Visiting Vizcaya

Last week my Dad was in town so we were busy being tourists at home. After living in three cities that are fantastic places to visit (New York, Jerusalem, Miami) I think we have sort of figured out how to do the “staycation” thing. It changes depending on who we are with, but my Dad is pretty easy going and mostly just wants to hang out. The week’s activities were pretty much up to us, which sounds great, right!? Making it a little more complicated are my kids’ personalities; Ben needs to be out of the house most of the day, and Ella is a home body. Ben takes everything as it comes and adapts easily to many situations. Ella likes predictability and routine. I did not make them this way, they are who they are and I do my best to see them as they are and help them navigate the world. It is impossible to please everyone (hello life lesson!) so we do our best to meet in the middle. We ended up having one main outing day to meet my friend Shannon who was in the Keys on vacation. The Miami-Dade public library offers limited numbers of free passes to attractions such as museums and gardens, and we were able to get one to Vizcaya, a former mansion turned museum near Coconut Grove. Shannon drove up to meet us and we embarked on a day of enjoying the sights at the local landmark.

I had no idea what Vizcaya was, which served me well because I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it is directly on the water! I was wondering why it was so windy until I walked around the corner and saw this:

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“The Barge” A stone construction in the bay in front of the house, creating sort of a circular water driveway.

No promises on accuracy, but this is the story of Vizcaya as I understand it:

A wealthy business man wanted to create a beautiful reconstruction of ancient classical villas to show off his wealth and excellent taste. Instead he created a super tacky mish-mash of architectural styles which is amazing, gaudy, beautiful, and terrible.

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Grandpa Jim and Ben at the entrance to the house

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Beautiful Shannon, beautiful view

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My lovie

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Scoping out the moss. After this Ben ran over and said, “Ima, I found some magic beans! They look like beans but they move!” They were tiny black bean shaped slugs. Amazing.

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Creepy river. Based on how over the top the rest of the place was, I’m sure there were gondolas here at some point!

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Creepy door behind a gate. Inside the house we saw a film called “The Light Club of Vizcaya” which insinuated that there was a secret chamber somewhere intended for bathing in electric light. I have always loved secret doors and mysterious passageways! When I got home and read the information pamphlet about it I was disappointed to find out that the whole thing was fictional, based on a German short story.

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Accidental artsy shot

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Waterfall

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View of the house from the back of the gardens

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Random grotto

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I think Ben was using his shoes as shovels to dig in the sandy ground at this point…

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Nice beard! Super classy stuff, right?

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Happy boy!

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Ella blowing raspberries.

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Say “CHEESE!” and show off your new teeth!

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Photography was not allowed in the house but we stealthily caught a quick one in a mirror of one of the many guest rooms. It was like touring through the home of a very strange, very wealthy elderly relative. Each room had a theme, and there were lots of tapestries. My favorite part was the kitchen, which had the most enormous gas range and beautiful, huge sinks and the biggest butcher block topped island I’ve ever seen. I could have cooked a feast in there! I wish I wasn’t such a rule follower, I don’t see why I couldn’t have taken some photos!


All in all, we had a great time, and it was such a sweet moment to see Shannon, one of my oldest, dearest friends.

 

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