Once back in Miami Beach after the trip through the Caribbean, there was some time left to relax on South Beach. Far less crowded than on New Year’s Eve, the Ocean Drive allowed for some photos without hurdling hordes of party people. Again, we went to Five Guys Burgers, which I can highly recommend, after some shopping and to Toni’s Sushi Bar for Dinner. All in all a nice trip with nothing but snow and cold winds waiting at home.
While in Miami for New Year’s Eve, I went to Toni’s Sushi Bar in Miami Beach for some Sashimi. As a party of two we went there with no reservation on December 31 2015 and got some nice seats at the sushi bar. It is a small restaurant with 50 seats at the most, centrally located. Operating since 1987, they claim to be the first sushi restaurant in Miami Beach. High Zagat ratings underline the ongoing success of the restaurant.
Sashimi & more
I started out with a grilled salmon skin handroll and opted for a deluxe sashimi platter and worked my way through the menu. I was really amazed by the quality and variety of the fish and the specials they seem to change on a daily basis. The platter came with maguro, hamachi, sake, cobia (which I never had before) and kanpachi. Since they had toro on the specials menu, I couldn’t resist and added some aji and tai. To finish things off, I enjoyed both an unagi and anago as nigiri.
I really enjoyed everything we had and can attest that Toni’s Sushi Bar is indeed great. The veggie tempura, gioza and miso soup was also very good. We enjoyed it so much, that we went a second time on the last day of our trip.
While in Miami during December 2015, I visited the city’s business improvement district Wynwood. It is an old industrial and warehouse district that was transformed over the past years into a colorful and vibrant neighborhood just north of downtown Miami. The walls in the area have been designed with huge graffiti paintings by artists from all over the world, making it a truly unique place to visit with lots of hipster bars and coffee shops, serving cold drip and the like.
“The Wynwood Walls was conceived by the renowned community revitalizer and placemaker, the late Tony Goldman in 2009. He was looking for something big to transform the warehouse district of Wynwood, and he arrived at a simple idea: “Wynwood’s large stock of warehouse buildings, all with no windows, would be my giant canvases to bring to them the greatest street art ever seen in one place.” Starting with the 25th–26th Street complex of six separate buildings, his goal was to create a center where people could gravitate to and explore, and to develop the area’s pedestrian potential.”
Source: The Wynwood Walls
Ever been to the Everglades National Park? Well, it is an interesting place where you can learn about current threats by python snakes and how Florida is doomed since it is basically sitting on a huge sponge to be flooded by the rising global water level. Many birds can be watched while walking the trails and although it is kind of boring if no Alligator shows up, it still is worth a visit. On another note though, you might be wondering what vultures are up to. It turns out, they love rubber-joints of basically any make there is… So your car is in trouble. Why? Research suggest, because they are bored.
So every visitor interested in the Anhinga or Gumbo Limbo Trail at the Royal Palm Visitor Center has to cover his car with tarps or it will be seriously damaged. But even with the tarps in place, the car might still fall victim to the birds’ boredom. Apparently most other destinations in the Park are not so bad, but if you want to see Alligators, Royal Palm is one of the spots to visit.
Among many other things I especially enjoyed the variety of street music in New Orleans during my recent trip. There are many bands playing day and night on almost every corner in the French Quarter, offering anything from traditional Blues and New Orleans Jazz to modern interpretations of pop music. The street bands seem to move around, sometimes joining each other and supporting local businesses e.g. by supporting them in fashion shows etc.
Second Hand Street Band
One band stood out in particular, the Second Hand Street Band. I liked them a lot, since they really motivated the crowd to stay, dance and sing along. The band is very versatile, offering classic tunes and modern pop songs with a comic twist. There are many videos on Youtube, so check them out.
If you are more interested in the roots of Jazz, check out the Preservation Hall. They are dedicated to preserving the original artform of New Orleans Jazz, offering 3-4 shows per day with changing lineup. Also they have a Preservation Hall Jazz Band, kind of the venue’s house band.
“New Orleans’ Preservation Hall was established in 1961 to honor one of America’s truest art forms – Traditional New Orleans Jazz. Operating as a music venue, a touring band, and a non-profit organization, Preservation Hall continues its mission today as a cornerstone of New Orleans music and culture.”
Although kind of a tourist trap, the Preservation Hall provides a unique experience. A 45 minute show costs around $ 20 and is well worth the money. The hall is pretty basic. There are just very few chairs, no bar, no restroom, to lighting or sound equipment. It’s all acoustic since it is meant to be as it once was in the old days. I went there on December 25 2015 and saw “The Joint Chiefs of Jazz” with Frank Oxley.
Quentin Tarantino’s latest movie came out a few weeks back in December 2015, The Hateful Eight. Luckily, I was in Florida at the time and had the opportunity to be part of the Special Roadshow Engagement presented in 70mm… that was so awesome and soooo wide.
“The exclusive 70mm Roadshow engagement of The Hateful Eight pays homage to and recreates the grand film exhibition style popularized 1950s and ‘60s and that brought audiences to theaters with the promise of a special event. Taking place in the nation’s largest cities and grandest theaters, Roadshows presented a longer version of the film than would be shown in the films subsequent wider release, included a musical overture to start the show, an intermission between acts and a souvenir program. (Limited supply, first come, first serve at 70mm locations only.)
Ultra Panavision 70 refers to the very rare and exceptional format that Quentin Tarantino and his team used to shoot The Hateful Eight. Panavision’s unique anamorphic camera lenses capture images on 70mm film in an incredible aspect ratio of 2.76:1. Almost all films you see today are shot in ratios of either 1.85:1 or 2.39:1. So, to put it simply, Ultra Panavision 70 provides an amazingly wider and more detailed image.”
Source: The Hateful Eight
I spent a few days in New Orleans over Christmas in 2015 and explored the Birthplace of Jazz. Even though December seems to be the coolest month of the year, it was extremely sticky and humid at 26°C (78°F). During the time there it was cloudy every day and at some times you couldn’t see more than 50m due to the thick fog hanging over the city. I might have enjoyed the city more with a few sunny days, although it might have been even more sticky that way.
Staying at a hotel in the French Quarter allowed for a quick dive into the city’s music and party scene with most of the major attractions close by. There is live jazz and blues music on the street and in almost every club and an abundance of decent restaurants offering mainly creole cuisine.
Here are some impressions from the trip, hopefully catching the mood.
Trying something different this year: Christmas in New Orleans at 26° C (78°F) with intense humidity. Unfortunately it is rather cloudy and rains from time to time, although it might be even more sticky if the sun was shining… All in all, it is rather strange to be away from home during this time of year. Missing the cold, it is also difficult to get into the Christmas holiday mood.
Here are some Christmas decorations from Bourbon St, St Ann St and Jackson Square in the French Quarter as well as from Fulton St. On every corner there is music, dominated by jazzy Christmas songs about snow, the cold and everything else that is missing around here 😉
“Introducing the first all electric american super car…” – proudly built in Silicon Valley, USA.
For any Tesla enthusiast out there, this might be even better: the supercharged $ 500,000+ Renovo Coupe (Shelby Daytona Coupe lookalike), all electric with over 500 horsepower and 1,000 ft-lb torque. This true american sports car, 4 years in the making will hit the market with a limited number of vehicles in 2015.
More impressive images and information can be found on the verge. So if you’re up for it, check it out.