I Won a Weekend Girls’ Trip to Miami!

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Hello all! I am back from Miami. Due to the unbelievably cold weather in Miami, I am not sporting much of a sunkissed glow (it rained, it was cloudy, it was horrifically windy, and it was never over 70 degrees or so), but my sister and I had fun on our weekend girls' trip to Miami!

Winning a Weekend Girls' Trip to Miami

For those who don't know, I won a trip from Budget Travel magazine. The contest was to share a travel tradition. I shared that my sister and I take pictures of our feet on our vacations: flip flops to the beach, hiking boots on a camping trip, dressy shoes for a girls' getaway. And I won!

I have been to Florida many times, but not to Miami. As the reason I won the contest involved my sister and our vacation traditions, I took her as my guest. We also planned it so that this trip fell on her birthday weekend!

Traveling from D.C. to Miami

a black rolling suitcase next to a tan and red totebag from HARDWARE Handbags

Saturday morning, I took the Metro to Regan airport. I took a black pullman to check, and my HARDWARE Handbags and purse for carry-on.

I wore my black merino crewneck, orange crinkled scarf/shawl from Banana Republic, my dark denim skirt from Gap, my tan “bern” boots from Duo, silver cuff. Hair was washed and conditioned but left to air dry except for the bangs.

Makeup was simple – L'Oreal True Match concealer in W1-3, Cargo Matte BeachBlush in Tenerife, Revlon Shiny Sheers in Sheer Cocoa Glaze and Cover Girl Lash Blast in Black on curled lashes.

Arriving in Miami

Debbie Ashpes and Alison Gary in Miami

We arrived at the hotel (located in Bal Harbour) around 3pm, got ourselves settled and switched into bathing suits and semi-streetwear to investigate the pool and beach. I wore my aqua halter-neck one-piece from J. Crew, my dark denim skirt and a jade green scoop tee from Gap with black flops from J. Crew.

We walked to the beach, but it was so late in the day the highrises were blocking most of the sun. We dipped our feet in the Atlantic, and then spent a bit at the pool deck near the bar just people watching.

First Night in Miami

Included in the vacation prize was dinner at a restaurant in Bal Harbour Shops, and then VIP treatment at a nightclub in Miami. Note to all… if you think it's a late night it's not late enough for Miami. Wait two hours, and then get there.

Alison Gary with wavy dark brown hair and smoky eye makeup getting ready for a night out in MIami

I decided to wear my hair wavy, but the water in Miami was different from at home, and I forgot my shampoo and used the hotel one, so my hair was very limp. I curled almost the whole thing, doing some backcombing and creative techniques to make it decent.

Woman wearing a gold and olive graphic print silk shift dress

I wore my gold and olive silk dress with pockets from Banana Republic (but purchased for far less on eBay), black Croco peep toes from BCBGirls, a long gold necklace from Express, gold bangles from Ralph Lauren, and gold hoops.

Makeup was Smashbox Photo Finish primer, L'Oreal True Match concealer in W1-3, philosophy The Supernatural in Beige, Cargo Matte BeachBlush in Tenerife, Body Shop eyecolor in Slate over lid and the black shade from the Pop Beauty for Brown Eyes set in crease and along lash lines. Lashes curled, two coats of Cover Girl Lash Blast in black with two coats of Imju Fiberwig over it. Bit of Sephora eye pencil in grey along lash lines. On lips was Revlon Super Lustrous Lip Gloss in Glossy Rose.

Dinner at Bal Harbour Shops

We walked across the street from our hotel to the Bal Harbour Shops where the restaurant was located. We had a nice meal, did a lot of people watching and had a lovely bottle of champagne.

VIP Treatment at a Night Club

After dinner, we caught a cab down to the nightclub which was closer to South Beach. We had VIP seating, which meant we had a seat in the center of the club where there was a section of white vinyl couches. They brought us a bottle of champagne and strawberries and again we had an awesome time people watching, and then dancing a bit. We're not used to partying until 6am, so we headed out around 2:00.

Day 2 in Miami

The next morning, it was raining, the wind was INSANE, and it was the actual day of my sister's birthday, so we ordered Room Service for breakfast. We sat in front of the balcony overlooking the ocean, ate yummy food (felt very Sex in the City… you ladies know which episode) and watched that TLC reality show about Miss America.

The rain let up and we had some mandatory shopping to do so we got dressed. I didn't do my hair from the night before because it was acting so strange; I just brushed out any tangles.

Woman in a black sweater knee length dress and tan knee high boots

As for outfit, my trusty black merino shift from Banana Republic, my tan “Bern” boots from Duo, silver hoops and cuff bracelet.

