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Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Three Secrets To Surviving Miami Traffic


Since March, I have been in an "I'm so over Miami" funk, which has made it hard to finish the several blog posts—on fashion, on travel, on culture, on food—I have half-drafted for this blog. Every day I wake up restless and go to bed restless. I blame it partially on my acute wanderlust and partially on the fact that driving in Miami is hell. Between avoiding reckless drivers, fighting through congestion, and being absolutely and utterly perplexed by our nonsensical transportation network, I have no time or energy left to enjoy the greatness that is our city. Sadly, based on the posts on my Facebook timeline, it sounds like many of us are on the same boat.

These past few weeks I've allowed myself to wallow—mostly in silence, but also on twitter—about my deteriorating relationship with Miami. Enough is enough. Today, like I did when I started this blog, I am choosing to pull myself out of the black hole of negativity and wander down Positivity Lane. And, because we're ride-or-die you and I, I'm bringing you along.

The first step to getting us out of this funk? Surviving Miami traffic. Below are the three secret strategies I employ when all hope is lost. Use these to eject yourself out of misery the next time you're slamming your fists on the steering wheel or letting out a primal scream in the car. (No? No one else does this?) With their help, we're going to make it through this. Have hope.


3. Use your local insider knowledge.
Often, out of convenience or laziness, I make the mistake of putting on my GPS and following it blindly. From time to time, it serves me well. Other times, like today, it takes me across the Brickell Bridge during rush hour. (Damn you, GPS!) Use your local insider knowledge to drive around traffic, through lesser known streets. In my case, the South Miami Avenue bridge or the SW 2nd Ave bridge or any of the residential roads through Little Havana and The Roads linking I-95 to Brickell offered potential, less-stressful alternatives.

2. Keep your brain occupied.
A big percentage of our misery is cooked inside of our brains, which are bored mindlessly in the car thanks to monotonous landscapes—have you ever noticed while driving that South Florida is like a backdrop rotating on a conveyor belt?—and traffic that moves like molasses. There, in the midst of boredomlandia, we find ourselves annoyed at other drivers, anxious to get to our destination, and contemplating why we choose to live in Miami at all. Keep your brain occupied to prevent it from going into that deep, dark rabbit hole with some good old fashioned learning courtesy of a podcast. Here are three podcasts I can't live without.

1. Curate a good soundtrack.
Music gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't hate their fellow drivers. They just don't. So, whether your go-to medium is Pandora, Spotify or iTunes, curate a good soundtrack to keep you company in the car. Today's survival story is brought to you by this playlist of my favorite songs by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Past trips have been deescalated by this Stiltsville-inspired reggae playlist and by this hodgepodge of music my sisters and I put together for our Joshua Tree trip last summer. It's all about music that I can sing and dance to violently, thereby releasing tension.

What are your secrets to surviving Miami traffic? Leave them below or send me a tweet @thankyoumiamiBuena suerte, amigos! It's a jungle out there.
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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

I love Miami. I hate Miami.


Miami is awesome, but it also sucks. I don't know how it is possible—it just is. Watch this video of a Miami car accident and tell me you don't both love and hate Miami at the same time. That video perfectly captures how this city makes me feel ALL THE TIME. Miami's motto should be, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times."

Miami's duality is why I named this blog #ThankYouMiami. The phrase can express unadulterated gratitude when the situation is deserving, i.e. "#ThankYouMiami for stunning sunsets." It can also be used to call out frustrating or perplexing moments, i.e. "#ThankYouMiami for having the world's worst drivers." See? Both work.
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Sunday, February 25, 2018

Easy Miami Day Trip: Biscayne National Park


South Florida's four national parks are our most valuable yet underrated assets. When I'm looking for something to do, I often forget that they're there. But they're there and they're majestic. For example, did you know Everglades National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site? There's only 1073 of them on the planet and one of them is 50 miles from my front door. Similarly, Biscayne National Park, which is even closer, is the nation's largest marine national park and is home to some of the only living coral reef in the continental United States.

