Merevin Miami Tourist Goodbye

Published: 05/1/15 12:54 PM in Events, North America, Travel.
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As soon as we returned from our honeymoon in England and Scotland, Kevin received some exciting news. He received an offer to work for the Southeast Conservation Corps during their summer and fall 2015 seasons!

Since the season starts May 18th, with training starting May 11th, we immediately had to jump into moving mode as we prepared to relocate to Atlanta, Georgia. Kevin’s new position is actually based out of Chattanooga, Tennessee but since I was able to transfer with my current company to open the Atlanta office we will be living in the greater Atlanta area. So that meant it was time to say goodbye to Miami and all the amazing friends we are surrounded with there by planning some type of going away party!

Merevin Going Away Party Rules

Since we enjoy the sillier things in life, we decided to add a fun element to our Miami going away celebration. Since we were experiencing the city as a tourist visiting Miami might, we wanted to make sure we fit the part and made everyone attending dress like a quintessential Florida tourist. If you have lived in a vacation hotspot like Florida for any part of your life then you have acquired the particular talent of picking out a tourist from a mile away. Well this is one time we wanted to blend into the crowd and be a part of Miami that we had never truly joined.

Meredith Lambert Banogon and Kevin Banogon are joined by their friends on the Big Bus Miami Tour.

The Biltmore Hotel in Miami, Florida towers over the Coral Gables area and is a stop along the Miami Bus Tour.

The Venetian Pool in Coral Gables, Florida is a natural spring pool cut out of the coral.


Saying Goodbye to Coral Gables & The Grove

When you live in any large city for an extended part of your life, it is inevitable that you will become well acquainted with the various areas, districts, or boroughs of that city. And as you move from apartment to apartment within that city, these areas will become strongly tied to a particular period of your life there. You will begin to associate those areas with what was going on in your life at the time and who you were then.

The City of Coral Gables and The Grove in Miami are two areas I primarily associate with my adult life in Miami. Working in a building on Bayshore Drive, going to happy hour on Miracle Mile, attending weekly client meetings on Ponce De Leon, and testing my knowledge at Trivia Night in CocoWalk. These are all moments that made up my daily life as I was a professional making my way in Miami.

Both Coral Gables and The Grove represent the most stable part of my life in Miami. I was gainfully employed, had a nice apartment in a safe apartment complex, a great group of friends I could rely on in times of need, and went to bed at a reasonable time almost every night. Might sound boring, but this phase was the final step in Kevin and I’s life in Miami.


Meredith Lambert Banogon, Alicia Doroteo, and Jessica Estrada pose with one of the roosters of Calle Ocho.

Versailles Restaurant on Calle Ocho in Miami, Florida is a famous spot for Cuban Breakfast.


An Ode to Eighth Street

Eighth Street is a very unique vein that runs through the city of Miami. This iconic street provides an amazing cross section of the various neighborhoods found throughout the city. If you start in the west, Eighth Street emerges out of The Everglades and Big Cypress where it is part of the greater road know as Tamiami Trail which will lead all the way up to Tampa (ie, Tampa to Miami).

Through land owned by the Miccosukee Indians, the road is littered with small establishments here and there until you are suddenly surrounded by the vast housing developments that abut the Urban Development Boundary that keeps the wetlands safe. Once you pass under the Florida Turnpike, Florida International University arises on your right as you enter the single family home portion of the street. Within these homes are the born and raised Miamians that frequent Dolphin Mall and have a pride for Miami like no other.

However once you cross under the Palmetto Expressway (826), you have officially entered Calle Ocho. The homes and medium sized plazas start to morph into low scale apartment buildings and small plazas with annoyingly small parking lots. Although you are not in the heart of Little Havana yet, you will start to notice the amount of spanish spoken has gone up and your mid-size SUV is suddenly too big to function. You will also notice that to your right you are given multiple opportunities to enter Coral Gables where suddenly the streets are much cleaner.

Once you cross 27th Avenue you have officially entered Little Havana. The streets are one-way in an old world type of way, you are absolutely expected to speak spanish, and mostly everyone you meet knows everyone else you meet. This area can be intimidating, but can also be the most fun part to walk around in.

