Aruba, Jamaica, ooh, I wanna take you
Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama
Key Largo, Montego, baby why don’t we go
Jamaica, off the Florida Keys
There’s a place called Kokomo
That’s where you wanna go
To get away from it all
This is not Aruba or Jamaica or even Kokomo…but it is the Florida Keys, particularly Key West.
When friends and relatives visit us in SW Florida, we try to entertain them by showing them what our version of Paradise has to offer and this time, we decided to take them down to Key West.
Normally, we drive down …but to save a little time, we decided to take the Key West Express which is a very large catamaran that sails across the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and three and a half hours later, you are in Key West.
We started by passing the many shrimp boats at the docks as they were preparing to leave for the shrimp catching of the day.
Perhaps you have never visited Key West or if you have…this will bring back memories.
Come on with me….grab your cuppa and let’s take a tour of the islands of the keys.
Key West is very old and very quaint.
And there are always lots of tourists.
Confession time….even though the Captain and I have stayed at various hotels on the island of Key West…..we really prefer to stay in another of the Key Islands.
There are many to choose from. Key Largo (as in the song), Ocean Reef, Islamorada, Marathon and Deer Key just to name a very few.
Here is the scoop about the Florida Keys:
The Florida Keys are a string of tropical islands stretching about 120 miles off the southern tip of the U.S. state of Florida, between the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.
They’re known as a destination for fishing, boating, snorkeling and scuba diving….and of course they are tourist attractions.
Key West has many tourist attractions including Mallory Square which is on the waterfront with restaurants and shops and it is known for it’s nightly Sunset Celebration where many gather to watch the sunset.
This tropical paradise provides so many attractions all crammed into one small island.
Sponge museums, pirate museums, historic homes and did I mention lots of tourists?
The street corners boast of islanders playing steel pans. I never tire of this music.
You know, the calypso music forcing one to move your feet or arms or something that will sway with the music.
There are all kinds of shops….something for everyone.
Or perhaps one will hear blues singers accompanied by saxophone players from the dark cool recesses as we walk past the open doors of restaurants and sports bars.
Further down one will hear maracas and music from Spaniards or Cubans.
Quite a mix in this tropical paradise.
There is literally no room to build out, so the only way is to go up, as seen in these pictures of the many eating places along famous streets such as Duval and Flagler.
There are little trains and trolleys to take you around the island to see the historic buildings and restaurants.
Which are beautiful.
This church was recently repainted due to the affects of Hurricane Irma.
I love the pastel colors of Key West….and the city sees to it that home owners follow the strict painting codes.
Notable names of former (and current family members) residents are Earnest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, Henry Flagler, Harry S. Truman (Little White House),
The Audubon House, and many too numerous to mention.
The houses have very little property and sit very close together.
Some residents have purchased the homes which sit in front of them and made garages and a place to park off the street.
Trains and trolleys and bicycles and plain old walking show the wonderful old homes and other attractions in Key West.
And don’t be surprised if you hear a rooster crow.
True, we sat eating at this restaurant while two roosters just outside these windows were determining whose turf belonged to who.
Yes, my friends, chickens run wild up and down the streets and in and around houses.
One person said the feral chickens seem like the perfect metaphor for Key West -– historic, colorful, sort of wild, a little noisy and occasionally annoying.
The chickens are protected by the city because the residents mostly love them and call them gypsy chickens.
The story behind them comes in many colors.
It appears there have always been chickens in Key West.
Whether from backyard chickens gaining their freedom and procreating… to roosters released when cock-fighting became illegal.
And last but not least, the 54 (more or less) cats, many of them descendants of a white polydactyl cat owned by Ernest Hemingway, and they live at the writer’s house which was a stipulation in his will.
As a side note: the six and seven toed cats all survived Hurricane Irma, as a caretaker refused to leave them and ushered them all into the house to ride out the storm.
The streets of Key West are very narrow in many cases and sometimes walking can be dangerous although most of the village have a laid back attitude.
Residents endure the tourist trade because it is a necessary evil to keep their little bit of paradise progressing and surviving.
In the early years, Yellow Fever and small pox had threatened the island’s inhabitants, consequently, they have had to “start over” in keeping Key West alive.
So they welcome tourists and of course the money they bring.
There are so many historical homes in Key West. The posted details are always on the property, some public and some private.
The end of the road is exactly what it says…It is the actual end of the road (Highway 1) with this building to commemorate it.
So what would one expect to be at the end of the road?
The Southernmost piece of the Continental United States land of course.
This is a very popular photo opportunity for tourists as you can see.
There is always a huge line waiting to take a picture of friends or loved ones standing beside this historic marker.
One can not visit Key West without stopping here.
So my dear readers, Have you had the opportunity to visit Key West?
If not, you have now visited Key West through the Captain and I and our current guests.
Until next time….
Have a great and glorious day!