Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Oh, sunny Key West!!





A cold winter morning dawned. I had tried to make it to the office that day, but turned around after going very slow for several miles. I would have been to late for the meeting anyway.
So back home to shovel the driveway and work from the house.
In the evening we drove to Baltimore to stay at Flip's house prior to boarding a plane in the wee hours south. South to Florida, then further south to the "most Southern" south the US has to offer! As we boarded the jet in BWI a thermometer on the jet-way read 12 degrees F.

Friday

The jet tipped wing as we came in for the final descent into Key West. Below us the turquois water shone blue, able to see all the shallow features on the ocean surface, and the eroded bottom. Closer down we're able to see para-sailers, boaters, even some kayakers around an undeveloped island. The runway is short and the jet slams down quickly and roars it's brakes to slow us down. The warm sun beats down on us as we cross the tarmac under a fake southern most point statue.
We grab a taxi and head to Chelsea House, right off of Truman Ave a couple blocks north of the infamous Duval St. We drop our bags and change into much more appropriate attire: shorts and sunglasses! We mosey down the southern end of Duval, fascinated by the roosters, architecture, and mostly the warmth.



We continue our walking tour down to the Southern most Point and see a line 30 long to get pictures with it and decide that is really not on the list of things that need to be done today! We continue down Whitehead St towards the other end of town, passing Hemingways house, a light-house, and row after row of gorgeous houses. We stumble upon Blue Heaven and circle back to Duval. The touristic feel rackets higher and higher the further we move down Duval. Conch Train Tours pass frequently, as well as other tour buses of a variety of shapes and sizes. Malory Square feels like an amusement park with all the tours and people fresh off the cruise ship.





We make it down to Sunset Pier for a much needed refreshment and seat. We take in the sights and soak up the sun, watching boats travel by, as well as lazily floating pelicans catching thermals. I've been here before, but off a cruise ship there is a pervasive clock ticking as the time spent on shore is too short. I'm glad I didn't get here by boat again.
Tired from a late night and an early morning we decided to make it an early night and try to be well rested for the fun weekend ahead. We went a few blocks over to El Siboney, a Cuban restaurant, and enjoy a fantastic meal.

Saturday
A leisurely awakening in our nice room at the Chelsea House. Our room opens on the pool area with a patio area directly in front. A continental breakfast is served right outside our door, so it's easy to grab a cup of coffee and prepare for the day at the table on our patio.



It's still very early so we decide to stroll down and see the water, as we were up before breakfast this morn - early risers! All the shops were closed, except a coffee shop. Thus armed we made our way down to the southern most point to find it crowd-free and had ample opportunity to snap a few pictures.



It IS Key West, ya know. Gotta let your butterfly fly...

We headed back to the hotel and got suited up for the day. The island is so small that you can easily walk everywhere. Many people opt to rent scooters, bikes, golf carts, tour buses, and rickshaws. We hoofed it everywhere!
First we headed over to all the boutique shops on the "better" end of Duval (I say that because the atmosphere was much more accommodating and much less drippingly tourist trap feeling as downtown Duval feels). We wandered around hitting the good shops just enjoying life! We made our way over to Whitehead St and walked the length of an art festival that had the street closed. We found a local craft brewery too!



Next we did the hike to Fort Zachary Taylor, the beach was great, the clearest water in Key West. It did not disappoint! The park was very nice. The concessions were what you would expect at a state park - I got a hot dog, yummy!











After exploring the beach and then the Fort itself we head back into town, stopping at a few more stores before heading back to the room and getting ready for dinner. That evening we went to a tasty little French place called Banana Cafe and had another excellent meal! Key West is the place for foodies! There are so many nice restaurants around! There's plenty of bar food as well, but there is a very large variety of fine and just plan good dining too!
After all the walking and exploring we decided to get some rest for another full day to come!

