Monday, 1/9/12 - When ever Will and I go into a city we always love to take a Gray Line Bus tour of the area as it is the best way to get an over all view of the place, without the hassle of driving and not knowing where you are. We found that Miami has just that - Big Bus Miami and when you purchase a ticket you can use the bus as a "hop on and hop off" ride all day long. So we decided today was the day as our time in Miami, FL is coming to an end....next week we move on.
We found they have a bus stop in Coconut Grove, which is approximately 45 minutes from where we are and they have all day - $5.00 flat rate parking lot, so we headed out about 9 am this morning. With no problems at all (well a few) we found the parking lot, headed down the street just as the Big Bus was turning the corner and we were able to board right then....no waiting. Actually, the buses pass by the stops every half hour so it is very convenient.
Our first city we went through was Coral Gables where the houses start out at a million dollars. They have so many regulations of the home owners but my favorite was the for sale signs can only be - 4 inches by 9 inches....trust me you can't even read them, so funny. But beautiful homes, with gorgeous trees everywhere and we saw the old beautiful Biltmore Hotel. The Venetian Pool, that Al Capone use to swim in, a huge pool. They took us though the downtown area and tell you so much about the history and the people.
Our next city was Little Havana - which was named that after all the Cubans came here in the 60's. Before it was called Little Havana it was called Shenandoah - and was a very poor section populated by Jews and Irish people. Once the Cubans arrived, they took it over. Oh and Will loved that NOTHING is written in English there. It was fun to see the place and I can assure you we never would have gone there any other way. Oh by the way, Miami is the only large city that does NOT have a Chinatown.....
We then headed for South Beach, which of course I had just been there but Will had not. It was about 11:45 am so we got off the bus to find a place to have lunch....and So Beach is perfect for that. All the Art Deco Hotels have restaurant table and chairs w/umbrellas out on the sidewalk of Ocean Street and each one is "hawking" a special of some kind. We walked for a little ways and checked out menus and decided on one that offered a special - Will - a turkey club sandwich and fries and for me - grilled salmon with mash potatoes, with a free orange juice thrown in and the special was $8.95 each. Actually, we both loved our choice and it was great just sitting there doing more people watching whiled enjoying the weather and food. After, we walked around a little longer - and of course, took our picture in front of the famous Miami Beach sign that gives the temperature and the date so you send it to all your friends and make them jealous! We then boarded the bus for more touring of the South Beach area. After the Beach Tour we headed back to Bayshore where we would catch the City Loop bus to finish and go back to where our car was parked in Coconut Grove. Of course, while at Bayshore, which is a huge specialty shopping area on the water we managed to find a Hagen Daz and of course sat down for an ice cream break.
We then boarded the last bus to take us "home" and we certainly enjoyed the day and you definitely get your monies worth with these Gray Line Tours. I definitely feel like I have DONE MIAMI. Another tiring day and boy the traffic around here after 3pm is unbelievable....it took us an hour an a half to get home. Much love to all our family and friends.