Owner Joann Gaetan has more than fifteen years of experience, and her enthusiasm for animals shows. She and her staff can spruce up even the frizziest of pets. Your Labrador can get a short hairstyle that will make him look like a shiny new pup. Your Yorkie will break loose of all those tangles and be left with glossy, mat-free locks. Full grooming ranges from $30 to $70 and up. Hours are Tuesday through Friday 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Saturday 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Sure. Maybe lots of vets can cure an iguana. But can they do a duck, a fish, and a rabbit along with the lizard all in one day? Exotic animal veterinarian Marc Kramer can. Dr. Kramer graduated from Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1999, and joined the staff of the Avian & Exotic Animal Medical Center in 2000. Soon he built a large and diverse client list. Exotic vets "are a rare breed around here," Dr. Kramer points out. "There aren't too many who want to work with anything other than dogs and cats...." Dr. Kramer didn't find his animal calling until he was in college. "I didn't come to that realization until my last year of college. I wanted to be a biologist. I always really loved animals; I knew I wanted to work with animals.... I got to work on a lot of field projects in different states and countries ... and I worked on wild animals." Some examples of the exotics he's treated include "unusual primates, like lemurs, bush babies, and other monkeys; porcupines; skunks; and anteaters," but he wonders why someone would want an animal -- like an anteater -- that has such a specific diet. "You have to make this insect gruel for them.... A lot of problems we see are people not feeding the exotic animals right and not keeping them in the right environment." But it is that variety in the job that keeps it exciting for the handsome young doctor. "Coming to work every day is a new challenge. I'm still seeing different animals, which keeps it fresh; we're pioneers." He recently performed surgery on a Siamese fighting fish and a water frog. "You have to put a special anesthesia in the water, and then take it out of the water to operate, while dripping the anesthetic water on its skin." Such a challenging career does keep him busy. "I don't have a normal, easy schedule. I'm on call after-hours," he says. That means he puts in plenty of nights and weekends. So what does he do with his little free time? "I like to get outdoors as much as I can, canoeing and kayaking around Key Biscayne and the Everglades, and I take salsa classes a few nights a week. I've been dancing for about two years." While you would think that a vet would have a menagerie of pets around the house, Dr. Kramer prefers to keep it simple. "I just have cats and turtles now. I enjoy everyone else's pets.... I don't want to have to come home and clean up a zoo." He also spends a lot of time on his computer, moderating a discussion group for exotic vets, and he writes for veterinary magazines and does presentations at conferences. "It's important to share the knowledge since this is such a small field.... There's a growing interest in vets going into exotics since there is such a demand for it."
"Would you like some popcorn?" asks the attendant, with a Cheesecake Factory-like smile. Then there are the free bagels, the full-service espresso bar, the comfy couches, the flat-screen TV sets, the periodicals. This is not a beauty salon or a Starbucks. It is simply the waiting room of The Car Wash. And that's not the best part; there's also the Fifties-era music, the cheery staff, the fact that as you're sipping a latte and reading In Style, your Ferrari is getting soaped, scrubbed, buffed, and polished by a whirlwind of man and robot. And the prices are fair: The entry-level Daily Wash is $9.95 (interior, exterior, window-cleaning -- pretty friggin' clean). The Works Wash goes for $19.95. Not only do the folks at The Car Wash do a fabulous job, but they also do it quickly. During our latest test, the dirty Pontiac became a spotless, pretty-smelling car in roughly fifteen minutes. But hey, The Car Wash's waiting room is so pleasant you actually feel like telling them to take their time.
