A Wonderful Three Nights

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By Phyllis J. Lubin

Lenny and I are sitting on a plane taking a brief trip to Miami. With Citibank Thank-You Points due to expire, and on the brink of my husband’s tax season in January, we decided to take a quick three-day trip for some needed rest and relaxation.

I’m not a great traveler. I have a fear of fast-moving vehicles and surely an airplane is on my list of frightening means of transport. But I have more of an appreciation of getting something for nothing, so the thought of “wasting” the value of not utilizing two free flights to Miami helped me conquer my fear of flying. As long as I had headphones and visual entertainment, I would be good to go.

The day before our trip it was brought to my attention that American Airlines did not have personal televisions on their domestic flights. A horror! How was I going to persevere? A three-hour flight with nothing to divert my attention from the concept of being on a plane? This was definitely a problem. I collected a few books that might hold my attention and downloaded a few games onto my phone that could be played in “airplane mode”—in other words, sans Internet.

Isn’t it sad how we have a hard time entertaining ourselves without the Internet? When the lights went out, and even once we had power back but still had no FIOS, post-Sandy, we all had to become more creative. We learned what our ancestors already knew—books, playing cards, and board games tend to occupy our time without the need for more high-tech items. While at my parents’ home the first day after Sandy, my daughters and my mom renewed their interest in knitting. As time progressed, our electricity returned and we were hosting my in-laws. My mother-in-law joined the knitting team and further guided the girls on their new knitting discoveries.

The Friendship Circle recently sponsored a Moms’ Night Out of knitting where even I joined the knitting bandwagon. In addition to my other planned diversions, I eagerly packed up my beginnings of a scarf to keep me entertained while traveling high above the clouds!

And so here I am. Seated on the plane pondering life. I have not unpacked my knitting or my books, since as we were seated, the kind stewardess announced that courtesy of American Airlines we could view a movie on the screens in the aisles. So they weren’t individual television screens, but beggars can’t be choosers and this was going to satisfy my needs—plus I haven’t seen a movie in ages and The Odd Life of Timothy Green was just what the doctor ordered.

This Disney movie was actually deep and thought-provoking. Those of you who have seen it will understand why it brought tears to my eyes—mostly good ones. It is a movie for young and old to enlighten us all on how we all must accept those with differences. This movie not only diverted my attention from my fear of flying, it also taught me a bit about life and how there are always new things to discover and understand.

• • •

It’s Thursday, December 6. We have spent the last few days enjoying the warmth of Florida. The hotel that we stayed at, the Newport Beachside Hotel and Resort in Sunny Isles, was welcoming and picturesque. Directly on the beach, we were able to enjoy glimpses of the ocean every morning. What a way to start the day! We were searching for an affordable yet pretty place to spend our vacation, and we were surely satisfied. Not as huge as many of the resorts in Miami Beach, this hotel was less overwhelming, and the staff was helpful and concerned. After our brief stay, we felt at home there, and would surely revisit this lovely place in the future.

Mexico Bravo was our first dinner out in Florida, and it was amazingly good! The proprietors were friendly and helpful. I am not necessarily a fan of “different foods” but this food was amazing! The taco soup was extremely tasty, as was the rib-eye “Mexican style” steak and chicken fajita. There was not one item on my plate (or my husband’s—he chose a sample plate of various different Mexican favorites) that I did not thoroughly enjoy. Right when we thought we could not eat another bite, we were treated to a wonderful dessert that I never thought would be up my alley: Mexican fried ice cream. Not only was it amazingly delectable, it definitely did not taste pareve! Somehow, even though we were full from dinner, we managed to consume the whole thing. Next time any of my readers is in the Miami area, you should surely put this restaurant on your itinerary.

As I sat sipping my strawberry daiquiri at Mexico Bravo on that Monday evening, I decided that so far my vacation was perfect—even if the rest of the next few days were rainy, I had already enjoyed enough and that it just wouldn’t matter. While planning this vacation we had both obsessed about the weather reports. Day to day the forecasts would change, so we didn’t know what to expect. Monday’s weather was breezy and yet in the high 70s.

Tuesday morning came and again the weather reports warned of spotty rain. It just didn’t matter: we had a terrace overlooking both the pool and the beach, and with my heated pool I didn’t care if I’d have to do my laps in the rain! But the rains did not come, and we enjoyed day two in the beautiful Sunshine State.

We took a nice walk on the boardwalk in Miami Beach, surveying the various hotels that we remembered from our last trip to Miami over 12 years ago. We reminisced about our trips to Florida pre-married life (and we have been married now over 25 years). We tried to discern the hotels that we remembered from our youth: which had been the Caribbean, Crown, and the Saxony? A lot has changed on the Miami Beach strip—the hotels are bigger and taller!

That night we had already decided to visit a restaurant in South Beach that our eldest daughter had visited a few months ago: West End Café. After making our way to that end of the area (about a 40 minute ride from Sunny Isles), we managed to park and find the restaurant. One negative that we have noticed about the Miami area: the lack of free parking. Everywhere you park there are meters, and every meter enjoys eating a tremendous amount of quarters. In Miami Beach the meters give you 15 minutes for every quarter, while downtown in South Beach, the meters give you only 9 minutes for that same quarter.

Eating al fresco at the picturesque West End Café, we enjoyed a couple of tasty grilled chicken cutlets and then shared a decadent dessert. The food was good, and the atmosphere was refreshing and artsy. We felt like real South Beachers.

• • •

In my next column, I’ll tell you about the rest of the trip, iy’H. In the meantime, to all my readers: Happy Chanukah! May the miraculous lights of your Chanukah candles give you lasting warmth throughout the year! v

Phyllis Joy Lubin is an attorney with Maidenbaum & Sternberg, LLP, who resides in Cedarhurst with her husband, Leonard. They have six children: Naftali, Shoshana, Rivka, Rochel, Yosef, and Lea and a daughter-in-law, Nina. The author welcomes your questions and comments at MothersMusings@gmail.com.

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