How I Spent My Summer Vacation
South Beach, Florida
By Jon Minners
It was my birthday and the weekend had been filled with surprises already. On Friday, August 11, my girlfriend, Kristy, and I, were part of a surprise for one of my writers, Annia, who was also celebrating her birthday later that week.
The next day, on my birthday, I walked into Carmine’s Restaurant in Manhattan and was surprised to see all my friends; Katrina, Annia, Vanity, Denita, Mike, his girlfriend Nicole, my sister Justine, her husband Ismael and my girlfriend’s roommates, Breayne and Adriana, all there to celebrate my birthday. Kristy put a lot of work into it and had already filled my day with surprises, including Mets tickets for later in the coming weeks. I had so much fun at the dinner and I couldn’t imagine how my birthday could get any better.
The next day, after attending the Raising Kings and Queens Hip Hop Concert in the Bronx, I was preparing to take an Amtrak to Jersey Shore for three days with my baby, when I opened one last gift, containing a slip with airline information for a trip to Miami, Florida.
“Cab is on the way,” said Kristy, and I stood shocked and even slightly confused, wondering if this was all true. It was, and before I knew it, I was on a flight to Miami. We left at 6, but as luck would have it, a lightning storm struck Miami and we were rerouted to West Palm Beach.
“We do not have enough fuel to circle around Miami,” said the pilot calmly, not knowing how scary that sounded. I didn’t get to Miami until almost midnight.
We checked into the New Clinton Hotel and Spa on Washington Avenue in South Beach and I thought the place was closed. It was so dark, but that was just part of the ambiance. We walked into our rooms and were greeted by Frank Sinatra music coming from the television. They had a killer stereo system with CD capabilities, too, but the best part was the comfy bed with the most wonderful sheet of happiness you could ever find yourself under. The bathroom shower had two heads with various massage settings and maneuverability and a tiny sink that looked like you could carry it around with you. There was a deck and more importantly, there were robes. We loved the robes. Lots of fun. It looked like a fun little trendy spot. Kristy made an excellent choice.
We went out to a place called Wet Willie’s. We ordered the best nachos ever created. They were baked to perfection. A little on the dark side, but they tasted better than any nachos I have ever had at Applebees or any other themed restaurant or diner. The French fries were good, too, but the chicken strips…wow…I never had juicy chicken strips before. Best damn chicken strips you could ever have.
However, the reason you go to Wet Willie’s is to enjoy a frozen drink called Call-A-Cabs. These drinks contain lots of different kinds of liquor…grain alcohol…and one is enough. They actually cut you off at three. Most people can’t get that far. Me and Kristy had one each and shared another. It tastes like a slushy, the kind I used to enjoy in Loreto Park, but these get you messed up in a hurry.
We went to sleep and did not wake up early. Damn that comfortable bed. We went to the beach. Had to be the most beautiful beach ever. I grew up in the Bronx. Our beach is a landfill. Anyways, the water on this beach was really blue. The skies were beautiful. The sand was smooth. It was a calm day, but when we laid down, suddenly, in the distance, we heard thunderstorms. We looked to the left of us and saw black clouds approaching. We tried to prolong the stay, but soon, they were surrounding us and then a lifeguard got on a megaphone and told us all to evacuate the beach and seek shelter. I was scared, but apparently, they were a bunch of cowards, because the lifeguards here didn’t stick around. They got into their safe vehicles and drove off without us. This was not Baywatch. No heroes there. Anyways, we run to avoid what turned into the worst rain storm I have ever been so close to. The streets were flooded and their sewer system sucks. It was bad and we were soaked, but we enjoyed a trip to Starbucks and all was alright.
Once the rain died down, we headed out for lunch at Big Pink’s. It is a nice trendy place that looks like a more elegant cafeteria, but with a diner motif. Kristy had the most amazing spinach dip ever. It came enclosed in a roll with nachos. You open up the roll, dip the nachos and then when you are done, you enjoy the roll. I loved it. And yet, it wasn’t even my food, but sharing is caring, after all. So, I sat ad enjoyed my yummy bacon cheeseburger and fries. It was delicious. When it came to food, I doubt I had one complaint. But be careful. At Big Pink’s, you may want to bring a jacket. It’s chilly.
