Miami Audio (Savvy Traveler)
Miami Herald Newspaper
Virtual Miami Photos- Past and Present
QTVR Panoramic Views
Media Links including Radio and TV
City Description and Fast Facts
Read the following information to learn about the following Miami Neighborhoods:
61 links for hotel and travel guide information
FAST FACTS (From Frommers)
Automobile Organizations--Auto clubs will supply maps,
routes, guidebooks, accident and bail-bond insurance, and emergency
road service. The American Automobile Association (AAA) is the major
auto club in the United States. If you belong to an auto club in your
home country, inquire about AAA reciprocity before you leave. You may
be able to join AAA even if you're not a member of a reciprocal club;
to inquire, call AAA (tel. 800/222-4357). AAA is actually an
organization of regional auto clubs; so look under "AAA Automobile
Club" in the White Pages of the telephone directory. AAA has a free
nationwide emergency road service telephone number (tel. 800/AAA-HELP).
|FAST FACTS (Continued)
Generally found at intersections, mailboxes are blue with a red-and-white stripe and carry the inscription U.S. Mail. If your mail is addressed to a U.S. destination, don't forget to add the five-digit postal code (or ZIP code), after the two-letter abbreviation of the state to which the mail is addressed. This is essential for prompt delivery.
At press time, domestic postage rates were 23¢ for a postcard and 37¢ for a letter. For international mail, a first-class letter of up to one-half ounce costs 80¢ (60¢ to Canada and Mexico); a first-class postcard costs 70¢ (50¢ to Canada and Mexico); and a preprinted postal aerogramme costs 70¢.
Newspapers--The Miami Herald is the premier daily newspaper in South Florida, particularly in Miami-Dade County. The Sun-Sentinel is Broward County's daily newspaper, and the Palm Beach Post and Key West Citizen cover local and national news. The Miami New Times and Broward/Palm Beach New Times are free weekly alternative newspapers with comprehensive calendars and event listings, as well as local items of interest.
Taxes--In the United States there is no value-added tax (VAT) or other indirect tax at the national level. Every state, county, and city has the right to levy its own local tax on all purchases, including hotel and restaurant checks, airline tickets, and so on. A 6% state sales tax (plus 0.5% local tax, for a total of 6.5% in Miami) is added on at the register for all goods and services purchased in Florida. In addition, most municipalities levy special taxes on restaurants and hotels. In Surfside, hotel taxes total 10.5%; in Bal Harbour, Miami Beach (including South Beach), and the rest of Miami-Dade County, a whopping 12.5%. In Miami Beach, Surfside, and Bal Harbour, the resort (hotel) tax also applies to hotel restaurants and restaurants with liquor licenses.
Telephone, Telegraph, Telex & Fax--The telephone system in the United States is run by private corporations, so rates, especially for long-distance service and operator-assisted calls, can vary widely. Generally, hotel surcharges on long-distance and local calls are astronomical, so you're usually better off using a public pay telephone, which you'll find clearly marked in most public buildings and private establishments as well as on the street. Convenience grocery stores and gas stations always have them. Many convenience groceries and packaging services sell prepaid calling cards in denominations up to $50; these can be the least expensive way to call home. Many public phones at airports now accept American Express, MasterCard, and Visa credit cards. Local calls made from public pay phones in most locales cost either 25¢ or 35¢. Pay phones do not accept pennies, and few will take anything larger than a quarter.
You may want to look into leasing a cell phone for the duration of your trip.
Most long-distance and international calls can be dialed directly from any phone. For calls within the United States and to Canada, dial 1 followed by the area code and the seven-digit number. For other international calls, dial 011 followed by the country code, city code, and telephone number of the person you are calling.
Calls to area codes 800, 888, and 877 are toll-free. However, calls to numbers in area codes 700 and 900 (chat lines, bulletin boards, "dating" services, and so on) can be very expensive--usually a charge of 95¢ to $3 or more per minute, and they sometimes have minimum charges that can run as high as $15 or more.
For reversed-charge or collect calls and for person-to-person calls, dial 0 (zero, not the letter O), followed by the area code and number you want; an operator will then come on the line, and you should specify that you are calling collect, or person-to-person, or both. If your operator-assisted call is international, ask for the overseas operator.
