Monday, January 25, 2016

#1590 two days in Key West

We spent January 14 and 15 in Key West, Florida. My friends Nicole and Austin had stopped in Key West on their honeymoon cruise and totally loved the town and I have wanted to go there to check it out ever since Nicole talked about it. I was glad MT was into visiting the place, too.

We drove down from Miami on a cloudy rainy Thursday morning. The drive takes you to the tip of southern Florida and through the Florida Keys via the Overseas Highway. I took a few photos of the drive; here's one now:

I think this is on 7 Mile Bridge
The drive takes a little over three hours and we got into Key West right around noon. The first thing we did was look for our hotel, a Hilton Garden Inn. Using Google maps, we were routed to a building that was clearly unfinished but did look a lot like the photo on the website. We tried about three times, thinking the map must be wrong, but it wasn't wrong. The hotel we were booked into was not open for business, in fact, construction wasn't even complete! I called our travel agent, Candice, and explained the situation. She was horrified. She told us to get some lunch and that she'd get back to us within an hour.

We found a parking lot in the old part of town that had some space (a rarity, I think) and went to the Waterfront Brewery. I was a little anxious about the hotel thing, but I got a beer and a delicious sandwich and left my fate in Candice's capable hands. I mean, how can you be stressed when you are in Key West eating a BLT with shrimp and avocado and drinking a fine IPA?

True to her word, Candice called me within an hour, apologized profusely and repeatedly, then told me she had a new place for us to stay. An upgrade, she said, with no further out-of-pocket charges to us and a nice location closer to the old part of town. We would be staying at a place called Casa Marina. Sounds good to me! We told our server at the restaurant our story and that we would be staying at Casa Marina and he told us we would be happy there.

Before heading to the hotel, though, we wandered around the town, staying mostly on residential streets. Old Key West is damn charming. The houses. The trees. The porches. The chickens wandering freely all over the place.

If you look at the base of the tree on the left, you'll see a few chickens.

We wandered around and got lost. It was raining - drizzling is more like it - but it was warm and we didn't mind too much though we were getting a little anxious that we wouldn't find the rental car before the time on the meter expired. After a few hours though, we found the car and made our way to the hotel.

It is a nice property, right on the beach. There was an understated elegance to it. Our room was very nice with a comfy king size bed and decadent high thread count sheets. There was a big bathroom and hardwood floors. We didn't have a view, but that was fine with us.  We went out to look at the beach.

Casa Marina from the beach
Did I mention it was rainy? We sat at the covered outdoor bar and had a drink, then we wandered over to the restaurant, also outside, also covered and with patio heaters warming it up. It was really windy. We weren't hungry, but we ate anyway (a theme that would recur throughout the trip). For my meal, I had the appetizer of conch fritters. I thought they were good, but MT didn't care for the texture.

conch fritters!

The next day was cloudy but not as windy and since we couldn't get out to the reef for snorkeling, we decided to wander around the town. I wanted to walk, so we left the car at the hotel and started out in the drizzling rain which very quickly turned into a downpour. We kept walking, glad to have our rain jackets. The thing about the rain jackets, though, is that they came to about the hip and then water just dripped off them onto our bums and crotch areas. I was wearing a skort and it was so wet I could wring it out.

The hotel is just a few blocks from the Southernmost Point buoy and I really wanted to go there. The sea was splashing up over the wall and as we stood for this photo, a wave broke right over our heads. I couldn't have been more wet, but the sea water was colder than the rain. It was crazy and fun and silly and it is a memory I will always cherish.

I really hate the way my jacket looks. At least we are smiling!
From the Southernmost Point, we went to the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum. The house is pretty simple, but it's very nice and I was happy to imagine Hemingway writing some of his great novels here, surrounded by palm trees and his cats. I didn't take many photos there. I was too busy petting the cats and soaking up the atmosphere.

After the Hemingway Home, we went to the Mel Fisher museum. I wanted to include the link, but there was a problem with it. Google Mel Fisher, though, to find out his story. I didn't know anything about him, but he was the man who discovered the wreck of the Spanish ship the Atocha which sank off the coast of Key West in the 1600s loaded with treasure. It's an interesting story and the museum was really neat.

Our museum touring was about done by that point. We did stop into the Shipwreck Museum because we had a free ticket. It's pretty hokey, but they had some interesting things. I'm glad I didn't have to pay :) We did not get to climb the tower because by the time we got there, the weather had turned to thunder and lightning and the tower was closed. I would have climbed it though, if we could have.

After the museums, we just wandered around. We saw Mallory Square where everyone gathers to watch the sunset on nice clear evenings. We walked down Duval Street and decided to have lunch at Fogarty's. I had the Cuban pork with black beans and rice and it was divine.

My mouth is watering remembering this delicious lunch!
On our way back to the hotel, we stopped at Matheessen's to get a piece of frozen chocolate covered key lime pie on a stick. Yes, you read that right. Frozen. Chocolate covered. Key lime pie. On a stick.

I didn't take this picture. I Googled it.
The piece of pie was good sized and the chocolate coating was thick. We had to kind of gnaw on it to break the chocolate but the pie inside was so creamy and amazing, it was worth it. Oh, and chocolate and key lime works well together. Good thing we found that business on the last day or we probably would have had it both days!

As we walked back to the hotel, gnawing on our pie, it started to rain again. Since we were close to the Southernmost Point, I wanted to try for another photo.

It came out just fine, but it wasn't as much fun as the first time around.

By the time we got back to the hotel, we were drenched all the way through once again. By the time we dried off and changed our clothes, the rain had stopped and the sun actually peeped out, just in time for us to get a little bit of Key West sunset.

sunset from Casa Marina
We didn't stay out very long that night because we were slightly chilled from having been out in the rain all day. We went back to the room and watched a couple of movies and ordered a burger from room service that we split. It was a fantastic day!

Of course, the next morning, Saturday, was gorgeous. Blue skies and warmer temperatures. The valet told us as we were getting into the car to drive back to Miami that the weather was very unusual. It was going to be nice on Saturday, then chilly and rainy again after that.

view to the beach from Casa Marina
Both MT and I feel that we would like to go back to Key West. Hopefully we would get some better weather so that MT could do some snorkeling out near the reef. We would also really like to go to Dry Tortugas National Park. Although we don't usually go back to the same place twice, I could see Key West being an exception. It was a place we both enjoyed and would like to see again.

Here's a photo of 7 Mile Bridge on a sunny day:

There you go, a look at what we did in Key West earlier this month. I hope you enjoyed the story and photos as much as I enjoyed sharing them with you!

1 comment:

Kteach said...

Great pictures and naration. Love that bridge! :)