Results 1-7of 7 Reviews
by Joy S
Manchester, England, United Kingdom
June 23, 2011
From journal A Week in Miami
Bayside, New York
July 16, 2004
I had visions of crusty Cubanos with jamon for four days before we were able to find the right coordinates. We had a late flight back to California on our last day, and decided to spend late morning in this area. You can't imagine my relief when I started to see "El Pub" restaurant again, the panaderias, the bodegas with their groceries and sundry wares, and the $1 and menos stores which I comb avidly, since there is no such thing in Marin County.
Every year, when we came to visit our family in Fort Lauderdale, we would make the 45-minute drive to Miami just so that I could get my latest Latin music fix at Lily's. Have you ever been to that place?? It's the most amazing music store I've ever been to; additionally they now sell instruments.
What was really gratifying was to see that the men's domino club had become a historical site, and that it now had a respectable enclosure around it, and an official name: Maximo Gomez Park. We went inside, very quietly, so as not to disturb the players. No one really speaks, but you can hear the slapping down of the tiles on the grids. Amongst the players was a woman, and that was a first time thing for me. I noticed that they had also added chess to the games being played.
I was hunting for art (for a change), and came upon the Santos Fine Art Gallery. Mr. Santos was seated near the window, painting. When we went in to admire his work, he was chatting on his cell phone. There were original oils, and limited edition prints, as well as photographs. He ships! Go to Santos and browse.
Hunger pangs led us to El Cristo Restaurant, formerly called El Pescador. I already knew what I wanted, and I was determined to have Chuck try it. The restaurant is quite large, very clean, and our server was an angel. We both had the Cubano special, and the photo below says it all. We saved some of it for the flight home.
There is a mini sidewalk star collection where you'll find the names of Gloria Estefan, Julio Iglesias and other celebrities. It's directly in front of McDonald's (they really ought to take that down!). Oh yes, for the cigar aficionados, you'll have a field day here.
From journal Locos in Miami
New York, New York
August 27, 2003
Miami’s proximity to Cuba has long had an influence on the city’s soul, its food, and, more recently, its politics, thanks to the Elián Gonzáles controversy, which made a visit to this much-talked-about neighborhood a priority for me on this trip.
Thank God we went by car: it’s not easy to get to via local transportaion, and, after putzing around for an hour or so, we were happy to get moving. Which isn’t to say that the neighborhood isn’t worth visiting--quite the opposite--but rather, that you needn’t budget much time unless there’s a special event going on.
The main draws can be seen in less than 15 minutes, but are definitely worth sussing out, at least for the novelty of seeing two American flags flying alongside two Cuban ones. That’s right--head to Cuban Memorial Boulevard, at SW 13 Street, between Calle Ocho (SW 8th Street) and SW 12th Street, and you’ll see four flagpoles hung with patriotic emblems from both countries guarding an underwhelming memorial to two heroes of the Cuban War of Indepedence (Jose Martí and Antonio Maceo). A sweeter moment of Cuban pride is actually behind this officious-looking site, where a statue of the Virgin Mary stands before a massive kapok tree with roots that spread above the sidewalk--the tree has an important role in the santeria religion practiced by many Cubans, who tend to leave offerings at its--and Mary’s--base. Take a few steps behind the tree, and you’ll come up to a huge wall overlaid with a map of Cuba, which is, unfortunately, good for refreshing your geography, but little else.
Interestingly (or sadly), the main reason to visit Little Havana may be the abundance of 99¢ stores that line the main drag, Calle Ocho. I had a great time browsing through a seemingly endless supply of religious paraphernalia--holy water; 3-D and holographic images of Christ; and baseball hats emblazoned with his name--alongside more mundane items like cheapie beach towels and tupperware.
Perhaps it’s telling that, when we asked one store clerk what we should see around there, she said, "South Beach."
From journal SoBe It
June 9, 2006
From journal Goin' to Miami
June 28, 2004
My trip to Miami being very short, I concentrated it in 2 areas: Little Havana and Miami Beach.
First stop: the famous Southwest 8th Street, or Calle Ochos as it is called. Calle Ochos is Little Havana’s main street. Since the Revolution, more than 300,000 Cubans have emigrated in the Miami area and now, they are a cultural, economical and political force to be reckoned with. In fact, the Cuban lobby has a big weight in the balance of US policy towards Cuba. And at the local level, the mayor, Manuel Diaz, is from Cubam origins.
Once in Calle Ochos, you almost feel like you’ve been transported to the island. Salsa and rumba can be heard from store, little coffee places are everywhere. Take a seat in one of them and soak in the atmosphere.
Walk around, you’ll come around grocery stores, colourful restaurants…
If you carry on walking west on Calle Ochos, you will discover little parks and one of them is the famous Maximo Gomez Park, aka Domino Park. It is a meeting point and a club for retirees. The park is at a street corner and has a roof (to shelter from the sun and tropical thunderstorms). A huge fresco representing the New World' Heads of State when they met in 1996 is the main feature of the Park. Of course, one person is missing from the mural... Fidel Castro.
Here, elderly gentlemen in Panama hats come to relax and play dominos, checkers, chess, cards... under the keen eyes of younger ones. Talking with one of the players, I discovered that it is really a club and only seniors can use the park's facilities, which consist of a little building where the games are stocked.
When you get at the crossroad of Calle Ochos and 13th avenue, also called "Memorial Boulevard", take a stroll and watch the monuments... some are religious (a statue of the Virgin Mary), some are political (a monument to the disastrous "Bay of Pigs"). All are celebrating Cuba.
From journal Miami and Miami Beach
April 14, 2005
Things to do/see:
Watch Cuban guys in guayaberas playing dominoes at the Maimo Gomez Park
Enjoy the tranquility at the Cuban Memorial (SE 13th Avenue) and admire the Virgin Mary status and giant old tree behind it
Stop at one of the many coffee shops along Calle Ocho. Check out the laundry places that also serve coffee. It’s pretty amusing.
Enjoy refreshing fruit juice, such as sugarcane juice, at La Pinatenos Fruteria at 13th Avenue. It was hard to move around in the store, as the entire store was packed with stuff: cartons of fruits, jam, flowers, memorabilia… The display was messy, yet it has the charm of a mom-and-pop store.
Roam around the street, watch the people, and listen to salsa music blasting from record stores.
Shop at one of the many 99-cent stores, although you might not find anything you want to buy.
From journal So Much To Do in Miami
September 28, 2004
From journal SOUTH BEACH, FLORIDA in MAY