Imagine cruising down the highway in a red convertible, sunglasses on, hair blowing in the wind, and the music blasting out of the stereo system. The midday sun beating down on our bodies, pushed the temperature up to a humid 95 degrees as we entered the city of Miami. It was an experience I was sure I would never forget. With Ferraris and Lamborghinis dotting the streets, this was the place where money was to be spent. Designer boutiques could be found on every single corner of the beachfront facing the beautiful aqua-marine Atlantic Ocean. Stepping foot on the beach was quiet a new experience in itself. The piping hot sun baked the soft, cream sand to an almost unbearable temperature. Topless women walked on by as if it were nothing out of the ordinary. Stunned by what I had seen, I soon realized this was nothing unusual. Miami natives proved to be hot, tan, and never bashful; as they say-‘Anything goes in Miami’.
The landscape was the most breath taking of all. The beauty of the warm, glittering, tropical ocean harmonized alongside the blowing Hibiscus plants that grew freely upon the beach- worn, white Pickett fences. It was the most beautiful backdrop I could have imagined. Bright blue skies and large, fluffy white clouds contrasted beautifully against the rest of Miami’s lush greenery. Palm trees scattered all along the beach and street corners made the tropical vibe really come to life. Coconuts laid refuge under their mother-palm trees until a few curious tourists captured one of the tropical fruits. Miami was a city with rich, vivacious colors, influenced by its natural surroundings. As I walked around the city, wandering aimlessly it had seemed, I noticed that Latin and Cuban culture were a predominant theme around Miami’s sultry, coastal area.
The Art-Deco district was surely one part of Miami I was exceptionally fond of. This art movement, which began during the 1920’s, can be easily spotted due to its extremely unique architectural style. Modeling Venetian Palaces, Spanish Villas and French Chateaus make for a gorgeous cityscape along the Atlantic. Smooth edges, vibrant colors and geometric shapes, combined with the terrazzo floors, illuminate uniform and original elements marked by Miami’s great artists and architects. Each and every building flows well with the next, but each is very different from its neighbor. The buildings had unique new characteristics to offer, which reflected on the spontaneity and character of Miami- aside from all other cities. Miami is full of life and excitement. Everyone seems to want a little piece of this city, but I want the whole pie.
At night, the city awoke, almost as if a volcano had erupted. Intense energy flowed from every small shop throughout the city. Miami was in its own world and I felt like an explorer who had just found the buried treasure. The city sparkled like diamonds for all to see. Surly this city was nothing less than affluent: a little piece of heaven one couldn’t find everyday. One of my most memorable experiences was walking along Ocean Drive on South Beach. The city was alive and hopping. Nothing could stop it, and everything was thrilling and glamorous.
As we walked down Ocean Drive, the sounds of nightlife grew louder and louder. The bass from the clubs blasted through the doors and shook the ceilings and floors. Eventually it made its way down the streets of the hottest city in the world. The warm Miami breeze and the smell of fresh seafood lingered throughout the air. Walking along, it reminded me of Quincy Market in Boston as vendors shouted out, “Take a look at our menu, Executive Chef Paserta has the seafood special of the night!” The difference between Miami and Quincy Market was that in Miami, everything was much more upscale. “Look at our fantastic menus, we have everything to offer.” Each and every restaurant was different from the next: Indian, Italian, Cuban, Mexican, French and the list went on. Nothing was inexpensive here on South Beach; the cheapest entrée anyone could uncover was at least $20.00 a dish and there wasn’t a McDonald’s for miles.
Celebrities were scattered everywhere and this was their playground. VIP and Valet parking were at the front of every single restaurant on the strip. If someone had enough money to display their car out in front of these restaurants, it would only be the newest and most expensive cars available. Bentleys, Ferraris, Porsches and Lamborghinis were scattered everywhere. Only the elite partied around here and if you weren’t a part of the select few, you were a tourist, looking for a great time, but great times come at high costs. The once glistening waters of the ocean were now present on storefronts and club billboards as Neon lights illuminated the cityscape. Clubs like, “Prave”, “The Pelican” and “Cabaña” brought the city to life. New York isn’t the only city that doesn’t sleep. Clubs in Miami are some of the biggest and eccentric in the world. Superstars from all over come to party it up here in Miami and as I continued walking along the streets, I began to feel like one as well.
My friends and I continued walking and turned down an unknown street. As we noticed to our left, a 20 foot tall black, Iron Gate extended to the end of the block. Stunned by its massive size, we had wondered if someone famous had lived here. As we came around the corner and saw the sign “Ocean Drive”, I had a feeling I had been here previously. Before I knew it, I rounded the house until we came upon the front steps of what seemed to be a Palace. I thought to myself, “This place looks familiar, why?” Soon enough we realized why tourists were snapping photographs. This was home to the late, world-renowned Italian fashion designer, Gianni Versace. I had remembered the day in July of 1997 when the ringing of, “Versace murdered outside of his Miami home” lingered throughout my head. The breaking news was shown on every single local news station in the country. News cameras captured the footage of his front, white stone steps, stained of red-blood. I thought to myself how strange it was to know I had been standing on the exact place that Versace had been murdered. I then thought to myself, how strange this was that many people throughout the world had seen these exact steps on the news and I had now been standing upon them. A strange feeling came across me and one that made my visit to Miami an even more memorable one.
After leaving the house of the late Versace, my friends and I decided it was time for us to grab a bite to eat. Considering we didn’t have that much money, we all ordered appetizers at an Italian restaurant. Portion sizes were very small and seemed to be overpriced but, none the less, extremely delicious. I felt a European vibe in Miami that I hadn’t felt in many other cities. Miami surely is an experience in its own.
At the end of the night, my friends and I went back to our hotel at the Miami International Airport Hotel and caught about 3 hours of sleep. The next morning while boarding the plane destined for Boston, I had felt like I was leaving something important behind me. I knew I would need to return to Miami again. My trip did not feel completed. I sensed a connection and bond to the city of Miami. There is something for everyone there. During the day, the breath-taking landscapes, art-deco district, shopping areas and pristine beaches are easily the city’s highlights. For people who enjoy dining out and taking in the atmosphere of an exciting nightlife, Miami is out of this world. From its beaches, dining, shopping, entertainment and history, Miami’s culture is unique and appreciated by all who have traveled to this destination. So for your next exciting vacation, book it here, to Miami, and feel the HEAT for yourself.
Copyright © 2005 Jackie DeRosa