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South Beach, Florida

Updated: Nov 2, 2023

Day 1: Virgin Voyages | Scarlet Lady

Many of my trips are spur of the moment trips that seem to fall into place at the last minute. This is not one of those trips. We booked this trip March of 2021 thinking the pandemic would ease by now. That prediction was wrong as Omricon ravages the nation. Ultimately we made the decision to still go. I’d rather be at the beach with a light breeze than cooped up at home especially after quarantining twice in December due to two exposures.

Cuyahoga County is one of the worst places in the nation for the amount of covid cases so leaving the area seemed like it would be beneficial. It turns out Miami is actually worse, but at least here we can enjoy outdoor dining and outdoor activities.

We started the day at 3am to catch our 6am nonstop flight from Cleveland to Miami. We flew American Airlines which is typically not my first choice. I was surprised by our new plane and excellent service. Brian slept the whole time and I binged watched a new series: The English Game. I highly recommend it. It’s like a Downton Abbey for sports fans.

We arrived to our hotel via Uber at 10am. We are staying at Marriott Stanton South Beach. The building is old, but in a cute nostalgia way. As we stand with our luggage, we’re faced with a sizable staircase with no ramp. As I stare at the staircase I think, how am I going to get my 46 lb. bag up there. As soon as that thought crosses my mind, a bellman offered to take our luggage and said it would be delivered to the room. What great service! We head inside and ask if we can check-in early. The receptionist gives us a ‘you’re-crazy-to-think-a-room-is-ready look’ but taps at her computer. Brian stays at Marriott often for volleyball so we have some sort of level on their rewards thing. Once she discovers this, her demeanor shifts. She silently communicates to the lady next to her which I am assuming is her manager. The manager nods and she begins authorizing room keys. When we arrive to our room, we’re pleasantly surprised that they upgraded us to an ocean-view room. Score.

We change into warm-weather clothes and go off exploring. We maze through our hotel, walk past the pool, and open the gate to the beach. There is a biking/walking/running trail to cross and then a beautiful-wide white-sand beach. The beach is much larger than I anticipated and it’s full of activity. We notice a pier off to the right and we head towards it. The pier is busy so I pull out my mask as we walk down it. The sun is shining and we see beautiful blue water with views of the beach and city.

Left: Amaris standing at the beach right by Stanton Marriott. Middle: South Pointe Park Pier. Right: Man biking with child near South Pointe Park Pier.

It’s still early but lunch is on our mind. We walk to a Greek restaurant located inside a Hilton. We’re seated outside next to the pool. Brian orders a Cuban salad and I order a gyro. The portions are huge which makes me feel better about the hefty price. We can hear the ocean in the distance and are surrounded by palm trees and sunshine. There are also quite a few birds near us. A man is walking towards our table as he makes his way from the pool area to the restaurant. As I watch him walk, I suddenly witness one of the birds nose dive into the back of head. Ouch! The look on the man face tells me it was painful. Later, one of the birds attempts to land on Brian’s head. Overall, the tropical ambiance the birds create is welcome, but definitely keep your eye on them. With little sleep and a belly full of gyro, I’m in a food coma state. We head back to the hotel where I take a nap while Brian goes off for a run.

Time for the beach! It’s about 3pm and many of the beach-goers have left for the day. Our resort fee includes beach chairs so we make our way to the chair and umbrella stand. We’re escorted to our chairs and we spend the next couple hours soaking up some vitamin D and enjoying the ocean-breeze. What a wonderful way to close out 2021!

Before you know it, it’s time to get ready for dinner. I made our dinner reservations a month ago for a restaurant called Call Me Gaby which is located within walking distance from our hotel. Many restaurants had a prix fixe special menu for New Years Eve. South Beach is an expensive place to eat in general, but New Years Eve takes it to a whole new level. I am a very picky eater so the reason I chose this restaurant was because of the menu. It was one of the few menus that had an appetizer and entree that I could order. Most menus were seafood heavy. The decor of the restaurant was professionally designed. There was a lot of stuff, but somehow it all worked together to create an eclectic and cozy vibe. We sat outside and we both chose pizza as an appetizer. This was unlike any pizza I’ve ever eaten and it was an artful combination of flavors that created something unique and amazing. I chose the filet mignon as my entree and Brian had the gnocchi. Dessert was a plate of three desserts. Overall the food taste and display was exquisite. I highly recommend eating here!

After dinner, we walked the lively streets of South Beach. There are so many unique hotels and restaurants in the area and the lack of chain restaurants was refreshing.

Brian remembers that his favorite team is playing in the Orange Bowl so we head back to the hotel to catch the game. By the time we turned the tv on, it wasn’t looking good for Michigan. Brian fell asleep watching the game so I switched the tv over to Netflix. I love how easy it was to sign into our Netflix account onto the hotel tv! I set an alarm to wake Brian before midnight and we intend to go back to the beach to watch the fireworks. The alarm went off and it was clear Brian wasn’t making it to the beach. I head to our balcony to watch instead. It was a beautiful show! The view was semi-obstructed from buildings but one building had a mirror-like face that showed a reflection of quite a few of the fireworks. 2021 has been a difficult year for many and the excitement of a new year and new beginning almost made me cry. There were several people out on balconies and you could feel that energy of goodbye hardship. Goodbye 2021. Welcome 2022. Welcome new possibilities. Happy New Year!


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