The Authentic Miami Guide

Aventura / Sunny Isles / North Miami Beach / Bal Harbour:

 Where to shop:

  • Aventura Mall: Complete shopping center with Nordstrom, Macy’s and Bloomingdales as anchors and a wide variety of shops in between.
  • Bal Harbour : Beautiful shopping center, with high end designers stores and great restaurants. Make sure you check The Webster , Santa Maria Novella and Books and Books.
  • Epicure: Great gourmet market.www.epicuremarket.com
  • Matrioshka Market: Since Sunny Isles is home for a big Russian Community, this market provides all sorts of imported Russian specialties. From vodka and caviar to candy.

Things to do:

  • Beach activities: For me, the best beaches in Miami are actually in Sunny Isles. Turquoise water and white sand. You can rent equipment for paddle board and kite surfing. Play beach volleyball. Rent a bike. Or just enjoy a cocktail and relax.
  • Kite park at Haulover Park: One of my favorite places in this area. You don’t need anything to come, the Kite Shop has everything.
  • Osceola National Park: Right in the middle of the City of Aventura this nature’s lover paradise. Picnic area, kayak, mountain bikes for rental, private beach, fly fishing. You can spend a whole day here.
  • Rent a Boat: For fishing or just for fun. www.sailairborn.com

Places to Eat:

  • Miami Juice: Farm to table, organic food. Wide variety of salads, entrees and juices. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
  • Carpaccio : Italian in Bal Harbor. Can’t go wrong here, everything on the menu is perfect.www.carpacciobalharbour.com
  • Novecento: Meat lovers are always happy at this place, but their salads and grilled salmon are delicious too. For dessert: Dulce de Leche filled crepes.
  • La Estancia Argentina: Very casual argentinian market with the most delicious empanadas, milanesas, alfajores, to enjoy there or to go.www.laestanciaweb.com
  • Food Trucks Tuesday: At Haulover parking lot every tuesday from 5 to 10pm a Food Truck party takes place.
  • Laduree: A cart with all the flavors of the french macarons now at Bal Harbour
  • Makoto: Japanese in Bal Harbour. My favorite place for sushi in Miami. Try the Robata Grilled vegetables. www.makoto-restaurant.com

 

Miami Beach/ South Beach

 Where to Shop:

Things to Do:

  • New World Center and Symphony Park: The Center was Designed by non other than Frank Ghery. The new adjacent 2.5 acre park named Miami Beach SoundScape allows a great audience to watch the concert live in a 7000 sq foot wall, with outstanding sound quality – according to some the best outdoor amplification in the world .
  • Stroll around and enjoy the craziness of South Beach: Always entertaining and free of charge. There are also City Bikes available there.
  • Colony Theater Miami Beach: Check their page for events.
  • The Basement at the Edition Hotel:   Literally installed in the basement of the hotel, opens everyday from 5 pm till 12, visit the place for bowling or ice skating and finish the night upstairs at The Matador Bar.
  • Miami Beach Convention Center: Check their page for upcomming events

 

Places to Eat:

 

  • Nobu: Of course you have to top the list with Nobuyuki Matsuhisa’s restaurant. Inside the Shore Club Hotel. Reservations recommended . www.noburestaurants.com
  • Drunken Dragon: A little hole in the wall, with delicious food. Not to be missed!
  • Prime 112: Always full, always noisy, always extraordinary. www.prime112.com
  • Joe’s Stone Crab: A classic in Miami. The must order are: Stone Crab Legs and Keylime Pie.www.joesstonecrab.com
  • Hakkasan: Modern Chinese restaurant inside the famous Fountain Bleu. www.hakkasan.com/miami
  • Ice Box Café: Great food and the best Chocolate Cake in Miami.
  • Yardbird Southern Table: Great Seafood and Pecan Pie. But if you are craving Fried Chicken , this is the place. www.runchickenrun.com

 

Night Life:

  • The Raleigh
  • Cecconis: www.cecconismiamibeach.com
  • The Rose Bar: At Delano Hotel.
  • Purdy Lounge
  • Arkadia
  • LIV: Inside the Fountainebleu Hotel.

 

Coral Gables, Coconut Grove (and Little Habanna):

 

Where to shop:

  • Violeta’s: Home design and accents. In general everything is pretty here. www.violetashomedesign.com
  • Peace and Love World: Great quality and beautiful design clothing line by a Miami designer.
  • Village of Merrick Park: Open Air Mall with Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom as well as small boutiques. 

