Miami has an amazingly diverse population and really is such a unique city that in some parts of town, it's hard to believe you're really in America. I was able to visit the tropical, palm tree bearing, cuban-inspired community of Miami, Florida just this past December during my Winter Break. And I loved it.
It wasn't even just the warm weather or the oceans and skies, vast and blue. Not the calming walks or even the hours spent in Lummus Park under the sun in the refreshing winds, although all those things were definitely highlights of our trip. Often, people tend to forget that the whole point of a vacation is literally to "be unoccupied" by definition and to re-energize yourself by visiting a new place- staying at home can get pretty stale. I, myself, have forgotten this before and packed my day with visiting touristy spots which are "must-see's," and while these places are great, it's no fun when you're tired (though I have found that if you plan your day out around a mid-afternoon nap, everything tends to work out pretty well)! It was this that made Miami wonderful- we all made sure to enjoy what we did and spend our time immersing ourselves in the whole "vibe" of the city.
To be honest, there really isn't a ton to see in Miami, but I think that contributes to making it a truly relaxing vacation. I spent hours under the palm trees on the infamous Ocean Drive, only getting up to buy some cool Haagen-Dazs ice cream to de-stress even more. If you really want to get crazy in Miami, you sure can, but we were all about just unwinding and seeing the place.
The entire street of Ocean Drive is filled with retro hotels and restaurants that make you feel as if you've been placed into another era, and this architectural style is called "Art Deco." Introduced in the 1920-30's with bold, vibrant colors, and precise geometric shapes, it's also the namesake for Miami's Art Deco District, where you can relive the glitz and glam of a bygone era. Walking around these century-old buildings, you feel like you're in a happening place of Old Hollywood, especially when the sun goes down and the neon lights can really shine bright- this is another cultural element of Miami that goes unmatched.
The Miami 'experience' doesn't end there, in fact, the most interesting and exciting part of our trip was in a small Cuban bakery with rave reviews where we wanted to get pastries for breakfast. The shop was called 'El Brazo Fuerte' (translated into "The Strong Arm" in Spanish), seemed family-owned, and it was packed- not only with people, but with amazing Cuban food and the kindest ladies behind the counter who could only speak Spanish. My mom, with her minimal Spanish knowledge and her enthusiasm to learn new languages, was able to lead the way in ordering our items along with the authentic "Cafe Cubano," or Cuban Coffee, which was loved by the coffee-drinking members of my family.
The bakery itself was decorated for the holidays in a slightly gaudy fashion, but that just made everything more genuine. They called out our order numbers in Spanish the entire experience felt like another country. Really, we were just being exposed to the wondrous culture of Miami, and this is what made our vacation so great. Seeing the diversity in little pockets of a single country is stunning, and it made me proud of the variety of people there are in the world we live in- and how welcoming they are to outsiders of their community such as myself and my family. We could all stand to be a little more open to the people around us.
Miami was a relaxing learning adventure. Who knew you could learn things just by going on vacation? 😊
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