Saturday, March 28, 2015

Fort Lauderdale Trip 2014

The day after Christmas, Hannah, Kyle, Cody, and I went on a trip to Fort Lauderdale.  It was our first trip traveling as couples together.

Here we are in the airport getting ready to take off!!  :) 

We stayed at the Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort.  We had a suite with 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a full kitchen, and a living/dining room.  This was Cody and my room.  Hannah and Kyle had an attached bedroom unit behind us.

This was our shared living room and dining room area.  We sure did get a lot of use out of our table!  I think that we played cards almost every night on vacation!  The funny part was that there was a mirror right against the wall, so the person sitting in that seat had to be careful to shield their cards. 

Here was our kitchen.  First day in we all went shopping for some groceries.  We mind as well not even bothered with the groceries because we ended up ordering pizza at least 3 times throughout the week.  There was a little family run pizza place, called the Primanti Bros, right down the block from us and they had the best pizza!!  It was all hand made and tasted awesome.  I swear we just kept going back and back there.  Cody had read reviews that the place was really good, so when we got in late on the first night we picked up pizzas from there and we were hooked for the rest of the week.  Kyle still talks about how he wishes he could get some of that pizza again.

Our hotel room was definitely nice for the price that we paid for it, but there were a couple of things that we weren't exactly thrilled about.  The first was that their elevators were absolutely tiny and they only had two of them so there could be a wait for the elevator and you were always squashed into it.  We were in the elevator with a delivery guy one time and he told us that they had the absolute worst elevators of any hotel in Fort Lauderdale.  While the elevators were an inconvenience, the part that was the real downside to the place was that they had a pipe bust shortly after we checked in.  With the humidity in Florida it quickly smelled like mold and the carpet right before our room was always damp.  We literally had to hold our breath and run quickly into our rooms anytime we can in or out.  And they weren't able to really do anything for us or move our rooms.  However, at least the smell didn't come into our actual unit.  If it had done that we would have really complained about it, but it was just a hassle coming out of the room.  If not for that I would have really liked the place a lot.

Cody's birthday was the next day after we arrived into Fort Lauderdale.  We took him to Lulu's Baitshack.  I brought him here for a couple of reasons; 1. they had really good drinks and specials....

And 2.  they served alligator!!  When we first talked about going to Fort Lauderdale all Cody talked about was wanting to try alligator.  So I had to find a special place for his birthday to make sure that he got to do that. This was the first time that we had alligator on the trip, and I thought that it was pretty chewy.  But we later learned that is what happens to alligator when it is over cooked, because we had some at another place and I liked it more.

Here is Hannah and Cody drinking their fishbowl drinks! 

Cody and I are all about new experiences and trying new things all of the time... so this year our new adventure was Segways!  I had never been on a segway before, but I was pretty excited about it.  Cody found a Groupon for it, and the place was right next to our hotel so it worked out really well.  We went on a 3 hour city tour.

I won't lie though...  it was a rocky start for me!  I could not get the hang of it at first.  The guy had me going around his store and I swore that I was going to crash into the window in front of the store.  Luckily he caught up with me before I did that...  I wasn't sure it I was going to be able to drive it or not...

Cody had a much better grasp on it.

 Kyle was a natural.  He is used to long boarding and I guess it is very similar.

Luckily we had some time to practice on the Segways before we started our tour.  Once I got on and started driving around it wasn't too bad.  I was able to control it pretty well.  We had in a ear piece to hear our guide talking and we wove in and out of traffic driving on the segways!!

Here is Cody and I right before we started to get going.

Hannah and I were shocked by how much being on a segway hurts your feet!!  My feet were BURNING!  I guess it's the standing on them and then leaning forward on them to move the segway.  However, even though my feet hurt I think that I would totally do it again if I had the opportunity.

Here we are towards the end of our tour.  We just got done free styling down a residential area that didn't have many cars.  I think we all agreed that it was a fun experience.

 We also went on a tour of Miami.  Now... you can see that the tour bus that we ended up in was an enclosed van.  I personally hate it when I'm on a tour in an enclosed van... I like the open top buses.  Also this tour was in English and Spanish.  So the tour guide would tell us his story in English and then repeat it in Spanish.  We thought that we were going on a 4 hour bus/boat tour, but it ended up being like 6 or 7 hours long!!!  To be honest... if we knew exactly what we were signing up for we probably would have signed up for the Duck Tours and not this tour.  However, we did learn a lot of cool things about Miami!!  Cody and I are going back to the Miami for our honeymoon cruise so at least now we have a lot of knowledge about Miami.

Miami is the second largest city in FL next to Jacksonville.  Miami is divided up into the South, Mid, and North.  The South or South Beach is where all of the food and fun is located.  It consists of 15 blocks.  The Deco district is a square mile and has 965 shops and restaurants.  When we were done with our tour we literally just walked down Ocean Drive and looked at all of the options to eat at.  There was literally restaurant upon restaurant right next to each all the way down the beach.

 Miami is the biggest cruise port in world and can accommodate up to 7 cruise ships at the same time.  There are 89,000 people that live in Miami and most have jobs at either the port or the airport.

As we were passing by there were 4 cruise ships in the port at the time.  Our tour guide told us that usually there are between 2 to 6 at all times.

We stopped in Little Havana or Little Cuba for a Cuban cigar presentation on how to make the cigars.  

We also spent quite a bit of time going around Coral Gables.  Coral Gables is the rich district in Miami and is the most expensive city in FL.  

