At the end of March, we made our way to South Florida to spend time with family and friends, and attend our friend Vanessa's wedding. We go back to Florida every year at least once, and it can sometimes turn into a routine whirlwind tour of grabbing a quick meal with a family member followed by a quick coffee with a friend across town, because we want to make sure that we spend as much time as we can visiting people we care about and miss so much. By the end of the trip, we can leave feeling like there was still so much we wanted to see and do. This time around, we decided to treat our visit as we would any vacation. We thought of places that we would want to see and things that we would want to do if we were going to South Florida for the first time. This really helped make us feel like we were taking advantage of those precious vacation days we were using up. Ten in total and it was barely April by the time we got back to NYC!
We landed bright and early on a Tuesday morning, my mom and sister picked Robby, me and Bess up from the airport. After getting settled and heading to the sacred Chick-Fil-A (which does not exist on the amazing island of Manhattan, except at the NYU campus for students only) we set out on a mini-day trip to the west coast of Florida, to a great little city, Naples.
We walked along Main Street, had coffee outside at a cafe and then headed to the beach. The sand was white, the breeze was gentle and the sun was warm. It was exactly what we had hoped for. We had no agenda, other than to spend time with each other and enjoy this little piece of South Florida. The restaurants along Main Street were good, but definitely overpriced. After dinner, we headed to the beach one more time, to watch the sun sent, and it did not disappoint. It was the best way to start off the trip!
Over the next few days, we were on the "Pembroke Pines" leg of our trip, or should I say "tour"? We did fill up the calendar with visits to see sweet friends and their growing families, and I am so grateful for it! On our first visit to see Megan, Chris, Sophia and 3 week old baby Connor, I wasn't feeling all that well so I stayed away from the little ones. Rob, who is such a big kid at heart, couldn't help but play with Sophia and her toys... and unfortunately caught pink eye... which quickly spread to me as well. We immediately bought hand santizer and got the medicated drops and started our strict regiment of sanitizing our hands before touching any and every thing. Thankfully we didn't contaminate any one else during our trip and were able to clear up rather quickly. We also got to visit with Matt, Jess, Madison and baby Noah. My newly engaged cousin Amanda had us over for dinner one night also. (I am really looking forward to celebrating her marriage to her fiancé Chris next May!) Saturday was Vanessa and Brandon's big day. It was the whole reason we planned our trip to Florida at this time of year, and it was perfect! The ceremony took place at a gorgeous Catholic Church on Miami Beach and the reception was at a venue in Coral Gables (not far from where we lived when we first got married). Between the ceremony and reception it started to rain, which reminded me of our wedding day. We had flash flood warnings on our wedding day during the reception, and I remember everyone saying, "It's good luck!" I don't know if that's true or not, but all I know is it didn't ruin our wedding, and it didn't stop Vane and Brandon from having an amazing time celebrating at theirs. Look at how excited they are before coming in to the reception an being introduced for the first time as Mr. and Mrs!
L . O . V . E .
The day after the wedding, we started our "Miami" half of the trip. We kicked it off with a spicy barbecue at Crystal and Mark's. It is one of my absolute favorite things to get to spend time together with both sides of our families. We really got to enjoy that on our trip last summer to Puerto Rico, and I love that we can continue to all spend time together like this. After dinner, came the most awesome spread of ice cream desserts imaginable, and as my grandpa enjoyed his sherbet, he tried to secretly pass some off to Bess as well. Even though he pretends to be a tough guy, he is a softy for our Bessy Bear!
That face. Bless.
On our list of things to see and do while in the 305, along with spend as much time with family as possible, we had: visit with friends, try the food at the Pincho Factory, have our own photo safari in Wynwood and the abandoned Miami Marine Stadium, get cinnamon rolls at Knauss Berry Farm and have a boat day. Check, check, check!! We were able to do all of the above, and it is hard to pick a favorite!
I loved walking around Wynwood, it is really cool to see how a lot of that area has transformed into such a modern center of art, fashion and food. Our friends, Leilani and Lisa are actually getting ready to open a boutique there in the next few months called MiMo Market (MiMo = Miami Modern). The Wynwood Walls were so cool and artistic, and I have to say this little slice of Miami, reminded me so much of New York. Rob and I had a lot of fun taking pictures, and then just sat around and people watched while we had a coffee break at Panther Coffee. That same day, we made our way to the abandoned Miami Marine Stadium and snuck in to try to take pictures. We bumped into a few other people on the same mission but I was too chicken to explore for long. Any time I heard a louder than normal sound, I pretty much jumped out of my skin. So we snapped a few pictures and high tailed it out of there!
Boat day was incredible. We were off to a rough start when the engine battery died, but after some quick thinking, we switched the boat battery with the car battery and were on our way. We headed toward Stiltsville, which I had never been to, and jumped out for a quick swim. Us "Northerners" thought the water was refreshing and cool, but our Florida family felt that April was still too early for any sane person to get in the water. Mark was brave enough though, and Addi was fearless, jumping in and laughing as she swam to each of us! We rode around for a little bit, had lunch, and then did some fishing! As you know, my first time fishing was last fall at the Harlem Meer in Central Park. This time, I got to experience fishing from a boat, just outside Biscayne Bay.
The two weeks in the Sunshine State were so refreshing, I have to admit, it wasn't easy to pack up and come back to the Big Apple. There is something about seeing that City Skyline every time we return though, that just stirs your heart with excitement and motivation. When we landed, all tanned and relaxed, we couldn't wait to see our NYC family while also looking forward to the next time we'd be able to visit our loved ones in M-I-A...
Oh, and bonus: it almost felt like Spring was upon us. Yay!