to see some friendly faces after being in LA for a while. The people there were not actually bad but it seems the further south you go in the USA the less 'nice' people get (sweeping generalisation, I know). Anyway, we let the While's have their holiday in peace and we headed across the southern states for Miami (a surprisingly far way away).

Miami slapped us in the face with a hot, clammy hand. We arrived at dawn and by 6am were being taxied through deserted streets which seemed strangely familiar after my many hours playing Grand Theft Auto (ask your son/grandson/nephew). We were actually staying in the South Beach Area, specifically the South Beach Hostel. We were dropped off outside the hostel and without the taxi's air conditioning my body seemed to resort to reverse osmosis (ask a scientist) and all the water inside my body migrated to my shirt... not pretty. Never mind, i rolled up my jacket sleeves a la Don Johnson in Miami Vice (ask someone from the 1980s) and entered the hostel.

We were greeted by a very lovely hostel reception / bar area... and breakfast - result! Less desirable were the omnipresent mosquitoes; eight oh-so-very-itchy bites in the first twenty minutes before we noticed.

We booked in and went to our (dorm) room. Compact and bijou is one way to describe it... tiny and smelly is another. A bit of a dissapointment after our first impressions but this is budget travel (and the hostel isn't responsible for smelly, Swedish socks). The location though was great; just a couple of blocks from the beach... and what a beach! quite possibly the warmest sea water i have ever felt. The beach was long and unbusy (well it was 9:00am!). but already desperately hot. my trusty hat that had accompanied me all the way from canada was doing its best but i think it was starting to wilt as badly as me. Katy - of course - was loving it.

We got back to our room late the first night to find our two Swedish friends a tad drunk and they explained that this was the only time they would feel uninhibited enough to talk to us! They were from Northern Sweden (which they felt should have been enough of an explanation). True enough, the following day - and sober - they averted eyes and avoided conversation... strange people, the Swedes.

And this became the pattern for our few days in Miami. Katy would run along the beach first thing before it got too hot for her then she would hit the beach again for as long as [even] she could stand. I didn't even attempt it and limited myself to shops, bars and lounging around until dusk (now fully armed with mosquito repellent).

Miami is a great place, but also one that is best enjoyed with a bit of spare cash! It was only a junction on our way to South America, but I'm glad we stayed (however briefly). Right then... South America awaits!!

* Thanks for helping out us impoverished travellers C&'C!

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