Lifeguard cleaning house on Hollywood Beach.
Hello from sunny, warm, beautiful, friendly Key West! Yes, I like it here quite a bit! :-) I can't believe April and I are actually here -- and that I am typing yet another blog. To say the journey back down to Key West was, um...INTERESTING would be an understatement. I always go into these things thinking (and hoping) I can write a nice, short, to-the-point blog -- but then I think of ALL THE STUFF that has happened and I am compelled to share it with you...lol! So get comfy....or drunk...your choice.
I guess I should start from the last time I wrote. I was in the land of glitz, trump and taffy -- Atlantic City. I was there without my camera, with a cold and an overall feeling of unease. Luckily we decided to turn around and go home. In the short amount of time we were home one of our cats took a seizure, another lost a tooth and got an infection, speck had some problem with his feet and I had trouble with one of my wisdom teeth. FUN! FUN! Ugh....let me tell you people in internet space....this was NOT a fun month! Not a fun
month at all -- for both April and I. To say we were looking forward to this latest getaway just doesn't do it justice.
Put it this way -- I SO needed to get away that I, yes I, Desiree Sousa -- FLEW!!! For the love of mercy and all things big, pointy and 35,000 feet in the air! I said "screw it" -- booked last minute tickets and within 2 1/2 hours was on Florida soil. Ape was in a state of shock. Literally. She had a smile from ear-to-ear and that OH MY GOD WE'RE REALLY DOING it look. I had that I FEEL LIKE I AM IN A TUBE OF TOOTHPASTE look, but felt very happy and proud/excited to be doing this. To think I can be in sunny Florida in a couple of hours was just too good to pass up -- especially with the way things had been going at home. I needed to FLY -- literally -- FLLLLLLLLLLLLYYYYYYYYYY BAAAAAAAAAABY! LOL!
OK, so we touch down at 9:15pm and it is warm (82), breezy and the sound of swaying palm trees (and a growling stomach) overtook our senses. YAAAY! We are here. I
Coconut palm tree - Hollywood Beach.
can't believe it's been so long since I last flew. I love road trips, but flying is SO awesome and convenient. I kept thinking of one of my personal heroes, Johnny Jet (http://www.johnnyjet.com) and that made it easier.
We picked up our car and decided to stop for a quick late night bite at one of favorite restaurants Bahama Breeze. It sounded like a great plan at the time -- but we were both so exhausted we could barely chew! I don't even remember what we got -- how strange is that?? Hmmm....lol! We stayed at The Fairfield Inn Marriott Village for the night and got an early start the next day.
Our first official stop on this trip was Hollywood Beach Resort & Spa. I had been wanting to stay at this resort since it opened early last year. I had read good things about Hollywood Beach and how it was/is the "up and coming" destination in Florida. OOH...how exciting I though....but then we got to Hollywood Beach and it looked very old, disheveled, run down - like a hurricane hit in 1943 and nothing was fixed since. I thought (to myself) -- oh boy -- what
Ladies & Gents please meet $3.00 Willie (a.k.a. Big Wong or 3W for short).
did I get us into?? But then we checked into the resort and WOW, what a resort it was. This new Marriott is gorgeous. Not only is it located ON Hollywood Beach. It has a great beachfront casual restaurant, spa, little gift shop, gym and GORGEOUS rooms! The rooms were so modern and plush. The decor was done in warm reds, oranges and creame colors, there was a flat screen tv, nice size desk, very nice bathroom and a private balcony. At the travel agent rate of $160 a night this was a BARGAIN. I stepped onto the balcony and noticed what a gorgeous view we had. The water looked very pretty. It had that Florida turquoise glow. I couldn't wait to check it out.
