As we prepare for our impending move to Riga, Latvia, I’ve been trying to spend quality time with my friends and family. We’ve happily hosted some here in Washington, DC, but I’ve also been gallivanting up and down the east coast. Last weekend I visited a friend in Pennsylvania and went with her to the botanical wonderland that is Longwood Gardens. But I’ll have to tell you about that trip at a later date since I didn’t have time to edit my photos before jetting down to Florida to see another friend. Even as I write this, I’m packing once again – this time for a last hurrah in New York City.
While these trips are more about nurturing friendships than taking a holiday, it certainly doesn’t hurt that my pals happen to live in some pretty great places. Miami Beach, Florida, for example. I was greeted with temps in the upper 80s, blue skies and sand so white it was positively gleaming. Florida is nicknamed the Sunshine State for a reason! The water, an impossibly pretty shade of turquoise, is blissfully warm even though it’s just the beginning of May.
I stayed at the Collins Hotel, mostly because of its proximity to my friend’s apartment and affordable price. The lovely pool was just a bonus. My room was clean and functional, which was all I needed given how little time I spent inside. The more expensive hotels may provide an airport shuttle, but that is an unnecessary luxury since the Miami Flyer public express bus (#150) services Miami Beach and costs just $2.65 each way.
The Collins Hotel is located across the street from the beach, though public access is just two blocks away via a palm tree-filled park. A paved walkway runs between the ocean-front resorts and the sand. It’s lined with lush vegetation, but there is very little shade; that doesn’t stop dedicated locals from running its length in the mid-day heat. Dogs technically aren’t allowed on the beach, though you are sure to see some very happy pups frolicking in the surf during the morning and evening hours.
There are food options aplenty in Miami Beach and fortunately my friend had already identified the best. The first night I enjoyed a scrumptious seafood risotto at a fabulous old-school Italian restaurant near her apartment. The burgundy walls of the restaurant were bedecked with signed photos of the celebrities who had dined there. One of said celebrities (sadly, unrecognizable to me) caused quite a sensation when she walked in and was seated at the table next to ours.
The next night, we visited the neighborhood Mexican restaurant and were treated to guacamole prepared table-side by a distractingly handsome young man. The tacos al pastor and pomegranate margarita were pretty good too. Ahem. I was on my own for lunch one afternoon and made my way to the Cuban food stand across the street from my hotel. Apparently the locals line up for coffee there every morning which means it’s legit. My handmade Cuban sandwich, loaded with pork, ham, cheese, mustard and pickles, was certainly delicious. Not pictured are the croque madame, eggs benny and Nutella croissant (!) I enjoyed on three separate visits to the local French cafe. Friends don’t let friends go hungry.
Where’s the nicest place you’ve gone to visit a friend?