State by State

Apparently there is an entire country between Boston and San Francisco.

beach

by Natalia

We spend a day lazily driving along Florida's A1A alternating between frightening developments, sleepy beach communities and millionaires mansions. Looks like a real estate bust came just in time: Florida was on its way to provide each and every citizen a chance to invest in an overpriced tiny condo in a carbon copy skyscraper located on a land that would be a usable beach if left undeveloped.

We manage to spend some time on a beautiful, hauntingly empty beach, saved by virtue of calling it a preserve and charging $2 per person entrance fee.The wealthy residents of Jupiter Island donated 73 acres to form Blowing Rock Preserve in the belief that day sunbathers are better then subdivisions. We read that 5 out of existing 7 species of the sea turtle can be found here.

Further south condo towers are taking over. Many spanking new and mostly empty. We try not to think of what happens if, at some point in future, all the condo owners decide to visit at the same time. Florida will probably tilt east and gently slide into Atlantic.

Tempted by our trusted, although a bit dated, Lonely Planet guide we stop in Fort Lauderdale, which turns out to be a sleepy disappointment. Either it missed on the latest boom or a population departed to celebrate Memorial Day.

Miami Beach more than makes up for it. It is even more lively then during our last visit 10 years ago. Since I first experienced Art Deco through tableware, Miami Beach will always look to me like an oversized tea set. We somehow miss our chance to park reasonably and spend an hour in a gigantic traffic jam on the Ocean Drive. When we do find a parking spot it turns out that trying to walk is not much easier than trying to drive.

Throngs of scantily dressed black teenagers celebrating the end of Urban Beach Week make the old art deco Ocean Drive alive and hip. Restaurants' outdoor seating is set up on both sides of the walkway, perfect people watching. We sip our drinks and slowly get pulled into a never ending party mood.

tips on poles

When you, through carelessness or sheer bad luck, meet a Pole, you need to consider carefully what you are going to say. Poles are basically harmless when treated properly, but amateurishly initiated conversation may lead to a Pole become upset and verbally abusive, or even worse - become your friend forever condemning you to be on guard when talking to them. Here's a short list of things you should never say to a Polish person.

spaniards

We start hearing Spanish. It's Florida. It's also St. Augustine, the oldest European settlement on land that is now continental US. The settlers happened to be Spanish and promptly built a Spanish city. Which Americans turned into cheesy attraction some 400 year later, after a brief stint as a Spanish-inspired winter resort for the wealthy. Before that the city changed hands couple of times passing from Spanish to British, then back to Spanish and finally to American hands. This is a serious history that can impress even old Europe. And it seems pretty normal to us. Cities that were not conquered, burned and rebuilt at least couple of times still feel a bit fake.