Week 43 – Florida Keys & Miami Beach

Week 12 of our North America road trip and we’ve driven 19,553kms so far (totalling 1,576kms this week). We’re feeling a little glum tonight because we’re leaving Florida in the morning – we’re giving up the sunshine and heading for snow. We visited the most southern point of USA on Wednesday and from there it’s north, north and north. Florida has provided us a chance to enjoy some lovely December weather with some beach time (and don’t forget the theme parks from last week!). To be honest though, we’ve been on the move for so long that we’re looking forward to heading back to Anna’s parents house for Christmas.

Map 12
Our drive this week (week 12)

Before I begin with our movements this week, I forgot to include the link to our November video when I first posted the blog last week. So if you missed it, click here to check it out.

From Orlando we decided to head down to the Florida Keys because we thought it would be cool to check out. Being the most southern point of USA we also figured that we’d have the best chance of scoring some beach time. Even though we were going mid-week, the accommodation was quite expensive so we had to do some extensive searching to find a deal. It wasn’t surprising that the accommodation is expensive considering how limited the total land space is, as the keys are just a series of small islands connected by bridges. We scored a good last minute deal with a hotel that was about halfway along the keys. There were no water views or anything fancy like that, but it was a good location for exploring.

On our first day we indulged in a sleep-in because we were still tired from our 5 days at the theme parks. Once we were up and moving we headed to Sombrero beach for a relaxing day at the beach. It was a bit overcast but a lovely 28 degrees so we made the most of it. Sombrero beach is supposed to be one of the best in the Florida Keys but we were a little surprised when we arrived because it wasn’t anything too special. Perhaps we’ve been spoiled by Sydney’s huge selection of beautiful beaches. We still enjoyed the afternoon swimming in the very calm water and relaxing in the sun.

The next day we made an earlier start (up by 9am – it’s a holiday after all) and we drove down the Key West which is the most southern part of the Keys and of USA. Key West is a bit of a party island and its downtown area reminded me of a toned down version of Bourbon St, New Orleans. Most tourists come for bar hopping, boating or beach bumming by the look of it. We were only there for a few hours and we’re on a budget, so we didn’t do any of that. We went to the southern most point monument and then we walked around downtown for a look.

After this we headed back along the keys to Sandspur beach which is highly rated. To our shock, when we arrived we found that the strip of sand from the grassy section to the water was less than 2 metres. When you’re my height that doesn’t really work, so we went for a wander to try and find a wider section of beach. We found a marginally wider section of beach and went with that. The water was very warm and quite calm so the swimming was nice but once we headed back to our towels and laid down, we discovered the area was full of little sand flies. They were the little ones that you can hardly see but they bite. Since it was getting late in the day we decided to escape the wrath of the sand flies and made tracks for our hotel.

Thursday morning we were headed for Miami Beach but we decided that we can’t leave the keys without trying some Key Lime pie. It wasn’t really that late in the day so we’ll call it breakfast dessert. I think that’s the first time I’ve mentioned breakfast dessert in the blog, but it’s a very real thing for Anna and myself. Maybe I shouldn’t have admitted that.

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Key Lime pie, Florida Keys

Miami Beach on Thursday and Friday night isn’t the cheapest when looking for accommodation but we were lucky to score another last minute deal. For less that AUD$100 a night we had a recently renovated room in a quirky hotel that was 1 block from the Ritz-Carlton. Oh and the best part was free parking which is unheard of in Miami. We were nice and central so we parked the car and didn’t touch it until we departed this morning. Unfortunately the temperature dropped off and there were some on-off showers while we were in Miami so it wasn’t quite beach weather. That didn’t hold us back though because one of the best things about Miami Beach is the abundance of Art Deco architecture. The city has done a great job of preserving the facades of the buildings and restricted the amount of high-rise  buildings in the area.

Since we couldn’t go swimming we spent most of our time roaming around looking at key buildings in the area. We took the tripod out too for some night shots, particularly around Ocean Dr which is a bit of a nightspot. The atmosphere was slightly dampened by the weather but it’s easy to see why Miami Beach would be a popular party destination considering the nice wide beaches and warmer climate. I’d definitely like to return again one day to see it in full swing.

This morning we awoke to a decent amount of rain so we were pleased that we only had the odd shower in our time in Miami. Some of you may have heard that Florida drivers cannot drive in the wet. Well today we witnessed this first hand and I can confirm with absolute certainty that this is true. We saw two accidents on the I-95 that completely blocked the flow of traffic being 4/5 lanes because both included trucks that jack-knifed. Thankfully both were in the opposite direction so we weren’t caught in the traffic jam. There was another car travelling our direction that climbed over the guard rail and almost went down an embankment. One thing I have noticed in Florida is that there are plenty of cars that look poorly maintained with bald tyres so I’m guessing that is partly to blame. I’d say the rest is just foolish tailgating.

Daytona Beach is dubbed as The world’s most famous beach by the township of Daytona Beach. With so much confidence, we thought it was worth stopping to have a look. On our way in we passed the home of NASCAR, Daytona International Speedway, so we pulled in for a look. You could do a tour of the track but it’s just one big loop with banked curves. Not exactly anything exciting! We did take a selfie out the front though. After this we went down to the beach to walk along the boardwalk. It was nice enough, but was a little quiet since it’s the off season. We did notice some damage from the recent hurricane that they were working on.

Today was our first “heading home” day. We managed to squeeze in the stop at Daytona Beach on the way but essentially we’ll be spending the next week heading north. We’ll go up through Tennessee, Kentucky and Michigan. Hopefully the snow doesn’t cause us too many hassles.

Cheers,

B&A

Fail of the Week
We each had our own suggestions this week and couldn’t decide on a winner.

Ben – I’ve been carrying a bottle of washing up detergent in my bag since Hawaii (March) which we use when we have meals in our hotel rooms. I opened my suitcase at Florida Keys and the bottle had leaked all in the bottom of my bag. Fortunately it was about a third of a bottle left so it didn’t do too much damage. Most of the things could be rinsed off and dried, but I did lose one of my most prized possessions… my tin of curry powder and my bag of flour for curried sausages!

Anna – Those little sandflies I mentioned… well they bit Anna all over and as Anna does, she had a reaction to the bites. Nothing to serious but she’s been scratching for a few days now so we got some cream from the chemist which seems to help. No photo because it’s not as impressive as the mosquito bite on her forehead in France. For those who missed it, here’s a flashback for your enjoyment.

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Dinner in Nice – look at the mosquito bite on my forehead!

Meal of the Week
We went to Shake Shack in Miami and had a SmokeShack burger with cheese fries and a choc-peanut butter thickshake. It was incredibly decadent and I’m so glad we only bought one to share.

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Shake Shack

More photos

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