Miami, Florida Turnpike, Disney Springs

Today was the day we got off of our cruise ship, Harmony of the Seas.

Disembarkation went smoothly, at least for us. We actually got our disembarkation number two days before and knew we had enough time to go eat before we were called. After breakfast we only waited about a half hour before our group number was called.

I had read in the Cruise Compass that American citizens could use an online app to get back into the US. It is called Mobile Passport, and worked in Fort Lauderdale. (Only a few US cities use it.) This app was AMAZING. It only took a few minutes to fill out the night before, and then we had to also quickly confirm the information when our ship reached port.

When we walked into customs, and saw the line for normal customs that wrapped around the room, and then walked up and saw that we were second in line for the Mobile Passport line, I knew we had done a good thing.

We got on a shuttle to the airport, but we were not flying home. We were headed to the airport to rent a car and were going to spend the day exploring parts of Miami and then drive north to Orlando.

We had done some research and decided to head south, a little passed Miami, to Key Biscayne.

We drove over a causeway and got a nice view of Miami.

Key Biscayne was a really neat area! We headed to Crandon Park.

The beach was very long and quite clean from any seaweed.

I loved that the palm trees came right up to the beachfront.

We walked down the beach for a while. This would have been a great place to spend the day - there were volleyball areas, tons of picnic spots, and places to sit. This was January so it was very uncrowded.

The birds in Florida were pretty friendly. These guys did not even move out of our way, we actually had to go around them.

The air and water temperature was definitely cooler than down in the Caribbean, but it was still a very pleasant day.

I really love the beach.

After about an hour, we headed back to the car and saw this guy:

Like I said, the birds are not scared of people at all. We were within a couple of feet of this guy but we still kept our distance - I've seen Hitchcock's Birds, and he could have seriously poked out someone's eye with that beak.

We really research and plan out our trips, and so had decided to try a taco spot in Miami that got great reviews on Trip Advisor.

As we were following our GPS, we realized we were in a very interesting part of town. As in, not the greatest area. But we found a parking garage just a couple of blocks from the place we were going to and decided to try it.

As we walked, we noticed lots of graffiti.

Lots of it.

We were eating at Coyo Tacos.

We got fish tacos.....

And carne asada tacos. With margaritas, of course.

These tacos were very good. We paid between 7-8$ each for two of them, and thought they were a bit on the small side, but really tasty.

The staff was friendly so we asked them about the area and all of the graffiti. They said that yes, the area wasn't the greatest but they were trying to revitalize this area, called Wynwood, into an artsy funk kind of place. So in this 6 block area, it was legal to do graffiti as a form of art.

After we finished eating we decided to check out more art and walked up the other street to get back to our car. And art we saw.

They even had graffiti on the sidewalks.

This was an art shop, and I had to take a photo of their front window:

EVLworld hours
(most likely scenario)
Tue-Sun open 12ish till 7ish
Mondays are always a maybe,
Hooky days happen sporadically,
in that case, try calling

Totally got a kick out of that.

We had a three hour drive ahead of us, so we got back to our car and headed out of Miami.

Like I said we researched our trip. So I knew that the Turnpike was the fastest way to Orlando, and that there were toll roads. As in road that you have to pay to drive on. We started out and thought things would be easy-peasy.

To get on, you go through a toll booth, and get one of these.

I thought that we would then just pay when we got off in Orlando but no, it seemed every few miles we saw this:

Which meant this was coming:

And since we were not planning on driving much we were paying cash, so we had to stop and pay each time. 

People that might drive more can get the SunPass, which is a sticker in their car that automatically sucks the money out of their bank accounts. The cars that had this flew through these road blocks, while we had to stop at each one.

And, we also found out that exact change does not mean cash only (duh) and had to back up to get into a line that took our dinero. Thankfully, there was no one behind us when we figured that one out.

At some point we saw a Starbucks and decided to stop. As we got back on, we realized that we were going to have to pay, again, just to get back on the Turnpike. We asked the toll booth lady (who was friendly) and she said we could take the other freeway, but it could take longer. 

We had already blown through about fifteen bucks so we headed for US Route 441, which does not have tolls.

Because of that, we found it was a little more crowded and was not a straight shot to Orlando. But at least we were not stopping every few miles.

There were more trucks on this highway. We haven't driven across country or anything, but let me tell you, we were going 5 miles over the speed limit and we were the slowest ones on the freeway. Trucks were passing us. I had to take a photo of this because I could not believe it.

 Don't ever tell me that Californians drive bad.

Okay Florida. You have beautiful beaches. But toll roads?? I get it that you don't pay state income tax or something like that, but holy moly. Tourists, be warned.{Rant End}

We made it to our hotel in Orlando and stepped out of the car. In the last three hours, coming north, the temperature had dropped by about 25 degrees. Yes, it was January.

We checked in and then headed to dinner at Disney Springs.

We walked around a bit before but got cold so we headed Paradiso 37: Taste of the Americas, where we had made reservations.

We decided to split an appetizer: Chips with three dips - guacamole, chili con carne, and spinach dip.

We also split an entree - The Paradiso 37 Burger.

The food was good and very tasty.

Back to our hotel not too late since we were up early to head to Cape Canaveral.


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