Bienvenido a Miami 2: Little Havana and Biscayne (Sat)

And we’ll start this post with the second song played on our citywide tour:
Havana, Camila Cabello (Youtube

Any trip to Miami is likely not complete without a visit to Little Havana, the section of the city most dominated by Cuban first and second-generation residents. We have therefore booked a bus tour that will take us to this area, as well as to a party spot along Biscayne Bay with food, music, and the damp smell of nearby water.

Saturday, January 26

The bed feels delicious, and the sleep I experience is unlike any I’ve had in months. So I have to fight hard to the surface as the 9:00 alarm rings. And, it’s rather cold outside of the cover. Miami residents, it turns out, know little or nothing about heating. I do take a little time to listen to Miami radio, as I had also done last night, but because we are pretty much forced to remain close to each other and I don’t wish to wake my wife too early, I do not avow myself in this practice for too long.

The air outside is cold too, as we again stroll to IHOP. Today I select generally lighter fare: 2 eggs, scrambled with cheese; sausages, and grits. I soon learn that this is known as the 55 and over senior meal. Ha ha. I also discover that they have lemonade iced tea, which I enjoy on subsequent visits as well.

Once we finish, we make a quick swing by the room to complete getting ready, then I bring up Uber to take us to 305 Lincoln Road, the location from which the tour bus will collect us. We are due to leave at 1:30, and it is only just after 12:25, so she decides to have a look around. WE enter a large, two-level clothing store and make our way up an escalator. As we prepare to squeeze down one of the narrow aisles, I manage to bang my head on a protruding shelf. It hurts, but fortunately no long-term damage is done. There is little else to do in here, so we make our way outside to await the bus so that we can hopefully secure good seats.

This bus exudes such strong exhaust that my head immediately begins to hurt. Even inside of the vehicle, the odor is almost asphyxiating. I can’t help but wonder how old it is. Unfortunately, I in my infinite wisdom have forgotten my Braille display back at the room, so I am unable to trace the tour via GPS as we move along. Therefore I can only recall bits and pieces.

The two songs I’ve already added to entries, and of course a fast-paced one from Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine are played through the tinny-sounding PA, I guess to get us all in the mood. As this happens, a woman narrates the sights both in English and Spanish, (as near as I can tell this is true of most Miami tours, and it sounds like it takes skill. We pass quite a few mansions, most notably that of Giani Versace. The beach itself of course consists mostly of hotels, condos, and very nice houses. Then we hop onto a causeway and head into the city, where we are told that approximately 5.7 million people now reside in Miami, the only U.S. city sounded by a woman; Julia Tuttle. I look at the Wikipedia article later, and it says that Tuttle was from Cleveland originally. Interesting story there, I’m sure.

My favorite part of the tour is disembarking at a Cuban cigar store I think on Southwest 8th Street. “We’re gonna smell like these cigars,” I quip. I’m guessing that location, smack in the middle of Little Havana, gets a lot of business from those tour buses.

After a little more showing off of the downtown area and Biscayne Bay, we get off again at an outdoor restaurant called Largos located at 401 Biscayne Boulevard. This is where the bus tour ends, and those who are going to board a boat to tour the bay are able to do so. We opt not to go on the second portion, but do enjoy burgers at this place while sitting in the somewhat cool but manageable 60 degree day. I order a delicious Bleu Cheese sandwich, and their fries hit the spot also. Music blares, and partying commences. It feels like one might imagine Miami would feel.

We have to wait for a bus to return us to our initial pick-up spot, missing the 4:30 to finish eating and catching the 5:30. Until then though, we walk around a bit and she sees American Airlines Arena, where the Miami Heat (NBA) play. I note the slightly mildewy smell of the bay, and have fun listening to people cavort about the city.

Back at the Lincoln Road location, our first Uber flies by without stopping or even really seeing us. The woman who does collect us seems not to speak English, which is ok as the info is already in GPS. We arrive at the hotel, and I discover that said forgotten Braille display is throwing something of a fit, as it comes on, connects to my phone, but does not punch up the dots as it should. Later we determine that it wants me to pay attention to my wife and put down the tech, which I had vowed to do after a quick check! While she was otherwise occupied. But perhaps someone doesn’t believe me. Other than watching some movie as I laid back and drifted in and out, and slopping down Friday’s strawberry cheesecake gotten from Las Vegas restaurant, not much else happened. I listen to a little NPR, decide the news is too much to take in while on my dream vacation, and call it a night.

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