Miami beach, incredible destination

miami

Miami is a city located on the southeastern coast of Florida and is ranked as the richest city in the USA. It is the top cruise passenger port in the world and the busiest port for tourists.

The area is good for shopping as well as a few tourist sites with the nearbyFlorida Everglades and the Downtown Miami Historic District which dates back to 1896 and nearby South Beach and Miami Beach.

Miami is an eclectic mix of Latin American and Caribbean cultures with a huge population of Cubans and Dominicans and is known as the Capital of Latin America.

The city has a tropical monsoon climate with hot humid summers and warm winters. Visitors can experience a number of cultural showcases including annual festivals such as the Calle Ocho Festival and Carnaval Miami.

Among the performing centres are the Ziff Ballet Opera House and theCarnival Studio Theater. There exist many museums including the Frost Art MuseumHistory MiamiMiami Art Museum, and the Miami Children’s Museum.

For those who wish a quieter visit, there are many parks includingBayfront Park and Bicentennial Park. Other destinations include the Jungle IslandZoo Island, and Zoo Miami as well as the Miami Seaquarium.

Food is heavily influenced by Latin folk with the Cuban sandwich and medianoche as well as Cuban espresso being quite popular. One can visit the Versailles Restaurant in Little Havanaand other more popular brands exist such as Tony Roma’s. 

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Pina Colada, cool pineapple beverage

pina_colada

Drinking a Pina Colada is like drinking in the taste of the Caribbean. The rum-based cocktailalmost goes hand-in-hand with a walk on the beach in the region and has actually been the official drink of Puerto Rico since 1978.

There is even a National Pina Colada Day celebrated on July 10th.The name Pina Colada means strained pineapple and refers to the fact that freshly squeezed pineapples are usually used in the drinks’ preparation.

The Puerto Rican style of Pina Colada includes using cream of coconut which is made fromcoconut juicesugaremulsifiercellulosethickenerscitric acid, and salt. The drink is served using with blended or shaken with ice and garnished with pineapple wedges ormaraschino cherries.

The recipe calls for 3 ounces of coconut cream, 6 ounces of pineapple juice, and 1½ ounces ofwhite rum. The mixture is then put in a blender or shaker with crushed ice. Blend or shake very well until smooth. Add garnish.

The drink can also be made using dark rum, amaretto – Amaretto Colada; coconut rum –Staten Island Ferry; blended with a strawberry daquiri- Lava Flow, or a Virgin Pina Coladawithout rum altogether.

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Havana, Cuba

havana

One of the oldest cities in the Caribbean and one of the most exotic is Havana, the capital city of Cuba-the largest island in the Caribbean. The city is 90 miles from Florida in North America and used to be the play ground of many wealthy Americans before the embargo of the 1960′s came into effect.

When wants to see vintage American cars driving around Spanish style architecture and streets, Havana is the place to see it. Stepping into Havana is like taking a step back in time.

The city proper is quite large with just over two million inhabitants. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is known for its mix of culturehistory,architecture, and monuments.

Habana Vieja is the oldest part of the city and just across the bay sits the Fortress San Carlos de Cabana. Here each night a reenactment involving canons being fired takes place.

Among the other interesting buildings are the El Capitol Nacional, which is a replica of the US state capitol buildings and is the centre of government in the city; The Plaza de la Revolucion and the Hotel Nacional de Cuba. The Cuban ballet is also in old Havana.

The Malecon runs along the north coast of the city and is the most popular avenue in the city, known for its spectacular sunsets.

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St. Martin, a double dose of delight

St_maarten
The island of St. Martin in the Caribbean is unique. It is the smallest island in the world that is governed by two sovereign nations.

One side of the island is ruled by the Kingdom of The Netherlands and is called Sint Maarten while the other is governed by France and is known as St. Martin. It is the only land border shared by those two nations anywhere in the world.

The Dutch side’s main city is Phillipsburg while the French side’s capital is Marigot. The island is served by one airport – the Princess Juliana International Airport.

The island of St. Martin/Sint Maarten is hilly and tends to by dry. Like most of the other islands in the Caribbean it has a dry season from December to April and a wet season from June to November.

The Dutch side of the island is quite festive. A cruise ship port sits in Great Bay near Phillipsburg and tourists can enjoy fine restaurants serving French, Chinese, and Indonesian cuisine.

There are also loads of little shops where interesting jewellery and clothing can be purchased. The € is the unit of currency on the French side while the guilder is used on the Dutch side.

The main languages spoken here are English, Dutch, and Papiamento. French is the main language spoken in the other half of the island. Here is like a little slice of France in the Caribbean with exotic boutiques, cafes and patisseries all around the narrow streets. Duty free shopping with high-end brands makes St. Martin very attractive to visitors.

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A festival that can be eaten

fish_festival
When you hear the word festival you may think of a party or a celebration but did you know that a festival can also be eaten? In the Caribbean what people call festival is actually a small fried dumpling with an elongated shape made from cornmeal and flour.

Festival can be eaten alone or with fried fish or grilled or jerk chicken or pork and is a very popular food on the beaches of Jamaica where fried fish and festival is a dietary staple.

Festivals are very easy to make. All you need is two cups of flour, ½ cup of cornmeal, water, ¼ cup of sugar, a pinch of salt, one teaspoon of baking powder, and oil.

In a bowl, mix the flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and baking powder together then slowly add water until the mixture is tender to touch but not too soft. Knead the mixture into a soft dough . Be careful not to knead too long or festival will be too crunchy. Cover the mixture and leave to sit on a counter for a few minutes until the dough rises slightly.

Place oil in a frying pan. When the oil is hot, break off small pieces of dough roll into long shapes and place in oil over a low flame. Fry until golden brown. The festival should be light. Serve when cool. Enjoy.

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