A little bit of sun – Miami

This year’s destination for the annual summer trip with Amy’s family pointed south again, but not so far south like last year’s trip to Cancun. This year, we had decided to stay within the borders of the United States to the famous beaches of Miami for the first half of the trip, then to Key West for the remainder of the week.

The travel arrangements were little bit complicated as Amy and I had plans to attend a wedding in Pittsburgh for a friend of mine, which required us to fly up from NoVa on Friday afternoon. The second team (we’ll call it team minivan), started their long journey starting Saturday morning. The wedding team (us) flew out from Pittsburgh that Sunday morning, where we then caught a connecting flight in Philadelphia, which eventually got us to Miami that evening.

The short Uber ride from Miami International Airport to the AirBnB was uneventful, but one thing I took away from the airport was how huge it was. There were a lot of steps involves and a few escalators going up and down as the Airport relied on Skytrains to get between the terminals.

The apartment that we had rented was newly built in the middle of the suburban parts of South Beach, which was a ten minute walk to the beach. As we were getting settled in the AirBnB apartment on South Beach, I could see the sunsetting in the beautiful backdrop of Miami. It was this moment that I’ve decided to grab my camera and snap some photos to start documenting my first day in Miami.

Photos taken with the Leica Q

A short explanation on why the images below have that Leica Look during the proverbial “golden hour”.

“What makes Leica so different [compared to other manufacturers] is their exceptionally high micro-contrast, i.e., an ability to register a nearly full variety of tonal variations between slightly darker and slightly brighter areas of very similar colors. It is the high micro contrast that is responsible for rich colors and smooth tonal transitions that all amount to the three-dimensional ‘feel’.

Even then you are not guaranteed to attain high micro-contrast. It is only under a certain type of lighting that things look stereoscopic: the best light is soft, contrasty and directional

This is, by the way, the reason why Leica never leads the world in the number of megapixels in its camera sensors. It simply does not need to: Leica images are perceived as more realistic not due to showing every single detail, but because it renders tonal gradations the same way the human eye does.”  – Irakly Shanidze

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Background

Most of our exploring took place on the streets and beaches of South Beach (SoBe for short), which is interesting in itself as one of the most popular spots in South Beach is an area within Biscayne Street (also known as South Pointe Drive) one block south of 1st street and all the way down to 23rd street towards north.

Photos taken with the Leica M10 + Summicron 35mm f/2 ASPH

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One of the many Lifeguard houses on the beach

From what I’ve read, it wasn’t always like this. Before the popular 80’s show Miami Vice made the beach popular to tourists, South Beach was mostly vacant with high crime, popularized through movies like Scarface and the rise of the cocaine trade where Colombian cartels used the city as their personal market.

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It’s easy to get a tan. It’s also easy to get sunburn.

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Palm trees are everywhere
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Lots of pastel colors throughout South Beach

What is also interesting is that Miami Beach is also considered a mecca for the LGBT community, home to numerous gay bars and gay specific events. It can also be argued that the increase in gay population during the 1980s and 1990s contributed to the revitalization of the city, as the newcomers revitalized much of Miami’s aging art deco buildings and built numerous businesses, therefore gaining political power in the local governments.

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A couple enjoying the view

We also can’t ignore the demographics of the city, which is mostly 53% Hispanic or Latino, where 20% are of Cuban descent. This is evident throughout the city as Spanish is mostly spoken everywhere, including local businesses whom speak Spanish to foreign tourists as if it’s a natural thing to do.

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View of South Beach from the “bottom” of South Beach
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Tin and I were close to the southernmost tip of South Beach
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You can spot his puppy chillin in the basket of the bicycle

Naturally, Miami is known for its beaches and the South Beach is its most popular spot from tourists to businesses as it draws thousands of tourists every year. What I didn’t expect was how f*cking hot and humid it was, more so than Northern Virginia. I highly recommend putting on sunscreen and re-applying it every hour because your sweat mixed with the humidity will wash smear away the protection easily.

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Short Break: Wet Willies

One of the places we had visited after sitting out on the beach for an hour or two, was a place famous for their alcoholic daiquiris with their huge variety flavors. We were all pretty impressed and I think Jen was feeling pretty good after a round of finger shots.

The Night Life

The night life in South Beach is loud and busy to say the least with tons of foot traffic around the main strip where all the bars and restaurants are lit up with neon light, true to Miami’s reputation. Hosts from each business try to win your hard-earned money to eat at their tables, sometimes trying to barter deals with you after overhearing you turn down offers from the business next to them.

Photos taken with the Leica Q

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Here is another interesting story about the beaches in Miami:

In both daytime and at nightfall, the South Beach section of Miami Beach is a major entertainment destination with hundreds of nightclubs, restaurants, boutiques and hotels. The area is popular with tourists from Canada, Europe, Israel and the entire Western Hemisphere, with some having permanent or second homes there. South Beach has also been visited by many American and foreign tourists, evidenced by the fact that the practice of topless sunbathing by women on the beach and in a few hotel pools on Miami Beach has been considered by the local citizens as being more permissive than on most beaches of the United States, and despite the fact that the practice has not been officially legalized by the local government, it continues to be adopted in large scale.

