KEY WEST DAY 1
Let me start by turning back the clock just 2 weeks.....that's when my wife discloses that she has been shopping around for a warm place to retreat from the "Polar Vortex" . I don't care what the experts are calling this weather pattern, all I know is that it has nearly sucked all the fun out of me! I was truly happy to hear that I would be in flip flops soon! We would only have to wait 2 weeks for our college freshman daughter to return home for spring break.
Ok, now jump ahead to departure day, Tuesday March 11th! My wife found great airfare direct from Reagan National to Key West International . We had considered flying into Miami to experience the 4 hour drive down A1A, tickets were a little cheaper into Miami, but for an extra $300 we decided to land right in Key West. Another reason for us to fly direct was because we would only have a 4 day spring break! My wife and daughter have never been to the Keys and I was probably only 7 years old the last time, so we were all excited about trying something new! Departed Reagan around 9:30am and touched down in Key West at 12:10pm, how perfectly painless is that!
Stepping off the plane and onto the tarmac with our "carry on only" we were greeted by magnificent bright sunshine and 78 glorious degrees! I think I almost wept! We were second in line for our Avis red Ford Mustang convertible, which by the way only had 1,040 miles on it, and within 15 minutes we were driving into the heart of Old Town Key West with the sun on our pale faces and the wind in our hair!
Our condo check-in time was 3pm, so we decided to swing by the Historic Seaport for lunch. Found easy pay by the hour parking in a large lot behind the wharf. After raising our convertible top we all peeled off our extra layers of clothing and slipped on those flip flops! As our flip's began to flop on the marina docks we notice the Turtle Krawl Restaurant and Bar, this will do!
We had our choice of stools at the upper bar where we enjoyed the wonderful marina views and the scent of fresh salt water in the cool breeze. We kicked back and enjoyed a couple cold ones and 3 orders of blackened mahi fish taco's, very tasty! This was the first of many good meals on this trip, honestly not one complaint about service or quality of food anywhere we ate. After a great lunch at the Turtle Krawl we walked around the picturesque marina and side streets for a while, finding it easy to slow our stride in our flip flops.
As we skirted along the outer perimeter of Mallory Square I couldn't help but notice a large familiar object in the distance that I've been known to avoid..........
We reversed course and headed back through the comfortably sized crowds at the marina and decided to try to check into our condo a little early, can't get without asking right! We put the top down on the mustang and with some trepidation pointed this fire engine red sled towards Mallory Square and Duval Street. I soon discovered it wasn't as crazy as I had envisioned! The drive down Duval to our condo on Virginia St was a little slow but fun. Plenty of people walking and biking around but I expected more, perhaps they were at the beach?
Since my wife planned this trip only 2 weeks out... and since it was spring break for many schools....she found pretty much everything booked inside the historic Old Town section. Then just prior to pulling the trigger on a hotel outside of Old Town she finds a condo called Havana Hideaway on VRBO that had our dates open on their calendar? and unfortunately the website says "a stay of 5 nights or more required for these dates"..... but we only have 4 day/3 nights hmmmm I say "can't get without asking", so she shoots off an email and gets a quick response from the owner that says we are welcome to stay there, YES! This 2 story 2 bedroom condo was very nice, clean, quiet and perfectly located for easy walking to everything in town. They do advise that there's currently construction going on in the complex but we didn't hear anything. The property management company is located at the complex so check-in was very easy and took only a minute or 2. They were also nice enough to allow us to check-in 30 minutes early!
It was early, about 2:30, and the sun was shining so we quickly put on our bathing suits and drove just 5 minutes east to Higgs Beach. Plenty of parking was available for this nice beach. This was a sandy crushed coral mixture kind of beach, but not at all uncomfortable. We picked a wonderful spot close to the waters edge to spread out our beach towels. Then, without hesitation we proceeded to confidently expose our northern eggshell white skin to those who dared to look, I saw only one snicker and everyone else seemed to be shielding their eyes from the glare. Higgs Beach was perfect for our first day, there was a nice restaurant on the beach called Salute' that had ice cold beer and bottles of water. We left the beach just as happy hour started and the live music began, we had every intention of returning to Salute' for dinner but with only 4 days...........
With our mustang safely in her assigned gated parking space we went back up to the condo to get ready for the evening. Sunset was at 7:32, so we were walking Duval street by 6:30. The sidewalks were full of people, but still not as crowded as what I had imagined. We enjoyed a leisurely walk up Duval. The ladies instinctively hopped in and out of some shops along the way towards Mallory Square, while I took probably the bazillianth photo of infamous landmarks and some not so famous.
We arrived at the Sunset Pier with just a few minutes to spare before the sunset. Of course there was a lot of activity here and some pretty good live music. My wife and daughter walked down the pier to lay claim to "The Perfect Spot" to enjoy the sunset while I of course wait in line for an ice cold beer.
Now how can you top your first picture perfect sunset from Key West? that was truly awesome! At this point we were all getting pretty hungry so we decided to walk back over to the wharf to escape the fun crowds of Mallory Square. We found a table next to the docks at the Schooner Wharf Bar, fantastic place. They sat us at a great table next to the JWorld boats, I took my first sailing lessons with JWorld Annapolis and can't wait to take a cruising course this spring with them, but I digress! The food here was fantastic and the portions were as if my mom had plated the food, I couldn't finish it all! After a wonderful meal and some great live music we realized that the day had kicked our butts, we were exhausted, so with full bellies we shuffled back down to the other end of Duval Street and called it a night.
To be continued....... <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/Cheers.gif" alt="" />