If you’re wondering where all of my blog posts are, there hasn’t been very much to tell and I’m very much ready to go home. I’ve eaten some lackluster meals, took a long, traffic-filled road trip up the Keys, and witnessed an altercation at the pool. Read on for more details…
Tuesday: My hotel situation greatly improved on Tuesday, thanks to my new digs. Best of all, the room has functioning a/c. I went to Smathers Beach for sunrise again and got some pictures at the Southernmost Point before the crowds arrived. Breakfast was at Pepe’s, the oldest restaurant in Key West and a favorite of both Ernest Hemingway and Harry Truman. Then I hit the pool for a while before heading back into town for an enormous slice of Key Lime pie at Blue Heaven and a sunset “Wind and Wine” sunset sail with Danger Charters. The sunset was pretty and the wine, hors d’oeuvres, and conversation were freely flowing.
Wednesday: I watched the sunrise from White Street Pier and had a disappointing breakfast of Godiva white chocolate French toast (it sounds way better than it tasted) at Camille’s before setting off on my journey up the Keys to Islamorada. The water was a stunning Caribbean blue, but I didn’t find many spots to pull over and take pictures. I made a short stop at Sombrero Beach in Marathon and a pit stop at Publix in Islamorada, then turned around and drove all the way back to Key West. I envisioned myself enjoying a relaxing afternoon by the pool when I got back. That was not to be. Two guys decided it would be fun to grab a huge iguana by the tail and toss it into the pool. Twice. Because one of the guys didn’t get a picture the first time. Another guy decided it was his job to confront them and threaten to kill them if they did it again. A war of words ensued before other pool goers intercepted. Three managers had to come out and deal with the situation. It was hardly the relaxing afternoon I was hoping for. In fact, it was kind of the final straw and made me wish I a) had chosen a different vacation destination, and b) was heading home sooner than Friday. I did enjoy a lovely dinner of Gnocchi Gorgonzola at La Trattoria Oceanside.
Thursday: Since I was ready to pack my bags yesterday and head home, I determined to just make the best of today. Sunrise and breakfast were on the menu this morning, followed by a couple of hours at the beach. Don’t mistake Key West beaches for the Caribbean. The water may have the same color, but the beach is loaded with seaweed and the water is rocky, not at all sandy as you may expect. I enjoyed watching the pelicans diving for lunch and finished a book (no easy task with the wind turning the pages for me!) before heading back to the hotel. I went back into town and had the world’s soggiest pizza for dinner. I didn’t even bother staying for sunset. I can only hope that tomorrow’s final Key West breakfast is a good end to the vacation…
I bookended my day with sunrise this morning at Smathers Beach and sunset tonight at Mallory Square. Because sunrise is my favorite time of day, and I made it my goal to be up and watching the sun rise every day of vacation, I figured I’d start the week at Smathers Beach. I thought I might be alone, but there was plenty of company between walkers, photographers, and other sunrise enthusiasts. Sunrise tonight was equally beautiful, though I was certainly not alone for that one!
Breakfast this morning was at Blue Heaven in Old Town Key West. I struggled to find places with interesting breakfast menu items in Key West, but it seems the draw is more to the atmosphere here than inventive foods. I ended up eating blueberry pancakes in the rustic courtyard and imbibed in a breakfast cocktail to go along with it. Sure, I could get blueberry pancakes at home, but would there be roosters milling about while I ate? After breakfast, I decided it was high time I get myself to the Southernmost Point buoy to take the obligatory picture. A walk up Duval Street rounded out my morning adventure. The pool was calling, so it was time to head back to the hotel.
Now would probably be a good time to mention that my hotel experience has been less than stellar. For several reasons, the most salient of which is that I did not have air conditioning from the time I checked in until about an hour ago, at which time they finally conceded that they couldn’t fix it and moved me to a different room. It’s a long story, but suffice it to say it hasn’t been the greatest start to vacation. I managed to squeeze in a little pool time this afternoon whilst dealing with the a/c debacle. It is very warm here (82 degrees today) and extremely humid. A little sun goes a long way!
I spent the afternoon and evening back in Old Town. This afternoon it was a ride on the Conch Tour Train (a Key West tradition) and this evening it was the Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square. Both were about what I expected: the tour was informative and fun, while sunset was a mob scene of people watching the sun make its nightly journey below the horizon. Every evening, crowds are drawn to Mallory Square to enjoy the buskers, musicians, wannabe musicians, and street vendors. I’m glad I got there early enough to get a seat on the sea wall. Everybody should experience it at least once. A nightcap at Sloppy Joe’s was in order while I waited for the hotel shuttle. I spent the rest of the evening packing one hotel room and moving to another, but I’m now happily basking in the air conditioning!
First impressions: Key West is Charleston/Savannah meets the Caribbean. I’ve only been here for a few hours, but I can already tell that Key West has a personality all its own. It was 24 degrees when I left home at 3:30 this morning and a balmy 81 degrees when I landed in Key West a few hours later. Flying over the Caribbean blue-green waters and deplaning right onto the tarmac was reminiscent of my visits to Turks and Caicos, while the historic homes with rocking chairs on the front porch remind me of the deep south.
I encountered my first chicken in the airport garage. They seem to be everywhere here and are referred to as “gypsy chickens” by the locals. I saw my share of them wandering the streets of Key West during the rest of the day. My hotel is a short drive from the airport and I left the car there, quickly changed into shorts and flip flops, and boarded the hotel shuttle to Old Town Key West. I spent about an hour wandering around the seaport area (including my first manatee sighting) before settling into a waterside table at the Schooner Wharf Bar for lunch. A frozen mudslide and jerk chicken sandwich made for the perfect afternoon meal.
My plan for the day had included some time at the pool, so I suited and lathered up only to find all of the good chairs taken and the water a little warm for a hot day. It was a short visit. By this point, I was quickly losing steam. I wanted to pick up a few snacks and drinks at Publix and decided a small charcuterie plate and self-made Rum and Coke on the balcony would be a relaxing end to my first day in Key West.