Sunday, January 1, 2012


2011 wasn't the best of years.  My job situation certainly tops the list of things that kind of sucked the air out of the situation but when all is said and done things could be a hell of a lot worse.  The best part of the year was the way it ended and that was due in large part to the efforts of the Czarina.

The start of a new year means a lot to Russians.  So with that in mind the Czarina was determined to do something special.  A 10 day visit from the boy demanded something in the way of a holiday romp so after much debate we decided on a two night stay on Miami Beach to bring in the New Year.  We stayed at the Miami Beach Resort which wasn't bad, but had probably seen better days.  It was comfortable enough.
We arrived Friday night and the Czarina decided we should start the last day of 2011 watching the sunrise over the Atlantic.  It was worth getting up extra early.  It was actually breath-taking when the sun broke through the horizon.  It made for a great way to start the day and after a little breakfast the boy and I headed back to the room to catch some extra ZZZ's.  It didn't take long for the Czarina to decide that she needed companionship at the waterside.  She started non-stop calling our cellphones.  She was like a kid on Christmas morning.

The weather was incredible and the ocean was perfect for swimming.  But by early afternoon it was time to start exploring South Beach so we headed out.  Much to our delight we found there was a street festival along Ocean Drive and we could see the massive preparations at the beach and even at the hotel for the night's activities.
In front of nearly one of these art deco delights stood a restaurant.  Each one was doing its best to convince the big crowds which included a surprising number of Russians to stop for some grub. The promise of a 50 percent off deal by this woman to the boy got us to stop for a late lunch.  Then after a lot of picture taking which will end up on Facebook we headed back to the hotel for a quick run and to ready ourselves for a long night.
We went back to South Beach and ate dinner at a burger joint called 5 Napkins. It didn't stand up to 5 Guys.  I'm not sure what was going on in this picture but we often argue about the tips.  We found that the restaurants on Miami Beach build in the gratuity.  My guess is that the Europeans don't tip because the Russians I know don't like to.

We had to blow about three hours before the big event so the boy talked us into going to a hookah bar.  I refused to partake in any of the smoking.  It reminded me too much of some old bad habits.

But it didn't stop the Czarina from indulging.  In fact I could tell that she had experience with the consumption of alcohol and tobacco.  I can only imagine the Czarina back 30 years ago having fun at the dacha.  It was a wonderful way to pass the time and in the blink of an eye we were headed to the beach for the big fireworks show.

It was an amazing time at the stroke of midnight.  Besides the massive fireworks display not more than a quarter of a mile from us we could see three other big shows going on up and down the beach and behind us across the bay.  The huge crowds were incredibly well behaved.  Even the journey home was pretty effortless even though the driver had to deal with some crazy traffic.

The brilliant end of 2011 will hopefully bring about a better 2012.  I can't help but believe it will.  It was a great way for some quality family time. All that was missing was Dasha, Masha, Natasha and Vlad.  Maybe next year, who knows?

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