Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Rich and Famous in Fort Lauderdale

We woke up in Fort Lauderdale having quietly docked. Our flight home wasn’t until 7:00 pm. There must have been a big price difference to make that a good idea. We had to find some way to fill the day so we decided to take a ship's excursion in the morning with a transfer to the airport.

Looking to our left from our balcony, we could see the 17th Street Causeway, which has a drawbridge in the middle.

Fort Lauderdale is the largest cruise terminal in the world. We could already see three other cruise ships in port. Immigration turned into a nightmare. They can process up to 55,000 passengers in a day, and it felt like this was that day. The ship had been in Europe for several months, and this was its first trip back to the US, so it was undergoing a more rigorous inspection.

Finally we were on the bus crossing the New River, which supposedly sprang up out of nowhere. Natives say one day they woke up and water was there and it has flowed ever since.

Look at the pretty pavement. Fort Lauderdale is interesting in that it is built in an area where there is very little land. Waterways were dredged and the fill was put on land to build houses. They are totally out of land for new buildings, so they are building them higher.

We were on the tour boat now. This is Stranahan House, built in 1901. The lower floor was a trading post and the upper floor was a community hall. Frank Stranahan moved to Fort Lauderdale from Ohio in 1893 and became known by the Seminole Indians as a fair businessman. It is now a museum.

This is the Riverside Hotel, the first hotel in Fort Lauderdale, and the only one on trendy Las Olas Boulevard. It was built more than 75 years ago by two brothers from Chicago.

The plan for the day was to cruise the New River and see the expensive houses and yachts, followed by a drive down Las Olas Boulevard. This was the first boat we saw, which we thought was pretty nice...we had no idea what was to come.

I see how this works now. You have a yacht for those days that you might like to go to sea, and a smaller boat for visiting the neighbours.

It was like a city on the water with neighbourhoods and streets. These are the dredged canals and the fill was put on shore to provide land on which to build houses.

We saw these kayakers enjoying the day. Boats must adhere to the low speed limit to keep the noise level and wake down.

This vacant lot was once the site of the home of Lee Majors, the Six Million Dollar Man. When I looked it up on-line, the house that was there as recently as 2012 looked quite nice to me, but it has since been demolished.

Another yacht...they kept getting bigger and bigger...

So this looked like the Coast Guard to me, but no, it's just people's yachts. They are so big you can't see the houses behind them. There are about 50,000 yachts in Fort Lauderdale.

Look at the size of the little boat in the centre compared to the yachts!

Here was a huge yacht and a large sailing ship...

This beach in the background didn’t exist until Hurricane Wilma blasted through in 2005. It was one of the most intense hurricanes ever to hit this area and over 6 million people were without power.

We motored out into the open waters, past the Emerald Princess. In the background you can see the 17th Street Causeway.

These guys were having fun in their “little” boat. The huge yacht behind looks more like a ferry!

This house was for sale...price $12.5 million with taxes of $97,000/year. Another house that was for sale took up five lots. Its taxes were $1,000 a day and the electricity bill was $4,000 a month. Bah...chump change!

It was a Saturday morning so lots of people were out enjoying their boats...

Looking pretty laid back...

This is the home of Wesley Hutchings, known locally as "La Maison Blanche." The 20,000 sq. ft. house is listed with a realtor for $28.5 million. Wesley's father, Jack, made hundreds of millions in the automotive industry manufacturing air conditioning units for cars.

Heck, they were all beautiful homes...

I bet there is a lot of "keeping up with the Joneses" going on here.

This house was used in several episodes of Miami Vice.

By now I was on house and yacht overload...

This house was built with global warming or extreme climate change in mind. It was built several feet higher to hedge against flooding.

You can see that house on the right, compared to the neighbour's on the left.

Say what? This house looked normal and somewhat mundane compared to all the others. I wonder how they manage to keep their heads up in the neighbourhood.

The people seemed really friendly. They must see tourists boats 10 times a day, but he was still sitting in his lawn chair and happily waving.

Beautiful landscaping on this corner lot...

Complete with an alligator...

By now we had moved downstairs on the boat and we couldn’t really hear the guide. I'm not sure what the story on this house is, but it appears to have been abandoned.

Well, that was fun and an eye opener. Back on the bus, we saw this cop near the bus zone. His job is to shoo the buses along as the condo owners across the street have complained about the bus noise. They can now only drop passengers off and come back for them later.

Next on the tour, Las Olas Boulevard...

This is the place to be seen with lots of restaurants and high end stores...

Roar...a Ferrari...

Maybe a jacaranda tree? A very beautiful area...

It looked like a place that would be fun to visit, not that we could afford to buy anything!

With a last look at the yachts and the rich lifestyle of Fort Lauderdale, we headed to the airport.

The Sheraton Hotel was built in the shape of a ship...

And that was it for warm weather and our wonderful cruise. We landed in Toronto and headed home and into snow flurries. They already had 15 cm of snow at home by now.

And that is the end of our lovely cruise, the highlight being the trip to France to find my grandfather's grave. Great memories! Here endeth this blog...

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