Photo by Mickie Centrone
I'm at Las Olas Riverfront, picking up my drink card for the Fort Lauderdale Bus Loop, a charity-driven pub crawl that takes you around town via trolley. There's nine possible stops on the drinking card for restaurant and bars from downtown Fort Lauderdale to Beach Place. The crawl runs from 6 to 11 p.m., but the trolleys hang around till midnight -- maybe for people like me who start late and drink late.
8:47 p.m.: Check-in at Riverfront. We get our drink card. Next trolley expected in 20 minutes.
8:56 p.m.: On foot, we head to Art Bar. It's empty. Grab whiskey and coke. I'm there for three minutes.
9:02 p.m.: Tarpon Bend is swarming with young business professionals. My companion Lulu, a bohemian-chic chick, notes, "We missed all the appetizers."
9:08 p.m.: Attain second well drink. Goal: I want to actually leave downtown.
9:12 p.m. Now on Himmarshee Street. Next bus loop stop: America's Backyard. Trolley spotted crossing the railroad tracks!
9:12 p.m.: Running towards the trolley.
9:13 p.m.: Can we bring drinks on board? This is a key deciding factor. We don't ask.
9:14 p.m.: Drinks on! We sit down on a light wood bench. Windows are open.
9:18 p.m.: Stopped on Second Street. For some unknown reason, we're waiting for a new bus driver.
9:20 p.m.: We turn around and are now back outside Tarpon Bend. WTF? At least, we're on a trolley.
9:22 p.m.: Trolley is full of very intoxicated folks.
Lulu: "Everybody's talking."
Me: "Everybody's screaming."
9:31 p.m.: Walk onto to the grounds of YOLO. It's packed.
9:36 p.m.: Inside the O Lounge, the techno music is loud. Hello, cute doctor.
9:41 p.m.: No more Stoli Wine Pomegranate (the Bus Loop drink). First joint so far tonight which serves us premium liquor -- and it's in a glass. This instantly ups the sophistication factor.
9:52 p.m.: It's fleet week! I ask a sailor: "Are you happy to be in Fort Lauderdale?"
Phil responds: "It's great! There's so many cars, girls, everything."
9:55 p.m.: To walk to SoLita or wait for a trolley, that is the question.
9:59 p.m.: Found out where SoLita is. Taking trolley. Me: "Wait, we can't bring glass on the bus loop." Lulu: "Why not?"
10:02 p.m.: Trolley downgrade.
Photo by Mickie Centrone
10:08 p.m.: No more "Sexy Grape" cocktail (the bus loop-made concoction). Get vodka soda.
10:14 p.m.: Realization: Wow, this is power hour amplified.
10:27 p.m.: Outside SoLita, discussing next stop: Quarterdeck.
Lulu: "You realize I may stay east?"
Me: "Well, how am I going to get west when it's over? Now that's a bus loop problem."
Lulu: "Yeah, that's a problem."
10:35 p.m.: Trolley arrives. We find out buses run until midnight. OK, let's get our premium drinks.
10:36 p.m.: As I enter the trolley, I go to the first row to sit down when my drink crashes against the side frame of the bus.
10:36 p.m. It takes a second to process that I just spilled my drink on the bus loop driver.
10:37 p.m.: The bus loop driver turns around. I tense up. She asks, "Are you OK?"
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10:38 p.m.: I sit in disbelief and mumble to Lulu, "She didn't even care." How cool.
10:42 p.m. Quarterdeck: Drink card stamped again! The guy next to me says: "Bartenders getting banged up, that's what I like to see."
11:23 p.m.: Trolley spotted while standing on Las Olas. Phew. I'm getting closer to my car. Wait -- I can't drive.
Photo by Mickie Centrone This is the downgraded trolley.