A Travellerspoint blog

Miami - Reviews and friends

overcast 20 °C

Yesterday was a rainy day so we did not go on our segway tour. We went to a mall to wait out the rain and then headed back to Lincoln Ave for a pitcher of sangria. Thanks to this blog and Lori, we connected with Bruce Hawkins, a fellow former City of Waterloo employee. It was great meetiing up with him and his partner David. We went to the Raleigh Hotel and caught up and enjoyed some wine. We got a great art lesson from one of his friends Danny. Bruce is celebrating his 40th in Miami, so Darwin and I are grateful to be part of his birthday celebrations.

Today was another overcast day (no major sun at all while we were here) but we did manage to get in the Segway tour. Darwin discovered this in Columbus Ohio and he wanted me to try it. He is right about this being a great way to see the sights of the city. We had a blast (Kim and Kev we have to try this out with you) We checked out the river canal area, cruise ship ports, Miami Heat Arena, Mandarin Oriental Hotel, downtown, residential condos, and the Scottish Rite Temple. If you ever get to Miami, you should check out SPLASH ACADEMY (www.splashacademy.com). Jeff our guide runs a great operation that includes segway tours, jet ski tours, boat and wakeboard rentals. We had a blast and next door is Casablanca's food and grill. Just happens to be one of the best seafood restaurants in Miami. Most restaurants purchase their seafood from their fish market. It's a bit out of the way to reach, but definitely worth the drive. The snapper was delicious.

It's 6:00 on Sunday night and Darwin is finishing our packing. Our flight for Santiago Chile leaves at midnight, so we are getting ready to have supper and then head off to the airport.

Next time we write, we will be in South America. Kevin, we will try skyping you sometime tomorrow so we know it works.

Posted by winmouse 14:49 Archived in USA Tagged tourist_sites Comments (4)

Miami - touring

overcast 23 °C

Today was a lazy day of touring. We slept in this morning and worked out at the Marriott gym. sure is nice to look out over the beautiful bay while running on a tread mill. Darwin's ankle did not swell over night and he too enjoyed a good walk on the treadmill.

We went for a casual lunch along Lincoln Mall. It really is a great spot. Dwayne, why can't Calgary plan a good pedestrian mall like this? it would be awesome in Calgary! check it out.
http://www.miamibeach411.com/Shopping/lincoln-road-mall.html

Miami is hosting one of the largest art show in North America this week called Art Basel. It has over 1,000 exhibits from around the world. What an interesting show, featuring lots of sculptures and modern art - not stuff we are used to but it was a good cultural experience.

Enjoyed a bottle of wine and then went to see 2012. This movie is FULL of action and special effects. Worth seeing on the big screen.

Tomorrow we have reservations for a segway tour of downtown. Should be fun. Check out the photos of the area we've posted.

Posted by winmouse 19:55 Archived in USA Comments (2)

Miami - landed

sunny 26 °C
View South America on winmouse's travel map.

Well we made it here safely. However, that was debatable yesterday. Instead of being good and packing on Tuesday, we decided to celebrate Darcy's birthday at Joey Tomatoes with Ken and Linda Glover. Well this ended as a winefest. We spent a few hours with them and then Gord showed up. let's just say Darwin and I weren't quite sure what was in our packs when we left. But we made it. The flight was long yesterday. We are spoiled with our Westjet flights because AA does not have TV's on their planes. So this was very boring for 12 hours....But we arrived safely and woke up to some great sun this morning. We are at the Marriott Biscayne Bay and have a great view of the cruise ship port and a marina below us. today we lazed around the pool and then headed to South Beach. We had lunch at this place that offered 2 for 1 drinks and we couldn't understand why. Then we saw the size of our margueritas and could only drink one.
we walked the beach for a bit and checked out some local sights. A Very relaxing first day

Posted by winmouse 20:49 Archived in USA Comments (3)

Check Lists

Well the VISAS finally arrived. So we are officially able to visit Brazil. What a hassle but if that's the only glitch to our preparations, that's not too bad.

