When I was a little girl I used to watch a TV programme called 'Gentle Ben', which was about a family who lived in the Everglades National Park, as the father was a park ranger. Every episode they would jump in their Air Boat and fly across the water/grass to save the day.
Ever since, I had dreamt of visiting the Everglades myself and seeing the 'sea of grass' first hand. So of course, this was top of my list of things to do on our trip to Miami, as the Everglades are only 40 miles from Miami Beach.
You can arrange a tour to the Everglades from Miami, or the other option is to hire a car (or drive your own of course). We hired a car for the day and headed off in excited anticipation. We made our way to highway 41 (aka the Tamiami Trail) which runs right along the edge of the National Park.
Our first stop was at Coopertown Air Boats where we got to get out into the Everglades - full information in the next tip.
Then we continued on to the Shark Valley visitors centre. It cost us 10 USD (per car) to enter. Here you can find out more information about the Park and get up close with some of its inhabitants. Only a few metres from the car park we saw several varieties of birds - including some nesting babies, with their parents fishing nearby.
Taking a short walk away from the centre, you can see lots of alligators sunning themselves on the edge of the swamp....some on the pedestrian footpath! At one stage a large alligator just walked right across the path in front of us....I was a little nervous to be so close to these large reptiles, but it was quite an experience.
From the visitors centre you can hire bikes to do a tour, or jump on the tram tour, which lasts for 2 hours and takes you on a trip deeper into the Everglades for some serious flora and fauna spotting.
The whole area is teaming with wildlife - even when driving down the highway we had to swerve to miss turtles, and I could see alligators in the waterway to one side of the road....maybe not the best place to stop for a roadside picnic!!
As I was saying in the previous tip, for as long as I can remember, I have dreamt of visiting the Everglades and seeing the 'sea of grass' first hand. So we headed along highway 41 in search of a place to do just this.
The first Air Boat place we came to was Coopertown, which claims to be the home of the 'original air boat tour'. I had read some good reviews on Coopertown prior to our trip, so we decided to see what they had on offer.
A friendly welcome came our way and we were told that we could take a ride in about 10 minutes time, as they were just setting up for the day. While we were waiting, we had a look at some of the resident alligators.
Then it was time, and Alex and I jumped on board a small Air Boat, along with 2 German tourists, and our friendly captain/guide. The large fan started up and I was very pleased to have bought my ear plugs as it is VERY loud. They supply you with cotton wool if required.
We started off slowly cruising along the swamp, birds taking off in our path, then we picked up speed as we came to the 'sea of grass' and before long we where skimming across the (water logged) grass at a great pace. After a while we slowed down again and entered a more swamp like area where we started some serious alligator spotting, along with turtles and numerous bird species.
We were lucky to see about a dozen alligators, including one big one that came right over to the boat to have a closer look at us. A couple of birds also hitched a ride with us for some parts of the trip.
We stopped at intervals, and the guide gave us lots of information about the Everglades and the flora and fauna around us. It was very informative and very interesting.
The ride lasted around 40 minutes, and at 18 USD each, I thought it was great value. It really was an amazing experience and I would highly recommend it to anyone.
Afterwards we got to hold a baby alligator - it was a lot softer than I imagined it would be, though I thought it wasn't wise to give it a kiss!
11 miles west of Florida Turnpike on U.S 41
You can go by Miami and South Beach by ignoring or not really getting a feel for the Latin community and culture. Which would be a big pitty. Miami is very much Latin. Not only Cuban anymore, but Argentine, Colombian, Venezuelan, just to mention a few.
So I suggest you enter one of the small Latin cafeterias on Washington Avenue, the one at number 1515 for example, which is quite nice and very much typical. Go there to have a coffee, a coke, a mango milkshake, or even better a typical and very cheap breakfast or snack, like a beef empanada, eggs, sandwiches, etc. I promise you won't regret it!
