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A side trip to Key West Part 2 - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Other Florida

We awoke to another beautiful day, a blue, cloudless sky and a warm gentle breeze, it was only 8am and already in the mid 70’s…. it was going to be a warm one! After breakfast al fresco we decided to take a formal tour of Key West, this would have a twofold benefit, it would orientate us to the area and offer us suggestions as to how to spend our short stay here, we didn’t want to miss anything.

There are various tours offered and amongst the most popular are the Conch Train Tour and the Old Town Trolley tour, their vehicles can be spotted in all areas of

Key West, air conditioned via the open windows and narrated over a speaker system by the drivers. We opted for the Old Town Trolley tour as we had done this tour in other US cities and know that it offers lots of information. For $25 we got a day ticket which offered hop on and hop off privileges and covered 12 stops around Key West.

We decided to take a full circuit on the bus so that we could decide where we wanted to return to later in the day.

We bought our tickets at the depot before boarding the bus, but you can board any where along the route and buy your tickets on board. It was busy to start with as most people joined the tour here, at stop one, but as people left at their chosen destinations the number of passengers thinned out and we were able to spread out a little.

Our driver was informative and amusing, pointing out places of interest en route and adding his own little anecdotes to the narrative. Did you know that the average year round temp in Key West is 76 degrees and that it is the only frost free city in the US?

Do you know that the inside of the front porch roofs are often painted blue so that flying insects, particularly bees and wasps confuse them with the sky and don’t build their nests there!

We made a note to return to The Hemingway House, the lighthouse, President Truman’s Little Whitehouse and possibly try and fit in a trip to the beaches.

The tour was a pleasant way to orientate ourselves to Key West and when we left the bus at the stop where we had originally boarded we decided to wander around by the harbour and save The Hemingway House for the afternoon. We strolled along through the town and on to the old part of the harbour, stopping to watch the fishermen bring in their catches and prepare them for market and for the restaurants. All the restaurants around seemed very busy, a sure sign that the food is good. They were also very casual, with the servers in tank tops and cut off jeans, this was real island life!

We lingered over lunch and drinks and then decided to head off to The Hemingway House, via the trolley bus. We boarded at stop 2 and left at stop 5 which was the closest to our destination. The museum and house were interesting and you can read about our visit here;

http://www. uscarhire. co. uk/florida-trips/hemingway-house-and-museum-key-west. aspx

After leaving the house we crossed the street to the lighthouse which dates back to 1825, I didn’t fancy the 88 steps to the top so I chose to sit it out whilst the other three, with better knees than me, made the ascent! Apparently it offered good views but other than that I hadn’t missed much.

Following this we decided to walk to the Southernmost Point and take the obligatory photographs! Key West is only 90 miles from Cuba and is actually closer to its’ Hispanic neighbour than it is to the US mainland.

After the walk out to The Southernmost point we felt we deserved to take the trolley back and we enjoyed a huge ice cream from the souvenir shop as we sat and waited for the bus, unlike many tours and transportations, you are welcome to take food and drink on board.

We boarded the bus at trolley stop 10 and left at trolley stop 3, by this time we had done almost 2 full circuits and all agreed it was good value for money.

Leaving the bus at the bottom of Duval St we stopped off at the famous Sloppy Joes Bar for a drink before making our way back to our accommodation ready for our evening meal.

This evening we were a little choosier with our choice of restaurant and opted to eat at The Grand Café on Duval St. The restaurant looked appealing from the street with al fresco dining under cream canvas umbrellas bedecked with fairy lights. We had to wait about 20 minutes for a table outside, but could have been seated immediately if we had chosen to eat indoors. Waiting wasn’t a problem and when we were seated we enjoyed excellent service and a superb meal. We all chose different entrees and none of us were disappointed with our choices. It wasn’t the cheapest place to eat but the quality of food, ambience and service was far superior to that of the previous evening.

We finished off the evening by having a round of drinks in one of the bars with live music, of which there are many in Duval St, before wandering home to bed.

To be continued with final part………

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