Tuesday morning I drove down to Seatrade for the first time in a few years. The parking lot of the Miami Beach Convention Center was full, so I drove over to the public garage on 17th Street, which was also full. What sort of Convention Center doesn't have enough parking for its attendees? I found a spot in the New World Center garage and, riding in the elevator, talked to man who works in the growing field of industrial laundry for cruise lines.
The exhibit area looked much as I remembered it, with the big shipbuilding countries - Germany and Italy - displaying models of coming ships and demonstrating, in the age of the megaship, that vessels look much better in miniature. A steel drum band played in the Caribbean area and a Turk in fanciful dress strummed an ud. At four o'clock Irish dancing erupted in front of the Cruise Ireland booth while a young woman poured glasses of ginger ale and whiskey. (It was St. Patrick's Day.)
In the evening I headed down to Joe's Stone Crab for a dinner hosted by Carnival. I hadn't been to Joe's since the early '90s - when my father treated - and I was struck by what a beautifully classic restaurant it is: dark wood walls, tile floors, imperious waiters. The stone crabs were better than the ones we buy from the back of pick-ups, the hash browns were like delicious mashed potatoes with a crust, the the Key lime pie was sweet-and-tart goodness on a plate.
Someone mentioned that the next three Seatrades will be in Fort Lauderdale while Miami Beach builds a new convention center. (I hope they include a parking garage.) I suspect there will be a lot of attendees walking Las Olas and dreaming of Lincoln Road.
Last night I switched briefly from the Viktoria Azarenka-Maria Sharapova match - two young women on a court hitting a ball back and forth - and landed upon the women's division of the Ultimate Fighting Championship - two young women in a cage punching and kicking one another. Guess which competitors made the most noise?