After doing our "WOW WHAT A ROOM" rounds we decided to grab lunch at the downstairs restaurant, HOWEVER....before we went downstairs I heard a little voice, it sounded Hispanic. It was tiny....barely audible. I looked around the room, in my bags, down my shirt and then out of the corner of my eye I see....I can't believe I am about to type this.....I see a tiny bear with a big banana and t-shirt that
Our posh room at Hollywood Beach Marriott & Spa.
reads $3.00 lying on my bed next to a sign that says JUST LIKE HOME. Since this stuff doesn't faze me, well, put it this way -- I am the John Edward of weird toys and mascots. They come to me. Only me. I see them and then April starts to see them. They feel they can trust me and sometimes they cross the line, like when I am on VACATION -- but this is a gift that I have been given so I will never turn a tiny bear with a banana sitting on my bed with a t-shirt that reads $3.00 away - NEVER I TELL YOU! I nonchalantly walk over to the bear that is still squeaking Hispanic slang at me. I crouched down to talk to the bear (with one ear smaller than the other no less....the bear not me) and he starts talking in that fast Hispanic speed....I only make out the word banana. I explained to the tiny bear with banana and shirt that reads $3.00 that I don't speak Spanish. He then said, "OH..." and said, "I am $3.00 Willie...a.k.a. Big Wong...but people call me 3-W for short" -- there were so many
View from our hotel room of "old" Hollywood Beach.
innuendos in that sentence that I felt dirty!!! He explained how a friend of his, STAINED SOCK PUPPET (please read past blogs for info) said April and I were the girls to go to for a good time. No, not in that way. But a good time on the road and since he was trying to visit his cousin Rebecca in Plymouth, MA he thought we wouldn't mind taking him for a ride (please stop with the innuendos). I told 3-W -- SURE! We would love to have a little bear with a banana and t-shirt that reads $3.00 join us on our journey! I assured him he was in good hands! :-D We left $3.00 Willie and proceeded downstairs to the restaurant.
It was the perfect setting. There was calypso/reggae music playing, there were tiki torches, a huge bar (woooooah April), and tables right on the beach overlooking the gorgeous ocean - NICE! I looked around and did feel a bit underdressed and slightly like a 16 year old. I mean the people at this resort were dressed in white linen and sipping cranberry red wine. But I didn't let that and the fact that 99.9% of the
Beautiful beach front restaurant - Hollywood Beach Marriott.
people were fit and supper skinny bother me. Nope. I ordered a jerk chicken sandwich and Ape got a salad. After soaking up the atmosphere we decided to take a walk along the Hollywood Broadwalk (yes, broadwalk -- Ape laughed at me when I said it -- she thought I pronounced boardwalk wrong -- this apparently hit her MOST HILARIOUS THING I EVER HEARD FUNNY button -- when I explained a BROADWALK is a wide open sidewalk where people bike, roller blade, walk, jog, ride donkeys down and has NO similarities to a boardwalk except the water she just said....ooooh.....and this struck my FUNNY AS CRAP button.....really, IS crap funny??) -- back to where I left off.....the water had a nice emerald glow to it even though it was slightly overcast and the palm trees, although battered from last summer's hurricanes, stood tall with their nuts, coconuts that is, hanging low. It was all very tropical. I couldn't take it anymore and HAD to feel the water, at least on my toes. Ape choose to stay on concrete as she ripped the toenail offer her big toe the night before in a game of back alley poker with three Mexicans.....OK,
South Beach Miami's Art Deco.
she did it by trying to wheel 3 luggage bags at once....please don't ask (yes, my hands were full too -- don't think I made her act like a bellhop while I fanned myself and drank a mint julep...lol).
