Author Topic: A different kind of trip to Miami beach  (Read 2571 times)

Offline mgoldhammer18

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A different kind of trip to Miami beach
« on: March 18, 2016, 12:12:37 PM »
This is my first TR, so I will do my best to keep it interesting.
Quick Background:
Since getting married, DW and I decided to always go somewhere new when taking a vacation.  The in laws have an apt. in Miami Beach and we usually stay for Pesach (though we aren't going this year.)  DW and I have each been to Miami more times than we can count.  Last year we were expecting, so we decided that since the baby was going to come (BH arrived) at the end of October, we will keep our winter trip simple and just go to Miami and maybe go to the keys for a day to go somewhere new.  Our parents made us feel guilty about taking the baby on a plane, so we opted out of going away this winter.  January came along and my wife and I agreed, we were burnt out, we need to get away.  We were planning a trip to LA, hotel in the jewish community, kosher food, it would be great.  DW said she wants to go to a beachy place.  We started planning to go to the USVI.  Zika!!!! No USVI.  Okay, let's just go to Miami.  Being a New Yorker, I have been to Miami several times growing up for Yeshiva week, but my family never went out to eat there.  The last few years, I was only there on Pesach, so it was rare to check out the kosher places.  This trip was going to be different, we were going to eat out for every meal and really experience the kosher food scene down in Miami.
Booking:  Where to stay-usually once Presidents day rolls around, my in laws apt. is available.  For whatever reason (not going into detail) the apt. wasn't available.  We have SPG and Hilton points, but we were indecisive about where to stay. Side note: about 6 years ago, DW got a students Discover cash back card.  Before DW and I joined the points world, we decided that one day we would use the cash back to book a vacation.  We decided we wanted to stay near the apt. because that's the area we are familiar with, so rather than using points, we used my wife's cash back from her discover card to book a suite at the Miami Beach Resort and Spa.
Flights-I was debating which miles to use to get there; AA, Avios, Jetblue, etc. but Dan posted a big sale, so I immediately booked really cheap tickets with DL from LGA to MIA round trip. 
At the end of the day I did not use any miles, yet the trip was really cheap.
Rental car-I used the chabad code by every rental car company at MIA airport, and the cheapest option was enterprise.  I booked a Lincoln MKZ or similar with a car seat.  Car seat was $23 for a few days.  My wife and I decided to bring the car seat along because she was nervous that the car seat that the rental company would provide would not be good.  I called enterprise two days before the trip.  The genius agent said she didn't know how to take off the car seat from the reservation, so she took $23 off the reservation and I should tell them when I arrive what she did.
Trip:
Day 1-I checked in the night before, paid for our suitcases; one for me, one for DW and the stroller.  We would get the money back with AMEX Platinum.  We got a ride to the airport, and off to curbside check in.  The agent told me that the stroller was free; NBD since I am getting refunded by AMEX anyway, but thanks to that information, I checked in the base to the car seat and took the car seat along hoping to get the baby a seat on the plane.  The security line was a little long.  They did not let us in to the short line apparently because children were not allowed, strange.  Security checked the pre pored baby bottles.  After security, it was off to the delta sky club.
  The club in LGA is just one big quiet room.  They have kosher cereal and paper bowls which was rather convenient.  I went to the customer service agent to ask if he can rearrange some seats on the plane so we can get a seat for the baby, he said it was a full flight but I can ask the gate agent to maybe help us out.  I was wondering why the flight would be full, whenever I take a Sunday flight there are usually open seats.  The reason we chose to go when we did, March 13th-16th, was because my wife had spring break.  We got to the gate, and I realized we were flying down with all of the spring breakers.  I went to a city school for college, so my spring break was always on Pesach, I just assumed everybody but my wife's school had spring break then.  Lesson learned.  The gate agent said she couldn't help us out, but she gladly checked in the car seat for free and let us on to the plane before anybody.  Our plane was a Mcdonald Douglas 88.  The plane itself was old, but the interior was recently redesigned.  Our seats were actually comfortable.  We sat in a 2 seater which was great for us.  Alas, our daughter's first flight, we did not know what to expect, but she was such an angel BH.   
We landed in Miami, saw some old friends in the terminal that moved to Detroit, then it was off to baggage claim.  For some reason traveling with a small infant = taking bigger and more things with you when you travel.  After baggage claim we made the trek through MIA to the monorail to Enterprise.  The agent said that my rental comes with a car seat, but I told her I tried cancelling two days before but it didn't work, so I would like to cancel now.  She took off an additional $23 on top of the $23 they already took off, I'll take it.  We had the option to choose between the cadillac SRX or the Buick Lacrosse.  the Buick was bigger, so we went with that.
After leaving the airport, we were starving, so it was off to Beyond by Shemtovs.  We ordered the nachos(10/10), mozarella sticks(8.5/10), and the alfredo fungi pie(9.5/10).  My wife ordered a mango madness smoothie (7/10) and I ordered a mocha frap (8/10).  The nachos were the best nachos I have ever had.  I am not a salsa person, but this salsa was out of this world.  The pizza was also meien olam haba.  The mozarella sticks were fresh and very good, but it was lacking the taste that the mozarella sticks in NY have.  My Frap was great and DW mango drink was pink, not the color of mango, it consited of strawberries and banana in addition to the mango.  It was a solid smoothie.
Then we were off to the Miami Beach Resort and Spa, MIBRAS as DW family calls it.  Check in was smooth.  I requested an upgrade, but they said the only rooms available were full ocean views, but the rooms were standard, why switch from a suite to a standard?  Our room was right by the elevators, so one can hear the elevators going up and down sometimes.  The room was a nice size, partial ocean and partial bay view.  The things in the room were just not situated well.  The couch and chair were on one end and the bed was at the other.  In the middle was the tv from 1996 (not that we were going to watch any tv) facing the wall, not the couch and not the bed.  I was curious to see if we can pull the tv out and swivel it, it didn't work.  I don't know who designed the suite, but that was a major design flaw.  After unpacking, we took the baby for her first swim, BH she loved it.  After a long day, we put the baby to sleep, and I told my wife I would go pick up dinner.
