Thursday, March 27, 2014

2014 Carnival Breeze Southern Caribbean Cruise - Getting to Miami

Friday, March 14, 2014 - We're Coming, Miami!

I did contemplate flying to Miami, but decided on driving. I've done the drive a few times before, as has Max (he's gone to both Orange bowls that Clemson played in while in school). We decided to leave at 5 AM in hopes of getting to Miami in time to enjoy dinner and the hotel. The difference between leaving with Max and leaving with my family is that when I leave with Max, we actually leave on time...

5 AM wasn't a good departure time, though, because it was timed perfectly for us to hit both Atlanta and Miami rush hours.

As we drove through Atlanta, I began shouting at Max to take photos of the skyline.

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Cops were everywhere in Georgia. I passed at least ten. There was also a bit of construction on I-75. We also witnessed a horrifying wreck in Florida right before the turnpike on the north side where a boat fell off of the trailer which caused at least a 9-mile back-up (when we passed it). Those poor people weren't going anywhere for a few hours!

We were going to hit Orlando around lunch time, and we debated going to Disney to eat but decided that it would slow us down too much. We ate at one of the travel plazas along the turnpike instead which had great options including Earl of Sandwich!

We hit Miami rush hour which was terrible.

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Finally, when waiting in the terrible traffic, I spotted our hotel!

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We were staying at the Conrad Miami. Max's mother travels for work. Therefore, she has an incredible amount of hotel reward points and is so generous to use her points to book hotels for Max and me when we travel. But for this trip, she really spoiled us!

The entry is kind of confusing (for non-city dwellers like ourselves), so I'm surprised we figured it out the first try. You turn past the hotel and pull into the parking garage where they valet your car... I'm not even sure if self-park is an option. Then you take the express elevators to the 25th floor which is where the hotel lobby is located (I do have a bit of experience with mixed-use buildings, as I designed a mixed-use high rise on the NYC High Line for a studio project). Max was fussing at me because he had traveled in his sweatpants and felt under-dressed in this classy establishment.  "Why didn't you warn me?  You knew this would happen!"

After checking in, we had no luck calling the elevator. The light wouldn't come on, and we were looking rather silly among all of the people in suits. Since we only had two flights to go, I suggested we take the fire stairs. The entire situation was really amusing to me, but Max didn't find it quite so funny as I assured him up the stairs, "They put their pants on one leg at a time, just like us!" "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent!"

Once we opened the door though, who cares how anyone else put on their pants? Because we had an awesome room for one night!

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It was a king suite overlooking the bay.

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I have never before stayed in a suite in such a ritzy hotel.

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Even the Conrad wanted us to be ourselves...

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We thought it was funny that despite the contemporary furnishings, the Conrad still had corded phones!

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We had a pretty good view, too.

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The living room window overlooked the lobby...

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After photographing the room and calling Max's mom to thank her immensely, we set out for food.

And being our awkward selves, we descended to the ground level where we asked the guy at the concierge desk if he had any food recommendations. "What type of food are you feeling?" "Um... really anything." "Well, just go to the end of the block and turn left, then cross the street and go right, and you'll have many options." Max joked that he should have told him, "I'm feeling cheap..." or "Do you know any Waffle Houses nearby?"

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We settled on the second place we found which was LaBoca which had Argentinian cuisine.

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It was Happy Hour, so we celebrated our arrival to Miami with martinis!

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We both got sandwiches. Max took a bite into his and shook his head. "I'm disappointed." "Oh no, do you not like it? You can try mine." "...that we don't have one of these at home, so this is the last time this deliciousness will ever enter my mouth."

Yes, Max gives me the best quotes for my trip report.

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After eating, we tried to find a grocery store to get some champagne from for the night. Siri found a Publix. We walked there to learn that it was a Publix Cafe, not a Publix grocery store. However, we had passed a 7-Eleven along the way where we were able to pick up some champagne for the night and a bottle of wine to bring on the cruise (Carnival allows one 750-ml bottle per guest 21 and over to be brought in a carry-on bag).

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After returning to the room, I took a few long exposures from our balcony.

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We then celebrated our very brief high life with the finest champagne...

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Hey, now - don't laugh! We're still on a student budget!

NEXT: Embarkation