Thanks everyone for the comments thus far. It's cool to see how many folks will be following our adventure. Dwayne even though we didn't need you to pick up our VISA's (thanks for offering) we will try and find you a coffee mug from Starbucks.

We thought you might be interested in our checklist to prepare for this adventure. This is in no particular order but has guided us this past month getting ready.

Finalize itinerary - put copy on memory stick to take with us - Total world Travel to have all confirmations
Book flights - confirm flights with Total World Travel
Renew passports
Confirm travel shots - only need our yellow fever certificates which we got in Africa
International drivers licenses – renew licenses so we can drive in South America (Uruguay, Chile, Argentina)
Start blog/ - falkingoff
Prepare igoogle calendar and send to friends- started this but this blog allows us to post our map on it so did not continue with the igoogle calendar
Renew drivers licenses - make sure our drivers licenses are up to date
Review car insurance – not worth changing coverage will only save $75 while away
Review house insurances – ensure someone is checking on place
Update wills
Forward mail to Darcy
Assign power of attorneys
Signing authority at bank

call Revenue Canada regarding no payroll taxes for 3 months
Review bills to ensure all automatic payment
Review Telus/Starchoice bills to minimal service while away – telus to charge $20/line while away and Starchoice will go 6 months suspended service per account for free
Cars to be stored
House key to family
Scan all relevant documents and put in Safety deposit box - also put on SD drive and put in our money belt
US cash in money belts
Visa applications sent on time

Review camera equipment
Purchase small laptop for trip

Ensure itunes is downloaded on laptop for trip
Test packing two weeks prior to leaving
H1N1 vaccines
Cancel YMCA membership
- can cancel membership for 2 months without penalty. will have to pay $75 renewal fee when return
Check all credit card expiry dates/confirm purchases to South America will occur
Money belt for Darwin
Register for skype on iphone - Darwin now has a skype number but his cell phone has been forwarded to this number to make it easy for calling
Bring sailing license

All checklists have been completed and we are ready to go. We are now visiting family and tomorrow we head back to Calgary where we will finalize our packing. We will post photos of our luggage because I know some of you can't believe we can travel in a backpack only. I know I can't take many shoes with me but I can always buy some new ones in Argentina.....and send them home.

Have fun watching the Grey Cup today

Posted by winmouse 10:50 Comments (3)

VISAS - when in doubt read the instructions

The pressure is on to get approval for our Brazil visas. We sent the visa application in 2 weeks ago and got our returned envelope in the mail on Monday and it said REJECTED on our application. We have done some travelling in our times but have never encountered a visa application like this before.

Depending on what Province you live in, determines what embassy you must deal with. Albertans must send in their visa applications to the Vancouver embassy. We couldn't believe the process for filling out the application. check this out:

Fill out online application form
Submit a letter explaining your trip - where you are going, when you arrive and depart Brazil
photos attached in the appropriate manner to the applicaiton form
Proof of income - T4 slip. or paystub
Letter from employer confirming trip
confirmation of arrival (cruise itinerary)

So....we do all this but did not INCLUDE the flight number and airline when we depart the country. We indicated in our letter that we had reservations in Buenos Aires on January 5th. But this did not work. Oh yea....their website also states that it takes 15 days to process NO EXCEPTIONS.

So you can imagine my day on Tuesday, trying to resolve this issue. After 1 hour of constant calling, I finally manged to get through to a customer rep. She indicated we needed a letter from our agent confirming our flight out of Brazil. Called my sister at www.totalworldtravel.com (the best agency in Canada by the way) and asked her to send me a letter. Called the embassy back and Claudia (our rep who has been very friendly) told me she would do her best to process our application on time.

I just checked their website and our applications have a status of "received" on it. They have not yet, "processed," "approved" or "mailed" yet. We have our fingers crossed that we get our visa approved, but more importantly our passports back, so we can make our flight on December 2nd. we will keep you posted on the status.

Next up....test packing. What to bring for an extended trip when you only have a back pack.

Posted by winmouse 16:48 Comments (5)

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