The Road to San Sebastián – Part 1: Miami Layover
A sixteen-hour layover is a blessing in disguise.


Time, which usually went by fairly slowly when traveling, seemed to tick by faster and faster each second. In comparison to the car, which rolled about a mile an hour, and a mile is what separated me from the sliding doors to Terminal B. The flight lo LAX had started boarding at 7:10, and it wasn’t until 7:22 that I made it through security. I avoid running in airports at all costs, mostly because: A. I hate running and B. My t-shirts tend to ride up on my stomach, which I also hate. In what might have been the fastest dash of my life, and the loudest SHIIIIT I have ever dared to exclaim in public, I made it to B26 at 7:30, gate promptly closing behind me.

That was me a few days ago, picking up the last piece of the puzzle in Los Angeles. My visa is now nestled in the front pocket of my backpack, next to some cinnamon bubble gum and a few cables. My one (if you can believe it) suitcase is in the trunk, heading to Denver International Airport.

We drove by Blucifer, looking as evil as always. Why anyone thought a blue horse with red glowing eyes was a good idea for an airport sculpture is beyond me, and if you want to dive down that rabbit hole, there are quite a few stories regarding DEN that can keep you entertained for days.

Goodbyes and hugs were exchanged, and I kept myself from turning around. I don’t think I’d have the strength to. 

Between the still raging pandemic and the fact that it’s almost midnight, the airport is eerily empty.

The only thing open this late is McDonald’s. I grab a 20-piece McNugget + fries meal, scarf half of them down faster than you can say “Group 3: Now Boarding” and stash the rest for later.

The flight to Miami is uneventful. It’s 6:30 but internally it’s still time for me to be not-awake. Maybe progressively getting closer to the Madrid time zone will make it less harsh? Nothing is open at the airport anyway, so I settle into a hard plastic chair and plug my phone in. Fun way to start my sixteen (yes, as in one six) hour layover in Miami. 

At 8:00 I drop off my luggage at Storage, whose regular, non-COVID hours are 5:00 to 21:00. They are located at Central Terminal E on Level 2, just a few feet past the Miami Airport Hotel, and only a couple hundred more feet from the Air Europa counter where I’ll be dropping off my bags later.

Severe lack of sleep has me desperate for coffee, something I never drink. But Versailles Cuban Bakery has caught my eye, and although I could have probably checked out the Airport location, I had more than enough time to venture out to the original location.

Afterwards, an Uber drops me off on a small cul de sac behind a hotel on Mid-Beach. The air smells of saltwater and cotton sheets. A few steps in front of me is the Miami Beach Boardwalk, which runs all the way from North Beach to South Beach. There are also a few showers and a map.

I decide to dip my toes in the salty water for a quick second. 

As much as I’ve never liked the beach much, the feeling of the soft sand beneath my feet while the waves splash at my ankles is exactly what I needed right now. I’m not thinking about anything at all, I don’t feel rushed, I just feel free.

The Miami Beach lifeguard towers are bright, colorful, hard to miss; more than 10 different structures dotting the pale sand at intervals of about 2 streets between each one.

On my way to the Botanical Garden, I came across the South Beach welcome sign and the adjacent lawn which featured this colorful sculpture, reminiscent of Ugo Rondinone’s Seven Magic Mountains in Nevada.

A quick stop at the Lincoln Road Mall for raspberry sorbet and a bottle of water, hiding from the midday sun inside a Häagen-Dazs shop.

The Miami Beach Post-Office, built in Art Moderne style.

I was trying to make it all the way to the South Pointe Park Pier, but (accurately) calculated that I wouldn’t have time to. The 5th St lifeguard tower is where I turn around.

After making my way back through the Art Deco Historic District, I stopped at Gianni’s Restaurant at the former Versace Mansion for lunch. It’s the very last thing on my list, mostly because of my crippling fear of missing flights.

Several blocks later, I find the stop for the bus that’ll take me straight to the airport. Or at least I thought it was my stop, until I saw my bus leaving the opposite corner. Another fifteen minutes, then. But hey, it’s free! Kudos to Miami Beach for that service.

The bus dropped me off at the Miami International Transit Center, which is very well connected. Having been to quite a few airports that could only be accessed by a bus that runs every two hours, this is a nice change. 

One more form of transportation added to the increasingly long list of connections and timed movements this trip has required: the terminal train.

The moving walkway slowly drags my tired feet away from the warm, golden day spent in Miami.

After retrieving my single suitcase from storage and dropping it off at the counter (how I managed to move across the planet with a single suitcase is still beyond me), I found my gate and settled in.


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Based mainly in Colorado. Loves cheese, rain, and starry nights. Can usually be spotted in the wild wearing a Spirit Jersey and balancing two cameras. Often laughs and cries at the same time. Barely survived one Master's program, but wants to do another.

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