MIAMI DAY 2 - NEW YEARS EVE
After a long day we got to sleep early last evening. We enjoyed breakfast at the Club Lounge. The food is not as extensive as a Ritz Carlton Club Floor Lounge but for us it does not matter as we keep breakfast simple. We each had cereal, a banana and Keith had some fresh melon.
After breakfast we went on the first of two long walks. In total, we walked close to twelve miles and as they say the night is still young.
We walked from the hotel via Bayside Park over to American Airlines Arena, over the bridge leading into the Port Of Miami and then all the way over to Terminal A. A big New Years Event is planned at Bayside Park and a large stage has been set up there. Four ships were in port; Celebrity Reflection, two Carnival Ships and the Norwegian Escape. We walked from the Port over to Bayside where we purchased a couple of items for Keith. From there we walked over to Whole Foods where we picked up salad entrees and took them back to the hotel for lunch.
The weather was a delight. We started off in light jackets but removed them after about 30 minutes. The temperature ranged between the mid and high 70's with a light breeze from time-to-time. Many people were out and about.
The first photo is of the Grand Luxe. For the past few years we would see it in Miami on New Years Eve and this evening they will take people out on a dinner cruise. It also was designed to showcase art work and will visit different places along the Florida Coast througout the year.
After lunch, we took another walk. We walked over to the island where the Mandarin Oriental Hotel is located and walked all around the area with views of Biscayne Bay and the Port Of Miami and buildings including our own hotel. Lots of people were out and about enjoying the delightful weather.
We have stayed in Miami since 2007 when we sailed the 2007 Crystal Serenity World Cruise. Prior cruises we sailed from Southern Florida began in Fort Lauderdale.
Our impression of Miami was not good prior to that 2007 stay. This dated back to driving around the city in the early 1980's. In 2007, downtown Miami was in the middle of a major transformation. Cranes were everywhere and new construction was comparable to nowhere but to Dubai, UAE. Streets and sidewalks were closed making walking and driving difficult. Small buildings were being replaced with tall buildings. There were areas near the Four Seasons hotel we would not dare walk at night due to concerns about crime and safety. By late 2008 with the economic collapse, construction pretty much ceased. Newly constructed buidings remained unoccupied following the collapse.
Succeeding years brought much improvement to the area. Demand increased for condominiums, offices and hotels. New restaurants opened. Vacant buildings were filled. In time, new construction started up but not at the pace we witnessed in 2007. Other areas improved such as South Beach. With each passing year we saw less issues that would concern us from a safety perpsecive. We would now walk areas at night that just a few years we would avoid. This included walking between the Four Seasons Hotel and the American Airlines Centre. We consider ourselves street smart and would never do anything foolish. We keep aware of our surroundings and know where and where not to walk. The same would apply to cities all around the world. If in doubt, we don't do it.
Our last stay in Miami was for eight days in December 2014 prior to boarding Serenity for what would be our longest time on board of over five months. While not at the level we saw in 2007, construction was active with lots of cranes around the downtown area. Signs were located in various areas noting new construction plans.
During yesterday's and today's walks we saw first-hand the result of the construction. In only two years there are several new condominums offices, a new shopping mall, new restaurants and new hotels. For those looking for shopping during a stay in downtown Miami it is available with the new Brickell Village Centre located right near Mary Brickell Village. Considering it only opened two months ago we were amazed at how many stores are open for business with other stores and restaurant opening soon. Other nearby establishments are complete or in the final stages of completion in the immediate area with more starting soon. The area is safer then ever.
This evening we will dine at a nearby restaurant to ring in the New Year and will post about that tomorrow. In the meantime we would like to wish each of you a very safe, health and happy New Year's Eve and New Years Day.
To sum up our day, we enjoyed a pleasant day in Miami.
We both love to walk and that is exactly what we did. Actually walking gives Keith a break from his weekly exercise activities. During the week Keith teaches three indoor cycling classes and takes five to seven other cycle classes. This past week was even busier as Keith also subbed and taught four other classes including one cycle class, two senior bootcamp classes and one sculpt and cycle class and very much loves to teach.
There is an irony to all of this. Shortly after indoor cycling was first offered at our nearby Fitness Center that had just opened several years ago, a friend urged Keith to take a cycling class. Each day for close to two weeks she would say to Keith "try it you will like it" and Keith would kindly respond saying "thank you I will do this sometime soon" but that really meant thank you but no thank you. After two weeks of encouragement (some prodding too) Keith gave it a try and the rest is history. The irony is that if he hadn't taken that class he would not have discovered how much he enjoyed this form of group exercise. He likley would never have become a certified instructor.