ANYWAY -- Hollywood Beach sucks. There -- I said it. THE BEACH isn't pretty. Maybe I am being harsh because it is 7:30am, I got my monthly visitor (which explains why I looked like Nathan Lane the other day) and had to deal with an overflowing toilet at 6:30am -- OR maybe it is because the sand was filthy and the water had seaweed. It reminded me of most (not all) the beaches back in Rhode Island. The only thing that set it apart were the palm trees and aqua marine colored water. Nothing like the beaches in Destin, Siesta Key or the Florida Keys -- BUT, with that said.....it is still a beach and people were enjoying it. There are big plans in store for Hollywood, FL. They just opened a Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and our Marriott is new. There is a MAJOR BUILDING BOOM going on down A1A from Hollywood to South Beach. Every block has
South Beach Art Deco
a new condo/resort being built -- not to mention the number of dining/shopping centers planned. Maybe in 3-5 years Hollywood will look like her pretty sisters to the north and south of her. With beaches -- LOOKS MATTER. Boy, I am cranky today...lol! ;-)
OK, the next day (Friday) after we checked out we decided to drive north on scenic A1A toward West Palm Beach and boy am I glad we did. I had low expectations for this ride after experiencing the drab Hollywood Beach -- BUT -- by the time we hit the Boca Rotan area -- WOW! I think the Florida bugs down this end have mansions. I mean, WOW....the houses, beaches, shops, restaurants and foliage down this way is drop-dead GORGEOUS! Mansions usually don't impress me THAT much because I am use to the beautiful ones I drive by in Newport, but these kicked Newport's Jai-Alai butt!!!!!!!!!!! The houses were so impressive my camera was almost too in awe to snap pictures. Our first official stop (beside the pee stop at Best Western Boca Rotan) was Delray Beach. This is a WONDERFUL, quaint, yet chock full of stuff to do beach town. They have tons of
South Beach Miami
on-street parking (with meters) with direct access to their BEAUTIFUL beach. The sand was a mid to light brown color but clean. The water was turquoise/aquamarine and there were free beach lounge chairs with top covers. Yes, FREE! Nice! I was taken by the size of the beach and how quiet it was. I could've stayed there all afternoon reading and swimming but we had to trek on! When we arrived back at the car I noticed $3.00 Willie rummaging frantically through one of bags. When I confronted him he jumped as if we surprised him and stammered out the words, "I, I....wasn't doing anything"! April and I, both in our mother-bearing years, gave him a DON'T GIVE US THAT CRAP look. He admitted he was looking for red dye. Yes, red dye. He wouldn't tell us why. We tried to coax it out of him but all he said was it had something to do with his cousin Rebecca. It was too long a story to get into. Ape and I, perplexed, left it at that for the time being. I did notice him looking out the window, chewing on a tooth-pick, very wide-eyed...looking worried. Oh boy. Still in
Walking Down Ocean Drive.
Delray Beach, we drove down Atlantic Ave past the many shops, restaurants and downtown area. Delray Beach looks like a GREAT town to raise a family in. It has that small town feel but with lots to offer. Not to mention the fact is less than a 1/2 hour from Palm & West Palm Beach! This is an area we'd like to explore more in the future.
Before we knew it we were back on A1A north driving past more envy inducing mansions and turquoise ocean! This truly was a SCENIC ride and one I recommend to anyone on a clear, sunny, warm Florida day. We arrived in Palm Beach and pulled over to take pictures at one of the many beaches that lined the road. Yet again, FREE! The beaches are so WIDE, CLEAN and TROPICAL looking. God, I love Florida. What a state. When we finally reached West Palm Beach we realized it was almost 1:30pm and we still had to turn around and head down to Key West. We were going to stop at Cityplace and Clematis street but we HAD to get back on the road. This is definitely an area we will come back
Versace's Mansion - Ocean Drive South Beach.
to. On a scale of 1-10 we give it a 10 for beauty!
The ride down to the Keys was very scenic and peaceful. We were greeted by a breathtaking sunset. This was the first time we had driven through the bottom keys at night. It was cool to see the sky lit up in that "dusk glow" and see all the little shanky shacks lit up with their xmas lights. Ahh...the keys. Paradise. Pure relaxation. Homey. The first thing we did when we arrived Key West was go to, where else --- MARGARITAVILLE! Oh baby, I had been dreaming of Jimmy Buffett's key lime pie. We were lucky to find parking close by and were seated as soon as we walked in. Within 15 minutes we were chomping down on cheeseburgers in paradise! Although, I was so full from my (virgin) pina colada that I couldn't eat my dinner! I knew I had to save room for my key lime pie!!! When it came out Ape and I dug in and a huuuuuuuuge smile spread across my face. The perfect key lime pie. Mmm...mmmm! During a chew a GREAT cajun/zydeco band came on (around 10pm) called Little Malcom
Loews Hotel - South Beach, Miami
& The House Rockers. This band was INCREDIBLE. There is something about zydeco music that just makes you want to get up and dance or at least chew quicker! They played Jambalaya (On The Bayou) and I almost got up to dance WHILE chewing....woah!! I could've stayed all night but Ape and I were exhausted and needed to check into our hotel, Holiday Inn Key West.
