Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Miami Minutia

I've been to Miami about eight times in the past year and a half, so I think I'm getting to be a pretty experienced traveler. I know the schedule for all of the direct Delta flights between Cinci and Miami, I know which hotels I won't go back to, I know how to return rental cars to the airport, and I know some pretty good restaurants. Here are a few other things I've learned along the way:

  • Tuesday is Ladies' Night at the Doral Ale House. I know this little factoid because we go there a lot after working late, and on Tuesdays it's packed, which means that an already late dinner winds up being even later. But I do have to say that their Zingers taste pretty dang good at 9:30 at night.

  • Miami has very limited options in the way of radio stations. Your choices are: A) Salsa or B) Hip Hop (in Spanish, obviously)
    If you don't like those choices, you'd better hope that your rental car is equipped with XM radio. (As if the completely insane traffic isn't reason enough to hate driving in Miami...)

  • Cuban coffee is served three different ways-- cafe, cafe con leche, and cortado/cortadito. You can't make any of them using a standard drip coffee maker, but you can get get them at almost any restaurant down here.

  • If you come to Miami, you'll need to know the following information about the roads here:

    1. The city is divided into four quadrants: NW, NE, SE, & SW.

    2. Most of the roads are numbered. However, there's no rhyme or reason as to which numbers are actual roads-- For example, in the area that I'm staying, the only thru-roads are 25th St, 36th/41st St, 79th Ave, and 87th Ave. Some numbered roads also have names.

    3. Roads that run East-West are called Streets. Roads that run North-South are called Avenues. Roads that don't run anywhere are called Terraces. (I can't figure out why they would use that term, since it implies some sort of elevation change. Clearly the entire southern Florida peninsula is only about 6 feet above sea level at high tide, and the variation in altitude can't be more than plus or minus a foot and a half, if you exclude the drainage canals and highway overpasses.)

    4. For any given location, it's important to know the address number, the city quadrant, the road number, and whether it's a street or an avenue. (Ex: 3271 NW 87th Ave.) If you don't know all four of those things, you may wind up somewhere else.

    SIDEBAR: Personally, I absolutely hate numbered grid systems for cities. Since I have virtually no sense of direction, you would think that I would be a big fan of these systems. People say, "Oh, it's so easy to find your way around!" But they're LYING. Because I have yet to see a city with a grid system that doesn't have a half a million little "exceptions" to the system, and that's where all my troubles come in. I love Salt Lake City, but I have been lost there more times that I can count, and it's all due to the exceptions to the numbered grid system. Miami is especially tricky for me, because I've never paid that much attention to whether something is a street, or an avenue, or a road, or a drive. Suddenly, that little tag at the end is really important, and I haven't got any brain circuits specially designated for storing that information.

I'd like to close by quoting one of the guys that I work with down here-- "You know what the great thing about Miami is? It's so close to the United States."

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