Shiny facades and Caribbean improvisation: 48 hours in Miami.

Exploring the Florida metropolis with the new CLA.
Text: Sarah Weinknecht
Photos: Isauro Cairo

A city of superlatives.

On leaving the air-conditioned arrivals hall, the nocturnal air engulfs Miami like a sweet, viscous blanket. Tiny beads of sweat lend faces an eerie sheen and our mind switches straight to summer mode. Miami is a city of superlatives: gleaming yachts flank huge luxury homes, while trade fairs draw the international art jet set and the pristine sandy beaches are only outshone by the bleached dentistry of the South Beach crowd. So much for the theory – our own 48 hours in Miami don’t retrace the going clichés.

Little Havana on the American East Coast.

Miami is often portrayed as the prime US melting pot – it is the world’s second biggest Cuban community (outside of Cuba) and Spanish seems to be the only reliable constant among Miami’s myriad voices – not only around “Little Havana”.

In Wynwood, a formerly run-down inner city district turned reformed gallery mecca, we meet Cuban-born dancer and choreographer Rosie Herrera, the “Pina Bausch of South Beach”, and New York based photographer (and former resident) Isauro Cairo for an exploration with the CLA. The two savvy Miami experts prove the perfect partners in crime for a spot of exploration. Walking through small streets and alleyways, we discover large works by street art icons like Kashink and Lakwena.

Behind the skyscrapers lies the beach.

After this cultural outing we crave a quick beach break. Bypassing the ever-busy South Beach, we opt for Crandon Park Beach on Key Biscayne and are rewarded with some welcome peace and quiet.

For lunch, we head back to Miami and the Design District to check out Michaels Genuine, a locavore spot of international renown. Mussels, lobster salad with fresh coriander and grapefruit segments or wahoo and shrimp ceviche are some of the trip’s culinary highlights.

160 miles to Key West.

Heading south via the Overseas Highway, the city gives way to the Florida Keys, lining the coast like a string of pearls. Big Pine Key, Islamorada, Key West – with open windows and an eclectic road trip playlist booming from our car speakers, we drive 160 miles to the south-eastern most corner of the United States.

Treasure hunting in the new CLA.

Sparkling teal sea frames us, left and right; pelicans crossing our path in front. Despite its strong focus on convenience-loving tourists, the Keys reveal plenty of tiny oases shaped by the dreams of 1970s dropouts.

One of these gems is Good Food Conspiracy on Big Pine Key, a health food store that has been treating visitors to homemade sandwiches, soups and juices – enjoyed in the tranquil garden behind the house – for the past 33 years.

Neon Beach.

After this island idyll, cruising down Miami Beach’s Ocean Drive seems quite a contrast: Guys in the tiniest shorts strut their stuff while, above it all, the iconic neon signs of art deco hotels do their best to light up the night.

This particular blend of stunning nature, cultural diversity and slightly trashy hedonism leaves us exhausted – but also brimming with inspiration.

Video: Kaspar Lerch

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