I was really excited to get to Miami, the 10 hour flight just dragged! I had heard so much about the beautiful beaches, seen the boardwalk in lots of music videos and of course people always raved about the crazy nightlife. I decided to stay at Miami Hostel on South Beach, I think hostels are always best when travelling alone as it’s easy to meet people. I got there at 10pm and got chatting to some guests from Denmark, they told me they were going to LIV club which was on my list so I was easily persuaded to join them. 10 minutes later the party bus came to pick us up, it was empty when we got on but by the third stop it was rammed, everyone was dancing, a Korean guy entertained us with his dance moves and constant falling on the floor. We got to LIV at fontaine bleu, it was a pretty nice hotel and the club was huge but nothing spectacular. The music was really good, they threw all these giant balls into the crowd which was fun for a moment and then crazy amounts of confetti but it wasn’t anything amazing. The way people raved about it I thought it would be like some of the clubs I’ve seen in Cancun with acrobats hanging from the ceilings, waterfalls in the club, dance-floors in the middle of the sea that move to the beat so you don’t even have to dance. This club was pretty normal and it was way over capacity…so a good night but really LIV is just hype.
On my last night I asked a local girl if she knows a good local spot that wasn’t as commercial and she took us to Purdy’s which was so much better! It had great music and a really decent crowd compared to all the rowdy tourists that were everywhere else plus it was really affordable and just a had a good vibe. A bunch of us were leaving from the hostel so we all went together and it was an amazing last night in Miami.
So the next day I wanted to go walk around South Beach or SoBe as its known. We walked around Lincoln road which was my kind of place, lots of al fresco dining, great boutiques, a few random shops, we went to this book store with amazing artsy books and some were 4ft tall. We went to the 8th floor of a car park and you could literally see all of South Beach and as far as downtown, some amazing beach and city views (highly recommend it if you want to appreciate Miami from where all us tourists don’t get in the way and you also get great photos). I was amazed to find a boutique up there, apparently this random shop in a car park was a celebrity haunt, it was called Alchemist.
We walked along the beach, it was cold, my first day it dropped to eight degrees Celsius which was the same weather as London except I only had summer clothes so I was literally freezing. The Miami breeze is pretty cold, take something warm with you just in case! I went to see the Versace Mansion, I would have loved to go in but it’s been sold and is no longer open to the public. Anyways, I had planned to visit an amazing house the next day!
Day two I went to Vizcaya which is a mansion built by James Deering in the nineteenth Century. It introduces visitors to a subtropical hammock with its 34 decorated rooms reflecting a variety of periods and styles. Getting to the mansion requires you to walk through a nature trail, the house is nestled on 10 acres of beautiful gardens and I enjoyed every single one. The Barge on Biscayne Bay was my highlight but I also really enjoyed the gardens. The house itself was enjoyable really only because of my overactive imagination that visualised what the Deering’s would do in each room, I looked at this unusual mesh of French, Italian and various other European and American artefacts and imagined how Deering lived there, entertaining guests and receiving gifts from other wealthy people all around the world. It’s such a mish-mash of periods but I guess when you read about it you realize why and there is plenty of information all over the house, I was fine without a guide or guide book. I also had the best food there, a panko crusted mahi mahi in bread served with a broccoli salad tossed in a tropical dressing with cranberries and peanuts…mmm.
I was told by everyone at the hostel not to try and go there alone as it takes two hours, various modes of transport and Miami transport is apparently unreliable…don’t listen to people when they tell you that. Locals in Miami pretty much all have cars and they are extremely unknowledgeable when it comes to getting around without one, in fact the hostel manager told me if I don’t get a car I will struggle to see anything. Google maps was a really helpful tool, look up where you want to go and it will give you all the info. I changed from a bus to a metro-mover to a train and it was really simple and took forty minutes not two hours as they thought.
Day three was beautiful weather so I went to a few art galleries, Peter Lik is one of my favourite photographers so was in his store/gallery on Lincoln for ages looking at his amazing photographs. He takes pictures of beautiful natural landscapes and you just get lost in his photos, its free and great to check out. They had an art deco festival and market along the beach for the weekend, miles of stalls and (expensive) street food… I bought some and realised I could have eaten at a really nice restaurant for the same price plus it’s not authentic because there are chains of these food carts all selling the same thing. Anyways I took my food to the beach and soaked up the sunshine for a few hours.
I realised Miami wasn’t really my kind of place, I loved my four days there but it was definitely not somewhere that left me wanting to stay and I was ready for Peru! I met some great people and had some wonderful experiences but I found Miami to be completely superficial. The thing is I wanted somewhere to chill, party and have fun before my intense Peruvian adventure but I think I always had an idea of it being this beautiful glitzy paradise so expected superficial to a degree but I felt it lacked class and identity. London, Dubai or Paris are all cities that offer you a taste of their culture as well as all the tourist stuff and Miami is a city lacking identity. Also if certain places are going to charge those kinds of prices they should have an element of sophistication to them which I only really saw in Lincoln but anyway I had a great time, I just know that if I had stayed longer it would have got boring