After being picked up at Southampton airport by our driver, we sat back for the drive to Heathrow and more importantly after a lovely nights rest at the premier inn, an epic breakfast to set us up for the flight to... MIAMI.
Before we had even sat down on the plane, CP had befriended the air host to the extent that we were treated to a glass of champagne as we prepared for takeoff. And then a glass of baileys for dessert! She then proceeded to get a bunch of travel tips from the other hostesses ... That girl can talk!
Fast forward to arriving in Miami, and queue for immigration (surprisingly short), baggage collection ( surprisingly and ridiculously long), baggage check, and then pick up our pimped out ride ("mid-size" American car = British size tank) for the next for 4 days. Easy drive to the Sunset Villas, the first of what will be many Air BnB stops on this trip.
Our host Aldo is just setting up as a legit Air BnB business and we had the pleasure of camping in his backyard! We shared the backyard with a bunch of chickens, a nesting bird and her chicks and the most ridiculously loud and long train line that blew its whistle for hours at a time (at least it seemed that way at 1am and 2am, and 3am and 4am...you get the idea! Still the pancakes (with chocolate chips) and fresh eggs on toast were epic and worth putting in our earplugs to sleep!
Saturday we drove out to the Everglades for an airboat ride, saw a lot of alligators, got to hold a little one called Smiley who didn't really seem that happy about it.
then cruised to Shark Valley national park where rented some bikes (in the loosest sense of the term) from people that spoke to us like we were from a different planet and then rode the 25km loop while spotting gators, birds and turtles. That was a LONG 25 km ride in intense heat...and CP didn't complain at all...
Saturday night at the baseball - turns out it's not a great spectator sport for the casual observer. First innings involved not one hit of the ball.... Not one! When i told CP here was 10 innings, she almost got up and left! But we have all you can eat nachos, popcorn, hotdogs and soda in true US style so within minutes we were feeling too sick to move anywhere. There were a couple of home runs and some good plays so a bit of excitement but combined with $12 beers, a couple of home runs is not enough and we'll prob not be back to watch baseball again!
Sunday was spent chilling out on SoBe in the morning (awesome promenade and plenty of people watching) and watching the Miami Heat in the first game of the NBA Playoffs - put the baseball to shame! Free t-shirt for everyone, drinks not crazy expensive, and I got ID'd (still got it!). Best experience in Miami... Intoxicating atmosphere and the crowd participation was epic! The heat were on fire but had to work hard for their win because the Bobcats were a "sexy team" according to CP and played some crowd pleasing ball, even if the crowd was entirely for the home team! CP has adopted the Heats number 11, Chris Anderson...epic beard, possibly the inspiration for Rich's travelling beard over the next few weeks.
After that, 2 hours spent realising that the Miami public transport system is woeful.
Monday was a busy day (as usual.... we will learn to slowdown one day...)...plan was to drive to the Keys with the slightly ambiguous plan of "checking it out" - with hindsight we should have had slightly more of a clue about what to do but the visitor centre on Key Largo seemed like a good place to start although they continued the policy of talking to tourists like we're full retards. Opted for a boat trip with snorkelling, despite me generally not loving the water and Jenna (our new friend from the AirBnB place) being on a tight budget. Splashing around in the water was fun, saw some nice fush but not the giant turtle that allegedly hangs out down there.
Looooong drive back past Miami to Fort Lauderdale - should have spend the day here, really nice chilled out vibe on the beach, giant 2 for 1 cocktails, funky bars and good restaurants. Also the scene of Carly's 2nd freak out when a $3.50 pizza slice resulted in no change from $5 because of an unknown combination of taxes, mandatory service charge, and rounding up.
This long drive also confirmed CPs new habit of increasing the volume and intensity of chat just as we approach some crazy off ramp on the freeways which will require some NASCAR manoeuvres to shift across 6 lanes of traffic and probably back again depending on how the Sat Nav is feeling in that moment.
And that was it - 3 days in Miami, a little prelude to the rest of our trip. Now onwards to Cayman for a week before the real travelling starts!
Lost passport count: 1 (CP, found a day later)
Cameras lost: 0