The Friday Traveller: Miami Beach observations

Today’s episode of The Friday Traveller should be called the Christmas Traveller. Christmas in Miami Beach. Warm weather: daytime 80 degrees and sunny. Evenings just cool enough that old fuddy duddies like me wanted a jacket, but many younger things remained somewhat deficient in clothing. Everyone’s happy.

As yet another “let’s revitalize Sparks Street” exercise gets underway in Ottawa, here’s a few Miami Beach streets:


Christmas eve on the Espanola outdoor mall was a bit busier than Sparks St:

Miami Beach streets are amazingly similar to Ottawa’s. Potholed. Washboard rough. I’ll blame the vibrations for this indistinct pic aboard a city bus, where the front seat is named for Rosa Parks:

Aboard the bus, the destination ceiling sign periodically displayed the driver’s operator number, and reminded peds not to cross in front of the bus when they disembarque/debarque.

There was a camera focussed on the space directly in front of bus, but whether it was to capture the ped being run over or a fender bender, who knows?

I was pleasantly surprised to discover there were oodles of FREE transit buses and routes. They were recognisable by their own bus stop flags and “trolley bus” exteriors. There were even express routes (still free) for those going long distances. The tourist bus system helps keep cars off the congested Miami Beach roads. They were also used by students, locals, and assorted street people. They tended to be more crowded (ie, standees)  than city buses on the same routes (no standees).

The more typical city buses (regular length and articulated) ran many of the same routes, for  $2.25 cash fare which I used several times. I got to experience some very worn buses, and two brand-new ones that hadn’t yet even got ceiling advertising placards.

There are snow fences in Miami Beach. Yes, indeed. And expensive looking ones too. This one was fronted an upscale property, and was made of fine metal:

Somehow, we can make “art” out of anything ordinary.

It hadn’t rained in the week I was there, but there were persistent puddles along the curb. Right at crosswalks, of course…

Maybe all road engineers go to the same school.

Miami has added bulb outs to many intersections. I gather a primary reason is to prevent motorists from parking too close to the intersection. The bulb out keeps cars back, opening up sight lines so pedestrians are better targets  more visible. Rather than re-route the surface drainage around the bulb out, covered channels are created along the curb:

Most everywhere else, I am afraid the sidewalks were in deplorable condition. Sidewalk depressions at intersections mimicked dropping off a cliff. The ideal location for lamp posts, freeway-style overhead signage posts, and various city utility boxes, was invariably the dead centre of the sidewalk. I actually wished there were some asphalt Watson Bandaids on the sidewalks to cover over the sinkholes.

I was still a tad surprised at this city bench and its repairs:

I was impressed by warning signs mounted right up by the traffic light signal head, where they are more likely to be noticed by motorists. Ottawa puts these warnings off to the side of the road, at regular sign post height.

Whilst sitting at an outdoor patio, I noticed that a lot of condos seemed empty. No lights at night. No furniture on the spacious balconies. Are they seasonal residences/cottages? Investments? Unsold? I discussed this with some New Yorkers at the next table, who shared my puzzlement. The fabled unused condos meme exists outside of Canada.

One of the joys of a frost-free climate is the quality of outdoor materials can be quite high and need not be snow-plow-proof. Here’s my favorite patio deli with encaustic floor tiles:

Miami Beach is famous for its art deco style buildings. I was interested to observe how new buildings / additions picked up or played on elements of that style. Some buildings were in a more generic urban modern style. I liked the saw tooth exterior of this building, with the broad “frame” or matt around the sawtooth, and the pattern within the saw tooth itself:

The mild climate makes urban wildlife fairly easy to survive. No doubt you have heard of, and maybe even drunk, the famous, expensive Kopi Luwak coffee beans harvested from the droppings of civet cats. Here is an iguana on a tree stem above me that just moments before donated a “bean” to splash into my Starbucks tea cup:

There was an abundance of feral civic (but not civet) cats:

Although if they were civet cats, there might not be a problem with cat droppings not being picked up.

And, there was the bloomin’ greenery right alongside the sidewalks:

Of course, I didn’t spend all my time looking at streets or boozing pausing at sidewalk cafes. Miami Beach is famous for its beaches. I can attest, the sand was fine, the ocean was just the right temperature to cool one off without being chilling.

Slightly more chilling were some of the beach signs:

I’ll close with a pic of one of the characteristic beach life guard posts. They come in many colour combinations and various art deco styles. Do any readers recognize this lifeguard stand?

Winter ice is wonderful. Especially when it’s contained in a glass.

Now … where did I leave my snow shovel??


3 thoughts on “The Friday Traveller: Miami Beach observations

  1. Thanks for this information-filled post, with a goodly share of mirth to brighten up the Season. We who stayed behind are freezing in the dark…

  2. Enjoy your posts in general. This one just had an added ‘happy’ factor perhaps because we are so cold in Ottawa. Like the humour.

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