One place that surely brings along a ton of excitement, lots of sand in the air and a complete vacation vibe even before you actually land, is definitely Florida! I finally got a chance to visit the two places I’ve been meaning to go to, since the time I first went to the US. I went with Visit Florida on a FAM trip. Miami and Orlando are breath-taking and scenic and doing a tour of these two cities was a thought that I had always entertained. Since I had the US visa, the formalities were less intense and I could quickly be on board and start packing for my 5-day trip. We have all seen Miami in hundreds of music videos and movies and every one of us dreams to take that tour once in our lives and see the grandeur and glamour in person. I felt grateful that I could get to go on this trip and experience every tiny bit of what I saw, felt and consumed. It was truly a once in a lifetime experience! I'm so happy to share my travel experience with you guys through this post.
To start with, I boarded Turkish Airlines and reached Florida on 15th November'16. The airline made me feel extremely comfortable and the service was prompt and easy. The business class made it even better :)
There was a stopover at Turkey which made me realise how much I love travel and how I would also love exploring the beautiful Turkish landscapes. We had a wonderful buffet at the stop over and finally reached Miami Int Airport at night, tired, worn out from the long flight but supremely excited for what lay ahead! I was staying at the ‘Residence Inn Surfside’ Hotel on Collins Ave at Miami which was a 3km walk from the oceanfront Haulover park. Anything ocean front is exciting, isn’t it! I had a room to myself which was like a studio apartment space with a kitchenette, partial ocean view, the works. As I was extremely tired after the flight, I warmed up some water, made green tea and went to bed thinking about how the flight time was a perfect one as it allows you to immediately crash into bed once you land! Then you can have a good sleep and wake up energized for the rest of the trip.
The first morning of Miami I decided to wear something casual yet chic. Miami is a place that allows you to wear whatever you want, whenever and however you want. So you can dress up or dress down and the city doesn’t care. The weather was quite pleasant that day. We started our city tour with ‘Lincoln Road’ which is a street filled with tons of opportunity for shopping and loads of cafes to rest and eat at when you get yourself tired from shopping. What I genuinely love about this city is the scope and extent of the creativity in their architecture. People here give a lot of importance to art and it can be seen from the painted street walls, the graffiti that changes every fortnight and the colours on the buildings. I have always had an eye for patterns and geometry; this was a place that satisfied the inner architect in me to the fullest. Apart from taking in the food, culture and the fashion that dominates Miami, I was engrossed in the city’s architecture, the building structures and colours, the street art and the ongoing gentrification.
We strolled around the city and did some serious chilling before heading to South beach which happens to be the most happening area in the city with the night clubs and the coolest cars in the world! You can hit the beach and get into some beach sport or eat, drink and just hang around. The buildings here have a total retro vibe to them. The architecture is completely different and most places exude a vintage charm. You can spot some lovely Art Decor buildings here. I was fascinated and we decided to walk the whole stretch. I was feeling overwhelmed and thankful. The group that I was with was a media group and they were extremely warm people. I always like meeting new people, socialising & exchanging ideas. It's always nice to meet a talented bunch of people. I made sure I clicked a ton of pictures constantly and captured every moment that I would want to look at again. The streetscapes, landscapes, my outfit pictures & the essence of the place! The sun was a real help and no matter where your camera points, the picture turns out well, no filters needed. We went to Miami midtown to a place called ‘Wynwood' which is basically street art and within a certain period of time an artist gets on board to display his talent on the wall. I was getting restless because I wore one outfit through the whole day and there were so many places to take pictures at! Especially with the graffiti! :P
Wearing: Top & Skirt - Forever 21, Socks - H&M, Boots - Zara
I am sure all of you who have been to Miami know that it is also a shop-a-holics heaven. The place is filled with shops and brands of every possible designer on this planet, accessible or high end, they have it all! I loved the fact that the show rooms are a completely different style from what you would see normally, they are abstract and built with lots of careful planning and creative freedom. So just before lunch we decided to explore a Design District which houses not just high end brands but the statement shop of that brand; style which is unique to that very location, something you won’t see anywhere else in the world. The Fendi signature store caught my eye as it’s a completely new concept to have a store with neon orange columns with white and pastel blue complimenting it. Every boutique or store is fancy and unique! We also visited Little Havana which is a Cuban street where some oldies were playing games, having Cuban coffee which we immediately ordered. There was some salsa dancing on the street that I ended up doing as the guy pulled me in with his music. Vinita and I then checked out the rest of the street and finally decided to go have some lunch! If you guys follow my posts, I’m sure you know who Vinita is! She’s not just the junior fashion editor at Grazia but a completely cool and chilled out fashion crazy person who I have crazy fun with.