Things to Do:

  • Walk around Miracle Mile coffee shops, boutiques, restaurants and bars.
  • Biltmore Hotel: Iconic hotel in the middle of Coral Gables.
  • Coral Gables Art Cinema: www.gablescinema.com
  • Vizcaya Museum and Gardens: Was constructed by James Deering in 1916, to resemble Lake Como Mansions. The fountains, the pool, the rose garden make you feel in Northern Italy for sure. Don’t miss the furniture from the 16th century that decorates it. www.vizcayamuseum.org
  • Domino Park in Little Habana: This place is so unique I always recommend people to visit it once. The energy of the place is very special and the characters you will find there are full of stories. Mostly cuban, playing domino like their lives depended on it, talking about “Fidel” is of course a must. They are very friendly and chatty. If you get hungry there is a authentic cuban place called: El Pub.
  • The Tower Theater also in Little Habana: Offers a wide variety of independent films. www.towertheatermiami.com

 

 

Places to Eat:

 

  • Patagonias:  Casual place. Easy argentinian menú. Everything is great quality and fastly served.
  • Eating House: Capitan Crunch Pancakes, Heirloom Tomatoes Salad, Chicken and Waffles…. You get the idea. This place is a must when visiting Miami.www.eatinghousemiami.com
  • Bread + Butter: Self defined as Cuban Gastro Pub. Meat lovers will rejoice here with the chorizo burger with kimchi and a side of  Sriracha fries.  www.breadandbuttercounter.com

 

 

Downtown/Brickell

 

Where to Shop:

Village of Mary Brickell: Open air shopping center.

Things to Do:

  • American Airlines Arena: Go watch a Miami Heat’s Basketball game, and enjoy the food offer around the stadium, my personal favorites are the Gyros.  For other events check their page. www.AAarena.com
  • PAMM: Go for the art inside the museum and the architecture of the building. Read a book at one of the hammocks outside the terrace, while you enjoy the swinging gardens and the views. www.miamiartmuseum.org
  • Bayfront Park: All sorts of activities going on here always, from free yoga lessons to circus acrobatics at the trapeze school.
  • Adriane Arsht Center: Broadway Musicals, Ballet, Concerts, there is always something going on here.www.arshtcenter.com

 

Places to Eat:

  • Trulucks: Delicious seafood. Best carrot cake I have ever tasted, still have dreams about it.
  • CVI. CHE 105: Peruvian cuisine.  www.ceviche105.com
  • Azul: New American cuisine restaurant inside The Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Great seafood dishes and Raw bar.
  • Cipriani: The famous Venetian restaurant is also in Miami and doesn’t need an introduction. Just the fact that Giuseppe Cipriani in 1948 invented the Bellini’s is more than enough.  www.cipriani.com

 

Design District/Wynwood

Where to shop:

  • Fendi, Louis Vuitton, Valentino, Cartier, Hublot, all the big names are here, so could be a good workout for your wallet.
  • Wynwood Letters: For all of us who enjoy paper in all its shapes and forms, this place is heaven. They offer calligraphy courses too. www.wynwoodletterpress.com
  • Jonathan Adler: www.jalanmiami.com

Things to Do:

Places to Eat:

  • Gigi’s: Asian inspired food. Cool place to eat. Industrial decor. Opens late, so is frequently visited by a crowd of party goers afterwards. www.giginow.com
  • Michael’s Genuine: One of my favorite restaurants in Miami, by Chef Michael Schwartz. www.michaelsgenuine.com
  • Zak The Baker: His baking goods has everybody raving about it. Healthy menu with fresh ingredients. www.zakthebaker.com
  • Mandolin Aegean Bistro: Just thinking about this place makes me hungry. Farm to Table concept, the decor transports you automatically to a Greek Island. www.mandolinmiami.com
  • SugarCane Raw Bar Grill:  The decor suggests that you have traveled back in time to a Caribbean Island and Ernest Hemingway is about to show up.  The food is presented in small dishes and meant to be shared. www.sugarcanerawbargrill.com
  • Wynwood Kitchen and Bar: www.wynwoodkitchenandbar.com
  • Try the best Pies in Miami at Fireman Derek’s (2818 N.Miami Ave. Miami Fl )

 

 

Kendall and South Miami:

 

Where to Shop:

  • Capretto: Great place to find “it” things. Lots of designers shoes and bags.www.caprettoshoes.com
  • Dadeland Mall: Big mall with Saks, Nordstrom and Macy’s as anchors. If you are a fan of big portions there is a Cheese Cake Factory here. The Nordstrom Bistro is also a great option for lunch.