For local directory assistance ("information"), dial 411; for long-distance information, dial 1, then the appropriate area code and 555-1212.
Telegraph and telex services are provided primarily by Western Union. You can bring your telegram into the nearest Western Union office (there are hundreds across the country) or dictate it over the phone (tel. 800/325-6000). You can also telegraph money or have it telegraphed to you very quickly over the Western Union system, but this service can cost as much as 15% to 20% of the amount sent.
Most hotels have fax machines available for guest use (be sure to ask about the charge to use it), and many hotel rooms are even wired for guests' fax machines. A less expensive way to send and receive faxes may be at stores such as Mail Boxes Etc., a national chain of packing service shops (look in the Yellow Pages directory under "Packing Services").
There are two kinds of telephone directories in the United States. The so-called White Pages list private households and business subscribers in alphabetical order. The inside front cover lists emergency numbers for police, fire, ambulance, the Coast Guard, poison-control center, crime victims hotline, and so on. The first few pages will tell you how to make long-distance and international calls, complete with country codes and area codes. Government numbers are usually printed on blue paper within the White Pages. Printed on yellow paper, the so-called Yellow Pages list local services, businesses, industries, and houses of worship according to activity with an index at the front or back. (Drugstores/pharmacies and restaurants are also listed by geographic location.) The Yellow Pages also include city plans or detailed area maps, postal ZIP codes, and public transportation routes.
Time--The continental United States is divided into four time zones: eastern standard time (EST), central standard time (CST), mountain standard time (MST), and Pacific standard time (PST). Alaska and Hawaii have their own zones. For example, noon in Miami (EST) is 11am in Chicago (CST), 10am in Denver (MST), 9am in Los Angeles (PST), 8am in Anchorage (AST), and 7am in Honolulu (HST).
Daylight saving time is in effect from 1am on the first Sunday in April through 1am on the last Sunday in October, except in Arizona, Hawaii, part of Indiana, and Puerto Rico. Daylight saving time moves the clock 1 hour ahead of standard time.
Tipping--Tipping is so ingrained in the American way of life that the annual income tax of tip-earning service personnel is based on how much they should have received in light of their employers' gross revenues. Accordingly, they may have to pay tax on a tip you didn't actually give them.
Here are some rules of thumb:
In hotels, tip bellhops at least $1 per bag ($2 to $3 if you have a lot of luggage) and tip the chamber staff $1 to $3 per day (more if you've left a disaster area for him or her to clean up, or if you're traveling with kids and/or pets). Tip the doorman or concierge only if he or she has provided you with some specific service (for example, calling a cab for you or obtaining difficult-to-get theater tickets). Tip the valet parking attendant $1 every time you get your car.
In restaurants, bars, and nightclubs, tip service staff 15% to 20% of the check, tip bartenders 10% to 15%, and tip valet parking attendants $1 per vehicle. Tip the doorman only if he has provided you with some specific service (such as calling a cab for you). Tipping is not expected in cafeterias and fast-food restaurants. Many restaurants on South Beach include a 15% tip in the check due to the enormous influx of European tourists who are not accustomed to tipping. Keep in mind that this amount is the suggested amount and can be adjusted, either higher or lower, depending on your assessment of the service provided. Because of this tipping-included policy, South Beach wait staff are best known for their lax or inattentive service. Make sure to always read the bottom of your check to see if tipping is included. People tend to get ripped off because they assume the tip is not included.
Tip cab drivers 15% of the fare.
As for other service personnel, tip skycaps at airports at least $1 per bag and tip hairdressers and barbers 15% to 20%.
Tipping ushers at movies and theaters and tipping gas station attendants is not expected.
Toilets--You won't find public toilets or "rest rooms" on the streets in most U.S. cities, but they can be found in hotel lobbies, bars, restaurants, museums, libraries, department stores, railway and bus stations, or service stations. Note, however, that restaurants and bars in resorts or heavily visited areas may reserve their rest rooms for the use of their patrons. Some establishments display a notice that toilets are for the use of patrons only. You can ignore this sign, or, better yet, avoid arguments by paying for a cup of coffee or a soft drink, which will qualify you as a patron.
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