February 18'th to 28'th 2010
Thursday, 18 February
Weather reports were saying 22 cm of snow in Denmark, and 22 degrees Celsius in Miami. So I was happy going to Miami.
I start with the airport-bus at 8 am. It takes 1½ hour to Billund. The plane for Amsterdam leaves at 11.35. In Amsterdam security-checks are hysterical for my Detroit-flight from Delta Airlines at 14.10. The flying time to Detroit is 8 hours today, so we arrive at about 4 pm local time. That’s almost 1½ hour ahead of schedule. That leaves me with a long wait for my Miami-flight at 8.15. I arrive at Miami at 11 pm. Then I get into a taxi, where the taxi-driver is wearing a thick coat. He thinks it’s cold. I arrive at Fortune House Hotel at midnight. Im tired – very tired.
But my room 2509 is great. I thought I had booked a simple single-room, but this is an apartment with my own kitchen, a furnished living-room with a TV, a balcony with a great view of downtown Miami, a room for sleeping and a walk-in-closet so big that my small amount of clothes for this trip looks ridiculous. And now I have to go to sleep.
Friday, 19 February
It’s a nice apartment, but I'm not here for staying indoors.
So I take a good breakfast at the hotels restaurant before heading out into Miami. My first trip is on the free Metromover opposite the hotel. This will take me to Government, where I buy a 7 day pass for the Miami public transport. It’s not for amateurs to find out how the system works – but then it’s good than I’m a professional. I find a bus named “S” that will take me to South Beach.
I jump off the bus at Lincoln Road, a local pedestrian street. Then I walk down to Miami Beach. I take a walk on the beach, before heading down the most famous place in Miami Ocean Drive. This is where all the Art Deco buildings are. Most of them are painted very colorful. The colors are debatable. There are café’s, restaurants and hotels – and of course lots of tourist. But the place is nice and pretty relaxed. The life-guard houses on the beach are nice as well.
I spend a few hours out here before returning on a bus back to the Metromover. That takes me back to Financial District and my huge hotel-room.
After a break at the hotel, I decide I will go to Little Havana. But either there is no Little Havana in the evening or I just can’t find it. But I do get a little shopping and grabs something to eat before heading back to my hotel.
Saturday, 20 February
Public transport in this city is poor. Line “B” to Key Biscayne runs from just opposite the hotel, but there is nowhere to find information about when. So it takes 30 minutes before the bus shows up, and when it reaches Key Biscayne it runs to a wrong destination. I will have to back-track, and wait some more time for the bus that will take me to Bill Braggs Cape Florida State Park.
The park is on the southern tip of Key Biscayne. Key Biscayne is a small island south of Miami Downtown. The trip over there takes you past Rickenbacker Causeway. It’s a nice place and a nice park just 15 minutes away from the hustle and bustle of Miami. I take a long walk around the park. There is nice nature, lovely beaches and an old lighthouse. There are not that many people around. Only a few taking a stroll or fishing. You say hello to the people you meet – or rather “como estas” – most people speak Spanish here.
Second trip is with the Metromover to Bayside Market. There is plenty of action with a Latino-band on the stage. From here you can take boat-tours and see where the celebrities are living. I take one that passes the lovely houses of a number of celebrities. To be honest – I haven’t heard of any of the celebrities before – but that’s probably because I don’t know enough about the rich and the famous. But the tour is nice nevertheless – and the houses look big and expensive.
From here it’s back to the hotel. I pick up at pizza on the way back.
Sunday, 21 February
I have planned a 2 day de-tour from this visit to Miami. So at 7.15 I’m picked up by Key West Tours and a driven by their bus across the 45 keys of southern Florida to Key West.
We are down there at 11 and I find my hotel at Caribbean House. It’s more normal standard compared to Miami, but fine anyway. The place and the room are painted in bright colors.
Then I head for my first look at this tourist-place. My first stop is Hemingway’s House. There’s a nice tour. Usually I hate tours like that, but this guide is great because he really doesn’t give a damn.
Moving on out into the streets, where I pass the southernmost point in USA. There’s a long queue to have your picture taken at a boring monument, which looks like something that was made in a kindergarten. There are plenty of southernmost this and southernmost that in the area. Now it starts to rain, so I head back to the hotel.
Later I head out again. It’s raining a lot now. I have brought raingear and umbrella, but left it all behind in Miami. Pretty smart. The small electric train for the tourists is empty, and the spectacular sunset at the harbor is pretty unspectacular when you can’t see the sun. So instead I walk up the tourist trap called Duvall Street with lots of bars and restaurant to my hotel. There I watch the hockey game between Canada and USA.
Monday, 22 February
If there’s something that’s not nice when you travel, its rainy weather. And today we have a full day of it. So I spend the day with some sightseeing trying not to drown.
Check-out at Caribbean House at 10. Breakfast at a local café with tourist-prices. Then out into the streets. When I think I’m to soaked there's nothing else to do, than to take a tourist-bus around town. It’s kind of OK – and you get dry. The guide is not too much of an idiot, and you get to see most parts of town, that I don’t want to do by walking today. And at the end they handle us a plastic-raincoat-poncho for the rest of our time in this wet place.
Then it’s time for a fish’n’chips lunch at a bar down the harbor, before a little more walking. Finally I visit a crap-museum. Mel Fishers Maritime Museum is filled with some stuff from a wreck that was found outside Key West. Who gives a damn?
