Friday, May 13, 2011

2011 Oct.--Pompano Beach, Florida Sisters' trip

The last few years, my sister and I have managed to go on some pretty great "sisters'" vacations.  So in Nov. of 2011, we decided it was time to do another one.  Since Ken and I already had a cruise out of Fort Lauderdale planned in Nov., I asked Carolyn if she would like to come out and join me a week early and piddle around southeastern Florida.  She agreed to, so I booked us a 2 bedroom condo at Wyndham Sea Gardens in Pompano Beach, just north of Fort Lauderdale.  It's actually about 5 different resorts combined into one: North and South Cabanas Buildings (closest to the office); North and South Waterfalls buildings (just past the Cabanas buildings); Ocean Palms Building (the newest and most updated  at a 90 degree angle to the ends of the Waterfall buildings); Key West Building (the oldest and set off to the side by itself), and the North and South Ocean View Buildings (all studios, I believe).  Ken and I had stayed in the Ocean Palms Building and really liked it alot.  So when all I could get was in the Key West Building, I was afraid it would be old and grungy and disappointing after having stayed in the new Ocean Palms Building.  Although Ken and I are Wyndham owners, I actually picked this week up from RCI exchange company really cheaply.  I also know exchangers are often given the worst rooms, so that had me worried, too.  None of my VIP benefits with Wyndham would be honored as an exchange guest.

Things didn't start out too well.  I arrived a little after check-in time of 4pm and they didn't have our room ready yet.  I waited over an hour before it was ready.  Once in the room, I noticed the plastic cover on the door lock was broken and the toilette seat in the master bedroom was on the bathroom floor.  So I called maintenance, then had to rush out to head back to the airport to pick up my sister, Carolyn.  By now it was raining cats and dogs again.  I waited at the cell phone lot for quite awhile past her arrival time.  Suddenly the "Arrivals" board changed to list her flight as "Cancelled".  What?????  It took off!  Where was it???  After a frantic call to home to have Ken check the internet, Carolyn finally called to say her plane had landed----in West Palm Beach, about 50 miles away.  She was given the option of getting off the plane there or waiting for the weather to get better and continue on to Fort Lauderdale.  We decided she should get off and I'd drive to West Palm Beach to get her.  About an hour later we were on our way back to Pompano from West Palm Beach.

Back at Sea Gardens, things started looking up.  The repairs were made before we got back.  My fears of the older Key West Building not being nice was unfounded.  It had just been renovated and was actually very pretty, not as fancy as Ocean Palms, but quite acceptable!  It didn't look like much from the outside, but it did have it's own pool---albeit cold pool. 
 Our 2 bedroom unit really was roomy and clean.  Although we thought the little bar in the diningroom was rather odd.  The kitchen was behind the bar and was quite small, but adequate.
 This view is from the door leading out to the patio.  The master bedroom is the first door on the right.  The 2nd bedroom is the far door to the right.  Not seen is the tv cabinet and large flat screen tv to the left. 
 Since I booked the condo, I claimed the master bedroom.  Carolyn got the 2nd bedroom with the twin beds. A really nice thing about this room is that it has a door to the 2nd bathroom so it was like having 2 on suites. 
 My room also had a door leading out onto the patio. 

I probably have almost the same picture on my previous Pompano blog when Ken and I were here in the Ocean Palms building, but it deserves another picture.  This is just part of the beautifully landscaped grounds of the rest of the resort.  We did go to the jacuzzi over there a couple times and also to kareoki one night.  We were given a couple coupons for free drinks for the late check in, so we enjoyed them while listening to kareoki and eating free nachos and snacks.  
Just a few more pictures around Sea Gardens resort:
courtyard with table and chairs by main office
walking to the beach between the two studio buildings.  Pool directly in front of me.
little shop/deli.
looking back at the resort from across A1A.
beach by Sea Gardens.

 On our first full day there, we took a ride down A1A all the way to Miami's South Beach.  This area was the first section of Miami Beach to be developed, starting in the 1910s.  The population was growing in the 1920s, and several millionaires built homes here.  In the 1930s, an architectural revolution came to South Beach, bringing Art Deco, Streamline Moderne, and Nautical Moderne architecture to the Beach. South Beach claims to be the world's largest collection of Streamline Moderne Art Deco architecture.  Now almost one square mile of South Beach is on the National Register of Historic Places.  We didn't do much here other then drive up and down the main streets a few time admiring all the unique architecture.

Art Deco is an eclectic style that combines traditional craft motifs with Machine Age imagery and materials. The style is often characterized by rich colors, bold geometric shapes and lavish ornamentation.

 The waldorf towers was designed in 1937 and had a multi million dollar renovation in december 2001.

Art Deco first appeared in France during the 1920s, flourished internationally during the 30s and 40s, then waned in the post-World War II era.

