Miami and Biscayne National Park

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Miami is our first stop. Miami feel like another Tinsel Town: hot beaches, flashy cars, celebrities (now they've got Shaq), large Hispanic population... South Beach is a great winter vacation destination. That lovely cyan color is not what we can commonly see in the west coast. Coco Walk is a great shopping center. Had some delicious Crepe there (last pic).

I have to recommend this Cuban restaurant called "Versailles" on 8th street. Not only the food is tasty and reasonably priced, the heartiness of Cuban people also impressed me. One waitress chased us out of the door to ask (with a strong Hispanic accent) if I made a mistake and gave too much tips on my credit card - it was a mistake, I signed $62 instead of $52. Oh, I love Mojito (second from right), a cocktail drink decorated with fresh mint leaves.

 

Vizcaya, now a National Historic Landmark, was built in 1916 as some rich man (James Deering)'s winter retreat. The Italian Renaissance style house is filled with artwork and antique furniture. Too bad photographing is not allowed inside the house. The 10-acre garden is pleasantly shady and cool.

One side of the house is facing the ocean. Having a private dock in the backyard must be a great idea.

Details details...

 

Biscayne National Park. A National Park mostly on water. Green crystal clear water and coral reef are the main attraction. The park has glass bottom boat, through which you can observe the colorful corral, fishes, and even shipwrecks.

Better yet, go snorkeling and diving to take a closer look at the coral reef. The underwater world is fascinating! This is my first attempt of underwater photography. It was very trick, so these pix are only a very very small portion of the exciting world I've swim through.

 

Wildlife. Florida is apparently a less contaminated state compared to California. Wildlife are more frequently spotted in the waterfront. In the first pic is a huge group of Brown Pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis) chasing a school of fishes near the South Beach. The next 3 pix are close-up of Brown Pelicans. These are big ugly greedy birds that can weight up to 8 lbs. In the last a pic are a pair of wading White Ibis (Eudocimus albus) and a wading Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias).

More frequenters of the waterfront: Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger, 2 pix, with a huge bill. It's the only bird specie with a longer lower jaw : ); a Laughing Gull (Leucophaeus atricilla); a Great Black-Back Gull (Larus marinus); a Great Egret (Ardea alba, 2 pix); a group of Double-crested Cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus, last pic).

A pair of lovely Raccoons (Procyon lotor). They're apparently very used to human, standing up to beg for food. But no, we're not supposed to feed them.

A Gecko (2 pix); a Parakeet nesting in a palm tree in downtown Miami (1 pic); in the last two pix are a pair of forktails.

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