I visited my best friend in Florida, Fort Lauderdale last year November and I thought I would see Key West from there. I didn’t think it would be so complicated to find a company that organises excursions from Fort Lauderdale too. I was searching on the internet, I could find some but they either cancelled it before or the price was too high. At last I could find one that had other guests too from this part of Florida.
The day started very early, at around 5.30 a.m., my friends ordered a taxi that took me to the meeting point. We went first to Miami to pick up more guests and further towards to Key West. It took for 4 hours to get there, driving along the famous 7-mile bridge too. I read it would be a very exciting drive. I am sure of that, however unfortunately I, and I think almost everyone, was sleeping during most of the time. We arrived at around 11.00 in Key West. But we had 6 hours free time there, which is pretty enough to see the most important sights.
Key West is a city and an island in the Florida Keys. It is the southernmost city in the continental United States. I like to collect interesting facts about the places I go. Why not? Such things the travel books don’t reveal. So here are some:
- If you see a house with a star it means it is more than 100 years old and the owner takes the responsibility for its renovation in return of a decoration.
- It was a famous island for pirates who tricked the (treasure)ships to the shore, due to the strong currents and dangerous reefs they got shipwrecked and in the middle of the night their treasures were robbed by inhabitants / pirates. (That is why the people in Key West might have some very expensive fine furniture in their homes nowadays too…)
- Duval Street is known as the longest street in the world, because it runs from coast to coast.
- The first international flight left from Key West to Havana, in 1927 the Pan American (PanAm) airlines.
- Spanish settlers originally called Key West ‘Cayo Hueso’, which means ‘Bone island’, referring to the bones of the Native Americans who had lived in the Florida Keys. English speakers mistook it, thinking it sounded like Key West and the name stuck.
So my day was like this: First I went to the harbour since it is where the bus had left us.
Then I went along the Duval Street, the well known amusement street that is full of bars (playing Jazz / Latin music), restaurants & shops.
Famous for its fresh fish restaurant I also tried one out 🙂
And of course you can visit here, like I did, the Sloppy Joe’s Bar, where Hemingway was a customer often too. (Sloppy Joe was Hemingway’s fishing buddy)
Next I visited the House of Ernest Hemingway. Everyone knows him I guess, if not then a shame on you. One of my father’s favourites, I like him too, especially the ‘The sun also rises’ (‘Fiesta’). It is a Spanish colonial house, Hemingway lived here for 9 years in the 1930s. He spent a lot of money on the house, history says while he was fighting in the Spanish war his wife was responsible for the renovation (among others having a pool built and a tropical garden planted).
He almost got a heart attack when he came home and saw how much it had cost for him so far. Anyway, he wrote here many novels, including “A Farewell to Arms”, “Death in the Afternoon”, and “For Whom the Bell Tolls”.
Info for cat lovers: He loved cats, the museum is home to more than 60 six-toed cats that are direct descendants of a six-toed cat given to Hemingway by a friend (Its name was Snowball). I also saw about 10 cats, nah that much I don’t love cats… 🙂
With your ticket you can participate in a guided tour in English, going around the house and hearing interesting stories of this Nobel prize winner writer. You can find here his typewriter, check where he was working, see a lot of pictures of him, walk in his bedroom or in his kitchen.
I continued my way to the most important symbol of Key West: The Southernmost Point of the USA you can find at the end of Duval Street (then a bit right). There is always a line of tourists taking pictures of the big red buoy. You will take pictures of the tourists in front of you with their camera and the tourists behind you will take a picture of you, this is how it goes, helping one other 🙂
Going back towards the harbour I reached the Little White House, it was once the holiday house of U.S. Harry S. Truman among others. He loved Key West, came here 3-4 times a year.
There are many houses from the Victorian era in this area, small quiet streets form a typical American garden suburb. Most of the residents are veteran soldiers or working for the NAVY.
A bit further is the Mallory Square, with its shops and this is how I got back to the starting point, to the docks, where sunset has a real celebration every evening. The whole sunset I didn’t see just the starting of it, we had to get back to our bus…
The day ended very late, at around 10.00pm arriving back in Fort Lauderdale, there then by catching a cab I also had luck and I was also so witty I had written down the address I was going to. Plus point for that 🙂
It was a day well spent, although it was a really tiring one, in my opinion it is worth to go on a day excursion to Key West. I liked the Caribbean atmosphere of the city 🙂
And let’s not forget the marvellous Key Lime Pie made of condensed milk, sour cream, lime and graham cracker. I tried the ice-cream version and I totally forgot at least to take away a pie home. But 1 day later on my birthday I got an original Key Lime Pie from my friends 🙂