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South Beach….

No visit to Miami would be complete without spending a few hours in South Beach. Paddy left me in charge with figuring out the transportation route and scheduling. “Great – let’s ride our bikes 30 miles to South Beach and back.” I suggested. Paddy gives me a blank-look “what are you out of your mind?” stare. This means NO. So, I revise the travels to include a combination of water taxi, bicycle ride, metro rail, metromover…and bus.

Fortunately, the Miami public transportation website includes a color coded map….and I zoom in at 500% for the severely vision impaired. I do my best to follow the squiggly lines with a paperclip pointer on my screen, to no avail. Maybe you can figure out where to take a bus to South Beach using this map? I have a theory on how this map was created….

It’s career day “at the office”. This is the day where mom or dad brings in one of their kids to expose them to their job and office buddies. The guy in charge of Miami public transportation brings in Suzie, his 4 year old daughter with her box of 64 bright colored crayons. She is busy making daddy a picture…when daddy’s boss shows up to pick up the latest map showing bus and metro rail routes. He picks up little Suzie’s drawing by mistake, and publishes this to the Miami Dade website. No one notices the difference.

I did my best to figure out Suzie’s map….and concluded (incorrectly) that we needed to ride the rail to the Civic Center stop. From here, we could catch the “M” bus to South Beach. This would turn out to be the “scenic” route. Paddy is decked out in his finest fashions with a bright orange T-shirt (now there’s a first) and orange checkered shorts. As we waited in the not-so-nice section of the Civic Center for 45 minutes for the next “M” bus – this gave us plenty of time to spend with the panhandlers. With Paddy’s colorful outfit screaming “TOURIST” – we had no shortage of panhandling friends. Finally, the “M” bus arrives….and we are none to happy to hop aboard.

It “feels” like the “M” bus is headed in the wrong direction. Paddy whips out his James Bond phone with the GPS locator…and sure enough – we are not traveling toward South Beach. Paddy and I try to hush-hush our concern…but basically everyone on the bus knows we are lost tourists – and they either stare at us…or offer help by repeatedly pointing in multiple directions. It was a miracle, that the bus finally turned to cross the “causeway”….and head toward South Beach We’re back on course.

We don’t know exactly “where” to get off the bus. Paddy spots a restaurant called “Big Pink”. This seems close enough. We jumped off the bus…and made a beeline toward the beach. I suddenly feel (a) OLD and (b) OVERDRESSED. I’ll feel better once we find FOOD. We leave the beachfront…and return to Ocean Drive. 5 blocks later, we are at the “Strip”….and Paddy’s orange fashion choice fit right in.

The “Strip” in South Beach is filled with tourists from every country….overdressed (like moi)…to scantily dressed, and cars ranging from Ferrari’s to vintage Buicks. Every maître d’ wants you to dine at their restaurant, and the size of the drink seems to be a big attraction. Across the street you will find inline skating has not lost it’s thrill. Just beyond the over sized walkway, are a series of beach volleyball courts. You have to have some pretty decent volleyball skills to play here. Spectators gathered to watch 6 guys (aka Team Speedo) convert volleyball in to a mix of soccer and dodge ball….and a few courts away…4 ladies playing what appeared to be professional beach volleyball. They never missed!
Despite dozens of restaurants featuring fresh seafood and beautiful salads….we opted for cheap burgers and fries…at Johnny Rockets. Yum. And, no lectures about my diet choice OK? We spent the next hour getting our groove on at South Beach. People watching. My favorite moment? An old man, in his mid 80’s sits in a wheelchair. He can barely hold his head up. His wheelchair is parked along a busy sidewalk. He’s no dummy. He picked this location for a reason. 10 feet away, a vibrant young lady, barely dressed in a red bikini 3 sizes too small…pole dances. Rock on old man. Get what you can. I doubt this therapy is covered under Medicare.

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