We went to the hotel and slept until 11:30 before meeting Kristy’s friend Jasmine and her friends. It is always nice to see a familiar face. Wet Willie’s was great again, but then we went to the Clevelander, which is known for its slightly cheaper, $7 Rum Runners; another great frozen drink. The outdoor bar ambiance, complete with pool, was worth going there alone. I think single guys would have liked it, too, but my eyes were on one person, Kristy, the woman who made my 30th birthday the best of the bunch. Anyways, before I leave this place, if you go to one bathroom, go to this hotel’s bathroom. Their hand driers are the most powerful force since God.
We walk by Mango’s, which had girls dancing on a stage in case you are interested. The place seemed packed and the music was hot. But the cover charge, as little as it was, was still more expensive than going to any other place without one. We ended up at a 24-hour diner and had appetizer samplers before going home at 5 a.m. People were out and about late. The streets were still packed at 5 a.m. Got to love it.
Just a few hours later, we enjoyed quality time at the beach. Got a nice tan. No rain. We walked on Lincoln Road and hit all the shops before finding a Brooklyn-style pizza place. It was far up on Lincoln Road, across from a McDonald’s, near a Dunkin Donuts and across from a supermarket. I ordered a chick, cheese and bacon pizza that was enormous and quite tasty. They even put a pretty decent sized garlic knot on top. And the best part…free refills. Yummy Pepsi.
We had reservations for a place called Tantra later that night. It’s supposed to be the place to go. It doesn’t look like much from the outside. You walk in and you see real grass on the floor. The room is dark…there is sort of a reddish glow, and there is Kama Sutra playing on the screens. I hear they have belly dancing on some nights. The menu was a little pricey and it contained food that really didn’t seem appetizing to me, but I heard it was all good. However, with the prices, we were unwilling to experiment and instead had two $15 Tantra Kisses, a drink that messed me up before we headed back out in search of a more pocket-friendly eatery.
What you will notice about Florida is that restaurant owners train their staff by having them act as homeless people. They will just stop you in the street and practically beg you to eat at their restaurant. It’s weird. Slightly annoying. I’d rather give to the homeless.
We end up at Hotel Victor, a really unique place that I’d like to stay at. They have a rooftop bar. It was pretty cool. I thought it was elegant. You felt a sense of importance just being there. But the clouds were threatening, so we headed back to Wet Willie’s for more nachos, fries, chicken strips and Call-A-Cabs. I love that place. Then we head for the beach. The beach at night is lovely. Sit on the sand no matter what clothes you are wearing and just watch the water and the dim lights of cruise ships in the background. Believe me, you should just do that. Your girlfriend will love it.
The next day was our last day. We didn’t really have much time to do anything. We went back to the beach for a little more tanning, but it was extremely hot and we didn’t last long. We then headed back to Lincoln Road and this place called Nexxt. They serve hearty portions and have the best mashed potatoes ever. You will not be able to finish the main course if you load up on bread and appetizers. I couldn’t get too far into my delicious mile high meatloaf. Such a shame. And Kristy keeps talking about the time she could barely eat her Sheppard’s Pie. She regrets not eating it. It looked great. It was our last meal there. When we got back to the hotel, which had an extremely courteous staff and wonderful services, they called us a cab, which we shared with a nice woman, who helped us save some cost on the way back to the airport And then, we headed home on a bumpy ride back to New York.
I didn’t want to leave. I loved it there. I miss the shower. I miss the robes. I miss our blanket. I miss just being with my girl and no one else. I owe this all to my girlfriend. It was the best summer vacation ever and it could be your best trip, too. All you have to do is just pack your things and go. Bring a few little surprises into your own life. You’ll never forget it. I know I won’t.