After the bus portion we went onto a boat tour with a different company, called Aqua Tours.  To my horror it was an enclosed boat too!  And my group was late... so we were the last ones on the boat and didn't get a window seat.  This made it really hard for me to take good pictures during the tour.

I really enjoy taking notes and listening to the commentary so I stayed half in the boat and half on the outside where I could see better.  The only probably was that they didn't have any speakers outside so I couldn't hear what they were talking about or pointing out when I was outside.

Cody stayed inside for about 2 minutes and then he was hanging outside for most of the time.  He wanted to see everything and experience the boat.  He did get to see dolphins outside, and then on the way back I came out and pointed out everything to him.

A lot of famous people live in Miami!  This house is Ricky Martins.  

Sorry for the bad picture quality.  Like I said... I was inside the boat.  But this is Shakira's house!

This is the most expensive house in Miami worth $65 million!!  And all of palm trees in front of the house were imported from Africa for $10,000 a piece!  And who can afford the most expensive house in Miami??  The guy that invented Viagra!  Haha!

Now that's the most expensive house in Miami... but you might wonder how much a one bedroom apartment right on the water costs?  About $700,000!  

After our boat cruise we had a few hours before we were being picked back up so we hung out at the Miami port area.  We got smoothies and listened to a live music band playing for a while.

I also got to take a picture by the Hard Rock Cafe Miami. :)

We also stopped by the Bubba Gump Shrimp restaurant.  They had a bench with Forrest Gump's shoes and suitcase.  You can see Cody sitting in it.

This was the coolest Bubba Gumps that I've been to.  They had a lot of movie props around.

After our tour we hung out in Miami for a while.  Here is the famous South Beach.

Of course we had to get a picture...   I wish we would have had more time to hang out on the beach.  But we did enjoy dinner at a local place on the other side of the road from the beach.

One of our favorite places that we ate at during vacation was the Casablanca Cafe right down the street from us in Fort Lauderdale.  We had a seat on the outside patio and could see the sun setting over the beach.

  They also had amazing food.  We all ordered different things and we all loved what we got.  Here is my duck that I ordered!  Yum yum!

You can see the view in the background.

One of the events that we were the most excited for was our New Year's Eve Yacht Cruise!!  It was a few hour cruise with music, food, and all the drinks you wanted.

Here is Hannah and I before the night started.

Cody and I waiting in line to get drinks.  There was a girl in front of us that took like 10 pictures for us from all kinds of angles.  In this one, she held the camera up real tall and looked down on us.  This is one of my favorite pics of the night!

They had all kinds of servers walking around with appetizers all night.  Here is Kyle grabbing some.  My favorite were the meatballs!!

Here was our drink table by the end of the night haha!!

We had quite the group around us.  We were hanging out with a bunch of people by the end of the night.  Here are some of the main people we were talking with.

Looks like we were having a good time!!  Happy New Years!!

I won't lie... the next day wasn't too eventful but Cody and I did manage to make it out onto the water taxi.  The water taxi takes you all over Fort Lauderdale and basically talks to you about what you are passing by.  I would say that it is the water equivalent of a hop on and hop off bus.  Of course I was super excited about this...

And I learned all kinds of awesome things about Fort Lauderdale on the tour... mostly about famous people who's houses we were passing.  Some of which included Lucy and Desi Arnaz, Wendy Thomas of Wendy's, Sony and Cher, the owner of Anheuser Bush owns on the biggest house in Fort Lauderdale at 32,000 square feet, the man who owns Kohl's has a $50 million house.  Also the people who used to own blockbuster own 5 multi-million dollar houses right on the water.  Including the house right above which was my favorite, and that's because it was inspired from Harry Potter.  It was designed off of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando. 

The 4th stop on the water taxi was the 15th St. Fisheries, and we met Hannah and Kyle there for dinner.  I have to say that they had the best alligator bites that we had on the entire trip!!  It was waaay better than Lulu's.

It was a fun place to eat at too because it was right off of the water, and there was a water section right next to us.  The woman told us that manatees often comes in there because they are attracted to the lights, but much to Hannah's disappointment we didn't see any.

They are famous for people throwing their left over food to the fishes.  Here you can see Hannah, Kyle, and Cody doing just that.

Next adventure was going to the Everglades!  Everglades is an Indian word for endless river of grass.  It is also 100% freshwater and the slowest moving river in the world only moving 4 feet a day. It was a fun hour boat ride, and our tour guide was able to lead us to a few gators.

We learned that gators have 3 eyelids so they can see clearly under water.  They can also hold their breath for 6 hours and can males can grow up to 19 feet long but females only grow to 9 and 1/2 feet!!  They lay 60 to 90 eggs at once, and interestingly the gender of the eggs depends on the heat.  The higher the heat means a male alligator and lower heat will give female alligators.  It seems like male alligators are so much bigger than the female ones that there should be more of a reason/difference between their genders.  I thought that the temperature determining their gender was kind of crazy.

Here we were at the gator park.

Last night in Fort Lauderdale we headed on the opposite side of where we had been at, and we found some local spots.  The place called Aruba had really good food and music.  Hannah got crab legs and they gave her like 5 clusters of crab legs.  I couldn't believe it.  I was so jealous... I was practically drooling the whole time!  Haha lucky for me she was nice and gave me some.

Here is Cody in the down town area.

Overall, we had a pretty cool trip to Fort Lauderdale.  It was nice to be in warm weather in the end of December and it was fun getting to travel with Hannah and Kyle for the first time.  I think that we might end up going to Fort Lauderdale again someday.  Cody and I are activity people and I'd have to say there was enough to keep us entertained in Fort Lauderdale.