The Planning is Almost Finished – Travels with Allie.
Back to sun and hot weather today. What a lovely thing!
Fi and I had nail bar appointments this morning. Very good salon. My manicure was very thorough and she was very gentle around my broken thumb nail. Yikes. When I took the band aid off so she could begin, half my thumb nail came with it. Not a good moment…. Anyway, 90 minutes later my nails were looking spiffy again and Fi’s pedi had left her with dovelike feet and a nice polish.
The fellas were waiting outside for us. They’d used our lengthy stay as an excuse to go off to IHOP for a breakfast. But “only an over 55s one….”…. yep….
Once we were out of the salon, we headed due south and over the 7 Mile Bridge towards Key West. What an amazing feat the bridge is. Alongside it runs the old bridge which was originally a rail bridge. It is now reserved for pedestrians and pedal bikers although it is only intact as far as the first little islet, Pigeon Cay. Hurricanes have made gaps in it after that. The water on both sides of the causeways and bridges all the way south is the most extraordinary range of colours from true turquoise to palest green. Just lovely. A really beautiful drive and one I would totally recommend.
On the way south, we passed various campgrounds absolutely choc a bloc with camper vans, mostly huge, the size of tour coaches in Europe. I guess they belong to people of our sort of age, down from the northern states for the winter.
It’s about 48 miles from Marathon to Key West and it took about 75 minutes. Some parts of the road are heavily speed restricted because they are passing through areas where the Key Deer are protected. We didn’t see any, sadly.
Got to Key West around 1pm and parked up down near the south end of Duval Street. It was sunny and HOT. We walked down to the sea near the Southern Point Resort and out to the end of the little pier. The sea was still roughed up from the winds of the previous day but there were plenty of people on the beach. The old town houses of Key West are just so lovely. Clapperboard and built in all sizes from really small to turreted mansions. All with lovely tropical gardens surrounding them and also with wraparound balconies and porches, each with at least a couple of rocking chairs for sitting out. I would love a house like that, but I would be nervous of living in the Lower Keys. They get hit hard by hurricanes every 5 years or so…. too often for my comfort. However, Key West old town was still lovely, pastel painted and charming.
After we had walked the little pier, we split up. Bob and I headed north up Duval st. towards the Hemingway Mansion and Museum. Duval St. is very much tourist central but it still has a deal of charm. I expected it to be tacky and it wasn’t. Maybe we were lucky and saw it on a day when cruise ships were not in town, and it was relatively quiet. Anyway, it was much nicer than I expected. I thought it would be like Bourbon St. in New Orleans or Beale St in downtown Memphis – seedy and full of drunks. It wasn’t.
I was hungry by now, having not been party to the delights of IHOP so we paused at a sushi place and got 1 roll and some spring rolls as a snack. Then we called in at the Mel Fisher treasure shop. 32 years ago, I bought Bob a coin from the Spanish treasure ship wreck, the Atocha, which was found and salvaged by Mel Fisher. He mounted the coin for me in a lovely housing and Bob has worn it ever since. They were so pleased to see such an original coin in good shape and would buy it back if Bob ever wanted to sell (unlikely). Nice to know.
We walked around to the Ernest Hemingway house and museum. It was just lovely. A beautiful old home wrapped around with balconies and terraces and set in a lovely tropical garden. Not a huge place at all. 2 bedrooms and bathrooms upstairs, a lounge, dining room and kitchen downstairs. A separate studio house in the garden, where he wrote. He bought the house in 1931 and the swimming pool was the first in ground pool within 100 miles. The cost was so exorbitant ($20,000) that he was prompted to press a penny into the surrounding cement and dub it “the last penny I’ve got”. The house is filled with memorabilia of an incredible life, lived to the full. One interesting remembrance is the plethora of 6 toed cats who inhabit the site. Hemingway was gifted a 6 toed cat, and the descendants of that cat now live the life of riley in the house and the grounds. There are cat houses throughout the gardens but they are also inside. 2 of them were asleep on Hemingway’s bed when we toured through. It was a fascinating visit and well worth the time. If you get there, it’s a must.
Afterwards we walked past the lighthouse, just across the road from Hemingway’s house and down to the buoy which marks the southernmost point. After we’d visited there it was about 415 so we set off to the beach front for a cocktail. We sat in the gardens of the Cafe at the Mansion at the South Point and had a margarita. As we left, we bumped into the owner, a charming man who invited us to come inside and see the rooms. It was a dream of a place, turrets, wonderful victoriana…. as he said though…. you wouldn’t want the upkeep costs….
At 5, we walked across the street to the Southernmost Resort for Happy Hour and met up with Fi and Stuart. They had walked to Mallory Park and the Sunset Pier – all the way along Duval Street and further and had also been to the Buoy and the lighthouse. We had a couple of drinks at the bar and then moved to the dining room overlooking the sea for a lovely dinner. Bob, Stuart and I all had the mixed fried seafood and Fi had beef tenderloin. All were yum. Sadly the sunset disappeared into a cloudy horizon……
We headed back north to Marathon about 8ish, 3 of us nodding away…. Bob driving….. A lovely day. Key West was much more charming than I’d dared hope. I think we saw it at its best, uncrowded, sunny and full of re-opening spirit. I could definitely spend a week there, deep in pastel coloured margaritaville…..