At 4 the bus back for Miami arrives. 4 hours later it puts me off just outside Fortune House.
Tuesday, 23 February
The other day I couldn’t find Little Havana. But research has shown that it was wrong to look for at at 2. Avenue, when it’s supposed to be at 12. Avenue. So today I take bus no. 8 to 12. Avenue, and there it is. The area is most inhabited by exile-Cubans, waiting for that guy Fidel to step down – or at least that’s what they used to wait for. There are cigar-dealers, patriotic murals and other kinds of Cuban symbolic around. And then there’s Domino Park where the old guys are playing Domino. If it had the TV-attention of Poker these guys could be rich.
The afternoon is spent relaxing in the apartment. There is soccer – Champions-League Stuttgart – Barcelona on one of the channels, so you don’t have to watch the Olympic curling today.
In the evening it’s time for more sport – but this time live. Basketball – Miami Heat vs. Minnesota Timberwolves – in American Airlines Arena. Section 124, row 22, seat 10 is a good spot for the game. The atmosphere is hyped by DJ’s, cheerleaders and a lot of different action. Now and then there is Basketball as well. Miami Heat is without its superstar Dwight Wade and is behind most of the game. Finally they get were close to catching up the Timberwolves, but they loose by 91 to 88, and the home crowd is disappointed.
Wednesday, 24 February
A quiet day today. First I take the hopeless public transport to Coral Gables. The Metrorail to Vizcaya, and then bus 24 to Coral Gables.
Coral Gables is a cozy and rich area. There are some nice buildings, small shops, plenty of palms and a nice atmosphere. I spend a few hours out here.
Back home there are threats on the TV. “Severe thunderstorms” they say. And since I prefer not to get soaked again, I stay inside. The thunderstorm arrives at 8 pm, and it doesn’t look that severe.
Thursday, 25 February
It’s pretty cold today in Miami. It’s so cold you have to wear a jacket going outside.
I take the Metrorail to Coconut Grove. That’s another Miami suburb in the rich end. There are some nice houses and some shopping-activities. Then there’s the Barnacle State Historic Park, which is a nice oase down to the Biscayne Bay. It was made by Ralph Monroe in 1891. He was one of the first “snowbirds” – rich north Americans going down here in the winter.
A few hours is spent here, before returning to the hotel.
The second trip is in my local neighborhood Brickell – or Financial District. Here there are plenty of office buildings and high apartment-blocks. On the small island of Brickell Key the buildings are almost leaning on one another. You can take a walk on a path around the island, with nice views of the bay, the harbor and downtown.
Friday, 26 February
I have been looking for at good tour to the Everglades, but haven’t succeeded. They are all crap-tours, so I’ve had to take one of them. Miami Nice Tours takes you to a Gator Park in a corner of the Everglades. Then you get 20 minutes on one of the fast boats. That’s pretty fun. It’s speedy and you get to see alligators and big birds. Then there’s an alligator-show in the park. That’s disgusting. A big guy jumps on to an alligator that is half dead, and they call it alligator-wrestling. The police should stop things like that.
I’m back in downtown at 2 pm and spend some time walking around Bayside Market before heading back to the hotel.
Dinner is picked up at the local Publix – a good supermarket. For 6 $ you get a decent meal, that I take back to my apartment. Today’s subject in the elevator is the extremely low temperatures. We are down at 20 degrees Celsius. In the local news they talk about the snowstorm up north, and mentions that Miami has also been hit. For instance one of the people from the news had to put on a sweater.
Saturday, 27 February
You will have to get up early in Miami if you want to follow the action. The Premier-League match between Chelsea and Manchester City is live at ESPN2 at 7.30. But it’s a nice thing that they show anything else than basket and curling.
Today's sightseeing is in Miami Downtown. It’s a strange mix between modern glass and steel buildings, some tourist-industry and some parts pretty much run down. Among others I visit the nice Southern Florida Historic Museum. There’s a nice exhibition about “Crime in Miami”. I get to see Don Johnson and Miami Vice, and you have to leave your fingerprints as you leave the exhibition.
When I’m done in downtown I walk back to the hotel along Brickell Avenue. That is a part of Highway 1, which runs all the way from Key West to Brunswick in Canada. It passes Miami River, and when I do the bridge is up to let a small boat pass underneath. So they hold back the whole east coast-traffic for one single boat.
Dinner is picked up at Publix on 9. Street. The evening-entertainment is commercials on ABC, which now and then is interrupted by a Harry Potter movie.
Sunday, 28 February
I’m leaving the formidable Fortune House. It’s been a great place during this trip. The bill is for Henning Nielsen, Utell International, 605 3rd Avenue, 26th floor, New York. I wonder who they think I am.
Taxi to Miami International Airport. Then a flight to Detroit. The entertainment is the captain’s updates on the hockey-final between Canada and USA.
From Detroit to Amsterdam at 10 pm. The plane is full and cramped. Just as we are about to go to sleep at around midnight they start to serve dinner.
Monday, 1 march
The plane arrives in Amsterdam at 11.30 local time on March 1st. I have been to Schiphol several times, so I know where they’ve hidden the nice and cozy chairs that are good for sleeping.
At 16.30 we leave for Billund. So the trip back home is pretty tough – but it was dead-cheap. Bus from Billund to Aarhus, where I can open the door to my home at about 20.00.