When I was thinking about what to write next in my blog I thought I would like to talk about my experience in one of the cities I have visited, but then I thought why not start with the city I live in. I was born in Cuba, but as I mentioned in my previous blog my family moved us to Miami when I was only thirteen years old. Without spilling the beans about my age, I will say that I have lived in Miami the majority of my life. It was the first place where I fell in love, where I made friends for life and where I hold the most dear memories. Sometimes I feel like running away from it because of the traffic, the crazy lifestyle, the fact that the cost of living has sky rocketed in the last couple of years, we have no mountains and we do not see the change in seasons. Putting that aside, Miami has some incredible traits that attracts all sorts of visitors from all over the world. I will mention here the ones that to me, are the reasons why so many people call Miami the “ Magic City”
The Cultural Diversity is everywhere
If you have never visited Miami you will realize as soon as you step into the airport that most of our inhabitants are from some other part of the world. We are the definition of multicultural. I would not consider that English is the number one language spoken in Miami. To the contrary, Spanish I would say predominates and then what we so call ¨Spanglish¨, which is a mixture of Spanish with English, and some cultural slang is in the mix as well. What can I say we are colorful and special that way. I see this as a positive trait to posses because I’ve had the privilege to meet and interact with individuals from many different corners of the planet, even before I got a taste of the world itself. I have flavored and felt the warmth of other cultures before I ever thought of exploring outside of home. Coming from Cuban roots, I have been able to identify with friends who share the same family traditions, and at the same time I have learned about many other traditions from friends with different backgrounds. It’s feels like having a taste of different worlds at all times and for some reason that makes me feel at home. We are full of places to go emerge in the different colors of the varying cultures. For example, in “Calle 8” somewhere around Maximo Gomez Park you will find old men playing in the streets the famous Cuban dominoes game. In every corner you will find a cigar shop or a cafeteria to have a Cuban colada (Cuban style expresso) with a ¨pastelito” (famous Cuban pastry).
If you go to Wynwood you will find ¨The Walls¨ where local artists from all backgrounds use as a form of expression and promotion for their art. In Coral Gables you will notice that every streets has a Spanish name. If you have ever been to Seville you will notice that the 93 foot copper clad tower of “ The Biltmore Hotel” was modeled after the “ Giralda Tower”. As you can see my city has a lot to offer and with this I move on to the next special Miami trait in my list and my personal favorite; ¨the food scene¨
Miami has always been known for its large variety of choices when it comes to gastronomy and mostly because of its cultural diversity. However, I always thought that we had more of a Latin flavor when it came to food. You can appreciate the influence of Cuban, Nicaraguan, Colombian, Venezuelan, Argentinian and many other colorful tastes. Although Latin food is still a big part of our culture, other flavors have been added to to our variety in the last couple of years. Due to the city´s continuous growth, the more the cosmopolitan it has become, the more different choices we have been offered when selecting what to eat. I have discovered great restaurants from all parts of the world. Not long ago my friends and I went to a Turkish/ Mediterranean restaurant called Mandolin Aegan, and oh boy what a delight. Just the taste of the olive oil and the baked feta! Definitely a must go. Miami has become very popular for the fusion concept and you will find having a flavor of different cultures with a twist in many restaurants.
Of course you do have to try the popular Cuban food if you are ever in town. My mom would be upset if you do not. “Old Havana Cuban Bar & Cocina” offers a wonderful taste of my roots. Please don’t leave without drinking a Mojito cocktail. You will regret it tremendously if you do. Also, go to a Cuban bakery to have a pastelito or croqueta. These of course go hand in hand with a cortadito with leche evaporada, and for that I recommend “Versailles restaurant¨. This place brings unforgettable summer memories with one of my besties. We would go here sometimes after our Sunday yoga classes and it felt like the best form of meditation one could have. My dear future Miami visitor you are not allowed to leave without trying a Venezuelan arepa! My personal favorite is called “ Reina pepiada” which is a mix of shredded chicken, avocado, cheese and mayo. However, you can have almost of anything inside the arepa. I could go on and on talking about the variety of flavors you will enjoy when you visit my town, but then I would never be able to go to bed tonight. So I will just say enjoy and forget about the calories!
Miami is simply never dull
I think is in the bright and warm weather, but you will never find yourself bored in this city. Every year millions and millions of tourists come just to visit our beaches and dance the nights away. Personally, I don’t think we have the best beaches but it’s more in the “vibes”. When you visit Miami Beach you will see that everyone there is just having a good time. Just go sun tan for a while and walk by the water. Wait for sunset so you can welcome the night with a smile on your face. Then, go dance the night away! I tell you this because if you are in Miami you are obligated to have fun and what better way than going to explore your “latino” moves. “Ball and Chain” was the last place where I went with the girls and had a blast, however it does get extremely crowded. If you are like me, you will feel the need to learn about what a city is all about until you feel a little bit like a local. Miami doesn’t have great museums or is one of those old cities with lots of architecture that tells its history. Our history, our passion, our flavor is outside in the streets and its people; we keep on growing and expanding. In neighborhoods like the Design District, Little Havana, Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, Downtown, South Beach you will find a bit of the old with the new and we the people, will be happy to explain about our history. Without generalizing you will find that we are sometimes loud and a little crazy, I apologize before hand for that, but Im certain that will be one of the reasons you will fall in love with Miami. We are all different and unique. What can I say it’s part of our South Florida charm, we are passionate. It’s not hard to let yourself loose here, let the warmth of our sunshine fill your hearts with our rhythms . It can be magic, believe it. Go explore, you will not regret it!!
Sunset at Key Biscayne
If you would like to ask for more tips or simply want to find out more about Miami, don’t hesitate to reach out!