Friday morning, we were finally off. Our flight left around 11:00 AM so we had time to get ready, eat breakfast park the car and check out bags at a leisurely pace.
We booked out flights using frequent flier credit on Airtran. That meant we had to fly through Atlanta. Not a big problem as frequent Airtran Fliers with Corporate and Elite status we know many of the people at the station in New Orleans and have a very good understanding of the system. Our tickets were Business Class so we we anticipating a couple of Bloody Marys and a nice relaxing flight.
The New Orleans Airport was full of Saints Fans and Who Dat's. Everyone was happy. We helped our favorite bartender open her bar on Concourse C and started with the Bloody Marys. There was a charter flight of Who Dats loading at the front of the concourse, and down at the far end a fairly loud crowd of American passengers was cheering. Someone was playing a trumpet. Just a normal day in the Who Dat nation. Unfortunately there was no brass band.
When our plane arrived we were shocked to see the it was Airtran's Colts 1,
several of the planes in the Airtran fleet are painted in different team colors. As far as I know there is no Saints1. That caused a little grumbling. It was an gaff on the part of the Airtran Traffic Department not to schedule that plane primarily on flights to Indianapolis during Superbowl week. The pilot, a fellow who called himself Luke Skywalker apologized, saying he didn't get to pick the plane and that the hyper drive was broken.
Our flight was uneventful and we arrived in Atlanta more or less on time, about two Bloody Marys each. In the Atlanta Airport C Concourse there was a lot of Black and Gold, much more than Colt Blue I think. I don't think they could all be going to Miami or Fort Lauderdale.
I stopped in to say hello to my bartender at the Miller Victory Lane on Concourse C, but he was not there yet.
The flight to Fort Lauderdale was delayed a little, apparently the plane was coming out of snow country and a lot of Colts fans got on with us. There was no fight and not much ribbing or boisterous behavior at all.
In Fort Lauderdale our bag was one of the first ones out. The Fort Lauderdale Airport has a good idea I wish the New Orleans Airport would steal . When the baggage conveyors, much like the ones in New Orleans, start there is an array of decorative lights that flash alerting passengers that the bags are coming out. More exciting is that when the belts start, there is tropical island music. There is no harsh buzzer or kalxon. How about we start them with the bugle call used at the start of the Second Line and play the Second Line for a while? Welcome to New Orleans.
The car rental shuttles were more crowded than I have ever seen them, even more than Christmas or New Years peak days. Our rental car was ready and we quickly resolved a small glitch with our American Express Rewards Certificate with no angst. Everything so far was going according to plan.
It only takes about 15 minutes to get to our hotel from the airport. When we got there, much to my surprise we checked in without any problems. They had our package ready and there were very few people around the lobby. Valet parking only cost $18/day and the valets were very quick and helpful. They even showed her how to open the trunk.
Our room was better than expected. We had rented a Queen Superior Studio. What we got was a one bedroom suite with a king bed. While the rooms were somewhat oddly laid out and constructed, dated and worn, it there was clean, comfortable and well set up with a full kitchen. The WiFi worked well.
We headed out to South Beach almost immediately after dropping out bags off. It was after 5 and She wanted to take A1A down to see what had changed. The Drive down A1A through Hallendale, Sunny Isles and past the Trump mega Towers is interesting. Over the last few years we have watched as the Motels built in the 50 and 60s were replaced by the Mega Opulent Condo Towers. After you get to Miami Beach through Bal Harbour, past the newly restored and expanded Fountainbleau and the Eden Roc, its longtime competitor.
As we approached South Beach on Collins Ave, we slowed to a crawl. Only a couple of blocks from Ocean Drive the traffic is heavy on a "normal" Friday evening. Add in thousands of Who Dats and a Free NFL Concert on the beach and it's amazing anything was moving.
Eventually we arrived a Smith and Wollinsky, in a relatively quiet part of Miami Beach, right at the the entrance to the cruise ship harbor
The reception was nice, lots of hor d'oeuvres including very good small cheeseburgers made with some of the best ground meat I've ever had. There was of course an open bar. We met several other Who Dat's, including a father and son. It was a very nice.
It seems that had taken my advise and had brought most of the tickets to the reception, but for some reason they didn't bring ours. They did confirm that they had our tickets and I could pick them up tomorrow, so everything worked out OK.
Our original plan had been to go to Ocean Drive or possibility Lincoln Road to have dinner after the reception, but we ate too much. We were also both somewhat under the weather (She was getting over a chest cold but She had just given it to me so I was getting worse). We headed back to our Hotel and crashed as soon as we got there.