Tag Archives: florida keys

The Conch Republic

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Southernmost House

We have a family tradition for vacations where we get up before the sun on the very last day and head to somewhere east to watch the sunrise. We started this tradition 7 years ago in Nassau, Bahamas on a small peninsula we dubbed Tortuga Island. I’ve watched the sunrise on most vacations since then from mountains in California to New York City Harbor. My sisters have done it as well in places like Riviera Maya and places in Europe. Therefore, this morning my mom and I set out for the southeastern side of the island for our last sunrise on Key West. It was spectacular, it resulted in my favorite picture of the entire trip. We headed back for breakfast at our B&B, Albury Court-a historic Key West hotel. I definitely suggest this bed & breakfast to anyone. We had a great room with our own private balcony, the staff was phenomenal, they provided breakfast poolside with muffins and bagels from local bakeries and the B&B was secluded yet within walking distance for those who think a mile or less isn’t far. We were able to walk to bum beach, Higgs beach, Duval Street, Truman Annex, the southernmost point and Hemingway’s house all in a short time.

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Leaving the Conch Republic
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The pool at Hemingway’s house

Hemingway’s house was our last tourist stop of the trip. It was a marvelous house with a Great Gatsby feel. Some of the rooms were decorated while others were displays of Hemingway’s old books, pictures and family’s possessions. The house itself was a gift from Hemingway’s wife’s uncle and he purchased the house for only $8,000, you could never buy a house like this with that kind of money. His wife put in a pool one year that replaced his boxing ring, the tour guide said it caused quite the uproar between the two of them because the pool cost over twice as much as the house at $20,000. She also built it during the Great Depression and it was salt water which was a little ironic since the entire island is surrounded by salt water. One of the coolest things was the cats with thumbs. The cats were descendants of Hemingway’s wife’s cat which also had thumbs. Many of the cats were named after old film stars like Charlie Chaplin, Audrey Hepburn, Cary Grant and Marilyn Monroe. I’ve decided after this visit to his house I need to read more than The Old Man and the Sea which was required reading in high school. We spent an hour or two at Higg’s beach and left to seek out some food. We didn’t really know where to go, so I relied on foursquare which led us to Sandy’s Cafe. It was by far my favorite food that we’ve had on the trip. Better than the key lime pie, better than custard, better than my sloppy joe. It’s a small walk up stand with a breakfast bar type seating out front, an open kitchen and chickens running around outside. We loved it. We got a Cuban sandwich to split, with my favorite Cuban bread, and some fries on the side. It was excellent and well worth all the calories. Sadly our trip had to end and I am writing this from the airport, but it was magnificent. I have to give myself a pat on the back for all the planning and a huge thanks to my parents for funding it. My mom was a real trooper for spending 6 days with me and trying all the things I wanted to try. I hope I can travel again soon maybe even back to The Keys. I would love to live in a place of paradise like this even if only for a few years. Maybe someday, I’ll even be a freshwater conch myself.   20140321-162030.jpg

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Another Day, Another Island

20140321-143144.jpgWe woke up in Islamorada yesterday with partly cloudy skies, packed the car and headed out on our way to Key West. Our hotel in Islamorada, Creekside inn, the one features on hotel impossible was delightful. I really enjoyed it. The deck out back by the creek or channel was very peaceful, the pool was nice, the rooms were clean and updated and the staff was friendly. I would recommend Creekside Inn to people looking for a quiet place that is budget friendly.

So, on our way down to Key West we debated on stopping at Curry Hammock State Park, but decided against it since it was only I quick stop on our way and was still costly to get in. That’s one thing we’re not used to, being from Ohio, all of our state parks are free to enter. So we were on our way to Key West again and I named every island as we passed over it. It was fun seeing the names of all the keys. There was even an Ohio Key, which despite my best efforts I never found out why it was called that.

