I chose what we did today – Key West :-). I will miss the valet service at Hawks Cay. We stand on the front deck while one of the charming young men fetches our car. That gives us some time to admire the view. Then he opens the door, we hop in and off we go!
I didn’t have any breakfast apart from a coffee which is not at all healthy but I wanted to save myself for a wickedly American lunch.
So what is it like driving through the Keys? Beautiful! This is my view while we drove along the Seven Mile Bridge. We are heading South and it is about 9am.
It was calm and sunny again today. The Keys are narrow enough in places that you can see the Atlantic Ocean to the East and Florida Bay to the West. You can see the sun rise over the ocean and then set over the ocean and not have to move. The sea is dotted with smaller Keys (islands) and boats.
The edges of most of the Keys are packed with gorgeous houses and some hotels, most of which have docks for the boats.
Driving here is easy and pleasurable. We arrived in Key West and it is just as gorgeous as I remembered.
Practically every house
and every street
or shop (this is a hammock shop)
is worthy of a photo. I have veranda and swing seat envy.
There are beautiful flowers
and even a lighthouse. Well, you soon learn to expect the unexpected in Key West.
Such as chickens.
Yes, there are chickens everywhere – this lot were outside the Post Office !
Even the dentist has a sense of humour.
This charming church was cool as they opened all the large wondows down the sides. It was hot today (86 °) so it was lovely to stand in the cool for a while.
It was urban beauty sensory over load. I wanted to resign from my job, sell my house and move here. The ambience and atmosphere is perfect for me as it is so laid back during the day. Lots of partying by night which is probably annoying for the locals but by day this place is perfect for me. Apparently it gets very crowded when the cruise ships dock here so maybe I will come home after all.
My main mission for today was to go in to the house along this street.
On the other side of this wall is Ernest Hemingway’s house.
He lived here for 9 years and during that time wrote approximately half of the books for which he is well known. We looked around ourselves and went on a tour so I can tell you that he built this wall himself with a friend, to stop people peering in. The house is not big but it is gorgeous.
It was built from blocks of coral stone so the walls are very thick which helps keep it cool. The vegetation around the house is lush and tropical.
The bananas are nearly ripe.
How wonderful to have a large garden around your house in the centre of town.
One of Hemingway’s 4 wives had the swimming pool installed while he was away as a surprise. It is the first saltwater pool to be installed in the Keys and was very expensive; it cost $20,000 in the 1930’s which was a lot of money then.
It looks fantastic.
Apparently Hemingway was furious and he retaliated by installing a urinal next to it, taken from the refurbishment of his favourite bar. A gardener later disguised it and made it in to a fountain.
Hemingway was certainly a character. Inside his bedroom was a headboard he had made from a gate and posts he found in Spain
plus part of his collection of Spanish birthing stools which he enjoyed carrying around to sit on.
The house has largely been left as it was when he was there. This family bathroom is exactly as it was first installed in the 1930’s (with the exception of the fan and cabinet!).
The house felt spacious and cool inside.
All round the house was a lovely verandah on the first floor.
Separate from the house is a small building. The top floor was Hemingway’s study where he wrote.
He wrote on this typewriter and also with pencil. I think I need my own little building and study – then I may manage to write a novel or two :-).
There are 45 cats living in the house, about half of which have 6 toes. I didn’t photograph the cats but Harvey has plenty of photos of 6 toed cats :-). We all enjoyed looking round the house and gardens and learning more about this fascinating person. I am trying to read a Hemingway novel, and chose this one as it is set in the Keys.
I confess I am struggling and failing to grasp what is so great about Hemingway’s writing. I shall persevere.
Lunch was not a dieter’s dream but it was enjoyable. We returned to Mattheessen’s 4th of July where I had a blackened burger with blue cheese
followed by a Cookie Monster sundae. I did share this with Harvey but even so it was a disgusting amount of ice cream, hot fudge sauce and a choc chip cookie to get through!
On the way back from Key West,
I saw loads of Pelicans – one of my favourite birds :-).
We returned to our hotel for a final afternoon of swimming,
braving the cold shower
and jumping in to the hot spa.
Then we went out for a final meal. We looked up the top local restaurant on Trip Advisor and went there – The Butterfly Cafe.
It was great but I ate way too much and am now completely stuffed. This was one of the very few places we ate in this trip which provided bread when we sat down. One had cheese in and the other was herby, served with whipped butter.
I had the daily special which was Yellowfish Snapper stuffed with crab meat, served with a modest amount of mashed potato (hiding under the flower) and asparagus. It was light, full of flavour and delicious.
For dessert Lara and I shared a Creme Brulee and a date cake (like a sticky toffee pudding).
Lara could eat a large dinner with no guilt as she didn’t have lunch with us today and spent an hour in the gymn before dinner. Hmmm, I can learn from my daughter’s disciplined ways.
It was all very lovely and a delicious treat with which to end our wonderful holiday. I have loved the Florida Keys and highly recommend them as a holiday destination. I feel rested and refreshed which is stark contrast to how exhausted I felt when I arrived here. I am definitely ready to get back to eating healthily and losing weight again though.
See you back in England 🙂