We had heard so many stories of the high number of Canadians– the popular “Snowbirds” who year after year escape the harsh Canadian winters and flock en masse to the beautiful Florida beaches. For us, not only was the idea of spending a few days under the sun and enjoying the gorgeous Miami beaches very enticing indeed, but we had also heard for decades about the “Calle Ocho” Latin festival and we thought, “Why not?” So we joined a group of friends and off we went, to soak up the sun and enjoy the mythical Miami life.
And what can we say? Both Miami and the Calle 8 Festival definitely did not disappoint. The beaches and the city itself are stunning. The buildings, the architecture and its sheer size are just mind-blowing. There is just so much to see and do, so many places to visit that you literally don’t know where to look. Making it all that much better is the fact that you get to do all this while enjoying some really nice weather. And for us, the cherry on top was the ability to speak Spanish 24-7… Bonus! It’s no wonder so many Latinos would not hear of moving anywhere but to Miami. Who wouldn’t? You get the nice Latin-America-like weather but with a North American lifestyle. And I can’t even begin to talk about the shopping (so many malls!) and the food…my God! We had our pick of the crop when it came to Latin American cuisine (world cuisine as well, but who am I kidding? We were literally craving everything Latino while staying there).
As for Calle 8, the one-day fiesta that culminates the Miami Carnival and that takes place in the Little Havana neighbourhood between SW 8th Street and 27th Avenue, I can tell you that we tried to cover the almost 20 blocks from beginning to end, hoping to take it all in. And as athletic as we may believe we are, there was no way we’d be able to accomplish this Herculean feat in one go. Part of it is that as you’re walking (more like dancing to all the music that’s playing in all the different stages spread out throughout the length of the event) you’re also taking in the aroma and having a taste of the best foods Latin America has to offer. And of course you want to have it all. There’s also vendors– flags, arts and crafts, t-shirts, a vast array of items proudly representing each Latin American country. Undoubtedly it’s a packed day of all things Latino while at the same time you must make a choice and pick and choose which of your favourite performers on the bill for the day you want to go see. Lots to do and we did our best to take in as much as we could.
We enjoyed the hospitality and incomparable location of the Newport Beachside Hotel & Resort in the Sunny Isles Beach area of Miami. We shopped till we dropped (okay, not really) while visiting the luxurious Aventura Mall, the outlet stores at Sawgrass Mills Shopping Centre and Bayside Marketplace (right by the water and with live performances!). And the best part for us? Besides the breathtaking beaches, of course: the food. We had within a five-minute radius of our hotel numerous choices when it came to restaurants: El Tayta Peruvian Bistro, Mega Chuzo Latin American Restaurant, Pizza Rustica in South Beach and my go-to for a delicious breakfast every morning, Einstein Bros. Bagels in Sunny Isles as well as El Novillo Restaurant (a Nicaraguan gem) just a little further west and Sazon Cuban Cuisine on Collins Avenue. The video below is only a little taste of everything we enjoyed on our few days there. In our short stay we were only able to scratch the surface of everything Miami has to offer– and we had the good fortune to have some “Miami Life” experts as companions on our trip. Hope you enjoy watching! Till next time, beautiful Miami ? ??