Layovers can be frustrating when you’re in a country you’d LOVE to get out and explore. More often than not it isn’t long enough to allow you to do so or you’re legally not allowed to leave the airport. But when you can, O.M.G. they can be awesome! A whirlwind of discovery, a mini adventure, a rush of excitement hurriedly taking in all you can while the clock counts down. I LOVE IT!
En-route to Bolivia from London in 2012 I had a 6 hour layover in Miami and I wasn’t going to waste it! Having never been to Miami and so wishing I could spend a couple of weeks sunning myself and exploring its huge music scene I did what I could arriving on a Tuesday lunch time with a few hours spare. Here is what I managed…
Bus journey from airport to South Beach
The metrobus depot opposite Miami International Airport sells return tickets to South Beach for approx $6. Roughly a 20-minute journey you are driven across the Barrier Islands south of Indian Creek giving you a chance to take in the epic cityscape and beautiful stretches of water Miami is so famous for. I chose to hop off at the first stretch of beach I could see, Sunny Iles. I wasnt wasting any time. Vast, hot and almost deserted I stepped onto the white sand having just flown across the Atlantic with the hugest grin on my face. definitely occasion for a selfie.
Cocktails on the beach
I quickly eyed up a beach hut bar and sauntered my way toward it, I couldn’t possibly be on Miami beach and not indulge in a cold beverage (or two). I was greeted by two beautiful bar men who were from Sao Paulo, Brasil, bursting with that infectious energy and over expression that I’ve always utterly adored about Latino people. I told them about my pending South American adventure and that I would be in Sao Paulo in 7 weeks time – they recommended I visit the famous Mercadao Municiple Market if I really wanted to eat and drink like a local – which of course was a no-brainer. An amazing recommendation! They wished me well on my journey and offered me a sun lounger for free along with 2-4-1 raspberry caipirinha cocktails. My smile could not have gotten any wider at this point.
Walk from Sunny Iles to South Beach via the Art Deco District
I had enough time to be leisurely so decided to walk my way down to South Beach taking in the stunning architecture of the art deco district, the glamor of private hotel pool parties that I SO wanted to join in, all the while dodging beautiful scantily clad men and women on roller blades. This is one hell of a sexy place!
When I arrived at the more populated South Beach I decided to indulge in a sunbathe and snooze on the beach before deciding where to eat on my way back. 2 bikini clad Spanish girls spotted me alone and asked if I wanted to join them, so I did. They were touring the States, loved my ‘London accent’ and offered me a plastic cup of their wine. Well, it would be rude to say no. And there in the blazing heat, feet in sand, looking out at the Atlantic we “salud”, strangers and friends all at once.
Meal in Ocean Drive restaurant with open-air DJ
With a couple of hours before I had to be back at the airport, it was time for food. I found a gorgeous beachfront restaurant to pull up a pew. Not overly expensive but classy enough to feel like a treat. ‘Dilido Beach Club’ (be careful how you read that) offered a laid back beach front table with funky beats playing through an amazing sound system and speakers dotted amongst the surrounding palm trees. I felt super cool at this point and ordered a beautiful lychee cocktail to match along with what I can only describe as the best salad I’ve ever eaten; roasted chick pea, black olive and feta – perfect for the climate and an absolute feast for the senses following 7 hours of American Airlines food!
While I digested and kicked back in the setting sun a resident D.J. fired up a live set on the lawn, the restaurants dinner guests started to arrive and I began to feel desperate to stay. With the warm air on my face, the internal glow of my cocktail and the sound of chilled house music over the ocean waves, I decided there and then that I would return.
I’d squeezed a lot in to my precious few hours in Miami but of course didn’t really scratch the surface. Me and my backpack were headed to a hostel in La Paz, Bolivia to start our south American adventure but wow, in just a single afternoon Miami had left me sun-kissed, heart warmed and wanting so, so much more.