Sunday, April 17, 2016
Highway to Bliss
I arrived in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea with a friend who drove me 50 miles from Palmetto Bay to this seaside village. The journey is worth noting because it involved local Miami traffic and a trek up I-95. This time, the highway from hell led me to this magical place. It’s not quite as dramatic as crossing the 7-mile bridge in the Florida Keys, but the feeling is similar. “I’m here,” I thought. “I can breathe now. I’ve really left it all behind.”
That morning, this jaded Miamian and her luggage were schlepped up to the lovely one-bedroom apartment at the Driftwood Beach Club. Before I even unpacked my bags, my stomach began to growl. I had spied a LaSpada’s Original Hoagies on the way down Commercial Boulevard and craved one of those fresh, mouth-watering sandwiches. Not being owned by a car is a benefit in In Lauderdale-by-the-Sea; just about everything I needed was within walking distance. If I were to feel particularly lazy, I could always take the village’s free trolley, the Pelican Hopper.
The sandwich shop staff was eager to accommodate my vegetarian variation on their Italian classic. LaSpada’s slogan is “best damn hoagies in town,” but I would add “it’s always a sandwich with a smile,” which is one reason why they’re so yummy. (I would see this Lauderdale-by-the-Sea smile many times during my stay.) With hoagie in tow, I walked back to the Driftwood Beach Club and across the street toward the beach for a little private picnic on the sand.
Are we there yet?
The Driftwood Beach Club is located one block from the beach; a small linear park shaded by palm trees leads to the sea. On the way, a marble bench engraved with the words “Love… and the Beach” beckons lovers to sit. What’s not to love? The natural beauty of the dunes, the sea and an uncrowded beach impressed me, no doubt.
But just as impressive was the apparent respect this village has for its natural surroundings. A recycling bin and an educational sign about turtle nesting were in my line of sight on the way to the shore. I was hard pressed to find a cigarette butt in the sand. I truly savored that sandwich on this beach, bite by bite. I took my time to chew each bite.
Time. What a commodity.
Driftwood Beach Club was comfortable and its guests were friendly. A regular from Massachusetts was working the front desk just because; the Driftwood is her home away from home. A family, pregnant last year, had returned with newborn baby and grandparents. They were barbecuing by the pool situated in a courtyard. People here know each other. They celebrate together. They even eat together at weekly “Wine Wednesday” pot luck dinners. It was calm. Just calm. No loud music. No attitude. No fussing. No hassle. Everyone just being.
Later that day, however, the wind really picked up, blowing quite a few knots. At dusk, I sat by myself under one of Driftwood’s small tiki huts by the dunes and just took it all in. It was here I really started to decompress from Miami.
“I’ve arrived,” I thought. “Finally.”
The name of the place resonated with me: Driftwood. Was I drifting? Had I been drifting and ended up on these shores? I started to feel a strong pull to the sea. I hadn’t heard her in a long time. She was seducing me in this little spot at the Driftwood Beach Club, me this drifter. I was happily alone, romancing the sea.
I went back to my room at the Driftwood to get ready for the evening. I chilled some wine in the fridge of the suite’s kitchen and lounged on the sofa in the casual chic living room, enjoying the beach-inspired calm.
That night I slumbered peacefully in the arms of my beau, loving my first night on Romance Row.
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Disclosure: this travel experience was supported by The Lodging Association of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. All opinions my own.