From Fort Lauderdale en route 1A1 to South Beach

Even a self-proclaimed nerd can actually have fun in South Florida.
From our hotel in Weston, we drove toward the beaches of Fort Lauderdale. The scenery we passed was still the same – bland like white food – devoid of taste and spices. The beach was nice as afar as beaches go, and the promenade along the water was pleasant. We had coffee on a terrace overlooking the ocean with boats going by and tropical trees framing the view. Very peaceful indeed. Some stretches of beach were packed with young and buffed bodies of students on spring break. They congregated in packs presenting a fine display of chiseled biceps, well-defined pecs, toned abs, and, last but not least, fine gluteus maximus – buns of steel!
There must have been good-looking female specimens too, but they failed to attract this observer’s attention.
We walked the promenade, climbed back into the car and headed toward Miami along scenic route 1A1.
This route took us past some ostentatiously lavish properties. We passed mega mansions, super luxury condominiums, ritzy shops, and deluxe hotels. Mind you, I am an upscale consumer, but this was way too overwhelming and way too overbuilt for my taste. We drove some 60 blocks of more or less the same money-bags when around 23rd street the scene drastically changed.
We enter the South Beach area. This was unlike anything else we had seen in Florida thus far. Stuff was happening, the area was hopping, people were diverse, and the architecture was largely Art Deco.
The first thing that pleased my eye was the mix of characters covering the entire spectrum of human specimens: from honest-to-god hobos San Franciscan style to top-model-type polished beauties, and everything in between.
We started out in a mom-and-pop Peruvian restaurant, Chalan on the Beach, on the corner of Washington and 16th streets, the place so authentic, we were just about the only non-Spanish speakers there. The joint churned out wonderfully-looking seafood dishes that also turned out to be wonderfully tasting. My succulent seafood stew brought back memories of the meal I shared with Lisa in Lima upon completing the Inca Trail.
From the restaurant we turned a corner onto Lincoln Blvd and were transported to a La Rambla-like promenade packed with restaurants, people, cool shops, and art galleries, most of the shops being funky, quirky, or simply tasteful. I singled out as my favorites the newly opened art center – a coop of different artists, a shop selling whimsical art by Romero Britto, and a clothing shop housed in a former synagoge and decorated with hundreds of Singer sewing machines.
The feeling of an ongoing party, and joy, and spirit, and a distinct character prevailed.
Cool and authentic neighborhood it is!
And the Miami skyline on the way back to Weston was awesome.

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