Tuesday, 8 May 2012

The Other Hollywood

After Washington D.C., my sister and I embarked on our Greyhound journey down to Florida. It was a 27 hour trip, but we met people along the way who made it an interesting one. One was Frankie, a Miami native who gave us the low down on his home city, as well as just about everything else. He could talk for hours, but he was a hoot and made the long bus ride fly in. We eventually got to discussing the hostel we had booked to stay at in Miami, but soon realised was had actually booked ourselves into a little beach front place in Hollywood, twenty miles north of Miami. Woops. We finally arrived in the Sunshine State on New Year's Eve, and were advised by Frankie to get off a stop early, as it would be easier to get to our hostel from there than from the Miami stop. So off we popped, waved goodbye to our bus-buddies and tried to figure out a route to our new abode. We boarded a local bus, but soon realised we had no idea where it was going, so upon spying a 7-Eleven, we got off to ask for directions. While I went inside to take advantage of the air conditioning and ask where the hell we where, my sister sat with our bags outside. I came out none-the-wiser about where we where, but found out that we'd been offered a lift by a young girl and her sister who were headed in the direction of our hostel. We threw our bags in the trunk and about fifteen minutes later we'd arrived. (We were unsure of the etiquette when hitching a ride so gave the girls $10 gas money for being so kind).

Looking back, I'm so glad we booked into the place outside of Miami. The hostel was so quaint and laid-back, I absolutely loved it. It was a stones throw away from the beach and the boardwalk, in an absolutely picture-perfect location. My sister and I met great people the very first day. Among them was Kym, a wise Australian who’d sold his house and moved into an RV in Austin, and had never been happier; Kitty, who was on her way to meet her sister for the first time, and a jazz enthusiast, Don, from Chicago. We spent the day checking out our new surroundings, and were then invited along to the Taco Shack next door that night. We all spent New Year’s Eve eating tacos, sipping on bottles of beer and talking about life under the stars at that little Mexican place. Of all the 31st of December’s I’ve experienced, that’s my favourite. Just taking it easy with new friends and toasting to the New Year.

Hollywood boardwalk
Taco Beach Shack

The rest of our time spent in Hollywood was just as relaxed and easygoing as the first night was. It was heavenly. We discovered a gorgeous huge breakfast bakery place just around the corner from the hostel, which we frequented at least three times during our stay for their delicious pancakes and waffles. We spent time relaxing at the beach, swinging in the hostel hammock, reading, taking bikerides and walks along the boardwalk, exploring the town of Hollywood, with it's little boutiquey shops, chilling out on the communal sofas and watching television with our new friends and just taking it easy. Kitty took us to this out-of-the-way tiny little restaurant for foreign food for dinner one night, where we all chatted away to an old Mexican man who told us some stories while we ate our cheap, great food. I love doing those sorts of cool, untouristy things, they really give you the feel for a place and you remember those little things after you've gone. We ended up extending our stay in Hollywood because we loved it so much, the vibe was wonderful. It's pretty safe to say that I'll be back in the future.

We ventured out of Hollywood a few times to check out Miami, of course. We became such good friends with Kitty, that we all drove down together in her car. En route there, we decided to stop off at an IHOP. I'd heard so much about this place that I just had to check it out. Wow. Yum. Coffee, orange juice, waffles, fruit, pancakes, pancakes, pancakes. It was amazing. We also discovered a drive-thru Starbucks - huh?! Americans obviously are big fans of their morning coffee en route to work.

Miami was filled with great little market stalls selling everything from jewellery to fruit. We spent time at the beach and checked out the great shopping scene, but I much preferred Hollywood. When my sister and I returned again, we went on an adventure to find Miami Ink. We found it, but it left much to be desired. I had been interested in getting the Red Hot Chili Peppers logo tattoo for a while, so thought it'd be quite cool to get it at the famous shop featured in Miami Ink. Unfortunately, we were met with quite a pompous, arrogant receptionist, so we promptly took our business elsewhere. The number of tattoo parlours we found around the area of Washington Avenue was overwhelming. After walking around and checking out some of the shops, we found one we were happy with and I got my tattoo. My sister also decided upon getting a simple and meaningful Beatles lyric, "Love is all you need."

I was quite sad to leave Hollywood, and sad to say goodbye to the great people we'd met, but it was time to take in the sights and sounds of fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada. We stocked up on food, ventured to Fort Lauderdale and slept at the airport to save some money in anticipation for our next adventure. The next morning we boarded our plane and lifted off for Sin City.