Round the World in 40 Days: Stage 11 – Miami and the Everglades

Miami was on our route back from Lima to the UK, but why transit for a couple of hours when you can stay for a few days. Although I had visited Florida eight years before (see Florida – Touring holiday), I was quite happy to revisit some of my favourite places there.

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

Also, for senior travellers, March is a great time to visit: the weather is warm, rather than hot and sticky, there are relatively few tourists and, most importantly, there are no mosquitoes.

Our visit started badly. Firstly, although we were careful not to bring any coca leaves or coca flavoured sweets back from Peru, we were delayed on entry to the US by a small bag of dried prunes! But after all our baggage had been carefully scanned, we were allowed in… with the dried prunes!

Secondly on arriving at our hotel, the Staybridge Suite in Miami Doral, we found it had been flooded by a heavy storm the night before, and we had been transferred to a nearby Holiday Inn Express, but a not very good one at that.

Lifeguard Tower on Miami Beach
Lifeguard Tower on Miami Beach

After some negotiations, we managed to get moved, at no extra cost, to the Intercontinental Hotel at Doral, which proved a great place to spend the final two nights of our round the world trip.

Although we did visit Miami Beach for a few mandatory pictures of Art Deco buildings and brightly coloured lifeguard towers, we spent most of our time in Miami relaxing in two gardens: the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens (formerly known as Villa Vizcaya).

Wings of the TropicsThe Fairchild is included in my Top Ten Gardens of the World and revisiting this time confirmed that accolade. Of particular note this time were the new ‘Wings of the Tropics’ enclosure, with hundreds of tropical butterflies fluttering around and landing on you, and the large outdoor display of orchids.

In addition to the Italian Renaissance gardens at Vizcaya, which front on Biscayne Bay, the museum itself is housed in a hundred year old building that was designed to resemble a northern Italian mansion. It contains a fascinating collection of Italian and French bric-a-brac (although some very valuable) including furniture, fireplaces, ceilings and doors. Both Fairchild and Vizcaya offer Senior discount rates.

Airboats at Coopertown
Airboats at Coopertown

As on my previous visit to Florida, I took an airboat ride in the Everglades from Coopertown. Once again it was an exhilarating experience with plenty of bird-life and alligators along the way.

Another way to see the Everglades is to take a ride on cycles hired at the Shark Valley National Park. This was a great new experience for us and involved dodging alligators leisurely crossing the cycle path. The fifteen mile scenic loop proved quite exhausting, but well worth the effort.

Cycling past alligators
Cycling past alligators

So that was it for our Round the World trip, just a final and uneventful flight back to Manchester via London.

In retrospect, the whole trip was quite crazy – attempting to see almost half of the wonders of the world in 40 days.

But it was a completely marvellous experience and thoroughly recommended to any other seniors with a spirit of adventure and the belief that anything is possible when travelling the world.

In memory of STE’s Photo Editor and my close friend, John Esser, for whom this proved to be a final trip. He lives on in great memories and his many fine articles and photographs on this website.

See also:
Round the World in 40 Days: Planning and Booking
Stage 1 – Golden Triangle of Agra, Jaipur and Delhi
Stage 2 – Singapore and the Gardens by the Bay
Stage 3 – Taipei and NE Taiwan
Stage 4 – Seoul and the DMZ
Stage 5 – Hong Kong Revisited
Stage 6 – Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef
Stage 7 – Earthquakes and Vineyards in New Zealand
Stage 8 – A Tour of Santiago, Chile
Stage 9 – Cusco and Machu Picchu
Stage 10 – Lima and Miraflores, Peru