we’re back from Fort Lauderdale

Beth and I turned our 3-day Labor Day weekend into a 5-day vacation, and went to Fort Lauderdale for our 5-year wedding anniversary. We did a bunch of diving and a bunch of eating, as well as a little shopping and one walk on the beach.

We dived with Pro Dive, which is one of the biggest training facilities for dive instructors nationally. They usually do two dives per day on a single boat trip. In the dive biz they call that a “two tank dive” which I’ve always thought is weird. You don’t actually take two tanks with you under the water. You take one tank on one dive, come back up, go to a different place, and then take the second tank. Anyhow, their regular pattern is to do one wreck dive and one reef dive on each outing.

Saturday, however, they have a night dive. So, on our first day back to diving after 7 months, we did 4 dives in one day! That was a long and tiring day. That was the most dives we’ve done in a single day, as well as our first night dive ever, so that was cool. Then, on Sunday and Monday we got in 2 dives each day, for a total of 8 tanks in 3 days. Not bad for a weekend jaunt. On Monday, we did our deepest dive so far without a dive master guide – 115 feet, to the wreck of the “RSB-1”.

The weather held up nicely for us, but I would call the visibility just “so so”. It wasn’t as nice as either Andros or Akumal, the other two places we’ve been. But it was a lot cheaper, so I guess you get what you pay for. We also saw our first shark, a nurse shark which looked like it just wanted to be left alone in its hidey hole under a coral ledge.

A few other general thoughts on Fort Lauderdale, now that we’ve been there 3 times:
Best restaurant: Coconuts – that’s next door to the dive shop, and they have really good food plus good happy hour prices

Best dessert: Galler – a Belgian chocolate store on Las Olas, which is one of the main shopping strips in town

Getting through the Fort Lauderdale airport was a whole lot easier this time than when we flew through last summer. Maybe we just hit the right time, or maybe they figured out how to run an airport security station finally.

I’d been having a craving to get some authentic Cuban food, so we tried a restaurant called Las Vegas Cuban Cuisine. According to the locals (including Cuban-Americans) it’s the best around. I enjoyed the food there, but I couldn’t say whether it’s really authentic or not. Not quite as upscale as I had thought, it’s located in a strip mall.

We stayed in a place called Vistamar Villas, which is an old motel built probably in the 40’s or 50’s. The owners/proprietors are very nice and seem to do most – if not all – of the work themselves. I read the suites are nicer, but we just had a regular room. Unfortunately, when we arrived the A/C had been off for quite a while and it was nearly unbearably hot in there. It took a full 12 hours (until 4 AM the next morning) before the room cooled to a comfortable temperature. After that, we just left the anemic window unit air conditioner on all the time whether we were there or not. And the room had two full size beds instead of a single queen (or king), which was a little strange but oh well. It was clean, though, and relatively convenient. Plus, with a package diving deal, the price was definitely right.

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