I drove north to Blaze Tex Mex grill.  The food overall was good.  We ordered poppers and wings for appetizers.  the poppers were just chicken nuggets with BBQ dipping sauce, nothing poppery about it, but the chicken was still very good (6/10).  The wings were nothing special, just ordinary wings (5/10).  I ordered a the columbian burger which was very good, but it did not blow my mind like I was expecting it to (7/10).  DW got the Ruben hot dog (10/10) this place knows how to make a hot dog.
Day 2
We woke up early-4 1/2 month old, and headed to Zak the Baker.  I am telling you, I thought I was lost, but the place is just in a super random location.  I wanted to order the caramel coissant because the TR's always rave about it, but they were out.  I ordered the chocolate croissant instead, but they accidentally gave me a regular one, which was still good (7/10).  We ordered a cinnamon roll (8.5/10) and I got the chocolate toast (10/10)  and my wife would say the shakshuka that she ordered would be a perfect 10, I hate tomato.  We ordered Ice Green Tea (7/10) and lemonade (9/10). 
After Zak the Baker we headed down to the Keys.  The drive down was difficult with the baby at first, but the drive is beautiful.  We finally made it to Anne's Beach in Islamorada.  I chose this beach because it reminds me of the Caribbean and because it has very shallow waters which would be good for the baby.  We stayed for a short period of time, but we enjoyed.  The drive back was much quicker.  We skipped lunch, so we just picked up some quick ice cream on the way.  If you have the patience and you like tropical beaches, drive down to Anne's Beach.
I hate fish, I am not a sushi guy either, but I like vegetable rolls, but I knew my wife would enjoy 26 suchi and tapas, so we went there for dinner.  We ordered the trio fritas (9.5/10) (side note, best truffle fries in the world are at Basil in CH).  DW ordered super Kani roll, I donít know what to rate it.  I ordered udon noodles, best pasta I ever had in my life (10/10)!!!!!!!!!!!  For drinks, DW ordered a strawberry drink which had a lot of grapefruit in it (7/10) I ordered the passionfruit mojito (9/10).  DW was laughing at me because I was reading an old TR on dansdeals.com and read the words passion fruit mojito off of my phone to the waitress.  The bartender walked over to me with a drink and told me that itís a new drink on the menu and he wants me to try it; itís their version of a white Russian (8/10).  I recommend that drink for people who love coffee.  Even though the ice cream sandwhich did not have the best ratings, we ordered it for dessert (5/10).  We didnít even finish it.  Even if you hate fish, go to 26 and order the Udon, itís a must.
Day 3
We woke up early again, surprise surprise.  We picked up some breakfast from the dunkin donuts on 41st street and then headed to the Miami Seaquarium.  The place isnít as lively as it was when I was a kid.  We didnít stay long,  but the baby enjoyed looking at the lion fish.  On the way back we stopped at Lennyís Pizza.  We each ordered a regular slice (5/10) the slice is good for people who love oregano.  We also got garlic knots (9.5/10).  The selection wasnít so great there.  We went back to the hotel to take the baby to the pool.  Again, she loved it.  After the pool, we left to Fuego.  Let me give some background information of us going to Fuego.
All of our friends told us we must make reservations.  I saw old TRís that said reservations are a must.  When we were in shemtovs on our first day, I made reservations for our last night at 5:30.  When we were at 26 the night before, the baby was exhausted, so we thought maybe we wouldnít shlep out to Fuego.  When we woke up in the morning I told my wife that we should just make earlier reservations; the last reservation before 5:30 was 3:15, so I just booked it.  My wife was saying that she doesnít want Fuego to take away from the babyís time in the pool, so we cancelled the reservation.  We decided to just go after the pool and hope they have a table available, if not, then we can either wait a little or go to one of the many nearby restaurants. 
We were on the way to Fuego.  Waze took us to Blaze Tex Mex, the old Fuego location, there was even a sign for Fuego parking.  We finally got to Fuego about 5:10 and they said they open up for dinner at 5:30, so we decided that we will come back and be the first diners of the night.  We got there at 5:30, our daughter was wide awake and yelling at the palm trees.  We ordered the fuego flatbread (10/10) Poppers, which much like blaze, were just chicken nuggets with sauce, but this sauce had some spicyness to it (7/10) and DW insisted on sharing our main course, so we got the 16oz rib eye which was fantastic (10/10) and for dessert we got smores in a jar (9.5/10).
Day 4
We packed up and headed down to the pool for one last chance for our daughter to experience the pool since we wonít be going back for pesach.  We were trying to check out at 11, but it was as if the entire hotel was leaving; no elevators had room, everybody was trying to leave their luggage with the bellhop, the valet was super crowded, but we made it out by 11:20.  For some reason I was only charged for one day of parking, not going to argue with that.  And I told DW that we have some time to spare, so maybe we should drive north for lunch and just drive to MIA from there.  So we decided to go to Foozo for lunch.  We ordered a custom pie: green olives, mozzarella, ricotta, tomato sauce, roasted garlic, and mushrooms (10/10)  We ordered the popeye foozo aka calzone (8.5/10) and a Caesar salad (8/10).
We still had a good amount of time to spare, so we drove back down to Miami Beach and went to Miami beach chocolates picked up some chocolates and mocacinos (8/10).
We drove back to the airport, dropped off our bags by curbside check in, then drove back to enterprise.  This trip to though the airport with the baby was a little more hectic, I think it was the heat of Florida.  My wife had TSA pre, so she went with the baby while I waited in line.  After security, we went to the lounge which was nice, but not so big, but very relaxing.  We went to the gate to try to arrange a seat for the baby, but there was only one seat available and it was an exit row seat.  I explained that we all want to sit together, can he try to rearrange some people, he was of no help.
The flight back took a little longer than expected due to some weather somewhere in the atlantic.  The baby cried a little on this flight, but she wasnít so bad.
All in all the trip was great.  It was a totally new experience, though we have each been to Miami too many times to count.
IYH I will try to post some pictures in the near future.  Time to get back to work on this erev Shabbat kodesh. 