Things to do:

  • Drive in Cinema: Blue Starlite, is the only open cinema in Miami. www.miamiurbandrivein.com
  • Knaus Berry Farm: Pick your own strawberrys, enjoy a fresh fruit smoothy, spend half a day here, the trip is totally worth it.www.knausberryform.com

Where to Eat:

  • Shibui Japanese
  • PF Chang  www.pfchangs.com
  • Bobby’s Burger Place: inside Dadeland Mall.

Other Suggestions:

Best Hotels:

Best Spa:

Best Hair Salon:

Best Yoga:

Best Family Fun Place:

  • Sky Zone Miami

 

The Authentic Miami.

I don’t think Ms. Tuttle imagined what Miami would turn up to be, neither Mr Henri Flager, when after a lot of insistence accepted to build the train rails from St Augustine down until where Downtown Miami is today.

Those who love her will be forever grateful to both of them, particularly her: Julia Tuttle, known by some as “The Mother of Miami”, because in 1891, after she bought 640 acres by the Miami River, she set her mind to found there a city. She convinced Henri Flagler and together  built the Royal Palm Hotel, the first one in the city that would be latter named “Miami” because of the aborigines “MAYAIMI” that inhabited the area.

They probably didn’t guess either that in  1959, because of the Cuban Revolution the first 280000 exiled cubans would arrive an become a key factor in the growth of the city. Neither that in 1980 the Liberty City riots would take place there too, as well as the violent and sad era known as the “Cocaine War”.

Blissfully the violent Miami that some television shows portrayed, is gone. The new century –thank to great local government, tourism and the energy of the constant migrants that arrive filled with hope of a new better life – has brought with it, a new radiant Miami, and this radiance allures Russian, British, Chinese, Canadians, and of course lots of Latin-Americans that keep dreaming about her.

For her is easy to please everyone visiting, offers a wide variety of things to enjoy: shopping, restaurants, nightlife, sports, art galleries, museums and amazing beaches. Miami also hosts wonderful events like Art Basel, Sony Ericsson Tennis Tournament, Ultra Music Festival, Antique Fair Show and a very interesting Book Fair.

 

It’s personality is a result of the Melting Pot it has become. Around the streets you can hear Cubans, Argentinians and Ecuadorians, You can eat arepas just like in Caracas; empanadas like in Buenos Aires and for dessert the perfect “suspiro limeño” like in Lima. The variety of nationalities is also accentuated by the very different cultural background of its habitants: Political exiled, journalists, bankers, singers, writers, models and retired. Miami’s air feels full of stories and history, on the streets you perceive hope, and also melancholia and longing.

 

Miami is what it is,  because of all the ones that came and keep coming willing and hoping for a life in democracy, freedom, tolerance and opportunities, something that the city seems still offers after all this time.

The authentic Great Miami experience is only found visiting every neighborhood: From Aventura to Kendall, South Beach to Wynwood and always stopping in Coral Gables and Little Habana. In my next post you will find a list of interesting activities on each neighborhood.

 

 

 

 

Atlanta: do you need a reason?

Atlanta isn’t on everybody’s bucket-list. There are far to many places around the world tempting us, even inside USA there are many more iconic cities on the top of our lists.

This wonderful city is mostly visited for business – Atlanta’s airport is the busiest world wide– after all it’s the third city, behind NY and Houston, to be home for more Fortune 500 companies. Among them: Delta Airlines, Southwestern Airlines, CNN, Coca Cola. This is the reason for the  huge variety of retail stores and restaurants, enough to please the most demanding travelers.

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I have visited it many times, for various reasons, nonetheless never ceases to amaze me. Atlanta’s allure for me, is that is REAL. A real city. The streets exude a history full of contradictions and differences, war and suffering, tradition and change, rebirth and generosity, dignity and peace. The people you encounter are mostly residents, many of them students that bring to the city a good amount of needed  heterodoxy. Nothing is staged for tourists, the energy is authentic.

 

During the Civil War, Atlanta was a strategic location for the Confederate Troops… it was constantly attacked. Numerous battles took place nearby, before falling definitely on 1864. It’s siege and evacuation were later (1936)  immortalized by Margaret Mitchell on her famous novel “Gone with the Wind”

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During the 60’s, this city was the epicenter of the Civil Rights Movement, leaded by Martin Luther King (born in Atlanta 1929). Later the city was the first one in America to have an African-American as an elected mayor. Today  is a city of great importance for the GLBT community. The opennes of the city and its habitants  was recently materialized in the new Museum dedicated to Civil an Political Rights, a place that I would recommend everyone to visit for an eye opening experience.

