All great things must come to an end, and this morning, we had to say goodbye to three of our KORKZcrew members. Will is headed back to Melbourne, Australia to see his family for the first time in several years, as he was unable to enter the country until now due to the pandemic. They have NO idea he's coming, and it will be the most amazing surprise. Whitney is on her way back to Wilmington, where she'll stay at our house and continue growing her online digital marketing business. And Greta decided it would be smart for her to skip the passage to the Bahamas, especially with the uncertainty around the omicron variant and potential border closings. She'll begin her spring semester at UNC in early January, and didn't want to risk not being able to get back in time. I think she's making the right call, but selfishly, I'll miss her, and hate that she'll miss the experience of crossing the Gulf Stream and getting to the Bahamas for the first time on KORKZcrew.
One thing we have to accomplish before leaving for the Bahamas is getting a (hopefully) negative covid test, which is free even for non-Miami residents. We'd visited one nearby testing site with Will the day before and knew it was an easy trek by the MetroMover (much to Skeet's delight) to get there. Made the plan to arrive right when the testing site opened at 8:00 am, and it appeared that the rest of the Miami population had had the same idea, but had probably arrived 30 minutes earlier, because the line was wrapped around the block. Scrapped that idea, and while Ron and Skeet went to West Marine for supplies, I headed back to the marina.
After Ron and Skeet got back to the boat, we decided to take an Uber to South Beach for lunch, which is about a 20-minute ride from downtown, and worth the trip just for the scenery. Very cool to drive by the FTX Arena, home to the Miami Heat, and passed other architecturally interesting buildings downtown. We went by cruise ships the size of large buildings that are truly amazing to look at, but still give me ZERO desire to ever try a vacation on one of them. I especially cannot fathom the idea during a global pandemic but what do I know.
I'm embarrassed to say that along with having never previously been to South Beach, I also had NO idea it was a mecca for lovers of Art Deco, which is one of my favorite architectural styles. Pretty sure my jaw never left the floor. Until I had to use it (darn!) to eat lunch. Ron had somewhat arbitrarily picked a spot for Uber to let us off, which happened to be a pretty delicious place to get a cuban sandwich, another first. Cannot BELIEVE what I've been missing! This is a restaurant called Havana 1957, and it was absolutely delicious from start (stuffed green plantains tostones rellenos) — to finish — the Cubano: A Cuban classic served with ham, roasted pork, swiss cheese, pickles and mustard. Served in a perfectly pressed Cuban bread. YUM!!!
We sat outside, but the inside has tons of character and would've been a great spot to sit as well.
After lunch, we did nothing but walk, walk, walk, and it was hard to take it all in. Just building after building after building of beautiful architecture. It was an absolute feast for the eyeballs:
I'll save a few of my favorites for last. First is The Clevelander Hotel. I'm super partial to it and it's all Ron's fault. 😜He's turned me into a Dan LeBatard devotée over the last several years, starting with his ESPN show "Highly Questionnable" we'd record every week day afternoon and watch religiously every night after dinner. While I love sports, I wouldn't call myself a sports fanatic, but this show was about so much more than that. (And I use the past tense not only because Dan is no longer the host — the show actually lived on for a bit following his departure — but also because it ended in September of last year.) His adorable Dad, Gonzalo "Papi" LeBatard often stole the show. From The Athletic.com: "Gonzalo Le Batard became a cult sports hero — the delightful, comical, sincere version of himself — by introducing to America’s afternoon audience the side of his personality often only seen by his children. He is Papi to the world of sports entertainment, where, for nearly a decade, he was the unanticipated star of ESPN’s highly meta, highly quirky 'Highly Questionable' show alongside his son, Dan." The show was broadcast from The Clevelander Hotel, which now explains an entire too-long paragraph later why I had such an affinity for the location. Now Dan and his sidekick Stugotz still share their unique perspectives on sports and pop culture through their podcast, The Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz, still being broadcast from The Clevelander, and still being followed by yours truly and Ron. Take a listen, and you'll see why we both believe Dan is a special breed of human. ❤️
That waitress by the pool was on stilts!😳
Another favorite building we saw today was this INCREDIBLE Walgreens. Who knew a drug store could live inside such an architecturally interesting structure. Here's a fascinating article about its history.
Last but not least was this cool building we saw as we walked a little farther away from the waterfront. I can't for the life of me find out its name, but if anyone out there knows, please share it in the comments section. How about those cool puffy clouds hanging overhead? Bet they light up at night!
Actually I lied . . . there's one more I'd like to share that we saw on the way to and from South Beach. This funky cube right on the water near the Port.
I guess that's enough architecture for one day, so I'll leave you guys alone. Steve is pretty pooped out, and I'm betting you are, too.