The new redhead in town walks into an auto shop for an oil change and expects to be told her buggy needs about $500 in services to be safe. Not here. Gabe and his friendly, honest staff care about their customers -- they want to keep your business and attract your friends. He's been here "since my hair was still black" and is never short on smiles. The wall in the office is covered with certificates, awards, and yellowed newspaper clippings -- an archive of almost 30 years in a dirty (in terms of oil, that is) business displayed in dollar-store frames. The service is efficient: "You need to pick it up at 4:00? It will be ready." (And it is.) The location is conveniently located within skipping distance of kudzu-spreading condos in the booming Wynwood and Edgewater areas. All mechanics are ASE-certified, of course, and se habla español. Shop hours are Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Saturday 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
What with the horrendous traffic, the endless construction on major roadways, and our immigrant-heavy population, driving in the Magic City can be a decidedly dangerous experience. If only more people learned from Victor Montalvo, owner and head instructor of A International Driving School. With the kind of patience that can be accrued only with more than 30 years of teaching, he ventures onto Miami's most chaotic roads every day, gently coaxing terrified students into the fast lane. Most of his clients are teenagers, who can sometimes be impatient with the slow-paced instructions of a 62-year-old man. Victor does some of his best work with the older adult pupils, whose fear of the road is a much more serious impediment. "My oldest student was a lady who was 74 years old," he says in a thick Ecuadorian accent. "She never drove before because she used to live in New York. When her husband passed away, she came to live close to her sons. But the son sent her to lessons, because he couldn't take her to the doctor or the supermarket, and she was spending too much money on taxi cabs. It took a while, but I taught her." Victor works almost every day. "I like to be involved with the students, to make sure they get their license. Now I'm getting old, but I keep teaching," he laughs. When asked if he ever gets annoyed with his job, Victor shrugs and says, "I try to be patient. There's too many bad drivers here." But one all-too-typical moving violation gets under his skin. "People will just jump from one lane to another, driving fast. I don't know what's the hurry. Sometimes when I'm teaching, they cut right in front of us, don't use an indicator, nothing. I say, oh boy! And I have to use the brakes and let them pass," he exclaims, increasingly animated. "When I see people doing stupid things like that, I always wish there were cops around to see. But I can do nothing except teach my students the right way."
Hess Gas Station
You don't have to go to the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge to find cheap gas. This spankin'-new Hess station has fuel that consistently ranks among the area's least expensive -- ten to twenty cents less than other pumping places only blocks away -- at its twelve credit-card-ready pumps. There's one cheap diesel pump too. Air for your tires is free, the bathroom is clean, and the store is well stocked with, among other things, a beer selection that includes Red Stripe, Guinness, and Modelo. The station is open round-the-clock.
Bike Tech
Do you still get chills when you think about buying a new bike? Or have you settled for getting a generic two-wheeler at Wal-Mart? Why not relive the excitement of your kiddy days and stop by Bike Tech. It carries cycles of the mountain, road, hybrid, and cruiser variety. Prices aren't bad. For instance, you can get a Raleigh Retroglide 7 for about $285. You'll find the right helmet and shoes and anything else you might need for your next ride. The place even has bike shorts to fit your five-year-old, and suits for that triathlon you've been saying you'll try. The staff is friendly and can answer any bicycle question. Professional mechanics can help with everything from a flat tire to a wheel that's not true (if you're not sure what that means, you'll find out next time a tire begins creaking against your brakes). Bike Tech also has a great discount program that gives members fifteen percent off purchases. It's open Monday through Friday 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; closed Sunday.
When Miamians are sick of things lying around their homes, many list said items on Craigslist. And this, my friends, is a way for two-wheel bargain hunters to snarf up a deal. A recent search turned up two $200 BMXs, in perfect condition, both being sold for less than $60. A slightly used GT was going for $25. If you're a total Cheapy McCheap, type in the maximum amount you're willing to spend next to the search box, and you'll get bikes in your range. If you can't be bothered to, like, exercise, you can also find used electric scooters. And if you're thinking of joining a Latino gang in L.A., every once in a while you can even find a custom low-rider bike. Most of the listings are in Miami, but there are also some in Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale.
Those who aren't scooter people have a difficult time trying to fathom how anyone can get on one of those things and traverse the Hummer-clogged streets of the Beach. But some people dig that squealing buzz, feeling the wind in their hair, and savoring the druglike effects of the blurring neon lights in their peripheral vision. If you're ready to hop on, call up South Beach Scooters and they'll ease you into it with a free lesson and friendly encouragement. Rentals range in price from $15 to $50 an hour with unlimited mileage, and brands include Peugeot, Daelim, MZ, TGB, Binetto, Mondial, and Adly. Still not feeling the scooter-dude in you? Maybe a Segway or one of those electric fun cars would be more your speed. The friendly staff will even pick you up and bring you back to the shop if you get, well, Hummered.
If money were no object, you'd be sipping bourbon on the back of your private yacht right now. Seeing as that hazy fantasy probably won't calm your ocean-going ganas, get a few friends together and split the cost of renting a craft at Beach Boat Rentals. Few powerboat rental places come close to Beach Boat's prices, and those that do usually bump up their prices for weekends and restrict your cruising range. At Beach, you have your choice of eight boats -- all with current-model-year, four-stroke outboards, according to owner Anthony Marzilli -- from a 22-footer with room for five to more expansive 24-footers with front deck seating. Prices for a two-hour rental range from $130 to $220, while four hours on the water will set you back $200 or more. Inquire about specials on half- and full-day rentals, tours, and charters. Gas and taxes are extra, and no deposit is required. Beach Boat Rentals is open from 9:30 a.m. to sunset every day.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®