Today was our last full day here at Ikos Oceania, a bittersweet moment for us both. On the one hand it feels like we’ve been here for almost the entire holiday, this being the longest we’ve spent in any one location. But like all holidays it feels like we’ve been fast-forwarded up to this point, implanted with the memories of the days that have gone by. We had only one goal today: to go back to the town of Nea Moudania to look for a store that we could buy a few things from.
We didn’t get around to doing that until mid-afternoon however, spending our morning in the usual fashion: breakfast, beach and then slowly deciding what should be next on our hit list. We went up to reception to ask about the shuttle service into the town (so we wouldn’t have to walk or worry about the bikes getting stolen) only to find out it would stop running not 10 minutes from when we arrived. This also coincided with many of the shops closing as well, although for what reason I couldn’t be sure.
Defeated we started to walk back down to our room but decided on the way to walk down there anyway. Lucky we did too as it turns out that most of the shops were still open, especially the few that we wanted to visit. We didn’t find what we were looking for though, unfortunately, but it was a good walk there regardless. We then made our way back home and again went our separate ways to read and nap.
The afternoon was spent in the usual fashion: spending some time at the indoor pool to cool off before hitting up the sauna and the heated chairs. We’d taken to bringing our books along with us making the time speed along even faster. Indeed this was the first time we had to be told that the place would be closing. In hindsight it was good that it did close then or else we would’ve likely missed our dinner appointment that night.
Our last dinner was spent at the Italian restaurant, the last of the four on-site places à la carte restaurants. Our meals were fantastic, the small portions being deceptively filling especially when they were combined with the nice Chianti I had selected. Tired and full we headed back to our hotel room, slowly drifting off into the night.
Tomorrow marks the beginning of the end. Originally I had intended to stay for 7 nights here however after we got the flights sorted I noticed the heinous time out of Athens: 6:30AM. This necessitated us spending a night at the airport so we didn’t have to get up at some other wordly time in order to make it. So tomorrow we’ll likely enjoy our last breakfast, head to Thessaloniki and then spend the night in the Athens airport hotel. After there we start our journey back home and a return to normalcy.
I didn’t really have anything planned for today, a first for me in this holiday. I usually try to plan at least one thing to do so I don’t spend the whole day in the hotel rotting my brain with TV and bad food. Still I wasn’t in any hurry to plan anything so I decided I’d finally hit up the cafe on the 15th floor for breakfast. The food there was so-so and the coffee was utterly terrible but the view was nice so I slowly made my way through it whilst looking over my Twitter feed. About 10 minutes later I read this tweet which told me that STS-133 would be taking off no sooner than Tuesday next week. As I’d be leaving on Wednesday I immediately flew into a panic knowing that my chances of seeing a shuttle launch were now resting on a hair trigger.
I rushed back to my room and waited patiently for the press conference to start. As it unfolded it became clear that whilst the shuttle had been delayed by one day they were confident that it shouldn’t be delayed any further than that putting the launch time at around 4pm on Tuesday. Relieved I set about finding something to do and over breakfast I had read my good mate (and recently returned blogger)’s post on his recent travels to China. Based on the fact that I had planned anything nor could I be bothered to try and eek something out I took a leaf from his book and decided to just get lost in the town that I was in, taking my camera along for the ride with me.
It was an eye opening experience.
Striding out of the hotel I decided I should go the way I hadn’t really looked at yet, south as far as I could tell. I walked for a little while doing the annoying tourist thing of taking pictures of all the pretty buildings but no less than 30 minutes later did I come across what amounted to a small tropical rainforest, right in the heart of Miami:
Whilst there was little wildlife to speak of (apart from spiders that stretched their webs across every fricking pathway) there were a myriad of different tropical trees, ferns, grasses and other plants that coated this area. Right in the middle of it you’d have trouble remembering that you were in the middle of a metropolis as the dense forest blocked out any sounds of the outside. I spent a good half hour in there just wandering around, well worth the price of admission (free!).
After that I started walking around outside again taking some more pictures of pretty buildings, including one that strangely resembled the dream home I have been building up in my head over the past couple years. It was still well above 30 and 80% humidity so I was quickly becoming dehydrated. Stumbling around I couldn’t find anywhere that was selling bottled water so I made a trek back to my hotel room to cool off and get hydrated again. Once I had done that I thought I’d go and explore the other direction to see what I could dredge up. Realistically I was just going to walk along the shoreline to see if there were any cool shops but what I ended up finding was the Miami outdoor market.
It wasn’t anything special in its own right but it completely blew me away that I had driven past this very spot, twice, and failed to notice it. After purveying the local merchandise I thought I’d grab some lunch. Being a picky bugger I spent the next hour trying to find something finally settling on this place called The Knife which did steaks like Maccas does burgers. I had me a sirloin steak with mashed potatoes and vegetables all for $13. It kind of upset me that that meal was as good if not better than the $40 dinner I had the night before.
Thinking that I had lucked out thus far by just walking randomly I gave it a go again, heading west away from the markets towards what looked like some kind of business centre. On the way I passed the bike rack for an upcoming triathlon with around 500 competitors either bringing their bikes in or getting them repaired at the nearby tents. Off in the distance I spotted a building that looked rather out of place. It was tall but the architecture was nothing like the buildings that surrounded it, I went in for a closer look.
Turns out it’s the high courts of Miami, nothing as amazing as I had made it out to be in my head. Still thanks to the birds circling it and the deliciously climbable exterior I had one of my “Assassin’s Creed” moments where I imagined climbing it and then diving off the side into a bale of hay. With all the lawyers and police present though I didn’t get much closer than the other side of the road, but that didn’t stop me ogling it until it faded from view.
After wandering around for a bit more I headed back to the hotel to workout and then get ready for dinner. I had hunted down a sushi place through Yelp about a 10 minute walk from me. The reviews were good and it wasn’t too pricey so I thought it would be a nice place to have my last dinner here in Miami. The restaurant was well decked out with a giant waterfall feature piece right in the centre of it. The only thing that out did it was the food and the way it was present. Check out how I got my sushi and sashimi combo:
Yeah that’s right, it’s a freaking BOAT! 😀 The sushi itself wasn’t bad either and the wasabi was some of the most potent I’ve ever encountered, and I’ve been to Japan. They also had a good selection of Japanese beers from which I selected a Kirin Ichiban. I’ve had this particular beer before but this one was a little different to those I’ve had back in Australia. Similar nose and mouthfeel but there was a distinct aftertaste that I don’t remember from the Australian version. I may just have to get me some more to compare 😉
Tomorrow I’m making the trek back up to Orlando in order to get ready for the Shuttle launch. I had planned it so I got settled one night and then headed out to see the launch the next day but that won’t be happening now. Fortunately I’ve heard that there might be an air show on so that might replace fill the time that I had originally planned to spend gawking at the shuttle but I’ve had trouble finding info on it. Anyway failing that I’ll just do what I did today in Orlando as it has served me so well today that I’m very keen to repeat the experiment.