Friday, March 22, 2013

Seen in Florida

Compared to places I've lived such as Korea and Upstate New York, Seattle has a pretty mild winter. My wife, who lived for many years in California, begs to differ. Seattle's winters feature short days, plenty of overcast and even rain. Although it isn't frigid, it can be pretty gloomy. So we head off to sunnier places for much of November through March. For the last two years this has included Florida, at the opposite corner of the contiguous United States.

It turns out that the airline distance from Seattle to Orlando or Miami is about the same as to Honolulu. Plus, the route is over land, unlike the Hawaii run that is seriously lacking in emergency landing fields. Better yet, with a rental car, one can range over a lot of Florida to visit a variety of sites, unlike the islands where you are pretty much stuck once you arrive.

Even though many readers, especially those living in the Midwest and Northeast, have visited Florida, I thought I'd post some photos I took so that others might become aware of what can be found there.


A few miles down the shoreline road from downtown Miami is the Vizcaya estate, built by the bachelor scion of a farm equipment manufacturer who, like other rich Americans, brought many objects of art and architecture from Europe to the New World. The Wikipedia entry on Vizcaya is here. Photography of the interior is forbidden, so I can offer only some exterior views.

South Beach

The South Beach portion of Miami Beach is perhaps best known these days for its collection of Art Deco style hotels that were built in the 1930s and very early 1940s. Aside from the buildings, I have to say I'm not fond of South Beach, lively though it can be. Many of those buildings along Ocean Drive have restaurants by or even on the sidewalks, and there are so many and competition is so fierce that a number of them hire pretty girls to entice you to a meal.

New River, Fort Lauderdale

The southeast coast of Florida is home to thousands of fancy boats and yachts that somehow weather the occasional hurricane. The photo below was taken from the Riverwalk in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

Tarpon Springs

A short ways north of St. Petersburg on Florida's west coast is Tarpon Springs, a small city with a large Greek population. One can eat lots of Greek food, enjoy watching the boats and even take a tour out to an island on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico.

Universal Studios, Harry Potter Area
The Big Deal for tourists in the Orlando area is Walt Disney World. But once that becomes old hat, there are other attractions, one of which is the east coast version of the Universal Studios theme park. So far as I'm concerned, it's okay, but doesn't measure up to Disney. The area I liked best was devoted to Harry Potter. Below are a few street scenes. Yes, it was actually raining that day.

Hard Rock Cafe

You have to eat someplace. So my wife chose the Hard Rock Cafe, a venue we normally avoid. The most striking thing for me was the pink Cadillac rotating above the bar.

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