Thursday, December 13, 2012

Vizcaya: Miami

This was my third trip to Miami and I wasn't looking forward to it. I have never enjoyed Miami.  I forgot to pack some extremely necessary articles of clothing on a trip there once without the benefit of a rental car.  I had to walk to a KMart against the advice of my customer who was concerned for my safety lest I be attacked by the homeless along the way and then about my obvious whiteness once I arrived.

Miami is also home to the only customer who ever tried to kiss me.  My family will tell you that I am not even much of a hugger but I try to put on a brave face when the situation arises.  I am always awkward and uncomfortable hugging strangers or near-strangers and I certainly do not kiss them.  When I met this customer for the first time I moved forward to shake his hand but he leaned in for a kiss.  I immediately backed up.  He was embarrassed, I was embarrassed.  He is from Spain and was simply doing what comes natural by kissing both cheeks - or in my case trying to.  I may travel quite a lot but I have never left the states and am certainly not accustomed to kissing strange men that aren't my husband.  I don't even kiss my dad or my son and they are both really strange.

I see the kisser on this trip but I am prepared this time.  Fortunately, he was good-natured the first time and we had a good laugh about it.  We manage the cheek-air kissing this time and he tells me that he has been hooked on Dr Pepper ever since his visit to Texas.  At least that is what I am ultimately memorable to him for, not the original faux pas.

Despite all the kissing, I am still not excited about Miami.  I have a hard time making myself get out and do things.  It is really hot even though we are coming to the end of fall when I am here.  It is also humid - as always - so my hair wants to hang flat on my head bothering me the whole time.

AIR.  YES.  MAS AIR.  Preferably the kind that comes with Freon along for the ride.

I go to Miracle Mile since it is supposed to be a "miracle" but that was a bust.  I walked past the stores and couldn't work up any enthusiasm to go in any of them.  I ended up eating at a Subway and making my way out.  I did see the movie Samsara at the local theater in Coral Gables (where Miracle Mile is) and it was good but very odd.  There is no dialogue.  It is more like a National Geographic documentary set to music.  I had a hard time paying attention because the man next to me bathed in his cologne before coming so I was concentrating on breathing through my mouth most of the time and trying to stop the Billy Joel song It's Still Rock and Roll to Me from repeating over and over in my head.  (Should I get a set of white wall tires? Are you gonna cruise the Miracle Mile?)

I finally made myself find something not shopping related to do and located Vizcaya with about an hour to go before closing.

The house was built in 1916 by James Deering and includes 10 acres of formal gardens.

I want to do the self-guided audio tour but am told no because it is too close to closing.  I am issued a map and sent up the walk to the house.  As usual there is no photography allowed inside the house. 

In the house, I was distracted by all of the plexiglass.  Everything within arms reach is protected by plexiglass panels...tapestries, art, even the moldings around the doors and windows.  I know they are trying to preserve the house but many times the plastic created a glare that you couldn't see the item through.  The rooms in the upstairs were closed off so you could walk to the doorway and lean in but you couldn't enter the room.  Some of the stairs are really narrow and of course back then there was no air conditioning and I am having a hard time imagining being here in the summer.  Especially considering the clothes women would be wearing in the 1920's. 

Out on the grounds, I am not sure about the clothes I am wearing in 2012 because as I mentioned it is hot and humid (24-7-365 I am pretty sure) in Miami.  There are a lot of statues on the grounds and, as someone who likes and owns some sizable statues herself, I am happy to wander around and look.  However, there seems to be no consistent theme to the statues here.

Ponce de Leon

Bearded Man with Towel Who May or May Not be Shaving

Greek God with Harp and Part of a 6-Pack

Colonial Boy with Rose

Woman Exposing Her Left Breast Preparing to Curtsey

You get the idea.  The grounds are extensive with several gazebos, fountains and some very pretty formal gardens.

I like the look of the sculptured hedges.

One of several fountains.

It is a little hard to get a photo without another guest in it.

There were a lot of people milling around and sitting in the shade in all parts of the garden.

There were several overgrown gazebos.

Some of the fountains were dry but this one near the house was operational.

The Orchid Garden

Some of the gardens were closed for restoration.

The house is right on the water and the views from the back of the house are spectacular.  There is some renovation going on while I am there to the back façade of the house so I go in and out through the small, well air-conditioned gift shop and café on the side of the house right next to the swimming pool - which is like none I have ever seen.

Part in the house and the rest out.  They need one of these at my hotel.

There was a bride-to-be having her photos done in this gazebo.

A pelican having his photo done.

I feel a little cheated that I didn't get to see some fantastic pirate ship tied up here to what appears to be a floating dock.

Just in case I faint from the heat and fall in the water.

Because it is so hot I don't linger outside as long as I could.  Walking back to the car I pass the booth where I paid my admission.  The woman who refused to give me the headphones because I would not bring them back before she was ready to leave is still there.  I smile and wave as I go by.

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