Tag Archives: Miami

Three Trips to Florida in Three Weeks, the debrief

I love Florida!

I love Miami Beach… specifically South Beach or SoBe for short. I like to go every opportunity I get. Last year I got incredibly lucky with some cheap $35 each way flights to Miami International with American Airlines… this year JetBlue had a similar promo flying to Fort Lauderdale in the neighboring Broward County for $39 bux so I jumped on that offer. I booked one two day round trip, followed by another a week later… and then realized that if I book one more flight on JetBlue I’d qualify for the 5,000 point bonus which they award for any 3 round trip flights booked with the airline in the calendar year (I already had 1 JetBlue flight under my belt flying to Oakland, California for the Miatas at Laguna Seca a month earlier).

The Daytona Beach road trip I wrote about a little earlier and the fiasco I got to experience with Hertz and their Black and White VW Beetle’s I was blessed with. It wasn’t a perfect trip because of a few glitches along the way, the most disappointing of them all turned out to be the weather. The seas were especially rough a week or so after Hurricane Matthew blasted through the area.

Miami Beach wasn’t that much better. The first trip was a dud… seas were super rough even when the weather was nice and sunny. I didn’t get a chance to do what I specifically came there to do: swim! Luckily second and final week in SoBe was almost perfect and I swam, and I swam, and I swam.

But there’s only so much swimming one could do in a day so I totally worked the schedule around to optimize my foodie tour opportunities and I didn’t waste any time to enjoy some of the finest cuisine US has to offer… specifically very authentic Latin cuisine from the huge Cuban community in Miami and Little Havana around Calle Ocho. Below are some pix from those visits… and recommendations along with captions:

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I used a different NYC area airport for each one of my trips. Daytona Beach flight arrived at JFK in Jamaica, Queens. The first Ft. Lauderdale flight used LaGuardia in Queens and the final Ft. Laud/Hollywood International flight used Newark Liberty in NJ. Both LaGuardia and Newark departures saw a real traffic jam of flights on departure, we were something like 10th in line to use the runway, so each flight departed about an hour late. Both of the return flights experienced close to an hour delay because of ground holds in Newark. The LaGuardia flight was especially interesting because shortly after leaving South Florida and while I was watching CNN on the JetBlue IFE system, the vice-presidential candidate’s Boeing 737 crashed at LaGuardia… the airport we were flying to. Luckily the only issue was that the plane overshot the runway, so the airport re-opened and we arrived there eventually. For a moment though it was looking pretty hairy… I was wondering where they were going to re-route us to. Upon landing it took the pilot a few attempts to negotiate the landing. I haven’t done an aborted landing before this flight yet.

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Upon arrival in SoBe the red flags were out. And much like in auto racing, red flag means no racing… or in my case no swimming! Boo…

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So on the first trip the alternative was a foodie tour of Calle Ocho in Little Havana… a short bus ride across Miami.

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The cocks are obviously very uniquely cuban “thing” and are running around on the streets pretty freely.

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Sopas at Rey de las Fritas are outstanding!

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And so are the little Cuban Hamburgers with the little fritas sprinkled in… a pretty unique taste and very filling.

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No trip to Calle Ocho could be complete without some Guarapo… or freshly squeezed sugar cane drink. I ordered a whole bucket which was a bit pricey at $7 bucks… but oh so delicious!

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A short drive down 8th Avenue is Brickell Mazda… I got off the bus to check out their ND Miata’s on the lot. While Miami looks amazing in post cards and on TV in shows like CSI Miami, the reality of it is it’s hard to maintain the exotic image, especially with a dark colored car. The mix of dust and recent rain drops made this car look a little neglected…

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Back to the beach…

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and it was still red flagged… so I continued with the foodie tour!

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One of my favorite dishes in South Florida is ceviche… and I got a real nice octopus version on Washington Ave between 2nd and 3rd. It’s a take-out only place next door to a hostel, very tasty!

