May 20, 2007

Vacation vs Work

While I was in Syracuse, I was on email constantly and had co-workers calling me on my cellphone with one crisis or another. It didn't totally feel like vacation (more like working from home), but I chose to be so reachable so it would be easier when I got back.

When I got to Florida, I tried to make the work feel as much like a vacation as possible to even everything out. It started out hard enough: on Thursday I got up at 4 a.m. to catch a 5 a.m. cab for a 6:20 flight - which didn't leave til 7:10. Worried I wouldn't make my 9:35 connecting flight, I literally ran through the Atlanta airport from concourse C to A, getting there 5 minutes before the takeoff time (and wheezing terribly), and they wouldn't let me on the plane. Ended up running back and forth through ATL trying to catch an earlier flight, which proved impossible, making me have to bump my first meeting of the day.

Despite the difficulty getting there, we actually had a great meeting at Royal Caribbean - which is based in the Port of Miami among many other travel/hospitality/cruise companies. I was in a rental car (this time a red Aveo) for the first time in Miami in many years and I was zipping around like a pro, pushing my mental state aside and shifting into full work mode.

We had another great meeting, this time at the corporate headquarters of Burger King. Their offices are situated on a lagoon by the MIA airport, and when we walked through the reception area with the glass-topped Whopper coffee table, I knew I was going to have a good time. Upon our arrival we were greeted with complimentary Icee's (mine a frozen Coke which I used to be obsessed with, Kevin's a cherry limeade) and a platter of cookies. Like Wendy's, the hallways kind of smelled like the food they were marketing, but I found this scent pleasant and comforting, just like the times my father used to take us out for BK as kids (which was a "nice" dinner out compared to, say, McDonald's). By the end of the meeting, which went really well, I was bouncing off the walls, and gave an audible "oooh!" when they gave us parting gifts of Spider-Man toys.

Surfcomber Hotel pool under a blue sky
The day ended relaxingly enough, with some poolside time at the Surfcomber Hotel (and a free cookie at check-in!) and a $25 Johnnie Walker Gold and Drambuie cocktail at the Raleigh before bed. I only got one night at the Surfcomber because of hugely inflated weekend rates, but I sure enjoyed it.

The next day we had one final great meeting and then we were off. We'd planned to stay one more night because we were trying to fill Friday with as many meetings within driving distance as possible, but we ended up staying the extra night just to enjoy Miami. After lunch at Nikki Beach, some more swimming (this time at the Riande Continental), some Lincoln Road Mall shopping and a quick movie on my own, Kevin and I had dinner at the Delano where I had the best bluecrab and shrimp cobb salad. I then struck back out on my own to experience some nightlife, and I actually managed to find bars that locals hang out in, rather than the nightmarish nightclubs that are frequented by sweaty goombas and their fake boobed girlfriends.

Automatic Slim's has a stripper pole for drunk happy hour chicks, hot female bartenders who stand on the bar and pour vodka down dudes' throats, and a DJ that plays rock and soul mashups that keep you there even when you're done drinking. It got a bit too loud for me so I followed the recommendation of a local (Rachael Ray would be proud) and stopped by a bar called Lost Weekends, which is tucked away on Espanola Way just off Collins, but faaarrr away from the bikini-clad mania that has come to define South Beach. I had a bottle of Spanish beer called Mahou and met a local guy named Mike, who thinks I'm a crazy chick but also told me about a couple of other good beer bars I should check out in the future (take note: Abbey Brewing Co. and Zeke's Roadhouse, which has $3 beers of the world!).

On Saturday, breakfast at the 11th Street Diner and a walk down the boardwalk (which is where I got sunburned, with the noon sun directly overhead) sent us off to the airport fed and sunned, hot and ready for home.

Now that I'm back, despite how much work I did all week, I've got a lot of work waiting for me. But I feel good about it. I accomplished a lot while I was away. And managed to have some fun, too.

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