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Gawking At Rich People's Houses


On Sunday, we went to downtown Miami, to Bayside Marketplace. I had taken another mystery shop up there and another nearby, so we all went and had some fun at the open-air market.


As with the first time we had gone, back in April, there was a salsa band playing lively music in the bandstand area. I can do a little merengue, but I can't salsa, so although my hips wanted to wiggle and shake as we walked past the band, I kept it all in my head. Others danced, though, and I enjoyed watching them!


I had gotten a Groupon for the five of us to take a boat tour around the bay, so Rob and Chloë went in search of the tour company while Jack, Sophie and I looked out at the water and the nearby ferries and other boats.


You can see the iconic flukes of a Carnival cruise ship there in the distance. Bayside is near the Port of Miami, from which the cruises set sail. I've sailed out of there twice on Carnival myself! When we saw these flukes, Jack started asking when we were going to take another cruise. Um, no plans, son...


Jack loves to look at any kind of vessel, whether it travels on land, by sea or in the air. Meanwhile, Sophia's hair is getting so long!


I was dying of thirst, but the only place I could find in the immediate vicinity of the bandstand was the "let's make a daiquiri" bar. So, okay, I got a virgin daiquiri for the kids to share, and a piña colada for Rob and myself to enjoy. So good. I love a piña colada when it's made correctly!


When Rob and Chloë returned, we went down to the Island Carousel to ride the horses. Chloë's using my older camera now that my Nikon DSLR has been replaced (the original was stolen from inside our house in Portsmouth, Virginia, much to my long-term dismay!), but I had to coax and cajole her into using it to take pictures. She seemed to think it was just a neck decoration. That, or it was just too complicated for her to figure out...


The Carousel, which was the original purpose of our visit there, was beautiful. There was one we frequented in Virginia Beach as well, so it was pretty interesting that we found one here, too. Always a fun time.


Jack didn't want a punching balloon, but the girls each got one. They're not that good at it, but as I posted on Facebook, I personally ROCK the punching balloon. If this were the Funger Games, I said, the punching balloon would be my weapon of choice. (I'm a wee bit Hunger Games obsessed at the moment!)


Chloë's hair is growing in nicely, and now at 12, she looks just like she did for her three-year-old portraits. It's the same length, and her face and smile are exactly the same. Every time she poses for me, I remember those pictures from nine years ago!


I keep looking at Rob now and thinking how unrecognizable he is compared to when he left the Navy back in March. He's a completely different man, between growing out his hair and beard and the extra weight from his brain tumor steroids. People keep saying how "healthy" he looks, which blows my mind a little bit as it's not a healthy weight gain, and he's super uncomfortable and in tons of pain. He walks with a cane! Not exactly healthy... but managing all right just the same.


We stopped and had a bite of pizza before boarding our tour cruise around the bay. When this crow landed nearby, the kids were exclaiming about it, and I saw it as an opportunity to fiddle with the new camera. This one was my favorite picture of said bird.


Finally, we headed over to the Miami Aqua Tours booth to redeem our Groupon and board the Island Princess. What surprised me the most about this ride was that the kids were so fearful and trembling at the beginning. They were scared of the boat and plank moving during boarding, and they were scared of sitting near the window. These are our kids?! By the time the ride ended some 90 minutes later, though, even Jack had to admit that it was worth the trip and he was glad we went!


I'm pretty sure this is the casino boat to the Bahamas that I keep hearing advertised on the radio. The fares are incredibly cheap, so maybe I'll take Rob sometime. Neither of us cares a lick about gambling, which is great, so we could just enjoy the ride and the views. We don't have a babysitter for the kiddos yet, though, so that's a back-burner plan for the time being.


Here comes that Carnival cruise, setting sail for points south of Miami. I thought they usually departed on Saturdays, but apparently I was mistaken. Bon voyage!


It was a grey, overcast day, but the harbor still looked beautiful full of boats and gentle waves as we started our tour.


Oops! It took me several tries to get the setting right so that I was taking pictures of the houses of the Rich and Famous, instead of my fellow passengers' heads and cameras. I'll have to skip ahead a few pictures so you don't have ten more of the same... which is fine, since I can scarcely remember who owns these first few houses and most of the rest anyway.


Bye-bye, Miami skyline!


I do remember this house with the large windows was owned by George Clooney. I'm sure there is much more than meets the eye, as these houses are on exclusive man-made isles, like Fisher Island, which can only be reached by boat.


I'm going to post more of the houses in case any of you out there are gawkers like me. I'm not generally in awe of stars and their riches, but I do appreciate gorgeous homes with the best of 'em!


I think our tour guide said this yellow one is owned by Will Smith. Or Hulk Hogan. I can't remember. Ugh. I tried committing them all to memory using mnemonic devices, but apparently they're failing me now. So much for that.


I think this is owned by Marc Anthony, the singer and former husband of Jennifer Lopez.


It's not really my fault I'm having trouble remembering, you know. Our tour guide spoke VERY fast in both English and Spanish to describe the back-to-back-to-back homes, and he kept passing the microphone back and forth to a Chinese man who was translating the tour into his own language for his large party. I could understand the tour guide better in Spanish than in English, which is not unusual for me since the accents are sometimes so strong, the English words make no sense to my ears.


Simply put, I adore the architecture of these expensive Miami homes, but I find most South Florida architecture appealing to my sensibilities. I just love everything about this place!


Argh. I can't remember the name, but I do recall the guide saying that the property here extended vastly beyond what you can see from water's edge. You can see a peek of it there on the left.


Anything looks good when surrounded by palm trees, in my opinion.


The beautiful Miami sunset


The Carnival ship, making its way out of the bay


There's nothing special about this dinghy; I just wanted to play with the camera and make a more artsy photo. I think it turned out well - do you?


Just... beautiful.


Like I said, I don't covet their wealth, but this sleek silver yacht certainly grabbed my attention!


Sophia and Jack, sitting on either side of me, kept jabbering in my ear while I was trying to listen intently to the tour guide's spiel. I wanted to get my money's worth, after all, so I had my camera lens trained on the celebs' houses the whole time. Except for this, when Sophia insisted I look at her, MOM!


I'm going to stop posting pictures of houses now that I can't remember a single one other than the Clooney property, but if you'd like to see the rest of the photos, please do let me know in the comments. I'm going to turn off the spam filters after posting this, since I'm getting hardly any comments anymore. People just hate the captchas!


As we re-approached the dock, the sun had gone down and the lights were ablaze across the skyline. Too bad it was raining; this could have been a lovely shot.


We were heading back to the parking garage after disembarking from our tour when I spied the Haagen-Dazs shop. Well, come on. Ice cream is ice cream, but Haagen-Dazs? Yes, please!


The kids each ordered a waffle cone, and I decided to go for the fat-free, sugar-free froyo twist. Rob didn't order anything, which was smart, because he knew he'd end up eating someone's ice cream. He was right.


Chloë and Sophia managed to eat their cones, but two bites into his and Jack was finished. Enter Rob. (Literally!) It wasn't that huge of a surprise moments later when Jack complained of an upset tummy, but he ended up moaning and crying all the way home - a long trip - and going straight to bed. Rob thought he'd eaten too much junk during the day, but I don't know; he seemed more in pain than nauseous. Regardless, he woke up just fine the next morning, which was a huge relief to his mama.


And that was our Sunday. How's your week going?