Arrival in Fort Lauderdale
After a mammoth transit effort of 3 flights and a total travel time of 32 hours door to door we arrived in Fort Lauderdale just past midnight on the same day we left Sydney (crazy time zones!).
We checked in at the Embassy Suites by Hilton and were greeted by a friendly pair in reception who were happy, chatty and welcoming. The room (as expected from research and pics) was slightly outdated, but it was a spacious suite and clean with a super-comfy bed, so who cares? We were on the 11th floor and had views of the cruise ships. AND we had complimentary breakfast and happy hour in the evening. Solid start to the holiday.
Stranahan House Museum
Our first full day of this trip and we intended to walk the city of Fort Lauderdale. It rained most of the day, but we were not phased – we walked 10km in total!
We headed straight to the Boathouse in the Riverside Hotel for lunch. We enjoyed a couple of tapas styled plates: seared Ahi Tuna Tataki – lightly seared Ahi Tuna, Hass avocado, heirloom tomatoes, citrus pickled red onions, watermelon radish, arugula, black sesame seeds; guacamole – handpressed avocados, jalapeno, red onions, cilantro, pita chips; side of curry roasted cauliflower and toasted almonds. All this underscored by a soundtrack of Ella, Louis, Bublé and a bit of Dean Martin in his boozy glory.
Stranaham House Museum was a delightful surprise for a couple of history nerds who love old houses and the stories of those who lived in them. We learnt about an amazing woman called Ivy Stranahan – a suffragist, educator and philanthropist. She was the first school teacher in the area, and was also a vegetarian and a friend of the indigenous people – educating their children when it was illegal for them to attend school.
We did a bit of window shopping on one of the flashest shopping streets of Fort Lauderdale – Las Olas Blvd. Popped into ‘Optical Spectrum’ to have them tweak the nose pads on my new glasses that were pinching a little. The lovely owners, Scott and Michael, not only dealt with my pinching issues, but they were excellent conversationalists, and it was a delightful, serendipitous moment of connection talking about our love of all things theatrical and New York. They had impeccable taste in frames and we could’ve easily spent a fortune in designer eyewear!
After this encounter we bought some handmade chocolates at Hoffman’s on Las Olas Blvd and then headed towards home. Got diverted at the New River checking out the water taxi options. The big tour was something to investigate for tomorrow, but in the meantime, they suggested a free 20min adventure along the New River that ended with us on the opposite side of the river, slightly closer to home, and having enjoyed some water time with convivial chat with the skipper, Carly. Good choice.
After careful study of the water taxi routes, we headed out the next morning for stop number 4, 15 minutes from our hotel. We took the water taxi north to stop 7 where we alighted for the Bonnet House tour. This was insight into another extraordinary woman – Evelyn Bartlett, who was advanced in thought and action in all manner of ways. She picked up painting (and was very good at it!) just from observing her husband at the easel and became a well-known artist and patron of the arts. She died at the age of 109 after convincing the government to let her live tax free until she died under the proviso that she gift her property to them. This agreement was made when she was 75 and she saved $20 million in taxes from then until her death. What a woman!
Lona Concina Tequileria
Lunch was had at Lona Concina Tequileria (which seems to be listed everywhere as simply, Lona). We shared three delicious appetizers – blue crab tostada (blue jumbo lump crab meat, aioli, fresno peppers, avocado, cilantro, lime); mushroom epanadas – wild mushrooms, refried beans, crema fresca, aged cotija cheese; tacos vegetales – seasonal and local vegetables. We both chose house speciality margaritas, one of which had vanilla infused tequila, and the other had ginger infused tequila. The rest of the ingredients are a mystery, but they were both delicious!
Caught the water taxi and took the long way back to our stop – we headed north before going south so we could gawk at the millionaires’ mansions (who am I kidding – BILLIONAIRES!). Got back to our hotel in time for happy hour before heading back to our room for some downtime. Tomorrow is a big day.
Read our full Caribbean Cruise story here:
Part 1 (current): Fort Lauderdale
Part 2: Sky Princess (coming soon)
Accommodation: Embassy Suites by Hilton Fort Lauderdale