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Next time give them a try… look up My Ceviche, Miami Beach

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Though I tried to organize a little mini meet with the local Miata community absolutely nothing materialized, which was disappointing especially since this little “Mazdaspeed” gem was parked outside my hostel both weeks I was there.

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So instead I went car spotting along the streets of Miami Beach, and the local PD always had something interesting parked outside their HQ… like this pink CVPI cruiser

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Or this one the next week… Police Car or Taxi?

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Lots of interesting cars driving by also… plenty of Maseratis, Aston Martins, Ferraris, Bentleys and Rolls Royces… the Bugatti was probably one of the few I got to see out in the wild though:

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Funny enough, plenty of exotics are available for rent, even as short as 1 hour period… saw a few beat up Ferraris, Lambos and Rolls’s:

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I went in asking if they had any Mazda Miata’s available, and the answer was NOPE!

So a Mazda Miata is a more rare car in Miami than most exotics!

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For some reason they really love Trump in Florida. kind of surprising!

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For another surprising reason I really drink a lot of Cuban coffee whenever I’m in South Florida… I don’t know what it is, I never drink coffee at home… but whenever I’m in Miami, cafe con leche is a must!

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One of my favorite places to get cafe con leche in Miami Beach is Playa Cafe on Washington Ave between 16th and Espanola Way. The other is Las Olas Cafe on Euclid and 6th Street.

Playa I visited especially frequently, trying many things on their menu:

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Most had some kind of combination of rice and beans as well as beef, pork and chicken. You really can’t go wrong, whether rice or yuca, it’s all finger licking good!

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But after a few days of Cuban I was ready for a change and sampled a few other places… like this Vietnamese on Washington called either Miss Saigon or What the Pho… depending what sign you read. The Pho was outstanding and so were the summer rolls wrapped in a thin condom-like rice pancake and lubricated by peanut sauce… Yum!

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Super delicious!

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More Trumpism!

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A french sandwich place behind a Walgreens on 14th Street was an amazing find. I had a “frenchie” sandwich with french salami and brie and all the fixings and it was a really excellent value. All the green stuff was super fresh, though the baugette was not. I should have come there earlier in the day rather than evening so it was my own fault. I would highly recommend this joint!

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One place that did disappoint me was South Beach Sushi on Washington and 17th. It was basically supermarket sushi quality even when the price was below typical SoBe prices. I was not a fan.

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The night I went for sushi it almost didn’t happen as I got caught out in a bit of a tropical rain storm… I wish I would have missed it!

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But like most rains in South Florida it went as quickly as it came after dumping a whole lot of water on unsuspecting tourists (like me). I waited it out over a coffee at a Mediterranean joint, on second thought I should have ordered a shawarma instead of going for sushi. There’s always next time!

Where Have All the Miami Miatas Gone?

I’m in a question asking mood, and the biggest question after another amazing trip to South Florida is where have all the Miami Miata’s gone?

It’s puzzling!

I always thought the MX-5 Miata was made for Florida. With it’s perfect weather year round and great roads with plenty of top-down cruising opportunities, Miata would be king. But it isn’t.

The majority of the rental cars I saw on the road were either Ford Mustang or Chevy Camaro on the affordable front, and Ferrari 458 or Lamborghini Huracan on the exotic front. The rest were SUV’s and Minivans with seemingly no MX-5’s offered whatsoever.

Why is that?

When I was searching for a Miata of my own to buy, I actually won a bid on eBay for a 2008 True Red Miata with a black rag top, miles pushing 100k and a hidden gem on the vehicle history report – no I’m not talking about the “fleet use” notice, but three “moderate” accidents that the car apparently had in it’s life as a rental car. So historically the Miatas were used as rental cars in South Florida as late as 2008 apparently, what happened since?

