Bienvenidos a Miami! Why, you’re not in America anymore, Dorothy. This pastel deco and condo wonderland of celebs n’ poseurs, hustle n’ muscle, golden tans, white sands and the magnificent big blue above and beyond is the gateway to Latin America and the doorbitch to hedonism. But it’s not all toasted hooters and Cuban politics, the City of Thong and Dance boasts an enviable international art scene, fab vintage shopping and jetset fashion. Carla, get your kaftan...
Miami is more than the isle of Miami Beach, or specifically South Beach (SoBe, the southern half of Miami Beach up to 23rd St). Downtown and Brickell biz district sit along Biscayne Bay, Little Havana lies west, Coconut Grove and Coral Gables extend southwest, edgy-cool Wynwood, the Design District and Upper East Side extend north. Vamos!
Balmy Dec-Apr is a whirlwind of people and parties. Hot, moist and blowy hurricane season hits Jun-Nov, crowds depart, businesses close or cut hours – sanity prevails Hotel prices skyrocket on weekends, especially Dec-Apr Miami Int’l Airport to SoBe: 20 mins / $32 fixed fare + tips + fuel surcharge by taxi ($25 to Downtown) Taxis are best for SoBe, but there’s much more to Miami, so get out and explore – you’ll need a car (see V. Useful) GPS is not essential. Miami’s easy to navigate grid system begins Downtown at 0/0 at the junction of Miami Ave and Flagler St. e.g. 4000 NE 2nd Ave is NE of 0/0 on 2nd Ave at 40th St. Lop the last two digits off to get the cross street Streets generally run east/west, Avenues north/south Miami Beach follows the same principle, on a different grid Parking and valet is an industry and a law unto itself, especially on SoBe – you’ll be fleeced at hotels, restos and privately ‘patrolled’ carparks. There’s often street parking and municipal-run lots and garages nearby Take advantage of handy DecoBike hourly bike-sharing scheme with stations all over Miami Beach / decobike.com Try to be bi – Spanish and English are equally widely used Sales tax is 7%, among the lowest in the US. Spend up! Miami is not known for service, yet many restaurants automatically tack on a 15-18% tip. Check the check. No smoking in restos, but OK in bars, clubs and outside Ladies, skimp on quantity, not quality when it comes to dressing, and gents, look sharp, but ditch the tie The city books out with conventions all year – plan ahead Miami proper is still rough, esp. at night, so don’t walk Pace yourself papi, bars close 5am in SoBe, 3am in Miami Drinking age is 21, carry photo ID for venue entry In an emergency (not bad hair or chipped nails) dial 911 Int’l code is +1. 305 and 786 are the two main area codes, which you must dial even when calling local
A couple of phrases you will definitely hear:
Oye Mamacita! - [Cuban wolf whistle] Hello, gorgeous! Sorry, the sunbeds are all reserved – Honey, you’ve got more bush than Australia, ever heard of wax...?
fiesta, fiesta, fiesta...