Both ready for la-la land we entered our room at Holiday Inn and were hit with the odor of 12 (not 11 or 13 -- 12) wet dogs!!! OH MY GOD it stunk!!!!! I thought a stampede of dogs were going to charge out of us. The room was awful. It was dark, musty, old, had waaaaay too much dark green, neon lights and for the love of dogs everywhere -- WHAT WAS THAT SMELL???? Yes, I admit I am a bit of a hotel snob -- but how could I not be? I stay at beautiful hotels 99% of the time for the same amount the average person would pay for a standard room at a Days Inn! Ape and I are both spoiled when it comes to this, but even so
Delano Hotel - Where "the stars" stay!
we could "let it go" for a night or two if needed, but this room had the ability to knock the entire state of Texas off their feet!! We were very upset because a.) the web site said the ENTIRE hotel was remodeled and new and b.) when we checked in we were told the ENTIRE hotel was remodeled and new. They falsely advertised! And because of that we came "this" close to not having a room for the night! We called EVERYWHERE. I think we even called the pet shelter down the road to see if they had a room. Every place was SOLD OUT. I thought we'd be sleeping on the beach for the night when we finally got lucky -- the Courtyard Marriott Waterfront had ONE room left -- at the rate of, GULP, $249!!!!!!!!!! MOTHER FREAKIN RIP-OFF! But what could we do??????
We sucked it up and gave in. Granted we were given the handicap suite with a jacuzzi tup in the MIDDLE OF THE LIVING ROOM.....UMMMM???? ICK! And what is up with the patterns on hotel rugs??? I mean between them and the casinos are they TRYING to make us ill?? Hi, interior designers....it
Heading north on A1A toward Boca Raton, Delray Beach and West Palm Beach.
is 2006....how about we follow JetBlue's style and stick with SOLID, SOOTHING colors??? But hey, it didn't smell like Llamas or aardvarks so we were sold. I thought we were out of the wood works (what does that mean) when I suddenly saw a colony of ants near my exposed toes in the bathroom. When you are in the bathroom you are kinda stuck until you are able to leave. I was being inundated by ants. I yelped for April and quickly escaped. OK, lets add this to the list of things I am afraid of. I don't like bugs...period. To me an ant is a bug. The size doesn't matter. It is a bug. I don't like butterfly's (sorry, but they are flying bugs). I don't like bees (in fact I am petrified of them and scream and run like a sissy when near one -- the worst is being trapped in a car and finding or rather hearing a bee buzzing around -- this has happened and I believe I had April pull over in a tunnel to fix the problem). Yes, ants scare me. I have this feeling that they want to walk up my legs and
Boca Raton - Some people park their cars....others park their yachts -- yup.
into the, shall I say, forbidden zone. I never said I was sane. Not once.
OK, so I have April come running into the room (remember we have the 2 bed handicap suite with 1970's jacuzzi in the living room next to the coach and tv) and tell her to basically carry me to the bed. She had to sleep attached to me for the rest of the night and protect me from the ants. See, I may look more like a tomboy but I SWEAR I am A GIRL....lol! I also took a CALM YOUR ASS DOWN pill (sorry can't come up with the spelling for the pill but if I had to spell it the way it sounds it would be CALMYOURASSDOWNPILL).
I was very happy to check out the next day into one of the better resorts in Key West, The Reach Resort (the one we stayed at last time we were here). This time we were in a standard room with garden view, but HEY, at least we found a room for Friday and Saturday night. Literally every other hotel was sold out.
