Before the flood we had planned a trip to South Florida for the Orange Bowl. The trip was to include a week on Key West including New year's Eve and a trip to the Dry Tortugas.
When Katrina approached Florida I was in the process of finalizing my plans for a return to South Florida. I was planning on renting a condo on the beach for the Orange Bowl. I called one of the Owners, who told me she had a unit available but couldn't really do anything right now because they were getting ready for a hurricane. I told he I'd called her back in a few days. What a joke that turned out to be.
After a few weeks of complete chaos we began to plan again. We still had tickets to the Orange Bowl, but couldn't really see spending a week away with so much going on. We finally decided to go to the Orange Bowl.
We also decided to scale back. The New Plan was to find a place on the beach near the stadium and the Fort Lauderdale Airport, since I refuse to enter the Miami Airport from the land. I will only go there to change planes and then only if unavoidable. We we trying to find specific accommodations at the last minute.
I am a big fan of old Florida, the Florida I grew up with. You see in the late Fifties my grandparents bought a small house in Melbourne and began spending winters there. They soon decided to move full time and two of my Uncles and some of my Grandmother's family moved there. We usually made two trips a year so I had a lot of time there as a youngster. That Florida hardly exists any more except in memory and in faint reflections, replaced by a much more upscale flashier Real Estate Florida.
There are a few bits and pieces left, but they're going fast. All along A1A in South Florida old beach front motels are being replaced by Trump Towers. I think the Donald is franchising his name, getting a piece of the action for little if any contribution except a few personal appearances.
In any event one of those remaining vestiges is Hollywood Beach. Only a few years ago it was a sleepy downscale tacky little resort largely frequented by Canadian and German tourists for no apparent reason. It was great. There is a blacktop board walk with cheap bars (with expensive drinks), tee shirt shops, and mostly bad restaurants. They even have an amphitheater on the beach where the City of Hollywood puts on free concerts.
The buildings lining the beach a mostly old and sort of Art Deco, except for the newer ones which are mostly old. Unfortunately there are signs of redevelopment.
One of the attractions is the Orange Bowl Beach Bash which is an all day music festival held on the sand on the day before the Orange Bowl. Mostly the music is not that good but the thing is fun, especially if you have a nearby place to go when you can't take it any more.
We must have called two dozen places before finally locating a timeshare with a unit for rent. We were set. We went over for in time for New Years and a relatively quiet New Years Eve drinking Champagne on South Beach. (Much quieter than the 1999 New Years Eve we spent in South Beach where we watched two naked women and a guy on the balcony across the street from the restaurant set fire to the curtains, while we were having dinner on the veranda, and that was early.)
We have been to Hollywood Beach several times and there are two mandatory food stops, Nicks Bar and Grill on the Board Walk and Taverna Opa on the Intracostal, about 3 blocks away.
Nicks is on the board walk and we stop in after a hot afternoon of beach for a cold Perone and a dozed raw oysters. Sometimes we go back several times.
Taverna Opa is a Greek restaurant on the water of the Intracostal Waterway. It features all manner of Greek food including grind you own Humas, Greek dancing on the tables and popular Greek music. I knew I loved it the first time I was there when I hear them play a recording of "Yellow Polka Dot Bikini" in Greek, it took a while to figure that one out. The clue was the Greek word for Bikini, which is of course Bikini.
Game Day we went to the Orange Bowl tailgate party and watched a great game between Penn State and Florida State. The day after the game we spent sleeping late and going to the Beach. Our flight left very early the next morning.