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The architecture of the city is different than other Southern cities, they decided to change the classical structures and buildings by more modern ones. Renzo Piano, John Portman and Richard Meier are some of the famous architects that have contribute to this new skyline.

Cinema and literature are also interesting in Atlanta, after the approval of a tax incentive’s program designed to promote the production of  films and television   – and with the undenniable benefit of the weather– has become a mayor destination for the industry, the most famous and recent TV series is probably “The Walking Dead” that isn’t only filmed there, but has Atlanta as setting for the story. The beauty of this city has also been the backdrop of great films like Driving Miss Daisy (1989); Fried Green Tomatoes (1991) and American Beauty (1999).

Every year on April,  the city hosts the “Atlanta Film Festival” which offers a wide array of independent films to the public, as well as conferences and events.  The city also hosts the biggest Independent Book Festival in USA, besides being the city where authors like Natasha Trethewey and Chandler Harris were born.

Last but not least, the southern hospitality is real, you feel it everywhere you go, and that makes your visit a very pleasant one.

As you see, there are many reasons to visit Atlanta, on my next post I will recommend you the places I treasure the most.

 

 

 

 

Wabi – Sabi: Japanese for Unconventional Beauty

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Probably in your language there are a few words untranslatable to other languages, I know we have them in spanish, and in english the word “wanderlust” is one of them.

I don’t know exactly how or when I came across with this concept but became really curious about it’s meaning and started researching. It wasn’t that easy to my surprise, to find books or any written information about it. Eventually I understood the reason why…

If you ask a Japanese to translate or explain Wabi – Sabi, they will probably hesitate and give you an apology for not been able to do so. But they all recognize the feeling of it for sure, because it’s a core concept in Japanese culture.

The best definition I found, was this that follows:

“ Wabi-Sabi is a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.

It is a beauty of things modest and humble.

It is a beauty of things unconventional. “ ( “Wabi-Sabi” by Leonard Koren)

As you can infer this concept can be applied for visual arts, architecture, poetry, literature, philosophy and spiritual life.

The lack of written information contributes to the vagueness of the definition, but why does so much mysterie surrounds it? The origins of the word are related to the ceremony of tea, which was mostly performed by zen monks and zen tea masters. In their tradition, essential knowledge can only be transmitted from mind to mind and not through the written word.

My interest in this aesthetically and philosophical concept has me involved on a very particular mission:  to spread the word about it and  stop it from disappearing.

Since the mid 20th century the predominant aesthetic has been modernism – I am a big fan – but it has been so popular and preeminent that even in Japan now days Wabi-Sabi is fading away. In my opinion that would be a big loss for all of us. With that in mind I wanted to list here the differences between both, so that we can open our minds to perceive this other version of beauty that surrounds us. A beauty that is vulnerable, irregular, imperfect, intimate, unpretentious, simple and earthy. A bit like most of us uh?

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Modernism                                                                   Wabi-Sabi

 

Logical, rational.                                                           Intuitive.

 

Absolute.                                                                         Relative

 

Universal Solutions                                           Personal Solutions

 

Mass Produced                                                   One-of-a-kind.

 

Future Oriented                                                 Present Oriented

 

Pro Technology                                                   Pro Nature

 

Geometric forms                                                 Organic Forms

 

The Box as the metaphor                                The Bowl as the metaphor

 

Needs to be well mantained                         Accommodates to degradation

 

Intolerant of ambiguity.                                  Comfortable with ambiguity.

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As Hume suggested:   “Beauty in things exists merely in the mind which contemplates them.”   Let’s make some room and accept as part of our lifes the imperfect, faded, broken and ambiguous beauty that exists everywhere and in everyone, even in ourselves.

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Traveling? Tips to Stay in Shape by @healthymomma.ec

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What you do every day matters more than what you do every once in a while

Your vacations are here, and it is likely that you have been waiting for them for quite a while. We women can often be very hard on ourselves, so the first thing to do is to relax and let the feelings of guilt for food stay at home.

