We had a lovely time. Half of our trip was a family reunion, and half was sight-seeing. I'd never been to Florida before, and this was a week with the in-laws and clan for my spouse's family's semi-annual "Cousins' Club" meeting.
We stayed at an RCI-exchange condo in Pompano Beach - the Surfrider Resort - on A1A, between Commerical Blvd. and Atlantic Blvd. It was an average place, very middle-of-the-road. I'd rate it a 6 out of 10. The 4 of us (me, spouse and her parents) were in a 1BR with kitchen and a Murphy bed in the LR. Everything was clean, if a little worse for wear. (e.g. chipped formica, windows that were not true on, blind slats came off, etc.) The pool was nice. The staff was hlepful.
Overall, the trip was pretty fun. Not knock-your-socks-off or anything, but quite pleasant. We had lovely sunny weather (65-85 throughout the week), and we did have nightly 5-minute-downpours between 9 - 11 pm. Dang! Those are violent!
Lots of hurricane damage all over the place made the whole area look a lot more run-down than it is. Really a shame. Many restaurants and stores were shut down due to damage. Lots of "bald spots" in local greenery and shrubbery. Sad.
The biggest problem for us as tourists was the lack of street signs!!! Twisted, broken and missing signs really added to our gas costs and wasted time, plus municipal signage is not that great to begin with. My mother-in-law said, "welcome to the land of the U-turn!"
The local wildlife was very impressive: We saw hundreds of turkey vultures! They winter in FL, and the love circling in giant mobs. Never saw one up close, though. The main local birds were grackles, cat birds, mourning doves and, believe it or not, pigeons --- obviously "snow-birds" from NYC. Also, we saw two peahens (femalee peacocks) strolling around a vacant lot when we were taking a short cut one day. The last day, when we were loading stuff into the car, we saw an Io (pronounced "EYE-oh") moth caterpillar in the parking lot! (Thanks to my geeky Audobon Guide to Insects for help)
Saw lovely white egrets here and there, just walking around, in back yards, etc. Also, we saw many tiny lizards 'n' stuff jumping around the sidewalks.
We went to Butterfly World, which was a lovely lepidoptarium and aviary, with parrots, beautiful rare finches and songbirds, etc.
We also went to Fairchild Gardens, which was an estate turned into a botanical gardens. Great stuff! They happened to have a flock of ibises there, making a pit stop on their way south. Great lizards, iguanas, etc. Wonderful gigantic banyan trees! Wild!
The beaches were very very nice, I must say. The water was a cool "bathtub temperature", but surprisingly saltier than what I'm used to in NYC and L.A., so it really caught me off-guard! Blegh! Sand was coarse but not painful as it is in Cape Cod. More like walking on ground chalk. Saw a flock of Black Skimmers on the beach! (Thanks to geeky Audobon bird guide for I.D.)
Here was our itinerary:
Saturday night, 1/7: arrived and ate at Athena on the pier at Commercial, a Greek place with great food, but a cheesy belly-dancing show on Sat. nights. "A" for effort, b ut high "cringe-factor!
Sunday 1/8 - Partner and I went to the Las Olas Boulevard Art Fair. Very nice street, and great art show! Very crowded, lots of traffic and difficult to find parking, but that was not surprising. Really wonderful array of talent. We bought very cool ceramic cufflinks in the shape of fish.
Only true bad experience of trip - Ate a late lunch at Shizen on Las Olas as art fair was winding down. Sorry to say, but the service was surprisingly bad. The place was rather empty (it was about 3:30 pm), but we were utterly ignored for about 15 minutes. The waiter seemed inexplicably rushed and harried, and, after taking our order, spilled a bunch of drinks and soy sauce on women at the next table. They got the royal treatment after that, and we, subsequently, lost all chance of getting any meaningful service.
After another 20 minutes or so, my wifes' (cooked) chicken teryaki skewers came out first, but I had to wait another 15 minutes or so for my (uncooked) tuna maki roll. Huh? Is this typical there?
Bad luck for us, I suppose. In any event, we drove back to Pompano, and had dinner with relatives at The 3G's. Good Jewish delicatessen. Lots of tasty food, nice service, good value. Spouse RAVED about the chocolate babka. Began our trend of overeating....
Monday 1/9 - After a swim in the pool, went to hang out with relatives in Boynton Beach for lunch, and then even MORE relatives in Del Ray Beach, and more eating. Rolled home.
Tues 1/10- Another morning swim and then went to Butterfly World. Fantastic!! Afterwords, we met the whole extended clan o' cousins at the Westchester Golf Club in West Palm for lunch. Guess what - more food! Closed the place down, and then went for a drive up A1A to Palm Beach, Juno and Jupiter. Wow! Great drive, great houses (except for the newer "McMansions"), and beautiful ocean!
Ate some apptzers at the Breaker's Seafood Bar. Yes it is pricey, but so good!! I loved the aquarium bar, and the ocean views in the evening were wonderful! The Breakers is everything it is supposed to be - old glamour incarnated.
Wed. 1/11 - Off to Miami! Went to Fairchild Gardens and drove through Coconut Grove. Wonderful. On a tip from a local, we ate at the Cuban restaurant Versailles, in Little Havana on (SW?) 8th Street around 35th Avenue. Excellent mounds of savory meat, beans, platanos and rice. Just what I was looking for. !Muy sabor!
Drove up and down Collins and Washington, took loads of pictures of hotel facades, and spent some time on the shore. Went down to Shore Pointe Park and watched tankers sail off into the distance. Beautiful dusk and sunset. Beach was everything it is cracked up to be.
Went to Nikki Beach bar and club, but it was closed for renovation. Employee took pity on us and gave us a tour. Wow!
Drove home and...uh-oh....started to feel "a little off".
Thurs. 1/12 - We woke up with a virus. Spouse and Mom-in-law had head colds and drips, I had a supersized, blinding sinus headache. Slept in and then spent the day at the beach in Pompano. The salt, water, negative ions and sunshine were the perfect cure for me! Collapsed until dinner at Capitale Grille at the Galleria. Service, food was wonderful! Very impressive for a "chain".
Fri 1/13 - Spa day at Atlantis Spa (NW 14th St at A1A)! Completely worth it. Treated Mom-in-law to pedicure and Swedish massage. We got treatments, too. Magdalena the pedicurist is great! Wonderous view of ocean while having feet buffed. Daniella, the masseuse, is also fabulous. I am officially knot-free!
Sat. 1/14 - Before heading to the airport, we had a final lunch (with more food and more friends and relatives) at the Roadhouse (on Commercial at the Intracoastal Waterway/Rte 1). Surprisingly good. Great steaks.
That's it! I was bummed we didn't get to do all the things I wanted, but I will leave that for the next Cousins' Club meeting in FL next year!