By the time I checked into the Miami Beach International Travellers Hostel my sunburn was healing fast. It was also here that I met Hans-Juergen, a German tourist. He was totally fed up with Miami so we decided to team up and commiserate: me about my sunburn and Juergen about everything else. We went to a museum together and also visited a couple of bars but generally stayed in the hostel bar in the evening as there was always something on. We are still in touch via email and Linkedin, so at least I made a friend in Miami.
The Hostel Bar
This hostel, just like the one in Chicago was part of Hostelling International. In the hostel we would sit outside on the terrace every night after sunset and just drink and chat. Nobody really had money to go out because everything was very expensive for students.
There were also a couple of Russian guys who got a few bottles of vodka every night and invited everybody to drink. They were friendly people, only one of them was an asshole.
No Russian Joker
Homesick In Miami
Hans-Juergen then left Miami so I was bored alone again. Then, three days before my departure from Miami I became totally homesick. I was depressed, tired, still in pain from the sunburn and just fed up. By then I had been away from Scotland for nearly six months and I was missing my friends. Strangely I felt no home sickness for Hungary…
After the sunset I went to swim in the ocean and relaxed a little. I then decided to have a drink in a bar on Ocean Drive. It was here that I met Frank Lavin and Marcella Paz Cohen, two estate agents in Miami Beach ( or realtors as they say in the US! ).
The Palace Bar On Ocean Drive
The place where we met was the Palace Bar on 12th and Ocean Drive. I got in, bought myself a drink and headed outside to watch the drag show on the curb side. There was only one empty table so I asked the woman and man sitting there if I could take a seat. They looked at me, then each other and said “fine”.
When the show ended they asked me who I was. It turned out that table was the owner’s and the locals knew better not to sit there!
We ended up talking about astrology and it turned out that Marcella and I were born on the same day and that she was from Chile!
We instantly became friends and I told them about my miserable holiday. They then looked at each other and told me that I couldn’t leave Miami with bad memories. They promised that they would show me the best of South Beach!
So we spent the next three days together cycling around Miami, doing a guided city tour and we also had lunch twice in their favourite restaurants. I simply couldn’t believe how friendly they were!
Frank even put me up and took me to some really nice places and Marcella paid for the cycling city tour that I couldn’t afford. Frank even lent me a bicycle so we could go a little further out of South Beach. They really made my holiday a wonderful experience for the last three days. Later that year in October Marcella even visited me in Edinburgh then we went to Budapest together!
The Hungarians At Frank’s Apartment
One of the evenings I decided to go down to the swimming pool. As I was swimming back and forth a family arrived. Two elderly ladies and their grandsons. The ladies started talking and I went over to eavesdrop and find out what the rich people talk about in Miami. Then I was in for a big shock!
One of the old ladies said to the other: “Let’s talk in Hungarian, I am sure nobody understands it here!” – well well, how wrong were they!
Turned out they were a bunch of millionaire Hungarian expats! I could not believe it!
We started talking and I found out that they owned several hotels in New York. The guy’s father came out to the US in 1956 where he started working as a kitchen porter in a hotel which he later bought! The most amazing thing for me was that they bought their apartment in that block from a catalogue. They hadn’t seen it before buying it and that was actually their first visit to see the place!
Frank had a friend over during my last day in Miami. She had a Porsche and she offered to take me to the airport which of course I could not refuse! So I was whizzed off to the airport in style! I arrived on a bus, left in a Porsche!
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