05.07.2013 - 05.07.2013 33 °C
We were picked up at our hotel at about 9.15 am for our Miami city tour and everglades tour. The front third of the bus was air conditioned and closed off and two thirds at the back was open which was where we sat. It was cool and breezy and good for taking photos. First, let me describe the bus. It had no shock absorbers and plastic seats and as we drove around, we had Latin American music blaring out. I felt like I was on a bus of refugees, trying to cross the border! The driver had ATTITUDE!! Before we even started the tour, she came up the back of the bus to give something to some other passengers. She saw my Samsung Tablet sittin3g on my lap and just stood there and stared at it. After a very long time she said, "Are you going to work or listen?" I gave her a puzzled look and then realised what she meant. "It's a camera", I said, and off she went.
We were the only white people on the bus along with blacks and Hispanics. When the driver discovered we were from Australia, someone in the closed section of the bus said something about us being black. Then the driver launched into a monologue about how white people with blue eyes can come from Australia and South Africa. We were totally confused. Americans know nothing about anything, except maybe their own home address.
We drove from Miami Beach over to Miami City and toured the opulent suburb of Coconut Grove. This is Sylvester Stalone's Miami home.
And the Plymouth Congregational Church.
In 1944, the suntan lotion Coppertone was invented in Miami. Do you remember the ad of the cute little blond girl, with a dog pulling her bikini bottom down, to reveal a golden tan? Miami Beach has a population of 33,000 in the low season, which quadruples in the summer. One in seven are tattooed. Coral Gables was another suburb we visited. It is a planned suburb and was constructed in 1925. The homes are lovely, set among beautiful tree lined streets and immaculate gardens.
This is the Biltmore Hotel. There is also a Biltmore Mansion in North Carolina which is the biggest house in the world, with 250 rooms.
The Woodlawn Cemetery.
We then drove over to Miami Beach to look at the art deco buildings. We passed a lot of cruise ships in port. As I mentioned before, Miami is the cruise ship capital of the world.
This is a park dedicated Maurice Gibb of the Bee Gees, who passed away a few years ago and who spent a lot of time in this park.
We then headed back to Miami City where we discovered that the rest of the group was going on a harbour cruise and that Phil and I had a 45 minute wait for our driver to take us to the everglades. First we stopped at 11.30 am so the cruise people could have lunch because they wouldn't have time to eat once we got to the harbour. We had to wait on the bridge while it opened to let some boats go through. Then we were dropped off, with 45 minutes to have some lunch and then meet up with our driver at 2.15 pm. We raced into Bubba Gumps and explained our time limits and each of us ordered a salad, which would be the quickest to prepare. At 5 to 2, we still hadn't received our food, so asked them to box it up so we could take it with us. Phil then complained to the manager, and he gave us a refund. We were a bit embarrassed but raced out to wait for our tour bus and eat our lunch. After all that drama, the tour bus arrived 30 minutes late so we would have had plenty of time to eat our lunch!
Some nice girls we were speaking to while waiting for our tour guide.
Then finally the tour guide arrived and we took off for the alligator park and the everglades. We had five nice Indian boys in our bus and enjoyed chatting with them about India. They came from Mumbai and had been studying in America and now were working here. We hopped on the air boat and went whizzing through the everglades. It was great. We had ear plugs and every now and then, the driver would stop the boat and tell us a few stats about the flora and fauna of the area.
After our ride had finished, we watched a guy feed an alligator in the cage with him. It was a very docile animal, certainly not as savage as an Australian crocodile. Then on the bus for the journey back to our hotel. The tour company had been running late all day and we arrived back at 6.00pm, when we were supposed to get back between 3 and 4. Consequently I missed my last chance to have a swim in the lovely Atlantic.
Had a quick dinner at our favourite Italian restaurant and then home to pack for our flight to New York tomorrow. Our trip is very quickly drawing to a close.