Our hotel in Florida City is located on Route 1, the highway that serves the east coast of the USA, covering more than 2,300 miles from Fort Kent, Maine in the north, to today’s destination Key West in the south. It’s similar in length to Route 66, our only other previous US road trip. In order to reach our destination, we simply had to turn right out of the hotel and drive for 125 miles. It could easily be done in three hours, but we took seven. The road stretches out west into the Caribbean from the southern-most tip of the Florida mainland, passing over numerous islands, and past thousands (I think). Some are tiny areas of sand with one or two palm trees – you know, like the ones you see in cartoons where a marooned castaway receives a message in a bottle on a deserted island. They really exist!
We stopped at two main locations. We could have stopped hundreds of times to see what all the islands had to offer, but we have only two days to spend here before returning to Miami. The first port of call was a place called Robbie’s – a bar/restaurant with a marina where you can feed tarpons (which are a kind of fish). You buy small dead fish to feed big live ones. Some of them are four or five feet long. We didn’t feed any, but it was fun watching others do it.
We then moved on to the Bahia Honda State Park, which we were advised was the last tourist stop before Key West. Here, we picnicked and snorkelled, watched a few birds and generally relaxed in the typical tropical surroundings.
When we arrived at Key West, our accommodation, Westwinds, was perfect. It was a small collection of quirky chalets in oasis-style surroundings located in a residential area with an inviting pool just outside our door. We headed off into the bustling town around the harbours and shops. It’s both lively and friendly – except when I inadvertently stepped off the sidewalk and almost into the path a car, when it was just “lively”. Although we’re not much into shopping, each shop was so perfectly displayed that not only did we want to go in, but we felt that we wanted to buy everything inside. There were no price tags on anything. Key West is predictably more expensive than most places, reflecting transportation costs because of it’s remoteness. It, so far, seems such a wonderful place that we are quite prepared to spend a little more for things.
The island is very popular with gay tourists. It was ironic that we found ourselves singing YMCA’s “Go West”, as we were driving westwards through the Keys. The best T-shirt slogan I have seen so far read “I’m not gay, but $20 is $20!”
We ate at Willie T’s bar and restaurant (apparently world famous). We shared Key Lime Pie for desert. This is kind of significant for us, as the last time Sarah asked for Key Lime Pie was while she was suffering food cravings during her chemotherapy two and a half years ago. That was after she’d asked for a baked potato with custard. She received neither, but at least she’s now had her pie. We’d happily give Willie T’s a five star on Trip Advisor. There is a sunset celebration here every evening with street entertainers on the harbour edge close to a number of bars that overlook the scene. We just missed the sun going down this evening, but we intend to arrive in time tomorrow, after another meal at Willie T’s unless some other place calls us.
Sarah said it is the best “resort” style place she has ever visited. We are already planning our return. Tomorrow we shall explore further.
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