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South Beach

Vacation at last. Like many, I’ve been hold up (for me, that meant lots of time spent writing) waiting for a vaccine and the all-clear to safely travel again. I had enough airline credit from canceled trips to take three of us to Miami for a long weekend (with credit to spare), and boy was it ever glorious.

The minute bags were stowed in our room, two of us hit the beach. One stayed back to finish a virtual college assignment. Despite our late arrival and the fact it was already dark thanks to a two-hour baggage claim delay (thank you, tropical storm Claudette), the night was superb.

The late luggage and lost study night were the only two hiccups in what turned out to be a vacation sprinkled with magic fairy dust. For starters, the minute we checked into our hotel we were asked if we would like an upgraded room on a high floor, city view with a balcony? We answered in a resounding yes. This view belonged to us during our stay:

While college son worked, two of us dined on the hotel terrace. We decided to be adventurous and try their octopus appetizer. As it turned out, the dish was gluten free, so I could partake (a rare treat). The octopus was tasty in small doses. Get too much and the consistency was a turn-off for both of us. We both agreed the potatoes were probably the best part of the dish, and it was fun to be out and about, trying something new.

By morning, college boy was up early and ready to go. First stop, breakfast. We hoofed the couple of blocks to a highly rated spot my daughter found, and it proved well worth the walk in the heat. The picture below might look like a sundae but those white scoops that resemble ice cream were the best Greek yogurt I’ve ever tasted. The fruit couldn’t have been fresher. My meal was rounded off by an equally amazing dirty chai latte, iced. They had the kind with cinnamon on top that was served in a mason jar. Fancy.

After the meal, we made the short trek back to the hotel. We’d found out right before the trip that my daughter’s best friend (since third grade) and her family were going to be staying two hotels down (how’s that for magic fairy dust?). So, we sunblocked until all three of us looked pasty and made the trek to their hotel pool where we’d agreed to meet. There was, of course, and outdoor bar where I got to try a new drink, Black Crush. Blackberries were crushed in the bottom of a glass. Vodka and champagne were then added along with something else I can’t remember, which probably meant it was a very good drink or I was so busy socializing that I missed that part. The drink was refreshing and tasty, and best sipped by continuing to add ice to draw out the experience. I’m one and done when it comes to alcoholic beverages, especially midday. Six of us headed to the beach while my friend’s husband stayed back to lounge at the pool. The blue skies, white sand, and clear as glass water were just perfect. We jumped waves for a couple of hours. Then, headed back to the pool to meet up with my friend’s husband.

Our friends treated us to a late lunch where we ate street food. Again, the couple of block walk in the heat was well worth the meal. I had a Greek Salad that had the freshest, most flavorful vegetables. It was so large I boxed it up and took almost half of it back to the hotel with me. We said our goodbyes hoping to see each other again before we flew home (they were staying a week whereas we were a short four days, including travel days).

After showers and a nice rest in the upgraded room on the 17th floor, we dressed for dinner. My daughter was sunburned despite two rounds of sunblock during the day, so she requested we bring something back for her. We got aloe from a local store and pizza (which was amazing) from the terrace restaurant. College son and I ate at the bar to be close in case she needed us. After a short nap, she felt better. She dressed and had dessert downstairs with us before we set off exploring. Miami comes alive at night. A block away there was a row of outdoor restaurants and more lights strung than we could count.

A little shopping for John rounded out the evening. He stayed at home to care for our older dog who has been struggling with an injury and declining health. John will grab our college son in a few weeks for his turn to be on vacation while I stay with our sweet Shaq. We wanted one of us to always be at home with him this summer.

The next day we were up early for watersports, which turned out to be too windy for kayaks or paddleboards. We spent two sessions of wave jumping after a thunderstorm sent us inside midday for lunch. We stuck to our beach and enjoyed family time. Dinner that night was at Avalon on Ocean Drive (a walk down Memory Lane for me). This was the restaurant John and I had our first anniversary dinner more than twenty years ago. I wore the bracelet he gave me on that trip as a way to have him with us.

The place was still highly rated for its seafood and didn’t disappoint. Twenty-two-year-old college son enjoyed his first martini (just like Bond). After dinner, a second (and quick) round of shopping to go back to buy the shirt the kids had found for their dad rounded out the evening. We were full (and exhausted from a full day at the beach day). We headed back to the hotel:

Packing didn’t take long as we were already heading home the next morning. But the magic fairy dust wasn’t finished with us quite yet. As I checked in for our flight, the airline asked if we would like an upgrade (the cost was almost nothing). We rounded out the trip in first class for the ride home. The magic didn’t end there. This plane was normally used for international trips, so instead of the usual nice loungers in first class, we had our own private pods with room to stretch out our legs (not always easy for my 6’2” son) and generous-sized TVs.

I picked up a salad before boarding since there would only be snacks available. They did serve drinks and a lovely cheese tray. I almost had more room than I knew what to do with, which I never thought I’d say about air travel.

The seat laid all the way down flat (I checked). There were more compartments and buttons in my pod than I’d ever seen on an airplane, which was fun to explore. The trip home was relaxing.

But I missed John and the dogs, and the three of us had had more than enough sun. A few days away ended up being just the right amount of time to recharge. And the fairy dust made our vacation magical.

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