Offline ar

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Re: A different kind of trip to Miami beach
« Reply #1 on: March 20, 2016, 08:52:35 AM »
Nice report! Thanks!

Offline shmoe joe

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Re: A different kind of trip to Miami beach
« Reply #2 on: March 20, 2016, 09:12:48 AM »
Gr8 TR! Thought maybe title should be Miami "RESTAURANT" tr :)
give some love (likes) to a brother!

Offline Luvtotravel

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Re: A different kind of trip to Miami beach
« Reply #3 on: March 20, 2016, 10:17:15 AM »
very nice! i find a 4 1/2 month old to be easiest age since they just dose off wherever and whenever. and she seems a bit young to enjoy the aquarium, so maybe you meant 14 1/2 month old?
Don't wait for the perfect moment; take the moment and make it perfect.

Offline Iz

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Re: A different kind of trip to Miami beach
« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2016, 10:58:33 AM »
very nice! i find a 4 1/2 month old to be easiest age since they just dose off wherever and whenever. and she seems a bit young to enjoy the aquarium, so maybe you meant 14 1/2 month old?
What do you give her? ;)

Offline mgoldhammer18

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Re: A different kind of trip to Miami beach
« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2016, 03:23:48 PM »
very nice! i find a 4 1/2 month old to be easiest age since they just dose off wherever and whenever. and she seems a bit young to enjoy the aquarium, so maybe you meant 14 1/2 month old?
Nope, she was born in October.  :)

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Re: A different kind of trip to Miami beach
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2016, 10:06:34 AM »
Sounds like you had a nice time. You ate your way through MIA!
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Offline mgoldhammer18

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Re: A different kind of trip to Miami beach
« Reply #7 on: March 28, 2016, 10:29:23 AM »
Sounds like you had a nice time. You ate your way through MIA!
First time doing it.  I was inspired by Dan.  The almost 20 times that I have been there I have maybe been to 4 restaurants before this trip.

Offline mgoldhammer18

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Re: A different kind of trip to Miami beach
« Reply #8 on: March 28, 2016, 10:30:05 AM »
Just checked my bank statement, the Miami Beach Resort and Spa only charged me for one night of parking as opposed to 3-Hodu LaHashem