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The Epic Return to Fort Lauderdale

May 12, 2013

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A handful of people have heard the story of our Fort Lauderdale layover adventure en route to Peru. Here it is in full:

En route to our honeymoon in Peru (the country, their tourism bureau has a hilarious promotion where they visit Peru, Nebraska and share cultural traditions – very entertaining, but I’m getting off track) we had a layover in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It’s Florida, they have beaches, it’s the summer, and we have roughly 5 hours or so to kill – why not head to the beach?

So that was our plan after we landed. We were very excited for Peru and also excited to get to the beach. We made our way down to the baggage claim area with the rest of the passengers. I thought that it made sense that transportation could be found there too. We walked all the way to the end of the large baggage claim area without finding any clear signs of how to get to the beach or where to take public transportation. I had tweeted at @visitfortlauderdale to ask about a beach recommendation before we left. The reply that I received said to check out Dania Beach because it wasn’t very far from the airport. I google mapped it and it really wasn’t too far – how hard could it be.

We ended up asking a nice old lady at the information desk how we could get to the beach, perhaps Dania Beach. She looked at us funny, but said that a cab would be pretty expensive and that we could take the train. She pointed us in the right direction and we made our way to the Tri Rail: South Florida Regional Transportation Authority. The lady had recommended Fort Lauderdale Beach since it was where a lot of people liked to go. It sounded fine to us and Fort Lauderdale beach must be close because we were in Fort Lauderdale. We found the Tri Rail easy enough, it wasn’t very expensive and seemed really easy to get to the beach when you had a train that would take you straight there. We waited around with a small group of people. My carry on was stuffed with food items so we ate some granola bars and had some water. The train came and we rode for a good while through Broward County until we reached Broward/ Fort Lauderdale Station. Once we got out I started looking for signs to the beach, but none could be found. Thankfully, a nice bus driver told us that the beach wasn’t too far off. We just needed to catch the next bus (and the bus shuttle was free). So we waited, got the right bus, and couldn’t wait to see the beach so soon!

The bus ride was a bit longer than I expected. I had asked the driver where we should get off if we wanted to get to the beach. He said he would be sure to tell us and that we should find the Elbow Room. Suddenly, he stopped the bus somewhere off of Broward Boulevard and said that all we needed to do was walk that way (South) and we would reach the beach. We appeared to be in some odd financial district of what I began to assume must be Fort Lauderdale, but it didn’t look very busy – there were basically no people walking around. Not to mention we had no idea where we were or how we would get back. We trusted the bus driver and exited the bus. I remember Nichole beginning to get a bit worried.

We began to walk. We later learned we were walking on what was Las Olas Boulevard (at SE 3rd Ave.). I really hoped that this was the right way. I had my heavy carry on backpack and Nichole had a purse stuffed full of anything that didn’t fit in our other luggage. We started out happy enough to be getting to the beach, but the heat quickly became our enemy and our lack of preparation for a hike became readily apparent. We realized that we really had only eaten some granola bars for lunch and were also quite hungry. We passed some odd areas that didn’t seem like the best, but soon came upon boutique shops and very high end shopping establishments. This gave us hope that the beach had to be very close. We sweated a lot and drank more water, but we had to be close. We began passing over canals full of fancy boats, then more canals, then more, endless rows of canals. By this point we were ready to give up. Nichole’s flat shoes were hurting her, my shoulders were sore from my backpack but I began carrying her bag as well, we were hungry, sweaty, we could see the water in the canals, but the beach was no where to be found.

Eventually, we came upon a nice green park positioned at the foot of an ominous tall bridge. It was almost too much to think that the beach might not be on the other side. Nichole’s shoes had started to cut her heels and she was bleeding. We were beyond hungry and I insisted that we break at the park, eat leftover ham from our Rehearsal Dinner, and do some minor first aid on her feet. We collapsed into the shade of palm trees, devoured warm honeybaked ham, cleaned and put bandaids on Nichole’s wounds. By this time we had relaxed and realized that the beach actually was just on the other side of this massive bridge. Just half a mile more and we would touch the Atlantic Ocean and get sand between our toes. The bridge was insanely long and tall, but as we crested it we exclaimed as we caught site of the beach. We could see sand, crowds of people, and more sand!

I think we actually ran the last block into the sand. We took off our shoes, felt the Ocean water, and made sure to drink a lot more water. After all this time, we still had to get back to the airport for our connecting flight to Lima, Peru. By the time we had hit the beach and rejoiced that we actually did make it, we started to get paranoid about missing our next flight. We walked over to the Holiday Inn to use their bathroom and discovered the airport shuttle (we should have used this tactic in the beginning and gotten a free shuttle to the hotel on the beach). It was $25 to get shuttled to the airport, but we willingly paid it for the 15min drive back to the airport. We then spent just as much time sitting at the airport waiting for our flight, but we had made it to the beach and back.

2.2 miles, 2 hours, blood, sweat, and some tears.

That is a story that I could never forget. I also never thought that I would return to Fort Lauderdale, but I’m very glad that Nichole kept it in her mind and happened upon a great flight deal. We booked a long weekend in Fort Lauderdale and got to really enjoy it. Staying at the Hyatt, taking the water taxi to Las Olas Blvd., waving at rich people, relaxing on the beach and not thinking about our international connecting flight, and of course parasailing!

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We were so high in the air. 1,000 feet to be exact. Go big or go home. We really enjoyed our time in Fort Lauderdale and there was no blood, sweat, or tears this time.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. April 28, 2014 11:05 PM

    Reblogged this on Alex B. Hill.

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