My passion for travel has led me to more than a fifth of the world’s countries (so far), including destinations as diverse and distant as Yemen, Lombok, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Hawaii, Ecuador and Barrow, Alaska, the snowbound northernmost town in the United States.
Since moving to Florida in 2002, after almost 10 years as a staff journalist with The Daily Telegraph of London, I have experienced direct or near hits from six hurricanes and numerous tropical storms, but I solemnly believe that being able to wear tee-shirts and shorts during warm and sunny January afternoons more than makes up for it.
I have been a journalist for more than 25 years, including almost a decade as a freelance in Miami. My articles have been published in numerous publications worldwide, including The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, The Daily Mail, The Observer and The Scotsman of the UK, the Christian Science Monitor and the South China Morning Post.
Married to a fellow journalist, I have two boys aged three and one, who were both born in the United States and whom I intend to show as much of the world to as possible while I'm still fit enough to take them!
Where I always grab a coffee: Open 24 hours, David's Cafe and Cuban diner (1058 Collins Avenue) boasts the best cafe con leche on South Beach and will satisfy the cravings of the neediest caffeine junkie. www.davidscafe.com
My favourite dining spot: Blue Door Fish at the Delano (1685 Collins Avenue). Yes it's pricey. Yes it's worth it, as the hotel restaurant's long, long list of awards will testify. The seafood is some of the best you'll find anywhere in Miami. http://www.delano-hotel.com/en-us/#/explore/?id=/delano-miami-blue-door-...
Best place for people watching: Any outside table at the News Cafe, (800 Ocean Drive) right opposite the ocean, affords a perfect vantage point for the comings and goings of South Beach. An added bonus is that you can read about how cold the weather is back home from a vast selection of international newspapers for sale in the newsstand. www.newscafe.com
Where to be seen: If you can get yourself past the velvet ropes, Liv at the Fontainebleau Hotel (4441 Collins Avenue). It's Miami Beach's hottest and most popular celebrity nightclub/hangout. The clientele is beautiful, everyone has sparkly teeth and the dress code is, for want of a better description, stern. www.livnightclub.com
Most breathtaking view: Any number of rooftop bars and lounges offer similarly amazing views of South Beach, the Atlantic Ocean and/or the city lights, but one of the very best is from a the 33-metre pool atop the Gansevoort Hotel (2377 Collins Avenue), 18 storeys from street level. www.gansevoortmiamibeach.com/rooftop/ But for free, other than the cost of parking, there are few better views of downtown than from South Pointe Park (1 Washington Avenue) http://web.miamibeachfl.gov/parksandrecreation/scroll.aspx?id=57993
My favourite stroll: A slow wander around the Art Deco district to savour the the classic 1920s and 1930s architecture that typifies South Beach. Guided walks are popular but I always find it more enjoyable to amble at my own pace. The Welcome Centre of the Miami Design Preservation League (1001 Ocean Drive) is a good place to start. www.mdpl.com
The best spot for peace and quiet: Bayfront Park (301 Biscayne Bvd), a small slice of greenery adjacent to downtown, and with none of the hustle and bustle of South Beach. http://www.bayfrontparkmiami.com/
Where I'd go on a date: A romantic cruise ogling "millionaire's row", the opulent houses of the rich, famous and powerful, from the water. Big-spenders splash out for private charter yachts, but for the rest of us there's the Island Queen at Bayside Marketplace (401 Biscayne Bvd) www.islandqueencruises.com
A question of sport: With the fortunes of American Football's Miami Dolphins currently in the toilet, the only show in town is the Miami Heat's chase for the national basketball crown, featuring three of the biggest stars in the game: LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. Tickets for the current play-off series against the Boston Celtics (home games are at the American Airlines Arena, 601 Biscayne Bvd) are scarce but not impossible to come by. www.nba.com/heat
Don't leave without: ...striking up a good friendship with your hotel concierge. Often underestimated, these are the gentlemen (and ladies) who can you a secure you that table at a swanky sold-out restaurant and know how to get you past the queues and the bouncers into the most exclusive nightclubs.
My expert information
Culturally and racially diverse, Miami is the most vibrant and trendy city in the United States, for me at least. Once a sleepy seaside retreat for retired folks, then a popular, sun-filled winter playground for America’s wealthy and famous, the modern-day Miami has it all: amazing year-round weather; the timeless Art Deco architecture of South Beach; dozens of wonderful restaurants showcasing fine fare from all around the globe; a world-famous beach packed with beautiful people, and scores of lively nightclubs.Read more...