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Published: November 22nd 2018
On Tuesday morning our trusty taxi driver from yesterday was at our apartment to pick us up at 10am. He drove us to the Hire car hub at Miami Airport. He told us he was originally from Sudan and gave us all sorts of information about how to get into and out of the airport. He was very efficient and we were glad to have had his help. Once we had collected our car, a Yarris, we headed out to drive to the Keys. On paper it was simple but finding our way from the airport to Highway 1 proved rather troublesome. It was my fault as I was trying to read the map and thought we were headed in the wrong direction when we were on the right road. Eventually we sorted it out and headed to the Florida Keys.
It took us about an hour to clear the Greater Miami area and then we were headed south. This is considered one of the great drives in the USA. We passed though Key Largo and were rather disappointed as there was not much to see from the road. We kept looking for somewhere to have lunch but we were
either too late in seeing a sign or it was on the other side of the road and too difficult to get to. We got into Islamaroda, one of the groups of small islands that make up the archipelago. We spotted a sign announcing Wahoo Seafood restaurant and though it was on the opposite side of the road we were able to swing over and drive straight into a park. This proved to be an excellent choice.The restaurant overlooked a marina and there were many boats there and plenty of birdlife. We sat on the open balcony and had a great meal. I opted for a starter's serve of Crab cakes while Fletcher ordered their seafood rice This proved to be huge with a bowl of yellow fried rice intersperse with all kinds of seafood.. We had a nice bottle of white to wash it down. While eating we were entertained by the antics of the pelicans and a white heron which flew very close to us. It was a warm sunny day and it was very pleasant sitting outside, eating good food and relaxing. We walked around the Marina complex after lunch and checked out the charter boats.We watched
one of the fishermen from the charter boats gutting some fish while the birds grabbed the offcuts, reminding us of the dock in the Galapagos.
Once on the road again we motored on along this remarkable highway. The Keys are a series of islands now linked by the road. At one stage there is a 7 mile concourse which stretches across the water, We arrived into Key West about 4pm.We easily found Duval street and our accomodation at the Duval House. This is a complex of old restored wooden buildings set in beautiful gardens. We were greeted warmly by John and offered a beer in a complimentary stubbie holder..He then showed us around the complex and took us to our room. This was great! Though small it had atmosphere and was very comfortable. We settled in quickly.
We then set out to explore the town This is fantastic as the main part of the town consists of beautifully restored wooden houses, first built in the early years of the 20th Century. We strolled towards the "wild" end of town where there are many bars and shops. After perusing many of the wares we stopped at a bar called
Will's where there was live music. We decided to listen and had a G&T while enjoying the 60s music. After a couple more drinks we returned to investigate the other end of the street which was still buzzing with people and activity. I did spot a bar called Mary Ellen's so have questions to ask of my friend, Mary Zora!! We had a booking for dinner at a beautiful restaurant called 915, its address on Duval Street.The restaurant is set in a two-storey wooden house and our table was in the front garden. it was a warm starry night so very pleasant dining. Here we spent a couple of hours having excellent food and wide discussions about a variety of topics with both our Pommy waiter and the American family at the next table, My prawn linguine was especially delicious. A splendid night with excellent food and wine.
After a sound night's sleep I awoke to find Fletcher was already up and out. After I showered and dressed he finally returned and said he had been walking around the town and had thoroughly enjoyed what he saw. We had the included breakfast sitting out in the garden which was
a lovely setting. We checked out, leaving the car parked at the hotel and walked one block along and another to the south and arrived at Ernest Hemingway's house. One of America's finest writers, he lived in Key West for 6 years in the 1930s during which time he wrote manyaa of his famous novels, including ForWhom the Bell Tolls.. His house is now a museum and home to 56 cats. Hemingway had admired the pet cat of a friend who was a merchant captain and was intrigued to discover the cat was polydactyl, with 6 toes on each paw. The captain gave him one of his cat's litter and thus it expanded from there. They now breed the cats for their polydactilism.We strolled though the house admiiring the many photos of Hemingway with Hollywood stars and other friends. His writing room was interesting, an upstairs room, separate from the main house. It looked a very inspiring place to write. We continued out into the gardens. These are lush and richly garnished with a wide range of flowering plants. The swimming pool was built in the early 30s when it was unheard of in Key West. We saw many more
cats here, going where they pleased but well fed anad looked after.There were 100s of tourists either miling around or waiting to get in. A popular attraction.
From there we walked along Whiteshead St to the end where the marker showing the Southernmost point of Continental USA is located. We took a photo from the reverse side as the queue to take a photo with the words showing would have seen us waiting at least a half hour. I was feeling rather dodgy by then so we stopped for an orange juice at the Southernmost house in America on South beach, We then returned to collect the car and drove along the beach road, We stopped at Higgs beach which was very sandy and would make a great family place to stay. We discovered some of the history of the area at the African cemetry where nearly 300 slaves whoshad been rescued from 3 illegal slave ships by the US Navy, are buried in unmarked graves.Next to this is the West Martelo tower.This was built to protect the coast during the Civil War. It is now in ruins but preserved now containing a garden centre. There is another one,
the East tower further along the coast.From there we headed off to Highway 1 North back towards Miami. I had booked us into the Pelican Cottages for the night which is on the main highway.. It was an easy drive back along this interesting road. Again we kept looking for places to stop, especially for lunch. After 2 hours of Fletcher rejecting all my recommendations, either they were on the wrong side, we had already passed them or they looked dodgy, we finally halted at The Green Turtle which promised to be a Grill and Wine Bar. This proved to be a standard, but a little upmarket, American diner .with the standard burgers ad club sandwich fare. However, Fletcher had the Turkey club sandwich and I had a chicken BLT. Both were good with very tasty french fries and not too huge. We had a couple of Stella's to wash it down and spent a pleasant hour there.
Back on the road again it was a short drive to Key Largo and we found the Pelican Cottages quite easily. From the road these look a bit run down but looks can be deceptive. We checked in and were assigned
an upstairs room which had two double beds, a fully equipped kitchen and a lounge with a full size TV. Very comfortable. We left our luggage in the room and went down to the beach area. This had three docks jutting out into the very mirror-like sea and a small sandy beach. We chatted to an American couple there and enjoyed the evening sun. From there we returned to unpack a little and then headed along the road to the Bayside Bar which the owner of the Cottages had recommended. We had a few drinks while watching the sunset and the antics of some small boys as they played on an oversized chair on the beach. A very relaxing and enjoyable interlude.
Our final excursion for the night was a walk back past the cottages to the adjacent Mrs Mac's Kitchen. Now with a name like that how could I not try their menu??? We opted for Crab cakes for me and a surf and turf for Fletcher. Both came with fries of course! They are ubiquitous here and in large numbers. My crab was very yummy while Fletcher enjoyed his steak and large lobster tail. For dessert we
had to try the Key Lime Pie which is the local delicacy. Very sweet but enjoyable. Well-sated we returned to our room to use the internet and then for a good night's sleep!
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