There's a reason many Miami-Dade County residents avoid South Beach. Parking has become practically impossible. But if you do get caught in traffic, you can always pass the time, by observing the intriguing things tourists do in cars other than watching the road, such as: phone-a-friend, check text messages, apply cosmetics or even change into a bathing suit while searching for a parking spot.
One hour and twenty-two minutes after arriving in SoBe for the South Beach Wine & Food Festival this past weekend, I found a parking space seventeen steaming, sun-scorching blocks from the Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village event. I walked, and was overjoyed when the big white SoBeWFF tents, void of any air-conditioning, came into view. And imagine my elation when I encountered the long and winding lines, with hundreds of thirsty people, sweating under the pounding rays, waiting to get through the gates.
When I moved here back in '81, parking in South Beach was almost free...everywhere. Today once you find a good spot you might fake it by waiting on a long post office queue... or just get a ticket rather than give up that priceless piece of asphalt.
Foodies and drinkies are relentless in finding a perfect meal or a mind-blowing concoction. We just want to get from point A to point B and find a parking space with meters that work. Oh did I mention that all of the Public Garages were full?
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Absolutely true, when I finally found my festival parking place and went to put my hard-earned five bucks in the slot that didn't work (5th and Washington), I noted the sign stuck on the front panel that read: If this meter doesn't work, use another machine.
Inside, lucky ticket holders were happily clinking glasses of 'something', and trust me; there was plenty of 'something' going around. Oiled, tanned, scantily clad, young bodies were gulping wondrous liquids produced by many different countries. Wines, whiskeys, bourbons and strange new concoctions, served by pretty ladies, were flowing ... endlessly. My personal favorite was a Bloody Mary mix that curled my toes and apparently has cured my long-clinging cold.
Last Call for alcohol abruptly stopped the festivities at 4 p.m. Visitors boohooed and pouted as they reluctantly staggered towards the nearby Ocean Drive taverns. I schlepped back to my truck and fought my way through the horrific traffic snarls with a smile, as I kindly remembered the taste of my second Bloody Mary at the delicious event.