Our first stay in Miami and Keith taking an indoor cycling class reminds us to be open to new opportunities and that you are never too old to try new things.
In 2007 if we didn't first stay in Miami because the Crystal Serenity was leaving out of that port we might never have experienced Miami and discovered how much we enjoy the city.
Strictly speaking as a tourist, we do prefer Miami over Fort Lauderdale with all due respect to the locals. It might have been due to the weather but when we stayed in Fort Lauderdale for the first time in many years in January of 2016 it reminded us of how much we enjoy Miami over Fort Lauderdale. Again, this is from a tourist perspective.
We will close with:
TODAY'S THOUGHT FOR THE DAY.....
It is human nature to be reluctant to change. If not for Crystal Serenity leaving Miami in 2007, we may never have spent time in Miami year-after-year. Instead we might continue staying in Fort Lauderdale. We have come to love Miami. For us it is not New York City or San Francisco, but it is a vibrant, and cosmopolitan city that we see getting better with each passing year. This is one of many examples that we can point to about the benefits of change. Change allows us to try new things and often we find it allows us to experience something new and something very enjoyable.
Happy New Year,
Keith & Anne Marie
DAY-1 MIAMI - WE'VE ARRIVED
Even though we stayed at an airport hotel we still got to sleep early in the evening with an early flight in-mind. It turned out that this is either the most sound proof airport hotel we have stayed at or there was not a single flight in or out of the airport.
Our stay at the hotel worked well for us and we made a wise decision to stay there. We plan to do this again on one of the trips we have planned for next year that also involves an early flight time.
Although the hotel is located on the property of the airport, even for us it is not walkable to the airport terminal with luggage in-hand as there is no pedestrian walkway. Fortunately, there is a 24 hour shuttle which runs every twenty minutes to the airport and the drive is two minutes.
When we arrived to the airport we checked in for the flight. We both have Global Entry which includes TSA Pre Approv so getting through security was a breeze. Besides a short line, we appreciate not having to remove shoes, jackets and a belt (Keith). With that said, to us security and safety is the number one priority so we are happy to comply with the TSA requirements. We waited a few minutes in the airport terminal until the airline lounge opened.
The flight was uneventful and well worth an early departure as it was a direct flight over to Miami. We passed the time between breakfast, reading and conversation. We flew American Airlines and other then our flight to Vancouver in August we have had very good flights. Aircrafts are relatively new, and the flight attendants have been very friendly and helpful.
This was one of those days where everything about the flight went well.
We left on time.
We arrived a few minutes early.
Keith has wanted to see the movie Ben Hur. It was one of several movies available on the flight. The movie ended five minutes before we landed. Keith thought that the ending of the movie was more positive then the original Ben Hur movie.
We were one of the first off the plane and no more then five minutes after we arrived to the bagggage carrousel we had our luggage in hand.
Shortly before take-off we received notification from the hotel that our room was ready for an early check-in.
Upon arrival to the Miami International Airport, we collected our luggage and were driven to the hotel where we will spend the next four nights. Since our first stay in Miami in 2007, we regulary stay at the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Miami.
We decided to change things up this time. We considered other downtown hotels and ones in South Beach before deciding to stay at the Epic Hotel. Ever since it was built, we would pass this hotel on our many walks of Miami. The hotel is located within a ten-minute drive of the Port Of Miami. The Epic Hotel and its residence condominium was constructed on land that had been home to the DuPont Plaza Hotel.
The hotel has over 400 guestrooms and suites and while on the larger side is considered a boutique hotel. It provides excellent views of Biscayne Bay. We booked a suite on Concierge Level located on the 29th floor. We will be sure to share our impressions of the hotel.
We kept lunch very simple. We walked over to the Whole Foods which is located within a five minute walk of the hotel. When we were in Miami in December of 2014 this Whole Food Store was close to opening for business. It is quite nice. We bought salads and brought them back to the room to enjoy. We spent the next couple of hours getting settled in the room including unpacking.
After we were all settled we went on a nice walk. We walked all around the downtown area and then we headed to the very new Brickell Centre City Mall. This mall just opened two months ago. When we were last here in December of 2014, construction had just begun. We could not believe how many stores had already opened their doors with many more to come. Afterwards, we had dinner at Perricone's. We have been dining there since 2007. It is an Italian Restaurant with a very unique interior and it has the feel and look of a small town restaurant. While tourists dine there they have a following of many locals. If we lived in the area we would come here often. After dinner we enjoyed a very leisurely walk around the city. We do love Miami and are thrilled to be here once again.