South Beach’s residents’ varied backgrounds are evident in the many languages spoken. In 2000, 55% of residents of the city of Miami Beach spoke Spanish as a first language, while English was the first language for 33% of the population. Portuguese (mainly Brazilian Portuguese) was spoken by 3% of residents, while French (including Canadian French) was spoken by 2%, and German by 1%. Italian, Russian, Yiddish and Hebrew were all spoken by less than 1%.

Another unique aesthetic attribute of South Beach is the presence of several colorful and unique stands used by Miami Beach’s lifeguards on South Beach. After Hurricane Andrew, Architect William Lane donated his design services to the city and added new stops on design tours in the form of lifeguard towers. His towers instantly became symbols of the revived City of Miami Beach.” – Wikipedia

Short Break: Açaí Bowls

We stopped by one of the local shops here that served fantastic açaí bowls in South Beach called Under the Mango Tree. We highly recommend this place if you’re ever in the mood for a refreshing bowl (or smoothie).

Photos taken with the Leica M10 + Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.5

Wynwood

The Wynwood Art District is a part of the Wynwood neighborhood within the city limits of Miami, home to some of the city’s collection of art galleries and their famous wall murals. It’s considered to have some of the largest open-air street art installations in the world.

Photos taken with the Leica M10 + Summicron 35mm f/2 ASPH

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Wynwood Walls

The Wynwood Walls was originally conceived by the renowned Tony Goldman in 2009 (I had no idea who he was either until I researched the place) as he was looking to transform what was once a warehouse district into one one giant canvas where artists could show off their arts.

“By presenting it in a way that has not been done before, I was able to expose the public to something they had only seen peripherally.” -Tony Goldman

The area had brought over 50 of the world’s greatest artists in the graffiti world representing 16 countries that covered over 80,000 square feet of walls.

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Amy snooping

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Tin making some deals with the cartels

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“The Wynwood Art District Association was founded in early 2003 by a group of art dealers, artists and curators Mark Coetzee, Nina Arias and Nick Cindric. Mark Coetzee initiated the idea based on a similar project, Art Night, which he started in his hometown, Cape Town, South Africa. Founding members at the first meeting in Rocket Projects media room were Brook Dorsch of Dorsch Gallery, Weston Charles, Cooper and Elizabeth Withstandley of Locust Projects, Mark Coetzee of the Rubell Collection, Nina Arias and Nick Cindric of Rocket Projects, Bernice Steinbaum of Bernice Steinbaum Gallery, and Marina Kessler of Marina Kessler Gallery. The association created the Second Saturdays Gallery Walk, designed the Manhole cover logo along with the light banners that hang on street corners, and publishes annual brochures with a map and a list of the association’s members.

It was once home to over 70 galleries, five museums, three collections, seven art complexes, 12 art studios, five art fairs, and the Wynwood Walls. Gentrification and rising rent prices have pushed out most of the smaller galleries. In 2018, less than ten galleries remain.

Every second Saturday of each month, a community-wide art walk is held. Galleries, art studios, alternative spaces and showrooms open their doors to the public for art, music and refreshments.” -Wikipedia

Short Break: Dinner at Wynwood

One of the first place Amy and I ate after we landed from our flight from Pittsburgh, we all drove into Wynwood to check out the food hall there called 1-800-LuckyThis popular food spot is a mix between an Asian market with indoor and outdoor seating with a booming soundtrack. Sometimes it’s easy to confuse the place as either a club or a party if you’re only passing by.

Photos taken with the Leica Q

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Bayside

The Bayside Marketplace is another popular spot in the heart of downtown Miami located on the pier of south side of the city. This two-level, open-air festival marketplace features a mix of international and franchise restaurants with over 150 shops that make it a popular destination for tourists. Since located by the pier, visitors can enjoy drinking along the water (or even on it) where you can book a sunset cruise touring the Biscayne Bay.

Photos taken with the Leica M10 + Summicron 35mm f/2 ASPH

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“Life is like a box of chocolates…”

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Coral Gables

Miracle Mile

Our short trip through Coral Gables shopping district, known as the Miracle Mile, have a European flair to their outdoor cafes where visitors can enjoy somewhat of a tropical shopping experience. The downtown area is home to many specialty shops and more than 120 international restaurant, which should keep foodies busy during their stay.

Photos take with the Leica M10 + Summicron 35mm f/2 ASPH

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I was also able to complete my pilgrimage to the famed Leica Store Miami, which was a nice plus (luckily didn’t buy anything expensive…well that day anyways).

Venetian Pool

The famed Venetian Pool is an aquatic facility located deep in the suburbs of Coral Gables, where thousands of people visit every year from all over the world. Originally created in 1923 from a coral rock quarry, much of the pool is was created by the original coral rocks during its construction. The massive 820,000 gallon pool is fed with spring water from an underground system where the filled and drained daily during the Spring and Summer seasons!

We were pretty excited to take a dip in the famous pool, but the admission price held us back as they were quite pricey (around $25 per person). While we were discussing our options on what we should be doing, the beautiful backdrop with cave-like grottos, palm trees and European style walls, it was hard not to take photos (which eventually ended up being a mini-photoshoot).

Photos taken with the Leica M10 + Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.5 ASPH

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Short Break:

That’s Amy’s “oh my god, what have I done look.”

That’s the end of Part 1 of this vacation as Part 2 will include photos from Key West.

Photos: Link

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