Bienvenidos a Miami

July 20, 2010


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Location:
Miami, Florida, USA
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There was quite the last minute hustle and bustle early Friday morning.

I woke bright and early to the chiming of my cell phone alarm. My eyes were puffy from crying the night before and my eyeliner had smudged a good 1cm radius around my eyes. I looked like a sleep-deprived Panda. I took a quick shower, packed the remainder of my things, stripped my bed down and took out the last of my trash.

Bryan would be pulling up by my apartment any minute now. I grab my things and walk towards my front door. Before flicking off the light switch on my way out I turn around and take one last look at what is now a completely empty apartment; just like the day I moved into it. The walls are stripped bare; apartment 4102 now lacks any character I had added to it to make me feel at home. So many great memories, so many smiles, so much fun; gone. I feel my eyes begin to water. I take a deep breath, turn around, and shut the door behind me. There’s no turning back now.

I place my gear in Bryan’s trunk and hop into the front seat. We make a quick stop by Housing. I reluctantly hand in my Chatham Square Housing ID and my apartment key to the front desk. Just like that, after a full twelve months of working for Disney, I am no longer a Disney Cast Member, no longer on the Disney College Program and I no longer live at Chatham Square. Good bye, Disney, it’s been a blast.

Sadness is quickly over turned. Today a bunch of my Disney friend and I are road-tripping to South Beach, Miami for a few days to have one last big group outing together. Before departure though, we have one thing left to do. What could possibly be better than Maccas for a pre-roadtrip breakfast!?! Mmmm, hash browns and a bacon, egg and cheese bagel! I’m lovin’ it.

We get into Miami Beach at around 4pm. We are staying at the Viscay Hotel on Collins Ave. Everything seemed to be completely booked out for the dates we required, and it didn’t make it any easier since we were a party of ten. This hotel is by far no where as elegant and luxurious as where we stayed a few weeks ago at The Bentley Hotel on Ocean Drive, but they had vacancy, the price was decent and it was ranked highly on trip advisor. Despite this, we are still only a three minute walk from the beach and we are right in the heart of the exuberant nightlife that South Beach offers.  We have two suites booked. The plan is to fit five in each. Upon arrival and first inspection, the rooms seem sufficient; big, spacious area, bathroom is do-able and we have a nice small kitchen space. I think we are more excited about the fact that our kitchen table is big enough to play beer pong on. The king bed is huge and able to accommodate three people, the fold out couch can accommodate another two; perfect… Or was it?

We get our luggage into the hotel. By now it is pushing 6pm and we are bloody hungry but we have to wait for Mike and Jessica to get back before we can head out for dinner. While waiting around, I get a text from Mike saying that he thinks he is standing next to LeBron James at The Bentley Hotel. Bryan tells me to text back and tell Mike to take either a photo or video. Bryan is from LeBron’s hometown so if he sees a photo, he’d definitely know if it was him or not. Mike texts back saying he is too scared because he has four big body guard-looking guys standing around him. Booo, Mike, boooo!

Mike and Jessica finally get back to our hotel and we  all decide to walk down Ocean Drive and go to  TGIFriday’s for dinner. Worst decision ever. Ocean Drive was absolutely packed with a swarm of people; not the most friendliest looking crowd you’d want to come across either. We held hands and made a human chain to get through it all together; it was tough, but we survived and in the end, we were rewarded with the deliciousness that is TGIFriday’s. I ask the waitress if she knows why Ocean Drive is insanely busy and she tells us that LeBron James is in town and everyone is trying to find him. Turns out it was him that Mike had seen after all!

We headed back to the hotel for en epic night of pre-gaming and beer pong. I can’t really tell you what happened because not even I’m too sure, but judging by the photos, lots of booze was consumed, beer pong was played, and there was some sort of weird, drunken photo shoot on our bed… I can recall bits and pieces of Bryan somersaulting across the bed a few times, one time almost crashing into a wall only to have Ali come to his rescue… the words ‘spread eagle‘ being yelled across the room… Dawin getting his drink spilled all over his jeans and then somehow everyone piling up on top of each other for a very close, lovingly group photo shoot.

