Getting there: Air Canada, hotwire car rental
Where we stayed: We spent 3 nights in Key West in a lovely home on Varela St. far away from the main hotel area. We had the front unit which was a roomy one-bedroom, well appointed kitchen, good wifi, clear instructions on getting in, parking on the street, close to all amenities, with a bike rental shop at the end of the street. Then we spent 5 nights in South Beach at a condo found on Airbnb – a traditional art deco unit in a fairly well appointed (no dish clothes or dish towels!) unit that had some free parking stalls (otherwise would arrange a parking pass), onsite laundry, but sketchy wifi that was close to all the action in SoBe.
Fun: Key West was all about the beaches (Higgs Beach, Fort Zachary Taylor), food (great Cuban at Havana 1, LOTS of key lime pie at different places), and just relaxing. We rented bikes one day and used them to explore. South Beach was pretty much about the same! We did a lot of shopping (stores were even open on Christmas Day), ate at a few of our fave spots (Ice Box, Taco Rico), and spent some time at the beach snoozing.
Tips: 1. In the rental units, there are sometimes binders with past traveler tips – use those or coupons that might be in the unit for nearby activities. We used the binder in our Key West unit to find Havana 1 for Cuban food, Sandy’s Cafe for cafe con leche (delicious!), and for a coupon for our rental bikes. 2. You don’t need a car in South Beach, unless you want to explore more of Miami in general. We kept the car for one night in South Beach just so we could do some shopping about 30 mins away, and then returned our rental to the airport the next day. 3. Miami transit has a fabulous new South Beach airport express – you catch the bus right at the new bus terminal at the airport and it takes you to South Beach – all for around $3/person versus a $35-40 cab ride. Depending on where you are going in South Beach, the ride will take about 40-50 minutes.
December 21, 2012: Florida Diaries, Entry #1
Hope you are all having a good end of the week, and we thought we’d send you some pics from our trip so far.
We arrived in Miami on Wednesday early afternoon. We picked up our Mazda 2 and made our way down to Key West, which took around 3.5 hours. The weather was sunny and around 27. We rented a little one bedroom condo which is part of a house here and we have a lovely little veranda of our own facing the street. We cruised around the main drag (…where there are drag queens and bars), and had a Cuban meal at a resto near our condo called Havana 1. The food was delicious and so was our key lime pie slice #1 of the trip. Yesterday I was still totally zonked from my mini-trip to Europe over the weekend and so after we went for a morning run, we drove over to a beach called Higgs beach, where we set ourselves up for the entire afternoon. d2 was adventurous enough to head in to the water which he says was pretty cool, while I proceeded to cat nap for the entire afternoon. For dinner we walked to a bbq placed called Daddy Bones where we had outstanding cornbread, mac and cheese, yam fries, pulled pork and the tasty ribs pictured here. Oh ya, and on the way home, key lime pie slice #2 from a little hole in the wall called Sandy’s Cafe. Today we got up and rented bikes from the shop at the end of the street where we’re staying. We cruised over to a fort called Fort Zachary Taylor via the super cool old cemetery, and after d2 did some CrossFit moves with this pile of cannon balls :o) at the Fort which is from the Civil War era, we biked around the park and then found ourselves another lovely piece of beach. Today was around 22 and super windy, but the beach was really protected and we didn’t feel the wind. Since yesterday’s beach experience was so good, I decided to do an encore, so for about 3 hours I catnapped again and just enjoyed the sun. We had some lunch and cruised all around town on our bikes, including watching the sunset at one of the public squares. We also rode by Hemingway’s House and the Little White House which is where a number of presidents have held meetings or vacationed, but we’re pretty sure ‘meeting’ really means ‘headed to the beach’ in this context. For dinner tonight we headed back to Sandy’s where I had a delicious coffee and tacos and d2 got himself a giant Cuban sandwich. Oh ya, and this afternoon we also had key lime piece slice #3, which d2 deemed his favourite, while I think the filling from slice 3 combined with the crust from slice 1 would make the BEST key lime pie ever. We also managed to find the ‘southernmost point in continental US’ today.
And that’s about it from way down here in Key West. It’s been a slice….ha….and tomorrow we’re packing up to spend Christmas in South Beach. I’ll send more pics and an email from SoBe in a few days.
dpr and d2
December 26, 2012: Florida Diaries, Entry #2
Happy Boxing Day, everyone! I wanted to send a Merry Christmas email yesterday, but the wifi in our condo konked out around 9 pm and didn’t get re-set until today. Hope you all had a fantastic Christmas.
When I last emailed you, we were in Key West. On Saturday we went for a bike ride there one last time and then headed back to Miami – the first picture is one of the bridges that we crossed on our way back. It’s really, really, really long – I don’t think you can get that from the picture, and there’s a parallel pedestrian bridge to at least part of it that was pretty cool to walk on. We arrived in the early evening in Miami and the second picture is the condo building that we’re staying in. We rented a one bedroom at the back on the 2nd floor – perfect location in the middle of South Beach and amenities (except for sketchy wifi) are good. Of course our first meal was at Taco Rico – our favourite Mexican resto that we found when d2 was down here a few years ago. We went for our usual order of chicken fajitas – mmmmmmmmm. We followed that up by a slice of red velvet cake and a coffee from Ice Box – another favourite resto that we found here that’s near Lincoln Road, the pedestrian mall. Our first couple of days we did some shopping and just walked around South Beach. We also returned the rental car since you don’t really need a car here and parking isn’t fun in South Beach. Christmas Eve we celebrated with burgers from a place called Shake Shack and then decided to see the new Bond movie. The 80% that we saw was good – then the sound in the theatre crapped out (no kidding – we couldn’t hear the actors talking), so we decided we wanted to see the ending one day with sound, and left! We got our money back, and left with a good story I suppose. I hope the ending is good! Christmas Day we started things out with a run along the beach and then had a nap at the beach – it was like any other day here – a lot of stores and restos were open and there were a lot of people at the beach. We had Taco Rico (again!) and key lime pie and coffee from Ice Box (again!) and then hit a sale at Barney’s New York for a little Christmas splurging on ourselves. Oh the deals! Today is our last day here and we’re going to relax at the beach again. The weather has been so nice- no rain, a couple of windier and cooler days, but overall, a nice, relaxing way to spend Christmas. And we’ve definitely had our fair share of delicious food and sweets. Yum.
We’re off to Chicago for a few days as of tomorrow, and I told d2 yesterday that I’m definitely not ready for the cold there though!
dpr and d2