Today, we returned from our vacation to Miami and Key West. Because our Baltic cruise later in the year is a little longer in duration than normal, we decided our spring trip would be a little smaller in scale. So, we found cheap flights to south Florida and paid for all of the hotel nights except for one using points. Since the cruise in September would not be in beach type weather, this trip was intended to be half beach vacation. Here was our itinerary:
- 04/18 – Flight to Fort Lauderdale: We flew down to Fort Lauderdale. Right after clearing security in Nashville, we saw a restored American Airlines DC-3 (Flagship Detroit). A group of people surrounded it and later took off for a short flight around town. Anyway, after arriving in Fort Lauderdale we drove down to Miami to our hotel.
- 04/19 – Miami: We spent the morning in Everglades National Park. Within about 15 minutes of arrival at the first stop in the park we saw a soft shell turtle killed by an alligator. A ranger was standing there explaining to a group of kids that the turtle had just laid some eggs. The turtle then started walking back to the water, which happened to be too close to a nearby alligator. And thus ended the life of the turtle. It was cool to see the variety of wildlife in the park. In the afternoon, we went to the south end of Haulover beach. I mention the south end specifically, because if you go to the north end you’ll see more than you bargained for! Anyway, since there was a red flag warning with very rough surf & rip currents, we just lounged on the beach without getting in the water.
- 04/20 – Key West: We left our hotel in Miami and drove down the Keys on the Overseas Highway. We arrived in Key West just before lunch. After having a look around Mallory Square (and dodging the free-range chickens), we had lunch on Duval Street. After lunch, we toured the Truman Little White House & Key West Lighthouse. Then, after a quick stop by the southernmost point buoy, we toured the Ernest Hemingway House. Once the residence of Hemingway, it is still the home to the many descendants of a six-toed cat given to him as a gift.
- 04/21 – Key West & Marathon: Our first stop was Fort Zachary Taylor. We explored the fortress for a while and then went to the nearby beach. The beach was a little too rocky, so we just headed to the next planned destination. We drove back up the Keys towards Marathon. We stopped briefly at the Seven Mile Bridge overlook before eating in Marathon. After lunch, we spent the afternoon at Sombrero beach. The beach and surrounding park area was very nice. Although, the weather was cloudy and cool, so the water was a bit too nippy to get in.
- 04/22 – Miami: We spent the morning in Biscayne National Park. We took a boat tour from the park headquarters across Biscayne Bay past Elliott Key and stopping at Boca Chita Key. We saw a lot of wildlife (mostly birds). During our hour long stop on Boca Chita Key, we explored the lighthouse as well as other parts of the island. In the afternoon, we tried to visit the Cape Florida Lighthouse, but it was closed by the time we got there. So, we finished the day at the Crandon Park Beach. The beach itself was large and nice, but there was too much vegetation in the water to bother swimming (not that the weather allowed it anyway).
- 04/23 – Miami: We started the day by visiting the Ancient Spanish Monastery (St. Bernard de Clairvaux Church). The monastery has an interesting history in that it was originally built in Spain in the 12th century. In the 20th century it was purchased by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, dismantled, and shipped to the US to be eventually reassembled in North Miami Beach, where it is now an Episcopal church and tourist attraction. The skies opened up to a downpour of rain right before we were done at the monastery, so we waited about 45 minutes inside before getting drenched running to the car. After drying out a little during lunch, we went to South Beach. Yet again, there were red flag warnings and rough surf. We only spent about 15-30 minutes there before it began to rain again. On the way to and from South Beach, we saw Norwegian Getaway docked in the Port of Miami. Getaway is the ship we will be taking in September on our Baltic cruise. It was starting its last Caribbean cruise before making the transatlantic voyage towards the Baltic.
- 04/24 – Return flight to Nashville: We returned our rental car and flew back to Nashville.
Even though the weather and surf conditions made the beach parts of the trip mostly a bust, we still had a nice relaxing time. I’ll post the pictures to my Flickr after I have finished with them.