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08 June 2011

Yachts, Beach, and the NBA Finals in Fort Lauderdale

Day 16: Sunday, 5 June 2011
Ben was up early and ready for his routine 10K run. Our plan for the day was to go to a CS jazz brunch event in Fort Lauderdale, so we awoke, quickly got ready and headed out. Fort Lauderdale is about 30 miles north of Miami and is a cool mid-size city. It's the yachting capital of the world, or something - and understandably: There are huge yachts sailing up and down the river going through the city's center.

The jazz was part of a concert series put on every month (or week?) by the city. It was nice, but the music was merely a background, as we got to meet 10 really interesting couchsurfers, who were all very friendly and happy to learn about our journey.

I finished off a few mimosas. Patti was going around looking for people with a bottle opener for her beers. Andy was from Scotland. Lynn was celebrating her birthday. Brandy organized the event, and I got to meet her boyfriend Darren. Paula was a local and offered to take us on a walking tour of downtown Fort Lauderdale. We saw historic buildings, restaurants and bars that used to be crazy spring break spots but are now empty. The main street, Las Olas, was full of upscale-casual restaurants and boutiques; nowhere that I'd shop but a good place to stroll. The group of us took the trolley back to where we started, which cost only $0.50, and you can flag the trolley down anywhere along the street; it has no set bus stop.

Our next stop was Fort Lauderdale beach, where we sniped a parking spot (there really was no where else to park). The beach is amazing, perfect sand, and the water was the perfect temperature - it felt refreshing when you first went in, warm when you're swimming in it, and the ocean breeze felt refreshing when you got out. The main oceanfront boulevard in Fort Lauderdale is not nearly as upscale as South Beach, it's the right mix of classy and cheap. I can imagine this place being full of partiers during Spring Break. Ben and I swam; Ueli didn't want to. Ben returned to tan; I walked down the beach. There were little sandbars about 20 feet offshore, and I could just sit on them and relax. I took in the city and the ocean, trying to see far out to the Bahamas. It was such a great beach.

The day was ending, and we had to get back to the apartment, because we had to get ready and meet our CS friends for the NBA game. We were running late, and we couldn't find the address of the sports bar on our GPS, so I frantically looked up a nearby address on Ben's Blackberry and we used that to guide us to the restaurant. We got there in pretty good time to meet everyone - Brandy, Darren, Andy, and a couple others. Brandy and I cheered for the Mavs (I was more anti-Heat than anti-Mavs). The people in the restaurant were obviously cheering for the Heat, and they got loud when the Head won the game by 2 points. (Overall though, Miami does not seem as passionate for the Heat as LA does for the Lakers when we're in the Finals.)

The sports bar was called Duffy's - it's a new chain of bar & grills throughout South Florida; there were screens everywhere so that you couldn't miss the game at all. They also had a 2-for-1 deal on all drinks - which meant 2 pints for Jason :)

It was our last night in Miami, so we returned to Ben's condo to rest and get our stuff together for our departure in the morning. I changed the car rental pickup location from Miami airport to Fort Lauderdale airport.

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