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Travel guide to Miami and Miami Beach

Follow the Sun

We landed in the Miami International Airport at 2PM. Once we have collected our suitcases and made an agreement for rent a car, we went outside. Hot and humid air blew to our faces; it felt good after sitting 8 hours in airplane’s economy class seats. We picked our rented Hyundai Sonata and started to drive towards Miami Beach.

The driving in foreign country is not very easy, especially then you have jetlag, the signs are so different from those you have use to (although they are very self explanatory in US) and you have only very simple city map. We just followed the traffic at first. Then we saw a sign “Follow the sun” at the road and we followed it. We did not know it before but it came out later that the cities of Orlando and Miami have erected special highway signs that provide directions for visitors. The signs are placed along airport expressways near car rental companies. The “Follow the Sun” project has involved the strategic placement of 400 new road signs bearing a tourist-friendly sunburst logo to help non-English-speaking visitors find their way. Those signs led us to the city of Miami Beach.

Miami Beach is a city located in Miami-Dade County, Florida. Miami Beach's Art Deco Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Art Deco District is the largest collection of Art Deco architecture in the world and is comprised of hundreds of hotels, apartments and other structures erected between 1923 and 1943. Mediterranean, Streamline Modern and Art Deco are all represented in the District. The Historic District is bounded by the Atlantic Ocean.

We have heard from our friends that it should be easy in US to find an accommodation. At first we just drove on Ocean Drive and wandered around. When we saw a sign of Alden Hotel and made a stop. It was easy - hotel had very friendly staff and also the rooms available with affordable price. We got two stylish rooms, $40 per room. The hotel and the rooms were colored and built in Art Deco style.

After checking in and taking a shower, we wanted to just walk on the Ocean Drive, swim and have a light dinner. The water in the Atlantic Ocean was really warm - 28 degrees Celsius, we had never enjoyed in such warm water.

After the swimming we walked to one of the many open air restaurants at the Ocean Drive. As the time at home was 2AM already, we decided to order something light and small. We ordered two portions of ribs. After we were served, we understood that one portion would have been perfectly enough for us. Our friends ordered the ice-cream, the waitress asked - big or small. They took a big for two. The served ice-cream was far from light and small, this was huge! Here started our experience in understanding what Americans mean when they say “big”.

Being back in the hotel we had to make the plans for next day. Every hotel or motel we stopped during our trip has a stand of fliers of attractions. This was very helpful! We decided to start with the tropical zoo - Parrot Jungle.

Next morning we woke up early, at 6AM, due to the jetlag. After 7 o’clock we went to breakfast place Dennis’, where we had heavy but tasty breakfast. Our friend went to Dennis’ without shirt as it was already so hot outside. It came out that it is not allowed to go to eating place without shirt. Happily they sold T-shirt in the eating place.

After the breakfast we went to Parrot Jungle. Parrot Jungle Island is a world-class entertainment destination including an animal theme park. Parrot Jungle Island is located in the heart of Miami between downtown Miami and South Beach. There are over 360 species of parrots. Here we saw wild, green parrots that have been introduced and naturalized to South Florida. We attended a parrot show and made photos with colorful parrots.