Around three hours south of Miami is the spectacular Florida Keys. I travelled to the most southern island; Key West. Driving down through the keys is an experience in itself. You navigate along the narrow road and cross the infamous 7 mile bridge. I travelled by coach along the meandering road with water on each side, where I felt I was literally skimming over the blue ocean. Each Key that I passed had its own unique character. My only wish was that I was not confined by the restrictions of travelling by coach and had driven myself. This would have given me an opportunity to stop off at each place and explore. However, due to time constraints my main aim was to get to Key West as soon as possible. This certainly was a place that did not disappoint.
As soon as I arrived I had an immediate smile on my face as the place was like a little haven of nautical happiness. Each street was adorned with wooden clad, pastel coloured houses with gorgeous gardens with beautiful names to match. Every house felt like a home with a unique story and individual character.
It’s laid back vibe was infectious and charming with chickens walking aimlessly around and small coconut stands on street corners. Everywhere you turned you were greeted with colourful art work and majestic door ways.
Although I could have wandered its charismatic streets all day, due to time constraints, my friends and I took the Key West Trolley Tour. This tour gave personalised and detailed information on the history of Key West and where to find the best food and drink. You were able to hop and hop off from conveniently located stops all over Key West. You were always guaranteed to be greeted by a friendly and enthusiastic driver, who was also your tour guide. This friendly persona was echoed through the streets, where live music is often playing at the open bars. This open mindedness and culture of acceptance was seen in every local person I chatted with.
The old town was like stepping back in time; with old fashioned bars such as Whistle Bar and the infamous Sloppy Joe’s frequented by Ernest Hemingway. Donned with historical photographs and cultural references, Sloppy Joe’s told a tale of an America that I have only read about.
If Hemingway is of interest to you, you can also visit his house on the Southern coast of the Island. This unique visitor attraction was home to Hemingway from 1931 to 1939 and was one of the first houses on the island to be fitted with indoor plumbing, an upstairs bathroom and the first swimming pool in Key West. You may not be the only visitors in Hemingway’s house, as it is adorned with unique six toed cats. Yes, you read that correctly!
Visiting the Keys you cannot leave without trying their famous Key Lime Pie. This sweet and tangy dessert is all over the island but according to our tour guide, the best place to try it is Kermit Key Lime Pie. Sit outside in the gorgeous sun and observe the beautiful streets and houses as you taste this tantalising dessert. I must say it was the only time my friends and I were completely silent on this trip! It was as creamy and tasty as you would expect and I was tempted to have two or three slices at the same time.
Whilst I’m on the subject of food, I have to mention the delicious Conch Fritters and Coconut Shrimp. These delightful treats are sold in abundance here and are traditional to this island. If you like seafood, they are definitely worth trying as a snack or even for lunch with an additional selection of fresh seafood accompaniments.
Although it’s very touristy; being in the most Southern point of continental US, I had to stop off at the marker point to get my photograph. You will have to wait in a long queue of people however like any Brit that is used to queuing, this strikes up new conversations with others where you can share your experiences from people from round the globe. This is something you cannot leave the island without doing.
Everything in this area is called “the Southernmost…” so be sure to visit the Southernmost Beach. Albeit small, this wee suntrap is the perfect place to relax and grab a drink or food at the most Southern bar on the island.
Sadly my time in Key West had to end, however as our coach departed i was lucky to see the glorious sunset visible over the water. The majestic colours of the sinking sun truly took my breath away and was tranquil end to a lovely trip.