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