Jet lag has it's advantages when flying east. You're up at the crack of dawn. Which suits me just dandy. Morning person, me.
Breakfasting at The Lord Balfour was lovely. Great pastries and a funky dining area. It cleared the cobwebs and gave us a chance to plan our day. The staff there are pretty spot on. Great service while not being too pushy. One suspects that they are all too keenly aware, as all hotel staff are these days, that they are one bad Trip Advisor review away from the walking the street. Keeps them on their toes.
We decided to walk rather than cab it to the car hire place. Only 40 mins and it was a nice, but humid, day. It also gave a chance to take in South Beach in all it's splendour and see if that dad guy was still there.
The Art Deco buildings on Ocean Drive even looked lovelier than the night before unadorned as they now were of their gaudy neon lights. We popped into the Art Deco center/centre (don't get me started on these American spellings) and almost bought a dress for Twiggy. Sadly she was not as keen as Tim and me.
We walked on the beach for a while with it's perfect white sand. Maybe too white. Maybe too perfect. Dazzled by the sun and and then by the bodies we gazed at the boys showing off on Muscle Beach. Oh to have that body. And that much time to self-obsess over it...
As we neared Hertz we got caught in a downpour. Apparently this neck of the woods gets showers almost daily. They seem to stop almost as quickly as they start and in thus heat everyone dries out and just carries on.
The car we hired was more of a truck - a people carrier with the turning circle of a super tanker - but with Timmy firmly established behind the wheel we soon had pedestrians leaping out of our way with nothing more than a short, sharp blast on the windscreen wipers. The boys were mobile.
Firstly we retraced our tracks back to The Lord Balfour to pick up our luggage and then headed up the coast to Fort Lauderdale.
Our home for the next two nights was actually to be a beach resort hotel - Lago Mar Resort & Beach. And the place was actually quite nice with it's own beach - that perfect white sand again - a number of bars and pools all surrounded by palm trees. As we attempted to check in it the German guy on the front desk took a bit of a shine to us and upgraded us to a couple of suites. And boy were they big suites. Bigger than each of my first, second and third flats when I moved to London. We almost got lost in them.
Not wanting to miss out on any of what was on offer we headed straight to the bar for a beer and a burger. The way you do. Suitably refreshed we then headed down on to the beach proper for a romp in the sea. Fluffy white towels were provided by the hotel staff and the gentle off shore breeze and 84F water temperature made the whole experience one if a tropical paradise. The water was lovely and we had silver fish swimming around our feet. We did see a jellyfish at one point so took that as our cue to head back up the beach to the pool. And bar. A nice cocktail in hand and we were soon planning our night out in the gay area Wilton Manors.
Later after a short disco nap we took a cab from the hotel foyer and landed at Rosie's - gay restaurant right in the middle of the gay district. The gay district isn't particularly near the coast but to be honest I think we made the right choice staying where we did. Beach day, beeatch night.
The manager and staff at Rosie's were very friendly, the food great and the portions huge. Even the tropical rain storm that hit just as we're were eating added to the fun.
On their advice we sampled a few of the nearby bars. Bill's was empty but the Manor was much livelier. We had a drink or three, busted a couple of my grandad moves on one of the two dance floors and watched the go-go boys die a little on the inside.
We fell into conversation with a couple of Americans towards the end of the night - topless, prospective nurse Ray from Kentucky and shot-buying David from Biddley-Bong Idaho (or some such place). I'm sure we left them wanting more but all promised to remain firm friends and see them again the following day. Yeah, whatever.
The taxi ride hope was interesting. Stu, Andy and Tim promptly fell asleep but as I'd stopped drinking 2 hours before was sober enough to engage our driver in a bit of 3am chatter. "Where are you from?" he asked. "London", I replied. "England." He paused for a moment "Never been. Probably never will." And on that sad note hanging in the air I fell silent again just watching the city lights flash by the raindrop-sprinkled car window.
Up at the crack of noon now. Let's see what today has in store.