Alison Gary in 2008 visiting Miami with dark brown wavy hair and pink blush

Makeup was L'Oreal True Match concealer in W1-3, philosophy The Supernatural in Beige, Cargo Matte BeachBlush in Tenerife, Revlon ColorStay shadow quad in Neutral Khakis – ivory in inner corners, khaki on lid, chocolate in crease and along lash lines. Lashes curled and two coats of Cover Girl Lash Blast in black. On lips was Revlon Shiny Sheers in Sheer Cocoa Glaze.

Visiting Bal Harbour Shops in Miami

Another part of the vacation prize was a $500 gift certificate to spend at Bal Harbour Shops. I love to shop, but this was actually quite difficult to spend.

The mall was ridiculous; honestly, I had a hard time spending the gift card. We first went to Tiffany because my sister received a gift she wanted to exchange. She got a gorgeous enamel necklace and I used some of the gift card to cover the difference. We then walked the two flights seeing it more like a museum than an actual shopping mall. Chanel, Versace, Dior, Oscar, Fendi, Hermes, Prada… the gift card could maybe buy me a keychain in these places…

They had a Banana Republic and ya'll KNOW how much I love that store! I thought wow, for almost $500 I could totally buy everything I hearted in the place, or maybe a new purse! Notsomuch; the store was kinda messy, very few items in my size and a lot of the new clothing looks prettier on the hanger than on my bod. I ended up leaving with a $9 clearance sweater and an $18 black cami. I know, boring.

I decided my best bet was either a sale purse (because these stores had purses around $1,500, not $500) or sunglasses and then spend the rest on cosmetics. I tried on sunglasses in every boutique and all looked stupid. This is probably why in the past five years the only sunglasses I have worn are crappy cheap ones from the kiosk in the mall or Target – sunglasses are usually too big, too small, or too rounded for my large and not round head.

Until Celine.

We went into Celine and I tried on THE SUNGLASSES. Not super flashy with logos, not overly trendy and obviously passe by next summer, not too round, too big, too small, too manly, too girly, too trendy. Just right. To add to it, the salesperson was one of the first who treated us nicely, and not like street urchins. I bought them!

Getting Massages in Miami

We had shopped until we almost dropped so we headed out to our next destination – massages! My sister's friends bought her a gift certificate to a day spa near our hotel for her birthday gift and so I asked my mom if my birthday gift could be a gift certificate towards the price of a massage so we could get them at the same time. The spa didn't look too impressive, but my sister and I agree we received some of the best massages ever.

Second Night in Miami

After our massages, the weather had gotten far colder. We caught a cab back to our hotel and changed for dinner.

woman in a black sweater, jeans, tall tan boots, and a long orange fringed silk scarf around her throat

\Black cami from Banana Republic, black merino crewneck from Banana Republic, dark “The Flirt” bootcut jeans from Old Navy tucked into my tan “Bern” boots from Duo, orange silk crinkle scarf from Banana Republic, hair held back with my new Celine sunglasses.

Alison Gary with her dark brown hair pulled back with black sunglasses, an orange crinkle silk scarf looped around her neck

Makeup was the same except for touchups, hair the same (and now kinda greasy from the massage).

Dinner in Surfside Miami

We walked to Surfside and ate at an adorable sushi place that was full of friendly staff, happy locals and good food at a good price. We shared a variety of sushi and sashima and each had a nice glass of Pinot Noir to warm us up. After, we ran across the street to CVS for bottled water at non-hotel prices and were psyched to see they sold champagne there! We grabbed a bottle of Freixenet and headed back to the hotel.

The wind was INSANE at this point and we often walked backwards so we didn't get sand in our eyes. Once back, we each settled in our beds (the beds at the hotel were sooo comfy!) with glasses of bubbly and watched Extreme Home Makeover. Glamorous, no? Didn't matter, we had a great time, gabbed and giggled.

Last Day in Miami

Monday we got up and were both sore from the massages so did a bit of yoga and then got ready for our day. It was still rainy and windy so we couldn't go to the beach. Anyway, I still had money to spend on the gift card so we had to return to the mall.

Alison Gary wearing smoky gray eyeshadow and an orange crinkle silk scarf looped around her neck

I had showered the night before and let my hair air dry. As for makeup, it was exactly the same as the day prior.

woman in an olive green linen shift over jeans and tall brown boots, an orange crinkle silk scarf looped around her neck

For clothing, I wore my olive linen shift from Old Navy, my Duo boots, my orange crinkle scarf, silver cuff and hoops.

