As I wrote last week, I traveled to Delray Beach, Florida, to attend the AWAI Fast Track to Copywriting Success (Bootcamp). This is my fourth time to this sun-filled, palm-shaded shimmering town along the sub-tropic Atlantic. And if it weren’t for the heavy-drape humidity that pervades the air 85% of the year and the noseeums, alligators and various assortment of other biting creatures crawling and buzzing everywhere I’d probably consider living here.
But I’m perfectly content with visiting every late October, provided there are no category 5 hurricanes barreling up from the Caribbean. Hurricane Sandy just skirted the coast last year, causing some strong winds and constant rain, but it never really made landfall until later that week, as we all know too well.
RAS flew down two days after I did. So I had a little time to myself for the conference and reconnecting with friends and learning plenty about copywriting and marketing.
Before all of that happened, I endured a very late-night odyssey that took me from the Ft. Lauderdale airport to its central beach area and left me wandering around the streets, until I finally somehow found a place to stay at the Holiday Inn Express. By the way, if you ever need to stay here, DO NOT book at the TropiRock, especially if you have late arrival! You’ve gotten fair warning.
Luckily, the unpleasantness of that first night blew away with the sea breezes. After the positive brain-cramming experience of Bootcamp and its associated job fair, networking, eating, drinking and other merriment, RAS and I headed to the beach (the only time I went there in four days):
I was so drained from the conference, I simply lay on my beach blanket and snoozed instantly. But before I did, I managed to snap a few images:
After a while, I headed back to the hotel, the oceanfront Delray Beach Marriott, which is where Bootcamp was also held. I was hungry for a dinner out.
And we had to take advantage of our sweet ride, a Volvo convertible – an unexpected upgrade from the rental company:
Ever since last year, I’ve been on a Cuban restaurant quest in South Florida. We didn’t manage to find one in our soujourn to Miami after last year’s Bootcamp, because we got too wasted on our 2-for-1 fishbowl-sized mojitos in South Beach and didn’t feel like eating afterwards. Given our state of mind, we probably would’ve been kicked out of any restaurant except McDonald’s or Denny’s. When we were heading to Europe this summer and had the two-hour layover at the Miami airport, we spent too much time getting our trans-Atlantic flight boarding passes and settled for the Burger King near the departure gate, rather than the in-terminal satellite of a Calle Ocho institution, Versailles. Grrr…
As wonderful as Delray is, 90% of its restaurants run on the pricey side. There was one Cuban restaurant in town, but it fell into that category – unfortunate for me, because RAS practices his frugality whenever he has the chance. So…we headed northward to nearby Lake Worth, with its similarly central downtown and a restaurant that was featured in Food Network’s “Diners, Drivers and Dives“, called Havana Hideout Hey, if it was good enough for Guy Fieri, it definitely was good enough for me.
Set on a sandy mini-beach right in the heart of downtown, Havana Hideout has an uber-casual vibe. So much, the kitchen is actually an elongated food truck, and drinks are served from an adjacent open bar.
While not purely Cuban, despite its name, the restaurant offered plenty of Caribbean/Mexican-influenced dishes. I ordered the empanada trio, RAS got the Guy Platter (everything that Fieri tried on the show: the Cuban sandwich, the grilled fish taco and pionono, a Puerto Rican take on picadillo, a heavenly sweet-savory ground beef mixture). Everything was over-the-top tasty!
We then returned to Delray and managed to catch some of the nightlife, courtesy of the convertible and some high-speed ISO in my Canon 60D (my apologies for the blurry quality):
See you next year, Delray!