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Tuesday, March 04, 2014

5 Days in Berlin Turns to 30 Hours in Miami

This picture was taken from our bedroom - thru a glass wall into the shower. 

Lulu was scheduled to present at a conference in Berlin. I was scheduled to loaf around the city for 5 days. We left Tallahassee early in the morning - little did we realize we would be back in the same spot 30 hours later waiting for George Dawson to pick us up in the van. 

The first leg of our American Airline flight was simple enough - a one hour trip south to the tropical city of Miami. This Gold Coast city is special to Lulu and I - we honeymooned there for a month in 1971. We considered making it our home - we even returned the next summer to take real jobs there. 

We took the express bus to South Beach because we only had 6 hours to kill before our 10 hour flight to Berlin. On South Beach - we walked along Ocean Drive - had lunch at one of the cute sidewalk cafes - then walked back north on the sand. 

Before we knew it - time was up. To be safe - we caught a cab back to the airport for our 4 PM flight. I figured that I was not about to ruin our glorious trip for a $30 cab fare. We got back in plenty of time - got our 5 bags out of storage - and went to the gate of our AirBerlin jet. About 300 Germans were waiting to take the long trip home. Many had just finished cruises that sailed to and from Miami. The crowd had lots of fair skinned - blue eyed - blondes - with sun burned faces.

At 4 PM they announced the first delay. Then another - then another. I was amazed how orderly this crowd was - not a bunch of grumblers - no loud complainers. All of a sudden at 7 PM they announced the flight was canceled. Later on we learned that the plane had a bad wing flap. 

Immediately after the announcement - there was a mad dash of 300 people to get to the ticket counter - maybe ½ mile away - to get vouchers for hotel rooms and meals. We were not very fast - this crowd must have been on some of those East German Olympic steroids - because we were almost last. 

That line of 300 people did not move for 2 hours. Air Berlin was trying to get enough rooms for everyone. Lulu and I got frustrated - we decided that we would not wait - but get a hotel on our own. We still had to wait for our bags. I got tipped off early that the bags were at carousel 13 - so I went there while Lulu was in line. They announced we would fly the next day at the same time to Berlin. They would send two planes in tandem to Berlin. Lulu and I kept texting each other like a couple teenagers. Then I got a text I did not expect. Lulu talked to Expedia and they let her cancel her room for free. Expedia never does that. Then she somehow did an end run around the crowd of 300 explaining she wanted to catch the 8 PM flight back to Tallahassee. I found out by text we were going home. 

There was no way that Lulu could meet her obligations on a flight 24 hours later. She decided it was a waste of time and money. She sent an apology text to me. I replied that I really was not looking forward to Berlin in winter. I was going along only to be her companion. I would be happy to get home to work on our new house and ready the old house for sale. 

We were going to get our own hotel on our own dime - when the line started to move. While Lulu was going from American Airline desk to Air Berlin desk. I sat on the floor. They ran out of rooms and were telling people to find their own and they would reimburse them. I just said No - and politely waited. Finally the lady that was so helpful for us before when she found us to better seats together on the flight to Berlin - recognized me. She handed me vouchers for the EB Hotel - vouchers for supper - and vouchers for room service breakfast. When Lulu came back to explain she got full refunds on flights and hotels - I showed her our vouchers. A silver Mercedes limo van awaited. They took the two of us along with the whole flight crew to the EB Hotel. I never heard of it - but it could not be too bad if this whole crew was staying there. More pictures on the next page.

When we got to this brand new hotel that just opened up last June - we were amazed. We have stayed in some pretty shabby airport motels. This one was magnificent. The clerk took our 5 bags - and sent us to the restaurant for supper. We were the last customers for the night. We had a sumptuous meal - at a quiet isolated table in a large empty dining room. The chef came out to meet us and apologized that we had to wait. We really didn't - but he brought us a beautiful triple chocolate desert - on the house. Even though it was 11 PM - and we usually eat at 5 - it was a most enjoyable meal. But the best was yet to come. 

Our room was on the top floor - it was a large suite - with a high ceiling and glass walls. It had a living room - and a bedroom suite. We never stayed in a place quite like it. In the pictures that follow you can see why. 

The next morning Lulu called for room service and at 8 AM the van took us alone - the same driver - to our plane. We had a quiet flight home. By noon - we had our 5 bags in George's van - a little over one day was our trip. 

They say you can't make chicken salad out of chicken manure - but we made the most of the card we were dealt. 

We had lunch on Ocean Drive in South Beach. It was crowded and we waited way too long for lunch. On the other side of those bushes is the beach.

Miami puts a small on Lulu's face. A nice drink - some lunch - and a walk in the water make her day.

If that lady can pull off a 2 piece bathing suit - Lulu would look like Twiggy in comparison.

The beach was crowded - maybe spring break - also Sundays are the days cruises come and go there. 

Drew lived in one of those condos in the background called the Roney Palace. He was a student at the University of Miami for 5 years to get his PhD. His nickname on the internet was "Miami Man 2000."

Looking back to the hotel side form the beach side of Ocean Drive.

The swimming pool at Loews Hotel. Notice the blue ocean in the back ground.

The bathroom in our hotel had glass walls.

I am in th bathroom taking a picture out thru the shower wall.

You can see Miami city lights in the background and Lulu unpacking.

The view of the shower from our king bed.

EB Hotel in Miami - adjacent to the airport.

In the living room was a glass desk.

this sectional turned into another bed.

Our bed was a sleep number bed - you could make it hard or soft.

At first I thought this was a urinal (just kidding).

In the morning we opened the curtain and were amazed how close were were to the airport. We heard nothing all night.

Lulu was ordering breakfast here.

Imagine what the rest of this picture looked like.

I could look out the window from the shower. 

Breakfast came quickly - we could not finish because our limo was waiting.

Sunrise over Miami.

Across the lobby was where we had supper the night before.

Our limo van hurried us to the airport.

I had a chuckle as this Jewish TSA agent was hassling this Arab looking guy.

As we took off over Miami we could see the Miami Marlins Stadium - open for play.

Miami is on the mainland - Miami Beach is on an island a couple miles away.

On the square island - the white topped building in the upper right corner - that was Drew's second Miami home. It is long gone - but along that coast under those big condos - was the $8.00 a night motel where we honeymooned in 1971.

Miami ends abruptly and the Everglades start just like that.

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