As I sit in shorts and a t-shirt in January, sipping on a cocktail on the patio of The Ritz Carlton Hotel in Fort Lauderdale Beach (a stay is not required, nor am I their target clientele... yet), I am reminded at how beautiful this strip of land is, how much more peaceful it is than Miami (my former home), and how much more fun it is than Lauderdale By The Sea (sorry senior citizens).
En route to Colombia, I decided to stopover (you should definitely learn what this is and how to take advantage of it!) in Fort Lauderdale because of the convenience of the connection; my two favorite domestic airlines (Southwest and JetBlue) made my return trip to Medellín much more comfortable and enjoyable. Southwest flies Denver (my new home base airport) to FLL, and JetBlue flies FLL to MDE. It may have cost me an extra $100 or so, but it afforded me 12+ hours of flying in comfort, and a convenient stay in a familiar location.
Unfortunately, my friends were out of town this time, but my stay in FLL was almost as enjoyable without them (no offense, guys). Some time for oneself is quite necessary actually, and I can't think of many places that offer a more enjoyable avenue for decompression- with a few clauses, of course. Let's get into it.
Uber is the way to go down here. I've probably taken six or seven rides since I've been here over the last 72 hours, and only one of them cost me more than $10. Everything is pretty close. And only one of them was weird- try to imagine a Morpheus who decided to take the blue pill.
My first night, I took advantage of a Hotel Tonight fare at the Royal Palms Hotel for $109, which was $149 on the next cheapest Hotel/Travel Booking App. You should probably download it- great for spontaneous hotel bookings, not great for booking in advance. The staff was actually super friendly, and apparently they own several of the hotels in the area.
The pizza place on the corner, Primanti Brothers, was on-point, and open 24 hours. Neighboring McSorley's, obviously an Irish Bar, was also good for a cheap Yuengling, which is oddly hard to find in the rest of the US and somehow always available in Florida, despite being a Pennsylvania beer. Nearby Las Olas Beach & Boulevard is the go-to for anyone looking for nightlife. I had been there a couple times in the past and wasn't feeling it this time, but it's a good time if you're looking to socialize or have a night on the town.
I spent the day on the Fort Lauderdale A1A strip, eating breakfast at Spazzio, an Italian gig (the food was only okay, but the service and the view were great), enjoying the weather and the wind through the palms. Eventually I made my way to Fort Lauderdale By The Sea, for my friends keys, which he had left behind for me.
A word of advice- don't ever go to Fort Lauderdale By The Sea unless you are retired. After settling in to my friends place, I asked my next Uber driver to bring me to the nearest beachside restaurant area on A1A so I could have a look at the ocean while I get a bite to eat. Mistake.
I made probably 5 loops around every restaurant in the area, which from a distance seemed like a pretty happening place. It was happening alright- if the 60 year old women seem young to you. Again- no offense- I like old people, and let's face it- one day we will all be "old" by age-classification standards. But it was as if I was in Las Olas Boulevard, and Marty-McFly'd myself 40 years forward without changing anyone in the crowd. Working folk excluded, I must have legitimately been the only person under 50 in the area out of 1000+ people. So don't ever go there. Even when you're old enough actually. Just don't.
Okay, so, lesson learned there. I spent the next day relaxing, reading, drinking mimosas, and soaking up some much needed Vitamin D in 78-ish degree weather, taunting my friends with beautiful pictures. I mean well, I swear- some people just need a kick in the butt. After a very busy holiday season, I couldn't have drawn it up any better.
Today is my last day in the area, and I've returned to the place where I started. I started the morning with a motivating meditation, and the surrounding climate has me feeling like a million bucks, mood set for great times in Colombia. This place is the ultimate mood-setter, and to bring it back to the beginning of this article, I'm reminded why it's so great.
If you have an opportunity for a stopover here, I highly recommend it. It's therapeutic to say the least, and the perfect antidote to a hectic or freezing winter. It can be done for cheap, and is close to FLL International Airport. Just don't confuse Fort Lauderdale By The Sea with the sea by Fort Lauderdale.