There’s only really one item on our to do list – the Hard Rock Café at Miami Bayside. In fact, back when we first planned this trip, the only reason for staying an extra day in Miami was to visit the HRC.
This gives us the opportunity to waste the morning, watching Tottenham lose to Aston Villa on TV before we have to check out of the Sheraton at 11am. Down in reception, we leave our suitcases with the concierge, promising to collect them this evening.
Outside, the heat hits us like a wall. Thankfully it is only a short walk to the metro station, although we have to take a couple of elevators to get to the platform.
Top tip: Don’t forget – all public transport in Miami is free until December 31st 2023
When we arrive on the platform, there is a train already waiting, so Linda launches her scooter through the nearest door just in case it is about to leave. It isn’t. Shortly after the journey begins, our driver informs us that the trip will terminate at the next station. So we disembark at Earlington Heights and wait for a ‘Green’ line train to take us the rest of the way into the city.
Top tip: The gap between platform and Miami Metro train door looks large but Linda found in most cases it can be crossed on the scooter – with a decent run-up.
At Historic Overtown/Lyric Theatre we navigate another couple of lifts back to street level. Then it’s a half mile walk/scoot east towards the sea. The buildings here are tall and uninspiring. There is also quite a few roadworks and diversions to navigate on the way.
Crossing several roads and navigating the traffic jam caused by the five cruise ships docked in the Port of Miami, we finally make it to Miami Bayside. It is extremely touristy, packed with people trying to look like they are having a good time. There’s plenty of restaurants and bars, along with a few different stores (clothing, cosmetics, shoes, cigars, souvenirs etc). After messing around with lifts, we finally make it to the upper level and drop into the Bath & Bodyworks store. Linda succumbs to the hand soap again and buys five – at least our bathroom will smell good for a while.
We then trundle down to the Miami Hard Rock Café on the other side of Miami Bayside which involves more lifts, but eventually we are seated at a table. The service is fast and attentive, although I swear these are the smallest burgers we’ve had at any HRC in the world. What happened to the legend about super-sized portion sizes in the USA? Linda is quite excited to see the Electric Blue cocktail back on the menu – it seems to have disappeared from all the European restaurants. I enjoy my vanilla milkshake for dessert.
In the gift shop Linda gets the ubiquitous pin badge – and a Christmas tree decoration. For some reason everything in store is 20% off – just don’t forget to add tax to the ticket price when trying to figure out how much something really costs.
Top tip: At the time of writing, the sales tax rate in Florida is 7%. So don’t forget to add an additional 7% to any prices advertised on goods for sale at Miami Bayside.
We dither for a while, trying to find something else to do. We still have a few hours before we have to collect our luggage from the Sheraton and go to the airport. Finding nothing however, we meander slowly back to the metro and return to the hotel to sit in the air conditioned lobby for a while.
At this point, the first major snag of the day occurs – I have lost the ticket for luggage collection. It takes some negotiating (and a $5 bill) to convince the concierges that the specified suitcases are ours.
Top tip: Snap a pic of your luggage receipt on your phone – that way you have always have a copy, even if you lose the paper slip.
The hotel shuttle drops us right back where our Miami adventure began and I manhandle three suitcases into the terminal. At check-in we go through an extensive bureaucratic process to get Linda’s scooter on board. There’s questions about the battery type, its Watt/Hour rating, whether it can be removed, where it will be dropped off and collected etc etc. The check-in team are very friendly, but everything seems to take forever.
When we finally offload our cases, we’re directed to the American Airlines Flagship Lounge which Linda’s BA Executive Club Silver status grants us access to. But before that we must first navigate TSA security.
I have heard legends about how bad TSA is – and most seem to be true. The process is slow and inefficient, making Stansted look half capable. Here are my complaints:
- The trays that pass through the x-ray scanner are too damn small – we needed five and that still didn’t fit all of our stuff
- You have to take your shoes off and then do a full body scan
- You can leave your liquids in your bag, but you have to remove your laptops and iPads
- Even with my pockets emptied and belt removed, the TSA agent still felt the need to give me a quick grope
I guess my biggest complain is the arbitrary nature of these rules – they just don’t make any sense. This is especially true when you consider that they are not applied consistently across the world.
Top tip: You can leave your liquids in your bag when passing through Miami Airport security. Just make sure they still fit in your miniature plastic bag.
It’s a bit of a trek to the American Airlines lounge (find it opposite gate E30), but there are plenty of seats when we get there. The buffet choices are very limited though. Linda has a chocolate mousse of some kind while I have a little Temari & Honey Glazed Mahi with rice. It’s ok. On the plus side, they serve Piper Heidseck champagne which is a nice touch.
We leave the lounge in Zone D and trundle across to Gate 25 in Zone E where our BA A380 is waiting. There is even more confusion about mobility scooters and where they should be dropped, whether passengers should be pushed up the boarding ramp in wheelchairs or if they should walk, whether batteries have been disconnected blah blah blah. In the end, Linda rides her scooter to the door of the plane and we dump it for the ground crew to load into the hold.
Top tip: Leave plenty of time to make the trip between the AA lounge and the E gates (where BA flights depart from). There’s a bit of a walk and a train ride to get there.
We’re on the top deck of the plane, right at the back – similar to the seats we regularly choose on BA’s 777 fleet. This is our first time on an A380 and I’ve always wanted to fly one of these unfeasibly large beasts.