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Miami, Florida

A love affair

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When someone asks me: "Where are you from", I reply, without thinking: "Miami." That raises a few eye brows, because I still have a slight teutonic accent; not surprisingly really, because I was born and raised in the north of Germany. You can't choose your family, but you are free to select your friends. The same principle applies when it comes to a hometown: you can't do much about the place where you grew up in, but you can follow your heart and adopt a town as your home where you want to spend the rest of your life. Whenever I look from my terrace, 28 floors up with the Miami River flowing below, I know why Miami is my home. I can't be happy anywhere where there is no body of water and where it's not warm. I still remember the first time, a local, shivering, said to me: "It's just a cold front, it'll pass soon." Cold front? The temperature was in the high 60s! I can live with that kind of cold front. And of course, there is no shortage of water. The Atlantic Ocean and the white sands of South Beach, the mystery filled Everglades up the Tamiami Trail, the 42 bridges from Miami to Key West and, my favorite, the Miami River. A guided tour on a boat, organised by the Historical Museum of Southern Florida is a trip into Miami's colorful history. I never tire of watching the containerships, maneuvering precariously around the bends of the river and under the raised bridges.Early in the morning I can even see manatees, slowly migrating upriver, often their babies in tow. At the river's mouth on Biscayne Bay, we have the newest Miami attraction, combining recreation with history: the Miami Circle, a sacred site of the prehistoric Tequesta Indians, discovered about 20 years ago by chance during construction work. In a unique way, Miami combines American efficiency with Latino laid-back charm. What never fails to fascinate me is the variety of things and events Miami has to offer. Great shopping, great eating, great beaches, history, music, art exhibitions, Art Deco district and modern architecture. At every twist and turn, it's easy to discover something new and to be surprised by contrasts. I just love to chill in one of the wooden chairs on the sea wall of Bayside Park, surrounded by Cuban families having a picnic, but being only steps away from busy Flagler Street if I feel the need for city life. Yes, my love affair with my adopted hometown is bound to last.

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