That feeling did not last long, however. The bus I was going to take almost straight to my hotel in Miami Beach was supposed to be there less than a half hour after I had arrived at the bus stop. At 50 minutes after it was supposed to arrive, I hopped onto a different bus to Miami Beach. I knew it would take a little longer, but at least I was moving. Then that bus broke down just 10 minutes from the airport. I waited with the other passengers for a while, thinking they would solve the issue but after a while I gave up and got out. The stop was between two used car dealerships and an auto repair shop, so it seemed a bit sketchy. I had to call three different cab companies because I kept getting “oh that’s not in our range, you need to call this number.” Finally, while on hold with the third company and in pretty deep frustration, I was able to hail a taxi. The driver was really nice and I got to see a bit of the city of Miami along the way, and I was quite happy sitting in the air-conditioned car while watching skyscrapers and palm trees, yachts and the blue waters of Biscayne Bay go by. I had him drop me off at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden, because I wanted to go there before it closed (it was now 4:30 and the garden closed at 5pm; to give you a better sense of my frustration, my plane landed at 1:30 and if I had taken a cab to start with I’d likely have been at my hotel by 2:30).
The botanical gardens were really pretty, and I got some nice pictures. They were a bit smaller than expected, but it was free and there were some nice statues, fountains, and beautiful tropical plants. There are pictures below to give you an idea.
I was quite happy when I finally got to my hotel, as it was air conditioned and I had an awesome view of the beach. After resting in the AC for a while I headed out to Espanola Way and Lincoln Road Mall for some pictures and shopping. Again, the area between the two seemed less than pedestrian-friendly and I was often the only one walking on the block, which seemed strange. Once it was starting to get dark I began the walk back to my hotel, and had to walk through all the tables on the street outside Ocean Drive restaurants, which was an experience in itself. Every place seems to have its own version of the giant margarita--often with two Coronas overturned in them, which seems disgusting to me--and all the customers, young and old, were having them. The walk back was interesting and not very fun, as I was tired and everyone was drunk. I was quite happy when I finally got back to the hotel.
Madison, a sorority sister who is also going to Cuba, came later that night when I’d been asleep for a couple of hours. We were up talking and realized we were starving, as we’d both eaten almost nothing that day with all the airport layovers and excitement. We didn’t exactly want to go outside to the madness, as we could hear the music, blowhorns, and whooping people from our room, and realized that since it was South Beach, we could order pizza to our hotel room at 2am. Which we did, from Pizza Rustica, and it was somehow cheap, delicious, came quickly AND very large. Afterwards we finally went to sleep.