Last week our family went on the cruise we had been waiting to go on for a year and a half. It took that long to save the money for it. We don’t vacation lightly, people. It’s the first ‘real’ family vacation we’ve taken (as in ALL of us going) in many years. It was totally worth the wait!
Our travel plans for actually getting to and from the cruise ship were…well, a bit conviluted. We did however save around $500 traveling this way. We left our home last Saturday morning (to a blanket of snow), and headed south to Indianapolis (it’s much cheaper to fly out of there, than either Chicago airport.) Phil’s dad lives outside of Indy, so we stopped to meet him and his wife for lunch. We made it to our hotel sometime in the late afternoon, and then went to the movies to see the movie Megamind. It was humerous. We drove around looking for something to eat, and came across a shopping center with both a Chik-fil-a and a Sonic. Oh happy day! It was a tough choice since we have neither restaurant by us, and I wanted Chik-fil-a, but the fam voted for Sonic. I know we could have gone to both, but frankly at this point I was getting tired and just wanted to get to the hotel and rest. Alisha had to sleep on chairs pushed together since our room only had two queen beds. She was fine with it.
We had to get up really early for our flight to Ft. Lauderdale Sunday morning, which is always pleasant when you have 5 people sharing one hotel room and one bathroom. We made it though and left our van in the extended parking at the hotel and caught a shuttle to the airport. Ah, the joys of travel. We had a layover and plane switch in Baltimore, then it was on to Ft. Lauderdale where we rented a car (they kindly upgraded us to a mini-van of the exact same make and model we own, which is really kind of boring.) Thank goodness we brought our Garmin along for this trip. We got to our hotel in downtown South Beach, Miami in the Art Deco section. Wow. That’s about the only word I have for that area. Neat buildings, very interesting place. Kinda scary. Since it’s in a downtown city, parking is not easy to find, so Phil parked our rental down the block from the hotel and ran in to the hotel to check us in. We witnessed the police coming to take the report from a couple whose window was smashed in (about 3 cars in front of us and directly beneath our hotel window!!) and some of their things stolen. While the police were taking their report, a homeless lady pushing a cart literally stops directly in front of our van. She then proceeds to take an old push broom and a tube of old lipstick and paint the one-way sign we were parked by. One of the police officers even looked at her and ignored the whole goings-on. At this point I decided we probably would lock our doors and not leave the hotel…at all!
Our hotel, the Beach Plaza Hotel, was a very unique place. Old and true to the Art Deco era. The elevator was kinda scary as the license posted inside was over a year out of date, and the sign said only 3 people allowed inside at a time. Very comforting. Once again our room was set up for 4 and not 5, and this place didn’t even have a chair in the room. Someone was sleeping on the floor. A wood floor to boot. Marissa (God bless her) volunteered, and actually seemed to sleep well. The room was really, really small which, in a way was good, since we were about to get on a cruise ship that has showers that are about 2 foot square.
We ended up having to leave our hotel room to search for some dinner. I wanted to go see the beach since we were
only 2 blocks away. It was very cool and breezy and starting to rain, so we just walked onto the beach and right back off. South Beach is a very interesting place. Lots of homeless people walking the streets with people in $500 shoes and carrying all manner of expensive purses. We heard many, many other languages being spoken. Apparently people from all over the world come to South Beach to vacation. As is typical for the Mongold family, we are not adventurous and just got some Subway sandwiches and headed back to eat on the hotel veranda. We also needed to find a drugstore since all the girls forgot to pack deodorant (how??) and I needed some water to take on the cruise with us. The girls were done walking, so Phil and I made sure they were safely in the hotel room, then we walked the 8 blocks to the nearest Walgreens. Which was the strangest Walgreens we’ve ever been in. We got what we needed, and headed back. I was able to snap some cool pics of the buildings along the way.
The Art Deco area of South Beach is actually a really cool place, and in another time when I wasn’t so tired of traveling and didn’t have kids along, I would probably enjoy it more. We watched Ice Age 3 on tv in the hotel room the rest of the night, and tried to prepare ourselves for the next leg of our journey…getting to the port in the morning.