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gardkarlsen Miami - A travel report by Gard
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Miami,  United States - flag United States -  Florida
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gardkarlsen's travel reports

A road trip in Florida, part 1

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Miami travelogue picture
Summary Our vacation started on October 14th and ended on October 29th 2001. The travellers this time was as usual my love Nikki Mooki and Gard Karlsen. We flew from Stavanger (Norway) via Amsterdam to Miami in Florida. We rented a car there and we spent a few days in Miami before we drove of to Orlando, Tampa, Naples and then Miami again. On our trip we stopped by places like Kennedy Space center, Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, Epcot, Busch Gardens and much, much more.

Favourite spots:
Miami travelogue picture
In Miami we walked around on Miami beach and we enjoyed our stay there. But we also had a car and it was easy to get around.

What's really great:
Miami travelogue picture
My favorite in Miami was a visit to Vizcaya.This house was a fantastic mansion built by a Mr. John Deering in the period of 1914 to 1916. For 10 dollars we got entrance to the house and a tour of the ground floor was included

Sights:
Miami travelogue picture
Art Deco district, Holocaust memorial, Miami Science museum and Planetarium, Little Havana, Vizcaya

Accommodations:
Miami travelogue picture
We stayed at Dezerland Beach Resort & Spa. It is located quite north on South Beach (8700 Collins Avenue). When I first booked it on Expedia it was quoted to be 45$ pr night but with taxes and fees of 5,63$ the cost was about 51$ pr night. And when we got to the hotel in turned out that there was an extra fee of 2$ pr night because there was a safe in the room and the parking was 5$ pr night. I can’t say that I’m happy about these “hidden” costs and the hotel itself wasn’t really that nice

Other recommendations:
Miami travelogue picture
Summary
Our vacation started on October 14th and ended on October 29th 2001. The travellers this time was as usual my love Nikki Mooki and Gard Karlsen. We flew from Stavanger (Norway) via Amsterdam to Miami in Florida. We rented a car there and we spent a few days in Miami before we drove of to Orlando, Tampa, Naples and then Miami again. On our trip we stopped by places like Kennedy Space center, Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, Epcot, Busch Gardens and much, much more.

Prelude
We always take a lot of time deciding when to go and where to go on vacation. After hearing and seeing a lot about Florida for many years, we decided to go to Florida and due to recommendations we decided to go in October. As we all know there were some tragic events in New York and Washington on September 11th 2001 but we decided to go anyway as it looked like the world and USA were getting back to “normal”. But we did think about cancelling the trip as we heard about the bombing of Afghanistan started and anthrax was being found in the USA.

The journey begins
But as I said, we decided to go ahead with the trip anyway and our journey started on Sunday October 14th 2001. When we first looked for tickets the prices was quite steep. But in the end of August we got the tickets for about 4500 Norwegian kroner (about 500 US dollars) . We flew Braathens/KLM/Northwest from Stavanger (Norway) via Amsterdam to Miami. We wanted to be a little prepared when we got there so we booked a car using expedia.com and we booked an Avis car for about 100 $ and a hotel for the first two nights in Miami. Due to the events on September 11th, the airport security was tight and we had to go through several checks and anyone that had a suspicious look got extra attention. When we looked out the window on our plane we could even see the airport workers being frisked when going into the aircraft. But we got on our way more or less on time and the flight to Miami took about 9 hours. We got to Miami at about 8 pm and it was pretty easy to find the Avis bus which took us to the Avis car rental place and soon we were driving of in a Chevrolet Cavalier. Before we left we bought a travel guide of Florida (Eyewitness Travel Guides) and it had a map of Miami. We combined this with the map and instructions that we got from Avis and we were able to get to South Beach without too many problems. We had rented a room at Dezerland Beach Resort & Spa that is located quite north on South Beach (8700 Collins Avenue). When I first booked it on Expedia it was quoted to be 45$ pr night but with taxes and fees of 5,63$ the cost was about 51$ pr night. And when we got to the hotel in turned out that there was an extra fee of 2$ pr night because there was a safe in the room and the parking was 5$ pr night. I can’t say that I’m happy about these “hidden” costs and the hotel itself wasn’t really that nice. But it was nice to finally check in and be able to go to bed after a long journey.