I am a promotor of balance, I do not like extremes however we women often find ourselves in them: we worry day and night about putting weight during vacations which at the long run does not allow us to enjoy them or on the other hand we throw our whole lifestyle overboard and overeat to the point that we suffer from indigestion. I do not recommend any of the two positions for I consider them unhealthy. With my clients I am always focusing on balance and emphasize the importance of what we do on a daily basis is more important than what is do once in a while. That is why I have prepared some recommendations for you, so you can enjoy your holiday and return home without feeling bad about yourself, desperate to start a strict diet or an extreme Détox.
1) Get ready

  • When you have chosen your holiday destination, spend some time researching what restaurants or cafés you would like to visit. If you have a certain type of nutrition tendency such as paleo, vegan, gluten free or if you love freshly harvested organic food, this is your chance to visit a specialized restaurant, try new recipes and be marveled by flavored ingredients not easily found at home.
  • When choosing an accommodation consider a place that fits your needs. If you are spending a long vacation in the same destination, I recommend you rent an apartment with a small kitchen where you can have breakfast or prepare yourself a homemade meal. Not only will you be kind to your health but it will also be of great help to your budget. If the trip is short, check the breakfast options offered by your hotel and whether it is worth hiring or you can go out for breakfast to a place that offers better options.
  • When packing, consider taking sportswear. If your trip is near a beach you could have time for walking or jogging in the morning. If you go to a big city, and if you are a yoga fan you could visit a highly recommended place and try out new styles and teachers.
  • At home, when preparing your handbag for the flight, you must consider packing some easy to transport healthy snacks so you can enjoy at the plane.  Here are some options: fresh or dried fruit, mix of nuts, seeds, black chocolate, energy bars or protein bites. There are some personal almond butter packages which I personally love (Justin’s almond butter Squeeze Packs).

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2) Take flight

 

  • Experts recommend fasting for 2 hours before your flight since digestion becomes inefficient with the pressure on the plane.
  • Before fasting, prepared yourself a super bowl of leafy greens. This type of food fights against radiation to which we are exposed during the flight and it also helps the blood in your body circulate better caused by air pressure. I recommend a large bowl of salad containing: kale, spinach, basil, arugula, broccoli or greens mix. Limit your portion of animal protein or change it with any plant base proteins, because this type of protein is better for our digestion. Avoid all foods that are high in sodium and trans fats.• Unfortunately the airplane food is not very nutritious, it is full of preservatives, artificial ingredients, it is high in sodium and refined carbohydrates; therefore I recommend that you take in your handbag healthy options that allow you to be comfortable during the flight.
  • Limit intake of caffeine and alcohol before and during the flight; drink plenty of water to counteract the effects of dehydration in the air.
  • During the flight, walk up and down the aisles, gently make stretching movements in your own seat to help your circulation.
  • Remember that planes can often be a source of diseases or viruses, particularly influenza. I recommend taking vitamin C or any dose of complex B some days before your trip. Take an anti-bacterial hand wash and cleanse your hands often.
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3) Practice Rule: 80% -20%

  • It consists of eating healthy 80% of the time and giving yourself a margin of 20% to eat out of the lines, remember you are on vacation. Every woman is unique and has a different metabolism, if you know you do not gain weight easily you feel free to play with the percentages and find the balance that feels right to you.
  • When you have reached your destination, I recommend you buy healthy snacks you can store in your hotel or in your accommodation; they can be very useful when there are no healthy options at hand.
  • Start your days by drinking a glass of water before doing anything else, it is important to get your digestion system moving because it is likely that the aircraft and food away from home could make you suffer from a bit of constipation. If you can put half a lemon in a glass of water to give your body alkalinity it would be great.  Take advantage of the hotel’s breakfast, it usually offers fresh fruit and eggs, tea or coffee. Many hotels offer to prepare you a fresh omelette, so choose plenty of vegetables like mushrooms, spinach and tomatoes. Avoid refined pastries and carbohydrates for breakfast, leave croissants or waffles for an occasional meal.
  • Before leaving the hotel, place in your purse a healthy snack in case you feel hungry during the city tours and it is not lunch time yet.
  • Seek balance when organizing your meals, if you have booked dinner at a restaurant you’ve been long wanting to visit, then It will be better for you to have a light lunch: a salad with a variety of vegetables, your favorite animal or vegetable protein and some good quality carbohydrate energy will allow you to continue with your day. Remember the problem is not carbohydrates but the type and quality of carbohydrates. At dinner, simple enjoy!
  • Avoid eating refined sugar on a daily basis; this is where we women fall into temptation. Leave dessert and alcohol for special occasions on your trip.
  • Keep yourself hydrated, I personally have water bottles purchased in advanced and always have them at hand, thus no excuse of not having time to stop to buy water during the day. Remember, the holidays are not always there, what matters is what you do every at home every single day and what your routines consist of, so keep the balance and enjoy without losing your mind.

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