TRAVEL THERE: PRE-CRUISE FUN IN MIAMI
Cruise lines know many of their passengers fly in for the voyage, so most schedule their departures to accommodate airline schedules. However, after my disaster on the way to Oregon, I wasn’t taking any chances. We flew into Miami the day before embarkation. In fact, I was so paranoid about missing the cruise, that I booked my hotel and transfer to the ship via Norwegian. I didn’t want them to have any excuse for leaving us behind. The good news is that it was also a great value.
Moments in Miami
To get from the airport to the hotel, we planned on taking a taxi, but were a little concerned about getting luggage for four adults into a cab. Thankfully, a van was next in line when we emerged from baggage claim. Our destination was a Holiday Inn and the driver jumped to the conclusion we were headed to South Beach, but my trusty travel notebook provided an address on Miami Beach proper. That’s when the fun began, because we’d arrived just in time for rush hour traffic. I think our driver was training for the demolition derby. To make it a little more fun, there was also quite a bit of construction between the highway exit and the hotel, so we were treated to a taxi ride that would have been right at home in an amusement park.
Margaritas in Miami
It just so happened that our stay in Miami coincided with National Margarita Day, so Deb and I felt compelled to do honor to our favorite adult beverage. As soon as we’d dumped our luggage in our rooms, we were on the hunt for that frozen concoction that helps us hang on. The hotel had a happy hour event involving bananas foster, wine and cheese, but that only slowed us down a little bit. We quickly made our way to the boardwalk and found the Marriot Couryard’s Tiki Hut.
Italian at Carraba’s
After a few adult lime-ades a Carrabba’s beckoned us inside. The margaritas had been so good that I have no recollection of our choices, but each of us cleaned our plates. I thought Carrabba’s was just another Italian food joint, but I have to tell you, it was pretty darned good food. However, our waitress was the best part of the meal. She provided great service. To boot, she was so much fun that we tried to figure out how to smuggle her on the cruise with us.
Trying to be Healthy
Since Deb and I had worked hard to be in shape for the cruise, we were determined to keep at our exercise routines throughout the trip. So we were up early the morning of the cruise, ready to hit the exercise room, but the place was pretty crowded. So instead, we headed back out to the boardwalk, which was a completely different place than it had been the night before.
Miami Beach’s boardwalk has a sultry feel on a Friday night. Hand-holding couples gaze deeply into one another’s eyes as the heat of the day dissipates around them. Saturday morning is full of energy and spandex. Sweaty bodies of all shapes and sizes trot around in the morning sun. But we didn’t stay up on the boardwalk for long. The beach beckoned. We kicked off our shoes and dug our toes deep into the white sand at an admirable pace.
Perhaps if I were younger, the sweaty bodies would have been more interesting to me, but returning to the hotel via the boardwalk, I found myself fascinated by the flora, rather than the fauna. The palm leaf pattern gracing the Miami sky was echoed in the hotel lobby’s carpet, so it felt like we brought the outdoors in with us.
Time for Breakfast
Breakfast was our next concern, but Holiday Inn wanted over $14 a piece for their buffet. On the way up the elevator, some folks had Subway coffee cups and they directed us to an economical (and healthy) breakfast choice. I woke Bill up, got him a sandwich and then showed him the beach and the pool area. We didn’t have long to linger, though. The bus was soon there to take us to the ship. Come back next week and let me tell you all about it.