I would imagine having a tiny trunk makes the Miata the least practical rental car in the industry. Many of the Mustangs and Camaros I saw, rented by young couples or young group of friends, had luggage stored in the back seat, not to mention whatever was hidden in the sizable trunks. But the Miata doesn’t have much storage room besides a small carry-on trunk, which wouldn’t really work for an airport rental. Of course Ferrari and Lamborghini have small fronks too, but they are not exactly the type of car to be rented at the airport, and instead sit idly outside the Ritz Carlton’s and the like to be rented by the hour for a joy ride along Ocean Drive. I’d imagine that would be a perfect rental opportunity for the Miata too.

Sadly the only Miata I saw was on my bus ride back to Fort Lauderdale – Hollywood International Airport along the A1A, parked (ironically) outside a hair salon. It was an early NC model in White with a beige top, and the sun had not been kind to it’s headlights because they were completely fogged over. Boo!

I can’t wait to take my Miata down to South Florida and enjoy some fun in the sun driving! I think it’s a perfect vehicle to go to the beach.

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Quick Getaway to SoBe, Miami Beach, Florida

Just a day after I returned from Austin, Texas I was back on the way to the airport to fly to my favorite American destination: South Florida. I love Miami, I love Miami Beach, I love South Beach there’s no question I find this place to be the best place in the US! And the best part is, it was so cheap to go there for a completely relaxing getaway.

A few weeks ago a facebook group I follow called “The Flight Deal” shared an incredible offer of $80 round trip flights between New York and Miami. I jumped on that offer! Normally any flight between NYC – MIA for under or around $100 is a great deal. But this $80 hurricane season special was probably one of the lowest fares I’ve paid on this route in a long time. So I booked two trips.

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This particular trip came incredibly useful because it was right after the Lone Star Le Mans and after working 16 to 17 hour days on my feet, it was incredibly exhausting. So the mission for my trip to SoBe was to completely relax! And relax I did. I flew out on an 8am flight from LaGuardia getting me to South Florida just before noon. A quick ride on the #150 Airport Flyer got me to Miami Beach right in time for lunch. It was too early to check into my $20 hostel, so I decided to stuff my face with some delicious Cuban food. So I got off at the Lincoln Road stop and walked towards a great restaurant I last visited in February when we were in Miami Beach with my sister and her family on our way back from Saint Lucia. Turns out that restaurant had closed since our visit, so I searched for an alternative and the place I found was even better!

So first order of business was food!

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I had a very filling fillet of fish with some rice, beans, fried plantains and very delicious cafe con leche. I would come back to the same restaurant for lunch the next day and sample their delicious breaded steak with yellow rice, beans and another serving of delicious cuban coffee.

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For dinner I sought recommendations from a facebook friend who suggested I must visit another Cuban cafe about 10 blocks away from La Playa called Las Olas… and that place didn’t disappoint at all. I had a cubano sandwich just before heading back to the airport for my flight home:

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Never seen a cubano sliced that way, and individually wrapped but it was amazingly good, and again with a nice cup of cafe con leche.

The other specialty of Las Olas was a big cup of the sugar cane juice which was incredibly tasty! I love Guarapo!

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But besides eating I also got an opportunity to enjoy the beach. I’ve been to the Jersey Shore a bunch of times this year with the baby nephew but frankly the water in Northern Atlantic is too cold for me even in the heat of the summer. In South Florida walking into the ocean at noon time, the water felt warmer then the air tems outside, it was amazing! I went swimming for at at least an hour which was exhausting and incredibly relaxing at the same time!

I would say shame it was only a two day short trip, but honestly it is exactly what I needed at this time. And the two days went quickly enough so I wasn’t bored at any moment. It was just right!

I can’t wait to go back in October after Petit Le Mans!

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I <3 Miami!

Oh yeah, almost forgot… I considered using this opportunity to visit Speed Source in Coral Springs, just a short drive from Miami Airport… maybe there was a job I could apply for. But in the grand scheme of things it never materialized. Would be nice to work for a team that races the same Copper Red Mazda’s as my MX-5 😉

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