As you approach the water, you come to the end of Eighth Street as it turns into Brickell. The buildings get taller, traffic gets much worse, and parking is even more annoying. Brickell is the finance district of Miami so this area screams young professionals and overpriced apartments. In essence it is the extreme opposite of where you started.

And that is the spectrum of Eighth Street in Miami, Florida.


The interior of the Versailles Restaurant in Miami, Florida is decadent and simple, serving a great Sunday Brunch.

Meredith Lambert Banogon and Kevin Banogon pose with one of the roosters along Calle Ocho in front of La Carreta.

The cultural art that greets visitors as they enter Little Havana in Miami, Florida.


Saying Goodbye Along Calle Ocho

Calle Ocho holds a very distinct place in my heart as there was a year and a half that I not only lived, but also worked on this famous street. Although it was some of the most turbulent periods of my time in Miami, it defined my transition from college student in Miami to working professional in Miami.

Kevin and I moved to the apartment on Eighth Street right when we graduated college and we quickly entered our unemployed and struggling period. The result of that period was me taking a risk as I joined a local start-up’s journey and Kevin joining the Montana Conservation Corps where he documented his experience and defined his life goals.

Although I missed Kevin during my time on Calle Ocho, I also formed one of the strongest friendships made in my adult life when our friend, Alicia, moved in with me. During our six months together, we not only became very close, but helped each other navigate through those first stages of professional life. Calle Ocho will always be just a bit more special than the rest.


Entering Brickell on the Big Bus Miami Tour as party of the Merevin going away party.

A look at the Miami Skyline from Brickell while riding the Big Bus Miami.

Jessica Estrada and Alicia Doroteo enjoy the Miami sun on their way to Miami Beach.

The road to Miami Beach on a rare day with no traffic.

An iconic look at Lincoln Road on Miami Beach.


Saying Goodbye to Miami Beach

Miami Beach is a staple of living in Miami. It is what everyone will ask you about, all your visitors will want to go, and it is what people imagine when you say “I live in Miami”. Although we frequented Miami Beach as often as anyone else living in Miami-Dade County, I will always primarily associate this colorful part of town with the beginning of my time in Miami, Florida.

Maybe it is because it is one of the first places we went ‘out’ to with a friend in college. Or maybe it is because during college we would actually find the time to go to the beach with friends after exams. Or maybe it is just because it was my first impressions of Miami upon moving here. For whatever reason, Miami Beach makes me think of being young and new to the city with little real life worries and even less sleep.


A look down Lincoln Road on Miami Beach during the a Miami going away party.

The group of Merevin's Miami Tourist Goodbye acts like true tourists in Miami, Florida.


Saying Goodbye to Miami, Florida

Through our 8 and a half years living in Miami, Kevin and I have had a roller coaster, love/hate relationship with this city. We have had extreme lows of hating the traffic and the humidity, and then extreme highs when the weather is great and food is delicious. However no matter how happy I am to start a new adventure and no matter how ready I am to leave Miami, it will always be a huge part of who Kevin and I are.

This will always be the city where we met so many badass people who became the loyalist of friends. It will always be the place we called home while we graduated, planned our wedding, and became a married couple. Although I am ultimately happy to leave, I will always be happy to go back for a visit.


The sculptural sound pieces in the Miami Soundscape by West 8 in front of the New World Symphony on Miami Beach.

The Big Bus Miami was a great way to say goodbye to Miami during a going away party.


Big Bus Miami Going Away Party

In order to say goodbye to the many sides of Miami, Florida we decided to visit as many hot spots as we could in one day! Buying some tickets to ride the Big Bus Miami and invite anyone interested in going ended up being the most fun way to do this!

During the bus tour we were able to say goodbye to Miami while experiencing the city like a tourist. It was also fascinating to hear the tour guides commentary on areas of the city we have been living and working in for years. The small anecdotes gave us more insight into these locations making us appreciate what we were saying goodbye to.


Alicia Doroteo and Jessica Estrada are tired from a long day riding the Big Bus Miami to say good bye to Miami.

Miami, so long and thanks for all the rice and beans!

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