Today's Thought For The Day......
We are often asked what is our favorite land trip and/or cruise. Our answer is the one we are presently on. We expect this to apply to our current adventure.
Keith & Anne Marie
LET THE ADVENTURE BEGIN
Our adventure is underway. We were picked up by a private vehicle and taken to an area airport hotel for our overnight stay. With a flight planned for very early tomorrow morning we chose the convenience of staying at an area airport hotel over being picked up in the very early hours of the morning.
The drive to the airport was easy as there was far less traffic on the highway then normal. We had a pleasant driver who we learned is also a realtor. He actually has picked up new clients by driving which is one of the reasons he works this second job.
We were able to check into our room upon arrival to the Hotel. This is a very slow week at the hotel given that they attract mainly business customers.
We had dinner at the hotel and have included some photos from dinner. We ended up ordering the same items including salad, entree and even the sides. Smart minds think alike? LOL. This included; Spinach Salad, Salmon Sides of Steamed Vegetables and Zucchini & Squash.
You will see that Anne Marie has her Crystal Society Tote Bag with her.
We hope to get a good night's sleep before we travel to Southern Florida.
Today We Are Pleased To Share Two Thoughts For The Day.......
From time-to-time a spouse will die within hours or a day or two of their own spouse's passing. Similarly, Debbie Reynolds has passed only a day after her own daughter's death. Many believe it is due to a "broken heart". We believe that. May Mother and Daughter Rest In Peace. Throughout their careers they touched the lives of many throughout the world.
The two of us have enjoyed travel from the moment we met. Regardless of the length of the trip or its distance we love to travel.
It's time. Let the adventure begin.
Keith & Anne Marie
FLORIDA - WE'RE READY TO GO
We are ready to begin another adventure.
Our packing is pretty much complete other then a few last minute items.
Cruise Documents arrived over one month ago.
We will be staying over at an airport hotel since we have an early morning flight the following morning and plan to post from the hotel.
A big thank you to our amazing travel specialist, Gerri and her assistants for the time, and effort they have put into our cruise. We also want to extend our thanks and appreciation for the leadership provided by the head of the agency, Mary Jean, who like Gerri and ourselves is passionate about travel and discovery.
Today's Thought For The Day.......
As year 2016 comes to a close, various well-known public figures have passed. Some were much too young to leave us.
Since none of us knows precisely when our own final chapter will be written, we are reminded of the importance of not putting off until tomorrow those thngs we can do today, and to make each day count as if it is our last.
Keith & Anne Marie
CRYSTAL SERENITY - HERE WE COME
Welcome to our Yucatan Discovery Blog.
Our trip begins with a four-night pre-cruise stay in Miami. Since 2007, we have enjoyed several memorable stays in Miami before boarding Crystal Serenity.
We do enjoy the international flavor and vibrancy of Miami and we find this city easy to navigate by foot.
On January 3, 2017 we board Crystal Serenity for a seven day Caribbean Cruise. We chose this cruise because it fit our schedule of a short travel window in January.
Ironically, the itinerary is similar to one we sailed on the Silversea Spirit in January of 2016. The major difference is beginning/ending our upcoming cruise in Miami rather then Fort Lauderdale.
Friends Anne and Larry who we have known for almost 25 years are joining us for the cruise portion of this trip. We enjoyed lunch together almost one year ago in Fort Lauderdale before our January, 2016 cruise.
Our itinerary follows.
LOCATION ARRIVAL DEPARTURE
01/03 Miami 7:00 PM
01/05 Cozumel 7:00 AM 5:00 PM
01/06 Belize City 8:00 AM 6:00 PM
01/07 Costa Maya 8:00 AM 5:00 PM
01/09 Key West 8:00 AM 6:00 PM
01/10 Miami 8:00 AM
We have included a short video for your viewing pleasure.
TODAY'S THOUGHT FOR THE DAY:
We love to travel and are grateful for the opportunity to visit locations around the world. Whether you travel a few miles or thousands of miles there is much to discover. In our early years of marriage we never would have imagined that we would travel as much as we have. Whether you travel a few miles or thousands of miles there is much to discover.
The key is to open your eyes, keep an open mind, focus on both small and large details, take the time to smell the roses, don't pre-judge others or what you are about to see, and look closely at all that is literally in front of your nose and all around you.
Stay tuned for posts througout our adventure.......
Keith & Anne Marie