The South Florida National Parks Trust is a local non-profit that raises money to support the parks and works to better connect them with our community. Earlier this year, they selected young leaders in the Miami area as South Florida National Park Ambassadors and gave me the distinct honor of being among their inaugural class. As part of my "duties", I get to visit one national park a month to discover its riches and share them with you. Yesterday's visit took us to Biscayne National Park.


Biscayne National Park is unique in that most of us visit it on a pretty regular basis without knowing. The park is 95% water so it is hard to visualize its limits, particularly given that the visitor center is hidden all the way down in Homestead. Nevertheless, the park limits include all of Biscayne Bay south of Bill Baggs State Park to just north of Key Largo. If you've boated past Stiltsville or you've snorkeled Fowey Rocks, you've been inside Biscayne National Park. If you've ever gone from Miami to the Florida Keys by water, you've traveled through Biscayne National Park.

Another unique aspect of Biscayne National Park is that it's not just a sanctuary for natural resources, although it is comprised of four different types of habitat. It is also replete with culture and history. In addition to Stiltsville—I covered its place in Miami history ad nauseum when I announced the opening of Stiltsville Fish Bar in Sunset Harbour—the park's history also includes the remarkable story of the Joneses of Porgy Key, which we explored during my recent visit, and the shipwrecks along the Maritime Heritage Trail that I can't wait to dive next time.



If you're looking for something different to do, Biscayne National Park is an easy Miami day trip. For me, the biggest challenge has been finding a friend with a boat to take me. Luckily, the Biscayne National Park Institute has six boats and four more on the way that offer guided tours of Biscayne National Park from the visitor center. They are also working on partnerships with Miami-Dade County, the City of Miami and Bill Baggs State Park to launch guided tours from there. The best part? Unlike most other national parks, they don't have an admission fee. Ergo, visiting Biscayne National Park is a no-brainer.

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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

A Fresh Start


Hi stranger, it's good to talk with you again after so long! How have you been? On my end I have been busy working on new projects and tackling new challenges. For example, I took on new responsibilities at work (and started a corresponding career blog) and began training to run my very first marathon this April in Paris (and started a corresponding running blog).

I have also been traveling a lot. Since mid-December, I have spent four out the nine weeks abroad, which is why I haven't been writing here much—I have been very disconnected with everything going on at home. But, the next five weeks I have no trips planned so I'm going to use that time to reconnect with Miami and give this blog a fresh start.

Like before, my time in the 305 will be dedicated to sharing with you the best our city has to offer. Unlike before, I plan to bring you a more balanced offering of food, fashion, culture, travel, events, etc. I am particularly excited to highlight Miami's cultural programming because I have discovered that not many people know it exists. Meanwhile, Celeste and I have been relishing in the stellar performances of the Miami City Ballet—most recently she attended and loved the opening night of Program Three—and the Colony Theatre.

There are also entirely new worlds I have discovered that I am looking forward to introducing to you. Like, did you know Miami has an airsoft scene and hosts airsoft military simulation (or, MilSim) events? I didn't either until I went to Doomsday Airsoft's Operation Overwatch 4 last November and afterward joined an airsoft team. I also became a South Florida National Park Ambassador, a program through which I will be exploring one of our national parks each month and sharing stories of my visits, as well as cool, behind-the-scenes stories about each park.

After nearly seven years, this blog is turning a new leaf. I'm excited to bring you new stories and introduce you to a new, different version of Miami each week, starting with a story about Biscayne National Park next Sunday. Talk then!

Image via Joah Spearman
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Tuesday, December 5, 2017

#ThankYouMiami How-To: Immersing Yourself in Miami Art Week/Art Basel 2017 Like A Local


I can't believe another year of Miami Art Week is already upon us. It feels like only a few months ago we were perusing the long maze of art at the Miami Beach Convention Center and painting our own Bob Ross renditions at the Super 8 art giveaway in Wynwood. Alas, yesterday kicked off the week with its signature luxury parties and starting today, the fairs begin to open.
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