Then I went out on the balcony.




The wind was INSANE! I decided to put my Old Navy jeans on under the dress and boots so if my skirt flew up in the wind, I would be covered. This was also a good idea as that this is what I would be wearing on my flight home and it was about 20 degrees back in DC.

I decided to spend the bulk of the rest on a perfume. I have been wearing Burberry London for a very long time and love it, but was ready for a change. I already know what I wanted – Narciso Rodriguez for Her. I had received a sample at Sephora and had been coveting it ever since. We went to Saks and bought it up. We them went to a cafe for late breakfast/early lunch. I decided to sport my new sunglasses perrched on top of my head.

Sitting at the table (it is in a sheltered outdoor part of the mall) I felt something fall on then off my head. I look down and see a piece of metal. Pick it up and it says, “Celine.” It was part of my sunglasses! I grab the pair and realize the plastic part was cracked and the metal fell off and couldn't be reattached. What the heck!?!? Glad that this happened while still in Miami, we headed back to the store after lunch.

OMG, I am so glad this happened in Miami and not back home. The DRAMA it took to exchange out these darn sunglasses for a replacement pair (and can I say the saleswoman remembered me from the previous day as well?) was horrific and left the worst taste in my and my sister's mouths. I have worked retail and KNOW that it didn't have to be so difficult.

This plus drama I didn't even mention the day prior when trying to use the gift card in their store… I won't go into details, just letting you know I have received better service at Express, at Forever 21, at H&M and even The Gap in the same mall on the same day than I did at Celine and someone at their corporate office will receive my complaint, whether or not it will do any good.

Last Drink in Miami

So after what felt more like work than play at Bal Harbour Shops, we walked back to the hotel to have a pre-flight cocktail and then catch a cab to the airport. No time for the drinky-poo which was probably good because we were both grumpy and tired by this point.

Flying Home to D.C. from Miami

We got to the airport, which is one of the most confusing and smelly airports I have visited; checked our luggage and headed to our gate where there weren't enough seats so we ended up sitting on the floor in a busy thoroughfare.

Alison Gary and Debbie Ashpes looking sad while wearing sunglasses in the Miami Airport

Oh, and it was like 80 degrees and humid in the airport and smelled like manure. This picture sums up our feelings by this point, and also shows off my new sunglasses and my sister's new Tiffany necklace.

Finally Home!

Got home (yay!) to find out they lost my luggage (boo!) but they found it this morning (pending yay; haven't seen its condition yet… to be delivered to my house and I'll check it out this evening). Looking forward to the luggage coming back – thinking about it on the Metro home I wasn't tooo sad because really everything is replaceable or expendable that was in there except my black merino shift from Banana Republic – I do love that thing.

And I wanted to wear my new perfume and give my husband the shirt I bought him. Also made getting ready today SUCK because in the suitcase was almost all my makeup, my shoes, my curling iron, both my brushes, my Jonathan Silky Dirt, my best nude bra, my deodorant, my toothbrush… I could go on but you get the idea!

A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. I had to live through the lost luggage drama twice, I so hear you!
    Which Narciso did you get? Pink bottle or black? They smell totally different. I sprayed my wrists in the shop and walked around for hours and then picked the pink bottle in a black box.

    Even though weather was bad and you had an experience at Celine – your weekend sounds great. It’s like a long girls night out and you looked great!

  2. Yikes, sounds like a crazy weekend. Too bad you ran into bad weather and bad service … hopefully though the Narciso Rodriguez makes up for it! It’s an amazing scent, I’m dying for a bottle!

    I’ve been a frequent reader for a while now … love your blog!

  3. omg, I have been wanting Narciso Rodriguez for Her, too – ever since I got it from Sephora… it smells SOO good!! What a very clever marketing tactic.

    Sounds like you had a hectic trip with all the bad service and luggage/airport drama. But at least you looked great and had good company! 🙂

  4. Ditto thickchick – so many things conspired against you but it sounds like you and your sister had a lovely sisterly time in between the disasters!

    Love the gold BR dress with circles – looks tres glam on you.

    I FEEL your pain about lost luggage… specifically, lost makeup! My worst nightmare is losing my makeup bag. (OK, not actually my worst nightmare, but close!)

  5. Hmmm… doesn’t necessarily sound like the greatest weekend getaway ever (bad weather, terrible service, lost luggage, etc.) but at least you made some fun memories with your sister AND… it was free!

    BTW – the combo of olive and orange looks LOVELY on you! I think our skintones are similar and can’t wait to put something similar together.

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