After our glamor shots we ended up sitting out on Miami Beach in the pitch blackness of the night. It was so pleasant and relaxing until security came by and told us we had to get off the beach because it was closed. Boooo, way to ruin our night; party poopers! Once again, we headed back to our hotel. Everything was all well and good until we discovered a cockroach in our kitchen. I almost vomit a little in my mouth; gross. Not sure who, but someone killed it. Phew. We all regained our composure until not before too long, we discovered another cockroach by the closet. Mike freaked out, grabbed my shoe and squished it before I even realized it was my shoe in his hand. When I finally realizing my shoe had touched that thing, I may have vomit a little again in my mouth. A creepy shiver ran down my spine as I thought about a cockroach flying into my ear and laying babies in it while I tried to sleep at night. Ahhhhh! As soon as morning came, Mike and Bryan went to the front desk to complain but there was nothing they could do.

Cockroaches weren’t enough to bring us down. The next morning we get up and head to Fresh on Fifth to get  freshly made baguettes to order; delicious. From here we walk across the road and find ourselves a spot on the sand. While some wait for their lunch to settle in their belly, Ali, myself and Mike already have our clothes off and are running towards the welcoming, emerald greeny blue waters. Without even thinking, I jump right in. The water is beautiful. We form a triangle and throw the ball out to each other. Ali is terrible at aiming so I am forced to swim after the ball several times. This proves to be quite complicated as the water is extremely choppy today and the waves keep pushing the ball further towards the shore. When I eventually get out of the water, my legs feel like jelly and I can’t seem to walk in a straight line on the sand. I collapse on my towel and soak up the suns rays. Not a worry in the world; this is the definition of perfection.

I head back to the hotel a half an hour before the others do. I want to get a shower and wash my hair so it has enough time to dry before I straighten it. As I hop out of the shower, I hear it start to bucket down rain outside. I worry about the rest of the gang getting caught up in the rain storm but they make it back just in time. Everyone starts taking turns showering. While Ali is in the shower, Bryan, myself, Susan and Leila are laying out on the bed watching T.V. We hear a disturbing crunching sound coming from the air conditioning unit; similar to that of a blender blade trying to chop up thick ice cubes. Out of no where, the AC unit starts spitting out balls of ice; how wonderful! Just what we needed, a broken AC unit when it’s stinking hot outside. Bryan makes his way to front desk to complain, only this time, they relocate us to a new room.

Our new hotel room is much nicer, it’s on the corner so we have windows right around letting in plenty of light and the kitchen and bathroom are newer and nicer than the previous room. This room also proves to be cockroach free! Hooray! We settle in and head out to a Burger King Lounge for a quick dinner. Tonight’s plan is to pre-game at the hotel, then for those of us who are 21+, the night will be spent at Mansion nightclub. We’ve heard only good things about this place so we are rather excited to go there.

Entry to club Mansion is $25 which is a little steep, but at the same time, the clubs back home in Melbourne usually charge $20-$30 club entry so I can’t complain. The wait to get in isn’t all too bad. The club is separated into three parts; there is a small bar and dance floor upon entry which leads into a larger room with more bars, a roped off VIP section and the most awesome music to party to ever and then this room leads into an even bigger room that plays house and dance music. We wait here forever to get a drink then head back to the awesome music room to get our groove on until the early morning.

Sunday is check out morning. We gather our things and head towards Fort Lauderdale to grab a late breakfast at Arby’s. After Arby’s we decide to spend some time at Fort Lauderdale beach like we did last time. Fort Lauderdale beach is extremely beautiful and much more peaceful than Miami Beach. I decide to not swim this time; I don’t feel like having sand in unwanted places for the three hour drive back to Orlando.

On the drive home Bryan and I notice that Mike’s right back tire is looking a little flat. I text him to let him know he needs some air in it and he texts back saying he’s going to pull into the next rest stop to inflate it. Unfortunately, the next rest stop seems to be quite the distance away, and only two miles out from it, Bryan and I smell burned rubber, and, sure enough, Mike’s tire blows out so we all pull over. It takes a call to AAA, the State Troopers and Dawin to fix this hot mess. The jack that Mike had in his car wasn’t all that great, so once the wheel was off, the jack gave way and the car tilted and rolled backwards. Once the State Trooper arrived and lent Dawin a better jack, it went smoothly from here. Finally, after what seems like forever, we are ready to continue our journey back to Orlando.

