Thursday, February 14, 2013

Villa Vizcaya, craft beer and U of Miami

Originally we had planned to only be in Palmetto Bay overnight, but that was because I lost track of a whole day......I thought Tuesday was the 13th, but it was the 12th......our reservation on Marathon Key doesn't start until the 14th.  As a result we had an extra day to do a little site seeing.  When TLE was in high school (Miami Central) she was a violinist in the school orchestra.  The orchestra was invited to play a concert at Villa Vizcaya, a local historical landmark built by International Harvester Tycoon, James Deering, in 1916 as a winter home.  This mansion is located in Coral Gables, a few blocks from the University of Miami.  TLE wanted to take the museum tour, drive around the U of Miami, where here father, Frances Spencer Houghtaling, was the first enrolled student back in 1926, and check out a local micro brewery called "Titanic Restaurant and Brewery".  Another note of interest is TLE's father also had the idea to start an honor society at the U of Miami called Iron Arrow, and was one of the founding 9 members of Iron Arrow, and it's first president.

TLE's father is the second man, back row, going right to left.

We rolled the car out of the trailer around 10 am, and were on our way slicing through the warm, muggy Miami air by 11 am......did I say it was HUMID?  Traffic on the Dixie Highway (Highway 1) was very bad the first few miles due to construction, and again, it brought back memories of Southern California traffic.  

We arrived at Villa Vizcaya around 11:30, found a parking spot and made our way over to the Villa to tour the inside, as well as the beautiful grounds.

No pictures, or video taking is allowed inside the Vizcaya whatsoever, so the pictures you will see are ones we took outside.  James Deering utilized this home as his winter residence from 1916 to 1925 when he died.  His heirs ultimately sold the estate for a sum less than its worth to Dade County.  The interior opulence is typical of homes built by tycoons in this area.  in 1914, when construction began, there were only 10,000 people living in the area.....the Deerings employed 1,000 of them in the construction of the Villa, which, surprisingly, took only 2 years.

 Indoor, outdoor pool...TLE sneaked this one

An interior stock photo taken from the Vizcaya website

 This is the next view you see from the room in the picture can just see the skyline of Key Biscayne on the horizon...this deck is where TLE's orchestra set up for their concert in the summer 0f 1967.  The concrete structure in the background was built to look like a barge, and serves as a breakwater for the estate.

Formal gardens

We spent over two hours touring the interior and exterior of the Villa.  We initially joined a  walking tour with a tour guide, but our group was close to 40 and it was difficult to hear what she was saying, and for all of us to be in each room at the same time, so eventually we branched off on our own to finish the tour.

Our next stop, was for lunch, and a couple of brews at the aforementioned was only a few miles from the Villa, and it right next door to the U of Miami.  We both chose the Oatmeal Stout, and split an appetizer called S.O.S. Skewers.....shrimp, chicken, and steak.....very yummy with a delicious jalapeno, garlic and peanut salsa....the kind of salsa that makes your sinuses I would love to have the recipe for that salsa!

After our satisfying snack at Titanic we headed into the U of Miami campus.  TLE had been told that there was some pictorial memorial to her father on campus somewhere, but after spending an hour we were unable to find it.  I even went into the office of the University President asking if they knew, and, of course, this was an event that happened 87 years ago and the staff had no idea of what I was talking about.  We'll be coming back through Miami on our way north along the east coast in 10 days, so we'll do a little more research, and contact a few more relatives to find out where this memorial display is.

We barely had returned to our "home" when Michael Baiamonte (the Heat PA guy) came walking up.....he was on his way over to Phil and Patty's home for cocktails, and to show them his two NBA championship rings (2006 and 2012).  This is as close as I will ever get to any professional sports championship rings, and these were very cool.

The one on the left is the 2012 ring....these are my hands....:D

Phillip, Michael and Patty with the rings

We had dinner around 7 pm (grilled chicken, roasted vegetable, and rosemary garlic potatoes.   Wow.......what an amazing dinner!  Wednesday was also Stephanie's (Phil and Patty's daughter) birthday, so there was carrot cake after dinner.

Stephanie with the carrot cake....HAPPY BIRTHDAY STEPHANIE!

We finished up the evening watching the most recent Batman movie...."Rise of the Dark Knight".....another fun movie.

The time has flown by here in Palmetto gets harder and harder to keep saying "until next time", but we'll be doing it again Thursday as we head further south to Key West.  We may have to stop by again on our way north......stay tuned!

Thanks for stopping by!

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