As much as I love New York and D.C., sometimes it just gets too cold up here. At least that’s what my school friend Michelle and I decided when we made plans to go stay with her family in Fort Lauderdale over winter break.
My plane from D.C. landed in Fort Lauderdale around 6:30 Friday evening. Michelle had flown down a few days earlier, so she and her one of her cousin’s picked me up from the airport. I couldn’t believe I had just left 20-degree D.C. for warm, sunny 80-degree Florida. I used to airport bathroom to change out of my heavy sweater and boots into a sundress and sandals. Then we headed to straight happy hour…because why not?
Twenty minutes later, there we were on Las Olas Boulevard to meet up with her cousin’s friends for 2-for-1 drinks at Tarpon Bend Food & Tackle. After a few hours of mingling with the SoFla locals (who are all extremely tall, by the way), we left to go a family friend’s place to hang out some more. I’m not sure how I managed to stay up past 3 a.m. four days in a row, but somehow I did it. And I had a very good night’s sleep that night.
The rest of the Fort Lauderdale trip was very uneventful, but in a wonderful, relaxing way. Saturday, Michelle and I went to the beach for a couple hours and listened to the waves crash as we talked about how happy we were to escape the cold for a while.
**Note: I didn’t bring my DSLR for this trip, so please excuse the quality of the photos from my iPhone!
That night, we hit up The Manor Complex, a wildly fun gay nightclub downtown. Neither of us are gay, but we love, love, love the Manor’s atmosphere (we had been there before) and we love to dance – and the Manor is the best place to get your groove on. We had a fantastic night.
Sunday morning, Michelle’s cousin’s mother, Ginger, cooked us a mouth-watering brunch complete with mimosas. Stuffed, we spent the rest of the day walking around downtown Fort Lauderdale to burn off those waffles, eggs and potatoes.
That night, we headed to another of Michelle’s aunt/uncle’s house to have dinner. I loved spending time with her family and hearing wild stories from her great uncle. Even though I had just met them, I felt like a part of the family.
We retired early that night and got a long night’s sleep. On Monday, we just lazed around by the pool in her family’s complex and soaked in the sun. We met another of her cousins for lunch and then walked around Sawgrass Mills Mall for about an hour. Afterward, we met up with my godfather for dinner at an incredible oceanfront restaurant called JB’s On The Beach. I only see him once every few years, so it was great to catch up over a fantastic meal and great scenery.
We left dinner to meet Michelle’s cousin Alyssa and her friend for drinks. Since Michelle and I were dressed up from dinner, we decided to go an uptown bar called YOLO (really, it was the name that drew us to it) in Las Olas. We each got one of the bar’s specialty drinks and talked about life, school, and the fact that Michelle and I were dreaded going back to D.C. the next day. We had a good time nonetheless, and headed home around midnight.
Our plane home was scheduled for 6:30 p.m., so Michelle and I took our time packing up the next day. We took a packing break to have one last lounge by the pool before we had to leave the warm weather for good.
I’m going to pause for a second to talk about how wonderful Michelle’s family is. Her cousins and their mom let us stay for free with them and even paid for several of our meals. Ginger is the absolute sweetest woman in the world and the most selfless person I have ever met; she made sure we were comfortable at all times, offered to give us rides anywhere we needed to be, and even let us borrow her car for the weekend when she didn’t need it. The day we left for the airport, she took off from work early so she could drive us to the airport on time. I have met some amazing people in my life but none quite as selfless as this compassionate woman. I am so grateful she let us into her home and I hope she is blessed with all of the happiness in the world.
Our flight home was quick and smooth and we made it back to our apartments on campus by 11 p.m. It was another blissful trip that was way too brief. I grudgingly went back to work the next morning, as always, but at least this time I got to show off my fresh tan.