Due to unforeseen circumstances, we get in a lot later than expected. Despite this small obstacle, the trip was great fun and I’m glad we could all do this once last time before we all go our separate ways.

Next up, our cruise to the Bahamas in t-minus six days and counting!


I’m In Miami B!tch II

June 23, 2010

Location: Miami, Florida, USA
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The plan was to wake up at 10am in time fort the continental breakfast which was supplied by the hotel. That never happened. We started hauling our lazy butts out of bed at around midday. After a quick shower Ali and I made our way down to Fresh on Fifth. Fresh of Fifth is located on the corner of Ocean Drive and Fifth Street. It is an amazing little sandwich bar that allows you to tick off an array of fresh deli cuts, breads, extras and dressings on a list in order to create your own freshly made sub to your liking. Within a minute or so of handing in my selections sheet, my name is called to the counter for pick up and payment. Now that’s what I call service.
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We grab our food and walk three blocks down towards the Hilton Bentley (sister hotel to the Bentley). The Hilton Bentley is situated right on the beach and inclusive in our hotel service fee, we are able to use all their facilities including the sun chairs, umbrellas and bungalows they have on their private strip of beach. We register our names and are escorted to our own two sun chairs and private umbrella. I make myself comfortable, unwrap my baguette (which by the way is delicious) and happily start munching away while taking in the breathtaking views of South Beach. This is the life.

Our umbrella cast a gigantic shadow over my deck chair. This isn’t going to do me any good. I proceed to move the chair out of the shade and in full view of the sun. I make sure my boobs are placed in my bikini top accordingly and take my shirt off. I lay belly-up on my deck chair absorbing the suns rays. By now it is approaching 2pm, the sun is at its strongest peak and is glistening down from directly above us. My body sinks into the comfortable, soft deck chair cushion. I am so relaxed.

It is overwhelmingly hot. I can feel sweat dripping down the arch of my back. I’m not sure if this excessive heat is a result of the weather or the group of overtly tan, buff males  in their Speedos that have just taken over the beach. It appears they are recording some sort of commercial for a strongest man competition. Miami, sun, beach and now this. Life truly can’t get any better. At this moment, I knew God was watching down on me.

After admiring the muscular mass for some time, the heat becomes overbearing. Without a second though, I run towards the welcoming ocean and dunk myself in. Mike and Ali join me and we start playing catch with Mike’s football while jumping over waves. The water is a nice break from the extreme heat and feels incredible against my sun kissed skin.

We dry off and take a walk all the way down to the end of the beach. We hope to catch a glimpse of a departing cruise liner. While waiting for the ships to disembark on their journey, we snap some shots fooling around. A beach patrol guard rides by and informs us that the cruise liners aren’t due to come through for another hour or so. We’re all in desperate need of an ice cold drink so we make the decision to head back to the hotel and continue one with our days planned events.

After a quick hotel stop, we are in Mike’s car and off to check out Miami Ink Tattoo Studio. Miami Ink is a reality television series here in the U.S.A. that follows the art of tattooing in the South Beach store. Due to the hit T.V. series, the store is now recognized globally. We take some photos outside then have a snoop around on the inside. There is a man in the store getting his tattoo done while his girl watches on. I stop for a minute to watch what seems to be a painful process. I cringe at the thought of ever getting one done. One less thing for my mother to have to worry about.

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The sun starts to set. We head back to our hotel and discuss dinner options for the night. We decide against another night of American food and agree to dine outside by candlelight at Bellini; the Italian restaurant on the bottom level of our hotel.

Our waiter hands us our menus and explains that there are also various specials on display for tonight’s dining options. The steak on display looks amazing, so without further ado, I order it but substitute the mashed potatoes for roast potatoes instead. We didn’t have to wait too long before our meals arrived. The steak was absolutely delicious and to our surprise, we received a 25% discount off the bill for staying at the hotel and a complimentary glass of Mango Champagne from the chef.

We spend our night on the roof top deck playing cards and consuming Bud Light and Malibu and Pineapple; my two best friends. Today was another perfect day.

~TO BE CONTINUED ~


I’m In Miami B!tch I

June 23, 2010

Location: Miami, Florida, USA
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The morning started earlier than most. I hadn’t packed yet. My alarm was set to ease into a welcoming morning melody at some ungodly hour. I stayed up online late the night before when I could have been packing, but alas, Facebook and Twitter kept calling my name. You can see where my priorities lie.

