It seems I fall in love with every new city I go to. This place, Florida Keys, Key West, down south, is something special. The lifestyle, the weather, the people. Everything, I want to stay, can I stay please?
5.30am flight from Nu-or-Lins to Fort Lauderdale. One Mustang hired. Follow us as we take you for a drive from Here to Eternity, or Key West. The journey begins driving around a 6 storey carpark looking for an exit. Surely the exit was on the ground floor? No, it was on level 4.
Stress levels rising for Craig.
A slow coastal drive to Miami for a planned breakfast, then straight to Key West (in an estimated one hour) for the next few days. This was the plan.
Breakfast in Miami, hmmm we went hungry. Parking was impossible and in the end with rumbling tummys we drove on. I shed a little tear but stayed brave. It was worth the wait, let me tell you. So what we thought was about 100km (approx 1 hour drive) was in actual fact, approximately 6 hours with speed limits, one lane roads and realisation 100km was on actually 155 miles.
Do you know the song Key Largo? Remember ? Bertie Higgins? it was an 80s hit.
We had it all
Just like Bogie and Bacall
Starring in our old late, late show
Sailing away to Key Largo
Come on don’t tell me that you weren’t born then…
I had a romantic notion about this place due to that song. When you cross the bridge from the mainland you can turn left which would have taken us to a national park or you can turn right. We took right due to the fact we were heading to Key West, sticking to the highway, we saw nothing. So if you’re heading in this direction, perhaps you can check it out and then let us know too.
We were feeling really hangry now, (so hungry you are angry) these 2 starving Aussie’s were on the lookout for food preferably healthy. Desperation was setting in, that was UNTIL we both saw MRS MACS. At the time we did not know that trip advisor highly recommends this place. For that fact, so do we now.
Simultaneously we said THERE, that is the place we are stopping. This is a must visit Diner. The menu is vast and they will do anything for you. We had the most scrumptious well worth waiting for meal. You must GO GO GO!
Roof off the Mustang we drove on. Arrival to the charming Chelsea House Hotel. So gorgeous, clean and welcoming. As usual, drop bags and out the door we go.
The conch houses ( Bahama style) are beautiful. Predominantly white weatherboard, a few are pastel colored, 2 storey with big verandas and shutters on the windows. They were all built in the 1800s and many appear to be heritage listed.
We stayed on Truman Street. Which brings me to the Truman Annex, which is a small neighborhood filled with big beautiful houses and a naval base. It is picture perfect where nothing is out of place. It certainly pays to be part of the naval forces here. Harry S Truman had his mini holiday Whitehouse is within the Truman Annex. The small Whitehouse was also a holiday home to Dwight Eisenhower, Kennedy, Carter and Clinton.
Do you remember the movie The Truman show? Personally that movie seems loosely based on the Truman Annex. Possibly correct, probably incorrect, but my opinion. “Good morning, in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening, good night”
We walked the beautiful streets. Chickens and roosters crow loudly, clucking around these perfect streets taking precedence at all times. You see, this is my kind of town. I even witnessed 5 gorgeous chooks crossing the road at their clucky leisure as the cars sat patiently waiting.
The main drag, Duval Street, is the energetic happening street of the Keys. Bars, music, restaurants and shops, the western end of Duval is the street is most happening and perhaps more for the younger generation. Younger than us that is. We visited a bar called Willie Ts. The roof and the walls were coated in one dollars bills, signed by the donors. There would have been thousands of dollars on those walls. Music starts at 11am and finishes around 11pm.
The food quality is right up there with home. I always say Australia, namely Melbourne has the best and freshest food in the world, but I have to say we were served fabulous meals. Off the hook, situated in a little side street serves up the most mouth watering dishes. Definitely worth a visit.
Walking past the VIP Gentlemen’s club, I got an invite in. Come and play. You can bring him, referring to Craig. We do couples. Let me shout you a drink. For a small town, there sure is a lot of gentlemen’s clubs, a more polite name for strip club, three, well, that we know of and an erotic dessert restaurant.
The mode of transport around here is typically push bikes, mopeds, buggies, convertible cars, all ideal for this most beautiful climate.
We spent a perfect day riding around this little island on push bikes. From the Marina to Fort Zachary Taylor park (Fort Zach to the locals) where we swam in the warm Bahamian beach. To the southernmost point in USA, if you dared, you could swim to Cuba. It’s only 90 miles. It did have us wondering why there is no ferry from Key West to Cuba.
Onward to an absolute legends house. I was very excited about this little visit. Ernest Hemingway’s house and museum. What a man, we learnt so much more with our very knowledgeable guide Steve and his enchanting story telling and southern accent.
We were introduced to Betty Grable and Ingrid Bergman whilst there. What? I can hear you say, they are cats. Ernest who was also known affectionately as Papa, owned a cat called Snow White, the interesting thing about Snow White was it had six toes. Today there are 54 cats living in that house, all descendants of Snow White and many of them still courting a 6th toe.
Next on our peddling itinerary was Sloppy Joes, this was one of papas favourite bars and Joe was one of his best friends. A large pub with live music and all the walls wearing memorabilia of Papa. I have a, big but, this was not the original Sloppy Joes, but is very place was very dedicated to his memory. The original Sloppy Joes is now He was well loved and respected in these parts.
We have filled our time with fun and adventures in this quaint, very cool coastal island. So as I said why do I fall in love with every new place I visit. Ah this one is truly worthy. Picturesque, adorable houses, clean, good food, beaches, quiet but still,plenty happening and people who are friendly, and polite and have plenty of patience. Especially on the roads. The most courteous drivers you will ever meet. This was proven when they stopped, waited, never abused once, the crazy Australian lady on her push bike driving down a one way street the wrong way, on the wrong side of the road, stopping for no reason, pulling out at the wrong time. As I screamed out my apologies I was always met with a smile and a wave, or your alright darlin.
Funny thing happened when we returned our bikes. Craig parked hid bike a little to close to the row of about 10 other bikes. Yes, You guessed it. Bike domino. The workers weren’t laughing, but they were still polite, however, we 2 Aussie’s in paradise were cracking up.
What better way to end my affair with paradise? Yoga rhythm on the beach at Fort Zach Park ( have you noticed I referred to it as Fort Zach?) . Dan the yoga instructor and his wife have extended an invitation to us to join them in Portugal next year for yoga? Should we stay or should We go?
Here’s looking at you kid.