Some of you might remember that last month I said that I would really like to visit Key West in Florida. Well, as luck would have it, I managed to visit the place very recently with my partner! We both loved it.
The drive there was breath-taking as we crossed over the bridges linking all of the islands. Although all there was to see was sea for miles and miles, it was spectacular. Normally you only get those kinds of views from a boat, yet we had the luxury of seeing it from the seats of our car with none of that sea-sickness inducing bobbing up and down. As you drive along the highway, the remnants of old bridges are everywhere, collapsing into the ocean with only seabirds using them to rest on. The longest bridge was The Seven Mile Bridge (we measured it and it was).
We had travelled from Miami, and Key West was a different world by comparison. Our friends had told us that the locals in the Keys were hiding away from the rest of America and that they spent most of their time getting drunk. They had pretty much hit the nail on the head.
Our hotel told us that everything happens on Duval Street. If you wanted a beer or something to eat, go to Duval Street. If you wanted to buy some local memorabilia, a funny tee-shirt or a tacky fridge magnet, go to Duval Street. If you wanted to buy a really expensive piece of art, go to Duval Street! Yes, Duval Street had it all. We had a look in the art galleries and were quite impressed, some of the work was fantastic and I would happily have had some of it to hang on my wall. They would ship to anywhere in the world but we refrained from negotiating any deals in the side rooms with the comfy leather sofas.
One of the biggest attractions in Key West is Hemingway’s house. The house is just off Duval Street and I recommend taking the guided tour, it’s worth every penny. Hemingway had a very interesting life which consisted mainly of fishing, drinking and women! The house has been left pretty much how it was when he lived there and is now inhabited by over fifty cats. The majority of the cats are thought to be descended from Snow White, a six-toed cat which was gifted to Hemingway from a ship’s captain. I won’t spoil any of the stories the tour guides tell, but if you want to know a bit more about his life, have a look into why he has a urinal as a water feature in his garden…
Other things to do in Key West are to get your photograph taken at Mile 0 (the end of Highway 1), watch the sunset over the sea from the harbour and visit the southernmost point of continental U.S.A.
The southernmost point of continental U.S.A. is marked by a large concrete buoy, painted in bright colours and informs you that it is only ninety miles to Cuba. There was a long queue of people waiting to get their photograph taken with the buoy and having driven all the way to Key West, I didn’t want to miss out on getting my photograph taken with the large inanimate object too. We joined the queue.
Afterwards, we stopped for dinner at the Waterfront Brewery. Like most places in the Keys, it specialised in seafood. Looking over the menu, I was tempted by the hogfish. However, when the waitress pointed to a model hogfish on the wall and explained that it was served with the head, the tail (the whole damn thing), my girlfriend talked me out of it. She didn’t want to share the table with something staring back at us. I opted for a fillet of fish sandwich instead. It was good. The beer was good too. America has embraced real ale and craft beer in recent years and they are really getting the hang of it. It’s a refreshing change to all the ‘light’ beers which are commonplace.
I’m really glad I made it to Key West and I would happily visit again. It was a great place to relax, have a few beers and watch the sun go down – it did not disappoint! Whilst we saw the majority of things the Keys had to offer and had more than our fair share of key lime pie (key limes grown on the keys being smaller than regular limes), if I ever do return, there’s one thing I need to ask the locals which I never got round to doing. Why are there so many chickens wandering about the place?
Fancy some more reading about Key West? Click here for my Friday Fancy Key West:
If you want to know more about Hemingway’s home or the Waterfront Brewery, click on one of the links below: