A Casual Day in Miami

 Sunday, 1/6/08

We spent the entire day at the Miami Zoo, from 11:30 to 4:00.  Of course it’s been a while since I’ve gone to a zoo, but I remember this outing as one of my favorite zoo experiences.  It seemed like the animals didn’t look as caged… most were in moat-like surroundings where they couldn’t get out and we felt safe, but they weren’t behind barbed wires either.  We started off by wandering around the left side of the zoo for about 45 minutes before running through “Asia” to catch our assigned tram ride, which was included in our GO card admission.  It’s a 30-minute tram ride that gives you a tour of the breeding center, the animals that were taken away from the general zoo population to mate, the vet clinic for smaller ill or injured animals, and the incinerator where animals are cremated after they died.  Our guide gave us history on some of the animals we were going to see in the zoo as well, so it was a nice behind-the-scenes tour.

After the tram ride, we ate at the Oasis Gril and then took the Monorail to visit “Africa” and lastly took the Monorail back to the front before leaving.  I remembered that there was a lot of walking around, a need for lemon freeze because it was getting really hot, and being very tired at the end.

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We had several Cuban meals, so we wanted to see if we could find some good authentic Chinese food for dinner.  There is an area around NW 167th that has sort of a spreadout version of Chinatown.  We drove by several restaurants that we thought were more of the high-end style and finally ended up at King Palace Chinese Bar-B-Q Restaurant, my type of favorite Chinese restaurant where it’s not “that” expensive and features BBQ foods like pork and roast duck.  We got a combination BBQ platter that came to $16.95… quite expensive in San Francisco, but not bad for desperate Chinese food in Miami.  Along with the platter, we also to the Eight Precious Tofu Clay Pot, another one of my favorites.

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Afterwards, we decided to drive further down the road to buy some items at the KMART in North Miami.  EVERYONE spoke Spanish; it truly felt like we were in a different country!  Many of the employees didn’t speak English, but we were still able to get some help.  This was probably our least busy day, but we were tired… and it was time to return to the hotel.  Tomorrow would be our last full day in Miami.

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Speedwalkin’ through Miami’s Best

 

Saturday, 1/5/08, Miami 

Of course it didn’t help that we got a slow start in the morning… a nice and warm morning, I might add.  No more 55 degrees here!

First we went to the Vizcaya Museum and Garden.  This beautiful home was the winter retreat of industrialist James Deering who lived here in the 1910’s and 1920’s.  Due to the harsh weather, the grounds had deteriorated but were slowly remodeled over time.  The docent led us on a 45-minute tour of the home and gardens, talking about all the different rooms, the owners’ eccentric behavior as well as the intricateness of how the house was made. 

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There was a small coffee shop, but it didn’t sell any substantial food, although I was eyeing the popsicles.  Because we had two more attractions to go, we took some photos and quickly left to visit the Miami Science Museum and Planetarium.

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We were there for about two hours, but we could have stayed longer if we weren’t in a hurry – I’m ALWAYS in a hurry!  There was an exhibit showing dinosaur fossils collected in China.  I didn’t know there were dinosaurs in China!  To keep the children engaged, volunteer would stamp the kids’ brochures after they’ve walked around the exhibit and could answer questions asked to them. 

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Since there was no food here either, we went back towards our hotel and stopped off at Pollo Tropical.  We ate chicken and ribs, the combo mambo, which came with 3 rolls, and beans and rice.  It was actually quite good considering we didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into.

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After “lunch” we went to the Miami Seaquarium.  The “Seaquarium” part threw me off because I was expecting an aquarium like the Monterey Bay Aquarium, but what we got was “Sea World.” 

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We stayed until the last whale show and saw the fireworks show.  This was the last night for fireworks, and it was a very nice unplanned bonus to a wonderful day in Miami.

Wandering Around Miami

 

Friday, 1/4/08, Miami

We got ourselves up and ready around 9:50, and the hotel was still serving breakfast.  We had Belgian waffles which we made on our own, sausage patties, scrambled eggs and enjoyed that in our room along with the hardough bread and milk.  The hotel also had croissants, bagels, cereal, and hot cocoa that we didn’t indulge in.

Miami Children Museum

Our first stop was the Miami Children Museum.  There are various interactive exhibits as well as a rock climbing wall (extra charge of $3, but buy1, get 1 free with our special coupon that came with our Go Card). 

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Exhibits included one where we could play newsanchor or meterologist at a TV station and another where we learned about proper nutrition and dental hygiene.  We spent about three hours in the museum, which was enough time to look and play with all the exhibits.  There were several groups of children on field trips, so it took longer to go through the museum.

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There is a Subways inside the museum, but we didn’t eat there.  We drove to South Beach and ate at Puerto Sagua, one of the oldest Cuban restaurant in Miami. The service was brusque. We picked out a table as instructed by the posted sign but had to wait for a busser to clean up the table vacated by another party, and 10 minutes later, a server gave us the menus.  Another server took our orders.  We were starving because it was about 2:30 by now, and the bread was being baked, so that came with our entrees about 20 minutes later.We ordered three entrees:  a Spanish-style ground beef that came with rice, black beans, and fried plantains, roasted chicken with rick balck beans and fried plantains, and broiled salmon with rice and salad. 

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My favorite was the ground beef dish, even though it had an overabundance of green olives whose flavor overwhelmed the dish, but the sauce and ground beef went nicely with the rice.  The chicken was a little dry even though it was dark meat.

We walked around South Beach a little more before moving on to our next attraction, Jungle Island.  We were greeted by beautiful colorful parrots as we entered the park.  Basically, it’s a small zoo with large variety of animals such as ligers, orangutans, and reptiles.

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Afterwards, we went to take a boat tour in Biscayne Bay and saw many of the houses we already saw from the Duck Tour, except it was the nighttime version. 

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After our boat ride, we were really hungry, so we went to the mall where the boat docked and ate at their food court.

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We shared a couple of dishes and got a side dish of veggies because… that was the right thing to do.  After our late dinner… we watched all the places shut down… we returned to the hotel.