Sunday

We had plans to go kayaking at noon so we had the morning to do some eating and exploring again. We walked down to the harbor walk and down Duval a couple times after we'd stopped at La Creperie for an awesome breakfast. We were up early and the town was just stirring. People are up early washing their side-walks and preparing for the influx of consumers arriving from hotels and cruise ships.
We got a ride from the tour company to Stock Island and paddled out from the harbor there. The location seemed sketchy, nestled between a taxi cab garage and crab fishermans compound. If I had to do it again I would have gone with one of the other tour companies that put you on a boat and take you out to an undeveloped island. The detritus and trash floating by the dock wasn't pleasant. The guide and owner was very knowledgeable and took us through the mangrove creeks and explained all the different aspects and ecology of the environment. The wind was whipping so we were not taken out the other side of the island. There were a few children in tandem kayaks with their parents and the wind may have blown them away.
Monday
Our flight left at 2pm so we had an awesomely lazy morning. We had breakfast on the water, we went back to a shop to buy some stuff for the wedding after mulling over whether we really wanted it or not. We walked up to the AIDS memorial for one last look at the ocean, to feel the warm breeze, to watch the pelicans tandem dive for fish. At the airport we sat in a sunny outside courtyard, our feet in the sand, enjoying every last second of our short vacation south...
Our flight left at 2pm so we had an awesomely lazy morning. We had breakfast on the water, we went back to a shop to buy some stuff for the wedding after mulling over whether we really wanted it or not. We walked up to the AIDS memorial for one last look at the ocean, to feel the warm breeze, to watch the pelicans tandem dive for fish. At the airport we sat in a sunny outside courtyard, our feet in the sand, enjoying every last second of our short vacation south...




After the 2.5 hour tour was over we were dropped back at the Chelsea House to wash off the salt spray and get ready to go out to a nice restaurant. This was our engagement party to ourselves! We ate at Michael's and what a great place that was! We were sat way back in a romantic corner, surrounded by bamboo in a outside courtyard. The food was excellent, as was the service. We headed down to meet a couple people and have a few beers downtown. We did the bar crawl from Fogery's to Irish Kevin's to Durty Harry's. Each place had good features and we got to experience "that end" of Key West after dark. After a few hours, we headed back down Duval to "home". As this was a Sunday night the place wasn't chock-full and nuts like it gets on some Saturdays, I hear. It was a good way to get the lay of things for the next time we come to Key West, and we're definitely coming back!t La Creperie for an awesome breakfast. We were up early and the town was just stirring. People are up early washing their side-walks and preparing for the influx of consumers arriving from hotels and cruise ships.

We got a ride from the tour company to Stock Island and paddled out from the harbor there. The location seemed sketchy, nestled between a taxi cab garage and crab fishermans compound. If I had to do it again I would have gone with one of the other tour companies that put you on a boat and take you out to an undeveloped island. The detritus and trash floating by the dock wasn't pleasant. The guide and owner was very knowledgeable and took us through the mangrove creeks and explained all the different aspects and ecology of the environment. The wind was whipping so we were not taken out the other side of the island. There were a few children in tandem kayaks with their parents and the wind may have blown them away.





After the 2.5 hour tour was over we were dropped back at the Chelsea House to wash off the salt spray and get ready to go out to a nice restaurant. This was our engagement party to ourselves! We ate at Michael's and what a great place that was! We were sat way back in a romantic corner, surrounded by bamboo in a outside courtyard. The food was excellent, as was the service. We headed down to meet a couple people and have a few beers downtown. We did the bar crawl from Fogery's to Irish Kevin's to Durty Harry's. Each place had good features and we got to experience "that end" of Key West after dark. After a few hours, we headed back down Duval to "home". As this was a Sunday night the place wasn't chock-full and nuts like it gets on some Saturdays, I hear. It was a good way to get the lay of things for the next time we come to Key West, and we're definitely coming back!

Monday

Our flight left at 2pm so we had an awesomely lazy morning. We had breakfast on the water, we went back to a shop to buy some stuff for the wedding after mulling over whether we really wanted it or not. We walked up to the AIDS memorial for one last look at the ocean, to feel the warm breeze, to watch the pelicans tandem dive for fish. At the airport we sat in a sunny outside courtyard, our feet in the sand, enjoying every last second of our short vacation south...

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