 Hotel Breakwater, one of the most iconic South Beach resorts, was originally created in 1936

When we left South Beach, we accidentally came upon the Ancient Spanish Monestary in Miami.   It was originally built in northern Spain starting between 1141 and 1141.  In 1925, William Hearst  purchased the Cloisters and the outbuildings, dismantled them, packed them in more then 11,000 wooden crates, and brought them to the United States.  Due to financial problems, most of his collection was sold.  One year after Hearst's death (1952) the remaining crates were bought and assembled by 2 entrepreneurs for use as a tourist attraction.  In 1964, Colonel Robert Pentland, Jr., purchased the Cloisters and gave them to the Bishop of Florida.  Today the parish Church of St. Bernard de Clairvaux is an active congregation.   Tourists can still tour the monestary and the small museum by the gift shop for a fee of $8. 

We happened to get there shortly before a wedding was about to start.  I couldn't help but snap a picture of the bride as she was getting her bridal pictures taken in the beautiful gardens surrounding the monestary.

I don't remember what all we did the next day---Halloween.  But we did find an interesting restaurant for dinner.  We don't have any "diners" in St. Louis, so it was fun to dine in a restaurant of a bygone era.

 Loved their Halloween decorations, too!

Another day we headed the Flagler Museum in Palm Beach.  It is a 55-room mansion and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Henry Flagler, one of the founders of Standard Oil and builder of a railroad to Key West, built Whitehall between 1893-1902 for his third wife, Mary Lily Kenan.  Flagler died of injuries sustained in falling down a flight of marble stairs at Whitehall in 1913, at the age of 83.  Mary Lily died four years later, and the home went to her niece Louise Clisby Wise Lewis, who sold the property to investors. They constructed a 300-room ten story addition to the west side of the building, demolishing Mr. Flagler's offices, the housekeeper's apartment, and altering the original kitchen and pantry area.  In 1959, the site was saved from demolition by one of Henry Flagler's granddaughters, Jean Flagler Matthews. She established the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum non-profit corporation which purchased the building in 1959, opening it as a museum in 1960. The upper ten stories of the hotel addition were demolished in 1963 in preparing the museum for the public.  We thoroughly enjoyed our audio tour which was included in the $18 admission fee.

 Grand Staircase in the entrance hall.

 Grand Entrance hall of Flagler Mansion (Whitehall).


 Music Room, also an art gallery.


 West Room and Lake Room.

 Conservatory and Flagler personal train car.

 Breakfast Room

 Green dining room.

 The Drawing Room

 details of the moulding in the drawing room.

 detail of the moulding in the 2nd floor blue bedroom.

 Panorama of the master bedroom.

 The Silver Maple Room.

 Ceiling detail.

 how lace was made.

 The Morning Room

Those were just a few of the 55 rooms in the mansion.  I'd love to go back there someday.  It's a lot to take in at one time!

On Nov. 2nd we decided to take a day trip to Key West.  Determined not to use the toll roads, our long trip was made even longer, but we had a great time.  The approximately 400 mile roundtrip took us about 11 hours---with about 8 of that on the road.  But it was a pretty drive.

 Interesting colored water along the way.

 We didn't find much in the way of beaches in Key West, but this one did look inviting. 

 There was even a nice walking/bike path along this part of the beach.

 One of the many interesting trees in Key West.

 The little outdoor Irish restaurant pub we found to have lunch at.  It was very good, even though it didn't look too busy.  We were there about 3pm. 

 After lunch/dinner, we took a walk through the Key West Historic District.  Would have been a great place to have a bike to ride.  My sister even bumped into someone she knew from back home in the small town of Dallas, Oregon!  Such a small world!

 One of the many bars.

 Another outdoor restaurant.

 And another.

 Hemmingway's house.

 colorful fire hydrant.

 another interesting tree. 

Even the ride back was nice.  We stopped along the way to get a few sunset pictures from the Keys.

Our last full day in Pompano, Nov. 3rd, we decided to ride the water taxis in Fort Lauderdale.   The fare is rather spendy at $20/person, but the whole trip without getting off is about 3 hours.  The fare was good for all day so we chose to get off at one of the 10 stops and have lunch at the 15th Street Fisheries.  We had a great lunch on the patio overlooking the small marina.  

We boarded the taxi at stop 10, the far end of the route from Fort Lauderdale.  Here the houses were rather small in comparison to the ones that we saw later.

Under one of the bridges the driver stopped and threw some grapes to a large resident Iquana.

 Soon we were seeing bigger houses and yachts.

 And bigger houses.

 One of the stops was at a large marina for more yachts.

The next day Carolyn flew back to her home in Oregon.  I dropped her off at the airport and waited for Ken's flight to arrive.  He and I spent one more night in Pompano before catching our HAL Eurodam 7 night Eastern Caribbean cruise the next day.  Nothing like having a vacation within a vacation!  And a great one at that!


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