Since we had spent our entire day in the city we decided to head to the Aventura mall, recommended by Visit Florida for lunch. Lunch was set up at this restaurant in the mall - Grand Lux Café. We then started out by meeting the Tourism Manager and went on to do a bit of shopping; I controlled myself from splurging because I knew I was coming back to the mall! Initially when we found out we had two whole hours at this mall we were not sure if we would love it but the time really flew! The mall is grand and has a wide selection of brands. Vinita and I went to Bloomingdale's and the hundred other stores and decided to return again for the experience!
Next up was the journey back to the hotel, a quick relaxing session and change of clothes for the dinner. Dinner was organised at a Mexican place ‘Cantina La Vente’ which blew my mind the second I entered the place, with its double heighted wall ceiling and exquisite lighting. The meal consisted of a 5 course dining experience with small portions but tastes that would explode in the mouth and surprise your palate. This was a place where everyone is dressed to perfection, not a single thing looks or feels out of place and its sophistication at its best! It was a great experience to have and after the lavish spread and some live music we headed back to the hotel. My first day was probably the longest days of the trip; we consumed a lot, experienced a great deal and finally ended up collapsing in bed for a good night ahead.
Wearing: Dress - Forever 21, Belt - Asos, Boots - Asos
The next day was totally different from the first, being visits to the museum and zoo, I chose to wear overalls and closed shoes and picked up a sweat shirt in case I needed to cover up! We had a quick breakfast at the hotel and left for Jungle Island, an entertainment destination which is home to Miami’s wildest and most incredible animals. I love animals and to visit a zoo with exotic animals is a day well spent! I fell in love with a breed called ‘Liger’ which is a mixture of a tiger and a lion and comes from my very favourite cat family. There was also a 110-year-old tortoise! Just imagine! I met a lot of different people on this tour and thanks to the VIP safari tour we could also go behind the scenes at Jungle Island. After the tour got done we headed to the New East Miami hotel which houses the urban reinvention, a chic Uruguayan restaurant called ‘Quinto La Huella’ where we were having lunch. The design of this hotel with the wraparound balconies, the rainfall showers and the design of the rooms that makes you feel like you are in an infinity room when you enter was amazing! We also visited ‘Sugar’ which was the hotels 40th floor rooftop bar that gives a panoramic view of the city!
We took a tour of the ‘Perez Art Museum’ after lunch which is something you can’t miss on your Miami trip! The museum consists of public gardens and sculpture installations which is Miami's urban redesign vision for the area, now known as Bicentennial Park. The Frost Museum of Science which we took a tour off post the PAMM reminded me of my days back in college, visiting construction sites and attending the jury! At the frost museum they showed us a PPT of the project and the way it will be developed. I was looking forward to going on the site and taking a look, so we wore the coat jackets and helmets and got on to the site where I couldn’t stop posing in spite of being in safety gear ;) I really feel such sites are great for learning and I could even understand what they envisioned and were setting out to accomplish in terms of the architectural plan they had made!
Wearing: Top - Adidas Originals, Dungarees - Koovs, Shoes - Converse
For dinner we went to a place called ‘Le Zoo’ which was a classic French restaurant with an authentic French feel and a deep wine list! The outdoor seating, the ambience and the feel of place just made my day! So I decided to explore the night life after dinner and go about and do some club hopping! Miami is a party place and even on a Thursday night the place was buzzing with people and music!
It turned out to be a great night and an even better morning as we woke up at 6am to head to the beach, since we didn’t have a beach day in our plan! Also, the beach was a minute walk from the hotel :)
The beach visit completed my Miami trip. We then got our bags packed and had a good breakfast at the hotel itself as it was a day of leisure. Then as we had already decided, we went shopping to Aventura mall and I went a little crazy and splurged on a couple of things, one of them being a handbag from Bloomingdales! Shopping is always followed by lunch ;) There is a cute and quaint café called the Peacock Garden Café in Miami where we had our last meal! I was a little sad to leave the city but excited for Orlando. The journey to Orlando was a long one and I slept through most of it. We reached around 9pm and were welcomed at ‘Wyn Dham Grand’ Orlando Resort with a dinner spread which looked very cool because of the set menu and the chefs that took time out to explain each course; but since I wasn’t famished I couldn’t do justice to the food. I reached my room and passed out, waiting for the excitement that lay ahead!
Wearing: Bikini - Forever21
Wearing: Top - PINK, Bottoms - Adidas Originals, Shirt - H&M, Shoes - Adidas Originals
DAY 4 & 5:
The fourth and the fifth day at Orlando were exhausting and fun at the same time! Orlando is a place you visit for its theme parks. Walt Disney World and Universal Studios! And I did both! The experience was magical in both these parks and it’s almost a once in a lifetime kind of an experience! We had a light breakfast on both days as there were going to be rides to get on throughout the day. I am a huge fan of rides that are scarier and more challenging than the simpler ones and that could be the reason I loved Universal more, as Disney World is mainly for younger kids. Universal also has everything to attract a Harry Potter fan!