I went to Miami in the spring and it was the worst trip ever because of the traffic, the tolls, the lodging, the parking and the new ballpark's location. It was also the best trip ever. (Below: Fireworks explode over the Marlins Stadium on my second night. The Marlins beat the Mets!)
(Below: Inside the gaudy new Marlins stadium. The splashy colors inside belie the desolation of the neighborhoods outside.)
I headed for The River Bar & Seafood Restaurant and enjoyed happy hour there. For a $19 tab I had several draft beers, three oysters on the half shell served with condiments on a bed of ice, crackers, interesting conversations and was offered several different opinions on the best way to drive to the ballpark from there. Check out the picture of me enjoying myself, below.
Going to the ballpark, I found free parking by driving a couple of blocks into the surrounding neighborhood four blocks east of the stadium. Despite the mean look of the streets I walked down to get to the park, free is good and my car was undisturbed when I got back to it around 11 pm. (Below: The fare outside the ball park was just as tasty as the fare inside, and a lot cheaper too. The first night I bought a Cuban Sandwich and a beer for $16 inside; the second night I bought a jumbo loaded hot dog and a soda for $4 outside.)
Inside the ballpark I tried indigenous fare by ordering a Cuban Sandwhich for $7. Although it wasn't exactly authentic in that it didn't have toasted bread for its outside, it took awhile to prepare (which was a good thing), its various cold cuts inside it were plentiful and tasty and I enjoyed it. The accompanying $9 Heineken draft in a plastic cup not so much, or at all, asw it was flat warm and not filled to the top. (Below: Remember the Charlie Brown refrain that there's nothing better than a hot dog with a baseball game behind it? There's nothing better than a Cuban Sandwhich with a Marlins game behind it, not even the tepid flat beer in a plastic cup for $9 could spoil that.)
I drove to Key West the next day to fulfill a longstanding goal of going to the southern most tip of the continental U.S. The long drive down the Keys was fun (I sailed around the Keys for a week in 2009), I enjoyed walking around Key West, and I saw a double rainbow going into the sea on the way back. (Below: Every bit of the U.S. is in front of me in this picture.)
And I had a wonderful adventure my second night at the ballpark. First I purchased my dinner from a vendor outside after the game and I got a fat and delicious kosher half-smoke for $3 which I ate while enjoying the postgame fireworks show. Then I stopped in a Spanish bar and pool hall for a beer four blocks from the stadium as I walked bacfk to get my car which was two blocks further. The bar maids were beautiful, no one spoke English, none of the tough looking young men playing pool looked at me even once and I well imagined that I was the first baseball patron they had seen in there since the stadium opened a year earlier. But I eventually made the bar maid understand that I wanted a Corona ("Una servica, por favor." "Que?" "Como se dice Corona in Espanol?" "Que?"). She finally brought me a cold Corona in a bottle for $3 and I enjoyed sucking it down while I took in the ambience of the Spanish pool hall. When I was done I figured it was time to go and I left, but happily. No one followed me as I returned to my car and I drove to the hotel one last time, happy about my excellent trip to Miami. (Below: I flew home the next morning and the plane went right over my running venues along the Potomac River as we landed. That's Rosslyn in Arlington on the right.)