To start our day we went to Duval Beach Club
Gorgeous mansion on A1A north.
for lunch. Oh my gosh, if this place isn't like being in the Caribbean no place is! Duval Beach club is located at the end of Duval next to Southern Most Hotel. This restaurant is paradise. It located on a FREE beach with FREE lounge chairs. You can literally swim in the ocean, lay in the sun and then walk 10 steps to the restaurant. There was a cool breeze blowing, retro 80's music playing and the sounds of German tourists laughing. I would've just been happy with the view but everything else just enhanced the experience. I fell in love with this place. It is a MUST do when in Key West - trust me. The food is also very good. I had a yummy grilled chicken sandwich with pineapples and April had a jerk chicken sandwich. It is also reasonable. They are opened for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
After lunch we walk down the pier in front of the Beach Club and sat in the sun a while. Before I knew it I heard $3 Willie scampering his was out of April's purse. He wanted to lay out in the sun and tan himself. I tried explaining
Delray Beach - FREE! Beautiful beach with free chairs and gorgeous water.
to him this wasn't a nude beach but after seeing a 1/2 naked man walk by I gave in and let him warm himself up. April, on the phone working of course, didn't notice this until she hung up and saw $3 Willie playing castaway on an old sail and some twigs. The police drove by and looked suspiciously at $3 Willie but decided their bigger threat was a sword throwing gecko on Simonten Street. By this point $3 Willie was in a "mood" shall I say. He is a very vulgar little teddy bear. If he could smoke a cigar he would. We found him on a canon and next to some hard balls. He was causing havoc on Duval Street. We had to give $3 Willie time out and put him back in the bag.
At this point April and I decided to go for a drink at Half Shell Raw Bar. I have been wanting to visit this place for some time so I was excited. Half Shell, located in the historic seaport district, is an adorable shanky shack type place. There are license plates hanging all over the walls as well as buoy's and fishnets.
Delray Beach's gorgeous water!
I looooooooooove places like this. We opted to sit at an outside table overlooking the boats in the harbor. We each had a drink (April a sangria and I 4 vodkas a.k.a. pepsi on the rocks). We also decided to share a slice of key lime pie. It didn't have meringue (my favorite part) but it wasn't tart and was very creamy. Mmm...mmm!
After our little snack we walked around the seaport and then decided to take a tour of the island. I am so glad we did! We found a beautiful beach called Higgs (I believe). It is next to the Aids Memorial. This beach is GORGEOUS. It is so shallow and many shades of aquamarine, emerald, and blue. There were table with bbq grills and a huuuuuuuuuge pier. We saw two dogs playing in the water and a family with lots of kids. I just fell so in love with this place. It was just SO scenic!! We stayed on the pier, sunning, for maybe an hour and then headed back as April was the color RED turns when RED is burned???
Continuing our tour of the island we found ourselves at Fort Zachary Taylor Park.
Just like the Caribbean.
This park cost $6 to get in and is worh every penny. Not only is there a beach (one of the best in the keys) but also a historic fort you can explore (which we didn't do this time). I had seen pictures of an area in Costa Rica called Manuel Antonio Park and for some reason this park reminded me of that. There were TALL, swaying palm trees with coconuts hanging, lots of shaded picnic tables, a snack shack, a tiki hut that rented chairs and umbrellas and a gorgeous beach with shallow, clear water. However, it is rocky. I strongly recommend water shoes if you decide to visit here. This is also a great place to watch the famed Key West sunset!!! Please, check this beach out when in Key West. It is a tropical paradise.
After this beach we were tiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiired!!! A day of exploring beaches will do that to you! :-) We checked into The Reach Resort (the place we stayed at last time) and April ended up saving us close to $100 on our stay!!! Nice! This time we are in a standard garden view room but it is nice and NO ANTS! LOL!
April happy as can be until......
We decided to stay in for the night and ordered take out from some pizza place.
Which brings us to this morning, Saturday. Today is Conch Republic celebration festival!! There is an arts/crafts/food fair as well as two parades and lots of beach parties! It should be lots of fun. It is a perfect sunny day. The birds are chirping. There is a cool breeze blowing and the temps will be in the low 80's. Have I mentioned this is paradise???? Get here if you can!!!!!!!!
Until next time....
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