Miami & CARNIVAL BREEZE, Part 1
(Click on photographs to enlarge them)
Tuesday 20th November 2012
This was the day for me to fly to Miami, Florida, for the first time. I left London Heathrow at 9.40 a.m. We broke through the cloud into sunshine way up high, and that's how it stayed for hours and hours. Drinks came round, then a hot meal with a choice of beef or fish and pudding, and that was when I discovered that my wristwatch had stopped - the battery had run out! Huh, you wouldn't believe it would you, probably the one thing I hadn't anticipated.
Tried to sleep during the next few hours, fairly successfully, but watched the progress of the flight on the video screen in front of me.
I watched an episode of the American series 'Big Bang Theory', which I look at in the UK and think is hilarious and clever. I played Angry Birds, fairly successfully thanks to the latest instructions from Will (age 6), so that passed some time.
Nearing the end of the journey we flew over Long Island
and I photographed Manhattan from 38,000 feet - what an unusual and extraordinary sight for me.
There was thin cloud about so I was lucky to see what I did.
Soon we were preparing to land at Miami International airport, at the end of an epic 4,800 mile flight from Heathrow (epic was the word used by the First Officer when he talked to us all, at the the end of our almost ten hour flight) and I later discovered that my daughter had been following my flight on the flightradar24 website - what fun.
I joined the Immigration queue which moved fairly well but with thousands of us all in lines, it seemed endless. Eventually it was my turn with an immigration officer, who was pleasant and cheerful, and chatted while my fingerprints were being done, and I was allowed into the US of A. I collected my suitcase and then had to queue again for Customs, but this was much quicker, and soon I could get out and discover it was still daylight. Took a yellow cab outside and was driven to my hotel in Downtown Miami, and finally I could see the sea and ships and port, and marvel at it all.
Ships seen: Costa Mediterranea
Wednesday 21st November 2012
This morning I enjoyed breakfast under clear blue skies, looking out at the warm sunshine. So strange to think my Dad was here in the early 1930s, when it looked so different. One of the buildings in one of his first photos is still there, and last night it was flood-lit in red and looked very eye-catching.
A friend collected me as arranged and we drove to the Ocean Drive area and parked in a leafy side street, before walking to the Wolfsonian Museum. Inside he paid me the compliment of showing me the Museum's boxes of Union-Castle Line ephemera, (donated by him and thus part of The Laurence Miller collection) just as Frank Braynard did all those years ago when he showed me his own personal collection of U-C things at his home. Frank said then I was the first Union-Castle person ever to have seen them, and now I have been given the same privilege at the Wolfsonian - thank you Larry.
Lunch was next, at one of the Art Deco hotel/restaurants in this Heritage area of Ocean Drive,
and then the chance to walk on the vast beach - Miami Beach - and admire the colour of the water and the fine sand. Driving through a nearby road we found several streets were flooded, which astonished me. Apparently at really high tides, the sea floods in through the drainage system and comes up the only place it can - through the sidewalk-side drains, so there was lots of salty sea water all around.
My friend dropped me off at my hotel, leaving me grateful for the sights and sounds of the day so far. My travelling companion arrived a little later and we walked across to the Bayside Market for a meal. The big flags were cracking a bit with the breeze, but it was warm and lovely. I do like this area, and it is obviously very popular. Tomorrow is Carnival day!
Ships seen: Grandeur of the Seas, Carnival Breeze and Island Queen.