As we were walking around Lincoln Road trying to find a place to eat, we happen to notice this rooster at an outdoor cafe perched on a chair having a drink (water) on a hot sunny day!
Apparently he's a fixture in Miami Beach and was accompanied by his owner who was enjoying a lunch at an outdoor cafe.
Later on, as we were having our lunch, we caught a glimpse of the rooster perched on his owner's bicycle handle-bars riding along Lincoln Road. He looked like a stuffed animal, didn't even move, such a well behaved a"cock"It was quite interested to watch them going about their daily business.
The things you see in Miaimi Beach.
There are many things in Miami Beach that you really don't see anywhere else...and watching these men picking these coconuts right here on Ocean Drive one morning was quite bizarre to say the least.
There was a crowd around the group of men, one guy was up on the palm tree, the others were catching them in a net and another was putting them in shopping carts.
Only in Miami Beach folks, only in Miami Beach.
Miami Beach is South Floridas most historic and popular vacation spot. The Miami Beach real estate market is among the most active in the United States. The revival of Florida's premier oceanfront location has sparked unparralled real estate appreciation and Miami condo sales which continues as buidling locations are quickly running out.
South of 5th street, which is the most sought location on the beach, has seen the uprise of numerous breathtaking condominium buildings, offering the most prestegious living on Miami Beach. And this is where I stayed, at Murano at Portofino!
South Beach is the lower 1/3 of Miami Beach. Only about 30,000 people live here, mostly in pretty little Art Deco condos less than 4 stories tall. In 1980 the average age was 66, now it has dropped to 42. The real action takes place on Lincoln Road and Ocean Drive, each of which is packed with cafes, galleries, models, boutiques, artists, and portable phones.
And then there's ballet, movie houses, the symphony, artists' studios, trendy nightclubs and some of the most expensive hotels in the United States. It's urban, but tropical urban - the kind of place which has attracted the new economy entrepreneurs in software development, e-commerce, and entertainment.
With fares from New York well under $200, the connection between Miami Beach and the Big Apple never been easier. Like Manhattan, Miami Beach is a long, slender strip of land with water on both sides. Actually, Miami Beach is 25 islands each with its own character.
Some areas are more like Palm Beach, other feel more like Key West. This is one of the few areas of the world where condominiums sell from $50,000 to $5 million all within several blocks of each other. Houses range from $350,000 to $20 million all in the same zip code.
10 Reasons to buy Real Estate in Miami Beach: 1. Like few places in the world, we have international appeal. We are the playground for wealthy Europeans and the capital of the Latin world. Sophisticated New Yorkers consider this their annual winter playground.
10 Reasons to buy Real Estate in Miami Beach: 3. We live in the liveliest place in Florida. Miami Beach draws new residents from surrounding areas such as Coral Gables, Palm Beach and Boca Raton where there is little to do but grow old.
10 Reasons to buy Real Estate in Miami Beach: 10. Miami Beach is on a roll. Growth fuels more growth. Values here are much lower than New York and Palm Beach. No one can say current values are out of line. Indeed, all factors point upwards.
"Here in Miami, I've finally found what I was looking for: the center of my circle. I want to stay here and live out my time...forever." -Gianni Versace-
Gianni Versace purchased the building
in 1992 for $2.9 million. At 8:45am, on July 15th, 1997, Gianni Versace was returning home from a short walk to the News Café, where he purchased magazines. He walked up the steps to the front gate, he put the key in and was about to turn it, when Andrew Cunanan approached him. Versace was shot twice - once, point blank in the center of his face, the other in his neck. He fell to the steps, and landed on his right side. Today Peter Loftin is the owner of Casa Casuarina. He purchased the house from the Versace Estate in September 200, for approximately $19 million and has resided there from time to time.
It’s been several years ago of the passing of Gianni Versace, and as the years go on, less attention will be focused on his life and accomplishments. Sadly, Versace's contribution of style and glamour to our society will one day become nothing more than a footnote in fashion history. Such is the way of the world.