February 6, 2014

Our First Time In Key West - Day Two

The plan for our one full day in Key West was to have an early breakfast and then split up for a while. Beaver and I wanted to visit the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum but our kids had been there and done that so they made other plans.  We met on the street outside our hotel and walked several blocks to The Six Toed Cat for breakfast.

Wild rooster vies for a hen's attention early in the morning.
It wouldn't be morning in Key West without the loud crows and the hopping, prancing strut of street roosters trying to establish the pecking order of the day.  I proved myself to be quite the city girl, stopping in the middle of the street to take pictures and videos, as if I've never seen a chicken before.  I was infatuated with the antics of these creatures.

At The Six Toed Cat we had a really big, tasty breakfast on the porch.  I had a Western omelet which came with probably the best hash browns I've ever eaten anywhere.  Entertainment was provided by their porch rooster, an affable fellow who made it his job to diligently check for any clue that a patron was about to drop some morsel of breakfast on the deck.  He checked me out but apparently decided I was a tidy eater and left me alone.  Good thing too because I would have spent the entire meal gawking at him and taking pictures if he was within camera frame.

This rooster at The Six Toed Cat was committed to keeping the floor crumb-free.
After breakfast it was a short walk across the street to Hemingway's house.  We walked right in the gate without waiting.  It was shortly after they opened for the day, around 9:00 a.m.  By the time we left, I'm guessing around 10:00 a.m., there was a long line down the sidewalk, so make a note to get there early.  We nosed around the interior and lushly landscape grounds while waiting for the tour to start.  It was fun to see the legendary cats, many of them indeed six-toed, and to imagine Hemingway walking the paths, mentally editing his masterpieces while he tended to his kitties.

Giant spider web glistens with morning dew outside Ernest Hemingway's home.
In Ernest Hemingway's front parlor a cat displays a cheeky disregard for human rules.
Hemingway's balcony view of the lighthouse, framed by his African Tulip Tree, is the subject of many paintings seen in Key West art galleries.
The tour was informative.  We learned little tidbits about Ernest and Pauline and their life there, that we hadn't known before, in addition to hearing some of the infamous stories retold in context.

Later we met up with Captain Morgan and Princess (who visited Ripley's Believe It Or Not museum while we were at the Hemingway Home) at the World of Beer, where we all enjoyed a craft beer and compared notes about our morning.  Our son informed us that since WOB serves no food it is customary to bring your own meals there, to eat with your beer.  We were still stuffed from breakfast but had the timing been right, there's a food truck down the street that's very popular, and it would have been an easy lunch to bring in.  Garbo's Grill had a line of people and a crowd of patrons perched wherever they could find a seat, eating heartily.  It's a place Beaver and I would have missed if it hadn't been for the kids.  Next time we visit Key West we'll grab lunch at Garbo's.

The schooner Western Union (left) is the flagship of the state of Florida, and you can board it for a sunset sail.
Many boats, both private and commercial, line the docks at A & B Marina in Key West.
Giant tarpon lurk near the docks.  We later found out that they're hanging around waiting for the Feeding, a daily show put on by the marina.
We walked north to the harbor to have a look at the schooners, yachts and commercial fishing boats, and all the colorful people and fish that hang around such places.  That was where Beaver and Princess saw signs for fresh oysters.  Our mission for lunch was settled.  None of us were hungry but the idea was that you had to do lunch in order to begin your afternoon, so you could then do dinner.

Alonzo's Oyster Bar is located right on the Harbor Walk and most tables offer views of the harbor and docks.  I ordered peel and eat boiled spicy shrimp (not a raw oyster fan myself) and the others enjoyed some of the biggest oysters we've seen.

Our afternoon was spent shopping for the perfect Key West t-shirt (Beaver), the perfect work of art (Princess), and the perfect Coach handbag (me and Princess).  Our alert son found the perfect rum distillery -- in fact the only rum distillery -- where we happily agreed to sample their product.  Key West Legal Rum Distillery also sells bottles of their rum and you can go into the room where the still is for a behind the scenes look at the rum-making process.

Naturally this sign attracted our attention.

A giant fish presides over the upstairs balcony at Pinchers Crab Shack on Duval Street.

Tour train cruises by gay pride flags.
Trolleys, electric cars, and walkers move the masses.
The First Florida (later Wachovia) bank building now houses a t-shirt shop.
St. Paul's Episcopal Church glows in the late afternoon sun.
Captain Tony's is the original location of Sloppy Joe's.  Both bars are full of Key West history.
Key West street vendor sells jewelry made out of fish hooks.
Classic Bentley parked outside a Duval Street shop.
"What can I say?"  Angel Garcia sells cigars.
No action in the bar this time of day.
The beautiful old Strand movie theater is the unlikely home of Walgreens on Duval Street.
This sign made me laugh.
Bathroom breaks at the hotel, stops at storefront bars for the occasional refreshment, and nosing around in various galleries and stores punctuated our long day on Duval Street and the area around it.  Captain Morgan was wearing his Fitbit which  recorded us as having walked nearly 8 miles.

The quiet courtyard at Marrero's Guest Mansion.
Purple towels for the swimmers at Marrero's Guest Mansion.
At the end of the day we decided to take a load off and sit for a while with ice cold mojitos in hand.  We found the perfect spot on water's edge at Mallory Square to rest and watch the celebration and wait for the sunset.
A schooner cruises out to open water for the nightly Sunset Sail.
Blood red sails distinguish the schooner Jolly II Rover.
And there you have it - sunset in Key West.
We ate supper that night at the tiny Kojin Noodle Bar.  It was nice to have a low-key meal after such a busy day.  The food was good and the people were friendly.  After that we had but one thing left to do.  You simply can't visit Key West without sampling a big fat slice of key lime pie!  Blue Heaven was our destination, where we sat at the bar, listened to the band, and ate their famous pie.

My rice bowl at Kojin Noodle Bar.

I was exhausted.  It was only about 7:30 p.m. but to me it felt like it was 10 or 11, and my feet hurt, and I just wanted to get away from the lights and the crowds and read a while. Beaver stopped in the Walgreens to buy some bottled water to take back to the hotel, and while I read fell dead asleep he spent a couple of hours uploading the many photos we took.  Captain Morgan and Princess partied on until the wee hours, being the young people that they are.

The next morning we met at Sarabeth's for breakfast.  It is located on a street that overlooks a part of Key West that reminded me of Savannah or Charleston -- very southern, big oak trees, hanging moss, old homes, shady street -- and so breakfast on the porch was quite pleasant (and very good too!).  And then it was time to leave Key West for home.

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