We gather out front of our apartment complex at 9:30am to load the car. I was in such a great mood; the sun was shining despite the weather mans gloomy forecast and the birds were chirping. A McDonald’s breakfast run was decided which sounded absolutely heavenly to my stomach . Today was going to be a good day.

A four hour drive from Orlando to Miami Beach await us. Mike has made a road-trip play-list to help ease the discomfort of being cramped up in a car for that long a time. I bop around in the back seat to a few new tunes. A group favorite, the Backstreet Boys ‘I Want It That Way’ comes on. I clear my throat and prepare to sing my heart out. We all sing at the top of our lungs with harmonization like you’ve never heard it before. Despite the early hour, our voices combine sound refreshingly smooth; almost enough to give the Backstreet Boys a run for their money. It’s barely 11am and I’ve already had McDonalds and a strenuous vocal workout; and to think, I’m usually still in bed at this hour.

As we drive toward the Art District of Miami Beach I am pleasantly surprised with the giant murals and sculptures on and out front of the buildings surrounding us. The colors are so vivid and radiant; they almost make you want to admire their beauty. It is amazing how something so simple can brighten up such a bland looking building, making it appealing to the eye. Something distracts my attention away from the art work for a second. Our car approaches an endless strip of palm trees. We have officially arrived at Miami Beach!
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We are booked into The Bentley Hotel on Ocean Drive, South Beach. As we approach Ocean Drive, I try to keep an eye out for the hotel but, at the same time, I try to sneak a peak at the lively area in which we are situated. The people walking down the street are gorgeous, the atmosphere; phenomenal; the scenery; breathtaking and the cars rolling on by; to die for.

I have a mini heart attack as well pull up, curb-side, to our hotel. We have valet parking take care of the car from here on in. The bell boy takes our luggage up to our room as we check in. I found The Bentley Hotel on Trip Advisor where it ranked #34 of 198 hotels in Miami Beach. After carefully reading the reviews and being quite impressed, I was convinced this was the hotel for us. We had booked a one bedroom suite which would comfortably accommodate four of us (two in the master bedroom and two on the fold out couch). Check in goes quite smoothly and we are handed our room keys. The suite is absolutely beautiful. We have a huge living space, a more than adequate kitchen area, the master bedroom is great and the bathroom area is huge, complete with a personal butt-washer! Bless Trip Advisor for its honest reviews (Click on the images below to enlarge).

We didn’t waste any time unpacking. Within a few minutes of settling in, we had our bathing suits on and went to suss out the roof-top pool and tanning deck. Although only five levels up, the view from the roof-top deck was truly beautiful. The different-shades of ocean-blue water shimmered as it caught the suns rays; the sand, so white and pure and the palm trees, gently swaying in the afternoon breeze beckoned a picture perfect post-card moment. I took a deep breath and inhaled the ocean-fresh air; so crisp and invigorating. I had already fallen in love with Miami (Click on the images below to enlarge).

After a quick dip and tanning session on the roof top, it was time to frolic on South Beach. I held my flip flops in my hand and sunk my toes deep into the warm, white sand. The crashing of the waves upon the shore whilst the sun, in all its glory, was shining down on me was so relaxing. I wish I could live this moment for ever. My thoughts are interrupted by the suggestion of a group photo in front of the ‘Miami Beach’ life guard hut. We ask a beach random to take our photo; he seems more than happy to do so. I snap away at the gorgeous aqua waters long enough to make me want to jump into it. I pack away my camera and frolic toward the shore. I cautiously creep in to test the North Atlantic waters temperature; it has been warmed by the suns rays. The next wave comes crashing over my feet and as it washes back toward the ocean, I scrunch up my toes as my feet sink into the wet sand (Click on the images below to enlarge).

Dusk begins to fall. We settle for dinner at TGI Friday’s which is right underneath our hotel. Once dinner is done, we head back to our apartment to pre-game, play some cards and get ready for a night out clubbing.


Today was an extremely long day. I’m finally glad when it’s time to rest my head and close my eyes. Tomorrow is a whole new day.

~ TO BE CONTINUED ~