The slight downside to seeking out “Skottland“ was that in order to make our flights work for our next GUAG adventure in Colombia, we had to get on a bus at 4:30am to take the six hour trip from Golfito to San Jose…on my birthday : (
Ammends were promised to be made though with a four day stop in Florida. As crazy as it sounds, it’s actually cheaper to fly to Cartagena, Colombia from Fort Lauderdale, Florida rather than Panama City (which is basically next door) or San Jose, Costa Rica. In our year abroad we’ve spent less than 12 hours in the US when we had an overnight touchdown in NYC so the idea of a few creature comforts was intriguing. Additionally, we had recently spent about a month in Boquete, Panama…a very beautiful place, but the cooler weather just didn’t quite make it feel like summer. I was so excited to be on the beach and enjoy a few days of summer in the good old USA that the 6 hour bus ride was a cinch. (Plus I still did get spoiled when we arrived in San Jose with balloons and a chocolate birthday cake).
The first thing that we noticed after arriving in Fort Lauderdale was how easy it is traveling in a culture you’re familiar with and operating in 100% English. We laughed at ourselves when we went out for supper on our first night because we were both amazed at how easy it was to get a table and ask questions about the menu. Then we laughed again when we realized that we were in shock when we saw the prices. We had chosen the 15th Ave. Fisheries right on the water for dinner and actually, as far as US prices go it was really reasonable, but compared to the cheap fare we’ve enjoyed in Guatemala and Vietnam it was a much bigger hit on the wallet. I guess a small dose of reality probably isn’t a bad thing as we will eventually have to reinstate ourselves into North American life sometime this year.
We had read a travel blog that compared Fort Lauderdale to “Betty” from the Archie Comics and Miami to “Veronica”. Basically the idea was that Fort Lauderdale, with it’s canals full of fancy yachts, was the preppy, girl next door city while Miami, with it’s infamous stretch of beach side party spots, was hot, sultry and rich. We figured we better check this out for ourselves so we spent our first beach day on Fort Lauderdale Beach, strolling along the strip tor a mile and a half as we stopped for a dip in the water anytime it got too hot. I have to say, I’ve been really lucky to see some amazing beaches on this trip…the most notable being Gilli Islands in Indonesia and Kho Phangan in Thailand, so I’m a little spoiled, but Florida’s waters were AMAZING. Nice clean white sand and turquoise waters at about room temp awaited us and the only reason to ever get out of the water was to have a snooze in the sand. Delightful!
The next day we took the 2 hour bus ride to Miami’s Lincoln Ave, a famous strip for shopping but more importantly for us, it links up to South Beach. Probably the most “colourful” part of the day was the time spent on the bus…I had forgotten how many “characters” use public transportation in big cities. We particularly enjoyed a lady who asked every man who got on the bus whether they were a pilot.
South Beach Miami was a pretty happening place. The beach was busy and the street just up from the beach was full of restaurants offering a $20 margarita the size of a 2L ice cream bucket. Scantily clad women strolled the streets selling freshly rolled cuban cigars and many a high rollin’ vehicle sped down just to show off. I think the comparison of Miami to Veronica was spot on. I can only imagine what this place would have looked like as the sunset…but we were ready to head back to Betty by then.
Our last day in Fort Lauderdale was a blast as we got a chance to hang out with fellow RTW travelers, Danny and Jillian. We toured Las Olas Blvd and Hollywood Beach together and couldn’t ask them enough questions about their 21 month adventure. We enjoyed sharing our stories of all the tales fellow travlers understand…long, hot bus rides…exotic food…bad guts…”favourite places”. All that good stuff!!
I must say that the icing on the cake of my birthday week was our stop at Jaxson’s Ice Cream Parlor with Danny and Jillian. This is a 56 year old establishment that you just have to see to fully appreciate. The walls are completely covered in license plates from all over North America, and every hokey thing you could imagine for decoration is found in every nook and cranny of the place. And the ice cream is phenomenal!! We split a giant Sunday of mint chip, cookie dough and peanut butter ice cream with hot fudge, whip cream and nuts. Unbelievable!!
Between the beaches, the amazing weather, the ice cream and the great times with Jill and Danny, time flew and before I knew it “birthday week” was over. I think 28 is going to be an amazing year!! Looks like I’ll be starting it in Colombia!!