Miami
We started exploring Miami the next morning and we started by taking a trip down to Ocean drive to take a walk there and look at the Art Deco district. I guess we got up too early because the place looked very deserted when we got there. But it is a pretty interesting area and the contrasts are big. You have the people that roller blades and jog through Lummus Park and you have the homeless sleeping on benches in the park. We also saw a biking police that I wanted to take a picture of but I was afraid that he would book me for being sarcastic if I askes for permission. The reason that I wanted to take a picture of him was that he was nothing like the bike cops that you see on TV shows like Pacific Blue. This guy was a bit fat and his outfit didn’t look like it was designed for the biking police. In the Art Deco district you will also fins quite a few shops, places to eat and the beach of course. Not far from this you will find places of interest like the Lincoln Road Mall and the Holocaust memorial. The memorial was a pretty stunning sight as you can see from the pictures. We just walk around in silence and looked at all the individual faces and bodies that form the base of the gigantic arm.

We like science so we wanted to check out Miami Science museum and Planetarium. We only stayed there for a couple of hours and the place was more or less empty. They had quite a lot for the kids there but of course one must be able to read and understand English to fully appreciate it. The show in the Planetarium was also OK and we were informed about black holes, pulsars and quarks. There is also a little “zoo” attached to the science museum and they have a few birds and turtles.

We had heard quite a lot about Little Havana and we stopped there on the way back into town. We thought the place would be pretty lively but again the place look almost deserted…the closest thing we came to action was seeing a few elder men sitting in a restaurant playing domino.

A trip to America must also include a trip to a mall. We decided to stop by Aventura mall, which is located North of Miami on the way to Fort Lauderdale. The mall is pretty big and it is a pretty standard mall where you have chains like Sears, JC Penny that surrounds lots of smaller shops inside the actual mall. But according to the guidebook there are many malls in the Miami area of course and some are more “upmarket” than others.

A word of advice when it comes to driving around in Miami: bring lots of quarters (25 cents) to put on the parking meters. In most places the price was 25 cents for 15 minutes and it is not always easy to find parking space at all

We also wanted to try out what some of the locals do for exercise: roller blades. We had brought our own roller blades but I don’t know if that was such a good idea. They were a bit heavy and they took up some quite a lot of space in our suitcases. And it was possible to rent skates in the Art Deco district. But we used our own and we skated in Lummus Park.

On the second day of our stay in Miami we checked out of the hotel and headed for a mansion called Vizcaya. This house was a fantastic mansion built by a Mr. John Deering in the period of 1914 to 1916. For 10 dollars we got entrance to the house and a tour of the ground floor was included. Once again we were almost alone in the house and our guide Marcia talked us through the rooms on the ground floor. She was very enthusiastic and it turned out to be a great and informative tour. We got to learn about Mr Deering love for Europe and how he bought antiques in Europe and later built the house around all these items. I certainly recommend a stop at this place because it was something really special. I had a feeling of being at Versailles or the palaces of Vienna when I strolled trough the rooms.

On the way out of Miami we decided to take what we thought would be the scenic route along the coast. It turned out that it wasn’t all that scenic and it went a lot slower than staying on the main highway. On the main highway the road quality was pretty good and the speed limit varied between 55 to 70 mph. After a while we got to Fort Lauderdale and we made a brief stop here to take a walk on the beach.

We didn’t really have a proper map of this area of Florida and we managed to get a bit lost as it became dark. We tried to find a place to stay around Jupiter but we got lost and we ended up in a small place called Port St. Lucie. But at least they had a Best Western hotel there were we could spend the night.

Published on Thursday January 2th, 2003


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