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Welcome to the Adventures by Amaris Travel Agency Blog! You'll find travel tips and travel stories within our posts.

Day 1 - Traveling to Miami

Waking up at 2am is rough, but okay when I’m headed somewhere fun! This morning I drove to the airport and came across only three cars in my 30 minute drive. I flew Spirit and was pleasantly surprised when there were already gate agents at 3:30am. I tagged my own bag at the kiosk and handed it off. I was in the TSA line at 3:40am. The website says TSA doesn’t open until 4am in Cleveland. The hardest 20 minutes when you just want to go back to bed. 4am comes and still no one, but I see little kids on the other side! It turns out that TSA pre-check doesn’t open until 4:15am, but the normal line opens at 4am. It was quick once it opened and then I head to The Club for breakfast. The app says they open at 4am, but they don’t actually open until 4:30am. I finish my bagel, potatoes, and orange juice quickly and then head to my gate. Boarding has already started when I get there, but I’m zone 3 so I’ve got time. Even more time then I think because they make anyone with a backpack stuff their bag and prove it’s a “personal item.” I scan my boarding pass and swiftly make my way to the jet bridge hoping I can avoid the extra bag check line. “Ma’am, Ma’am, MA’AM.” I didn’t make it. Extra line here I wait. The two guys in front of me have two bags each. Their normal bag and then smaller bags with food. One guy has a small bag with things from the convenient store and the other a small bag with a full grocery store bag of mandarin oranges. Their normal bags barely pass the test and then the agent informs them that they don’t get a second bag, line up and pay for your bag. I go next and my backpack slides in perfectly. It’s exactly 18 x 14 x 8. I make my way to the jet bridge, relieved it fit. I see the two guys with the two bags each. No way they paid for their extra bags in that amount of time.

Our plane went through the de-icer process which was fun to watch. Otherwise, an uneventful flight. We land in Fort Lauderdale and I walk to baggage claim. My bag is already there. Sweet.

The next leg of the journey is to try the new Brightline train. I follow the signs which lead me to an area with white awnings. Little signage, but I find a small sign at the very end which says Brightline. Several hotel shuttles come and go. A bus comes that says Tri-Rail. I think this may be it. It’s not. 20 minutes later and the Brightline shuttle comes. It’s $10 for the shuttle and we head to the station which isn’t too far. The train station is very nice and futuristic which I find ironic. My ticket says we’ll board ten minute prior to departure. At that time, I head downstairs to board and the doors say boarding is closed. Okay, I guess we’re not boarding ten minutes ahead of time. Nine minutes later and the PA system says, “Last call for the train to Miami.” WTF. The gate has been closed and now it’s last call?! I make my way downstairs and the train isn’t there yet. It’s a short wait and then it arrives. People get off. We get on. I find my assigned seat. They say someone will be around to check tickets, but no one comes. It’s about a 40-minute ride and a pleasant ride experience. Much more room than my Spirit flight and outlets. Overall a nice experience, but the efficiency of London transport trumps this.

Amaris on train, Brightline airport shuttle, Stairs to waiting area
Brightline Train

I take an Uber to South Beach which was very efficient. I check into the hotel with plans of dropping my stuff and exploring. The 2am wake up call hits me and it’s siesta time! Well kind of. I fall in and out of sleep. This area of South Beach is kind of noisy.

I wake up and I’m ready to eat. Cuban restaurant, Mexican restaurant, seafood. I feel like fruit. Then, I see it. Blue Lavender Cafe. I love lavender and that word alone if enough to draw me in. I walk the half mile to the cafe and get a Lavender Açaí Bowl. It was decent, but I had bigger expectations. The Açaí bowl from the place I go in Tallmadge, Ohio is better. I really like the decor and vibe of the place through.

I then go for a walk and visit the beach. Compared to to home, it’s warm here, but I was actually pretty cold on my walk. I was swearing shorts and a sweatshirt. The locals all had pants and jackets. I didn’t last long on the beach and headed back to the hotel to get some work done.

Our hotel, Dream South Beach, by Hyatt, is a little strange. It’s two buildings with the lobby and some rooms in one building and another building with more rooms. The elevator to our room is right in the middle of a restaurant called Naked Taco. I needed a break and it was very convenient to go downstairs to Happy Hour. $5 Sangria and 2 street tacos for $5. I was very impressed with the Sangria quality and tacos. My second sangria may have had more fruit than my açaí bowl from earlier!

Our room at Dream South Beach, by Hyatt
Dream South Beach, by Hyatt

After my snack, I went back to my room to work. My friend’s flight was cancelled this morning due to ice, but she did eventually make it. Once she arrived, we headed out to dinner at an Italian restaurant. They had the pasta where they put it in a wheel of cheese and prepare it in front of you. I was so excited to order it, but when I saw the $54 price tag I opted for the normal pasta instead. The restaurant was very cute and decorated nicely. There were pictures and accents that brought me back to Sorrento.

Tomorrow we board Icon of the Seas!

Açaí bowl, sangria, tacos, pasta
South Beach Food

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