Miami Magic City lives up to its ‘beautiful, sassy and surreal’ name

Miami’s vibrant, lush and Latin and unlike any other city in the States writes, Greg Fleming

Miami’s long been called the Magic City, but thanks to a shady past (“trying to sum up decades of insidious corruption in Miami in a paragraph is like trying to write the Cliffs Notes for Ulysses,” proclaimed the Miami New Times this year) and being a favourite destination for party-hard Americans come holiday season, it was a city I’d never considered visiting.

That is until a cruise ship dumped me back in Miami last month and I got to experience this one-of-a-kind city myself.

Yes “magic” will do but adjectives like trashy, beautiful, sassy and surreal are just as apt — and often within the same block. But most of all Miami is a Latin city — unlike any city I’ve visited in the States. Around 55 per cent of Miamian’s have Spanish as a first language and that seemed a conservative estimate as I Ubered around on a whirlwind three-day visit.

Indeed the only Uber driver I encountered who spoke English to any degree picked me up on arrival and laid out his view of his adopted hometown as he battled the late-night traffic (in Miami you are always battling the traffic).

“I go home to Peru and realise how everything here is about appearances. Don’t get me wrong, Miami’s a great city, a fun city if you’ve got the money — but you see people here who look like they’re rich, but that car’s leased and they’re sharing an apartment downtown with three friends.”

Although that’s probably true, this city-on-the-make provides a visitor with a unique US experience; Miami truly has a swagger to it and has little in common with the rest of sleepy, retire-right Florida (except the year-round great weather). I loved my time here — it’s a city full of surprises — you stumble across photo-shoots on a daily basis, Latin rhythms blare from every restaurant and everyone has a side hustle.


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