We arrived at our hotel shortly before noon, to see that our room was already ready, took our bags up and returned the rental car. The traffic was a little crazy in Key West, with the mix of pedestrians, drivers, and bikers so we were more than happy to get rid of the car. We started to walk back to the hotel, but diverted to the visitor center. There the lady convinced us to do a hop on hop off train ride around the city. While the information was informative and interesting, the train was not hop on hop off. We were stuck on that thing for over a half hour and it was a waste of our money. We had done a hop on hop off before in Halifax, but this was far from the same.

After the awful train, we walked through some of the Duval Street shops and ate at Sloppy Joe’s. Sloppy Joe’s Sloppy Joe was very good and so was my Key West Sunrise Ale. The bar wasn’t exactly what I expected. This was supposedly the bar Hemingway hung out at so when I heard Katy Perry and Pitbull blaring thought the speakers I was surprised. None the less the food was good and the people watching even better.

For more people watching we went over to Mallory Square. Now that was some good people watching. There were fire dancers, stilt walkers, guys jumping through hoops and riding on unicycles. My favorite was an old man singing reggae music very close to where we sat to watch the sun go down. It was extremely peaceful listening to him and he had a very calming voice. Although we are on vacation, our day was long and tiring so we stopped by the Key Lime Pie Factory for some pie and headed back to the hotel. I’m very excited for today’s plan after my run to the southern most point we get to relax and then Paddleboard this afternoon!

 

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Rainy day in Islamorada

I started this morning on the back deck looking out over the channel with a cup of joe and knee deep in Divergent. Then it started to drizzle and then it poured. My ideal morning had to be taken inside and we decided to head to breakfast. The hotel were staying in, which I found out was on hotel impossible, provides two vouchers for breakfast at the restaurant next door. It’s a small restaurant and our choices were limited, but it was satisfactory and had good coffee.

The rain stopped soon enough and we headed out to check out some of the sights in Islamorada. First stop was the Rain Barrel Artisans Village, a little group of local artists selling artwork, sculptures, jewelry and some souvenirs. The owners of the little shops were excited to talk to us and hear where we were from. There were a lot of cool things, some expensive some cheap. We ended up walking out with turtles made from shells, a ring, 4 air plants and seashells to match. I was really excited about the air plants because it is my gift for my sisters as well as my new desk plant. They are really simple little plants that you only mist to keep alive. We stopped at one other little shop very similar where I found a Florida Keys coffee mug (making me a huge tourist) and some little pieces of coral.

Next stop was at Robbie’s Marina. There are lots of things to do from jet skiing to paddle boarding and I had heard a lot of goods things about it. The weather still wasn’t ideal so we walked through the shops and headed over to watch people feed the tarpon. I wasn’t keen on the idea of feeding dead fish to other fish for $3 so we paid the $1 a person to go see them. I thought it was a little ridiculous that it cost money just to look, but these fish were HUGE. Some of them had to be 6-7 feet long and one thing is for sure I would not want to be in the water where those creepy things were. It was a little of a disappointment not to be able to do the paddle boarding, but I hope to do it in Key West.

A quick stop at Anne’s Beach to see the sand crabs, salamanders and hermit crabs in their natural habitat and then back to the hotel. My mom was starving so picked a random place on the way back and decided to stop for some fresh fruit. We stopped at Midway Cafe and my mom was in love. She said this was her favorite place we’ve been to so far and if we were staying longer, she would absolutely come back. We had some fresh fruit to split and watched the cars go by.

On our way back the clouds cleared around 3 and we were able to sit by the pool to get a little sun. We got ready for dinner and headed to see the big mermaid at Lorelei’s. This place was pretty cool and with the right weather would be a great time. We sat right down at the beach, ordered a mango daiquiri and our food and waited. We watched the sun go down through an overcast sky and listened to Harry French, the entertainment for the night, and waited. We didn’t get our food for over 40 minutes and barely saw our server. The food was good and in the right atmosphere we would have been more willing to wait, but we were cold, tired and sober. If I could do it again I would come back with friends and stay awhile for drinks.

All in all, Islamorada was a fun little island to relax on and enjoy the island life.

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