Layover on Miami Beach

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Well before dawn we’d returned our rental car, checked in at the airport, and boarded a flight to Miami and were back on the ground three hours later. Unfortunately, though we’d had a smooth start, we had seven hours in Miami before our next leg to Chicago where we’d have to spend the night before flying home.

Faced with the prospect of sitting in the airport practically all day, Ben determined that we should instead take the bus to the beach. I was feeling run down and wasn’t in love with the prospect of spending hours trying to make our way to the beach for an hour or two only too come back again but sitting in the airport with no wifi (we had a lot of blogging to get done) was unappealing as well, so carrying all our things, we boarded the bus toward the beach.

Our usual, “do just enough planning to get by” strategy was at play, so while we were on the correct bus, we actually didn’t know where to get off, in part because we didn’t know where we wanted to go. I guess we figured we would just get off at the end of the line.

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About ten minutes into our ride, a chatty lady dressed in scrubs boarded, looked at our packs, and wanted to know where we were going. “To the beach!” we told her, but within seconds it became clear that we didn’t know where we were going at all, so Ben asked her for suggestions.

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The woman was moved to action, hopping up from her seat to consult with the bus driver as to where the best spot for a lightning quick day trip to Miami beach would be. It took them a while, before the lady came back smiling triumphantly. “The bus driver will tell you where to get off!” she declared. She spent her last few minutes on the beach gushing about her love for her beautiful city before bidding us farewell and disembarking on a busy corner. Five minutes later, the bus driver waved us off too and held up the whole bus for five minutes while he explained to us where to go and where to get back on. All the southern hospitality had smiles plastered on our faces.

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By this point, it was obvious that Ben’s plan to head to the beach was a brilliant one, and a two minute walk found us our own patch of sand where we piled our packs, stripped down, and went for a swim in the gorgeous blue surf. Spending the day amid sun and surf was infinitely better than on a cramped airport chair. I’m not that into beach towns, but Miami won us over and I can’t wait to go back. It was perfect.

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We spent our second hour sprawled on the beach, hoping the January sun would get us mostly dry before we got back to the airport, and an easy bus ride delivered us back to Miami just in time for check in, except that our flight was delayed.

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So delayed, in fact, that we were three hours late touching down in Chicago, where we joined the enormous crowd in what can only be classified as transportation hell. Hundreds of people littered the curb where the hotel shuttle was to pick us up. We shoved our way out the airport doors, but couldn’t navigate the sidewalk due to the throng of travelers. So many travelers, in fact, that we missed the first shuttle simply because we couldn’t get to it through the crush of people before it drove off. Flustered, we waited another hour in the drizzly rain with hundreds of other strangers who mobbed the city busses every time they drove by.

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When we finally arrived at the hotel, the front desk informed me that he had no record of my reservation. A little sleuthing quickly led us to the problem. We were at the wrong Quality Inn. The hour now pushing midnight, I begged for help. Can we switch the reservation? Can the shuttle deliver us to the other hotel? Would the other hotel’s shuttle come get us?

The resounding answer was no. Not unless we wanted to pay for two rooms.

My exhaustion was wearing holes in my patience and so we took the shuttle back to the airport, resigned to simply sleep there for  the next  fivehours before our flight home. To our surprise however, the correct shuttle was waiting at the curb, and so we snagged another 15 minute ride to the correct hotel where just after midnight, we slammed into bed, still fully clothed.

Five hours later, bleary eyed and worn out we cleared security in Chicago for the third time in 24 hours headed toward home.

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