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Old 09-03-2012, 10:56 AM   #1
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Fred and Wilma - 'The Keys' to 'The World' - Day 2

Monday 13th August – Key West aka Mama said there’d be days like this

Although I was awake at 5, I decided that both boys needed to catch up so let them both sleep in. Meanwhile, I took up residence in the bathroom and wrote up my notes from the day before. Today we were going to Key West and, even more exciting, we had plans to meet up with another DISer, Karin (dizneeat), and her brother Tom. Karin and I have been friends for a couple of years now, since I started reading her wonderful trip reports and food reviews on the DIS. I happened to mention, on one of her reviews, that I loved a particular brand of biscuit served to them on one of their flights. Next thing, Karin had kindly offered to send me some in the post. Imagine my surprise when a HUGE box of Austrian goodies showed up on my doorstep. To say that she was a very popular lady in our household was an understatement To our delight, Karin and Tom were going to be staying in Key West and were arriving on the same day we’d planned to visit so it would have been a crime not to try and get together. Discussions were held and plans were made to meet for dinner at Turtle Kraals in Key West. Fate tried its best to conspire against us that day and, it appeared that maybe we wouldn’t get to meet at all. So, did we get to meet? Stay tuned and find out…

Back in the room, it was after 8am and I decided that the boys needed to be up. I was already showered and ready before the boys surfaced so I popped down to the Starbucks concession in the hotel lobby and grabbed a tea for Gary and a couple of cinnamon rolls for breakfast ($12.03).

Yummy, cinnamony goodness

We really wanted to be in Key West by 10 but we weren’t ready to leave until gone 9. This probably should have been the first sign that things weren’t going to go according to plan today. Given that this was supposed to be the ‘laid back’ part of the holiday, though, I tried my best not to get too uptight about it. I had decided to minimise what I was carrying today so left the camera case back in the room and just put the camera into my bag. Soon, we were on the road. We drove down the overseas highway, taking in the sights and snapping pictures along the way. Driving across seven-mile bridge was just unbelievable and I still can’t get over how breathtakingly beautiful the view is.

It’s just a road, why is it so damn pretty?

It was quite odd to see the old Flagler railway by the side of the road, in the middle of the ocean.

Oops, where did the track go?

I had just turned the camera on to take some more pictures and the ‘low battery’ light came on. No prizes for guessing where the spare battery was

We arrived in Key West and easily found the car park at Key West Bight. Thank goodness for Copilot, I suspect we would never have found it without. It cost $16.25 for all-day parking (makes Disney parking prices look cheap), however it was very close to where we were meeting Karin and Tom so it suited our needs. Plus, it saved us having to drive all over Key West looking for a metered (or free) space.

I wasn’t too worried that we were behind schedule as there were only two things I definitely wanted to do today – visit Hemingway’s House and have our picture taken at Southernmost Point. I had originally planned for us to go to Southernmost Point early, before it got too hot or crowded, however since it was already 11.15, it was obvious that wasn’t going to happen so we decided to save it for later. We had pre-purchased tickets for the Old Town Trolley but, although there was a trolley stop right next to the car park, there was nowhere to exchange our vouchers. We decided to walk to Mallory Square and exchange our vouchers there. That way we could also start the tour from the beginning. We walked past Turtle Kraals and around the harbour.

Oops, someone smashed the car

Turtle Kraals

Which way then dear?

We passed stop 3, where I exchanged our vouchers and bought tickets to Hemingway House ($30). Gary went to buy a couple of bottles of water, although I have no idea how much they cost since he wasn’t very good at keeping receipts for things he paid for. In fact, the only time there are no costs in this trip report will be when Gary bought them and I wasn’t there to get the receipt.

Look at me!

We were going to just jump on the trolley at Stop 3 but Daniel and I both needed a comfort break. Since there were no public restrooms nearby, we decided to continue on to Mallory Square and use the restrooms in the shopping mall there. Outside, we waited at the trolley stop.

Custom House, Mallory Square

It was really hot and we were all just a bit fed up by now. We were even more fed up when an Old Town Trolley turned up and went sailing past without even stopping. When the second one passed, I marched across to the booth to find out why, only to be told that the Old Town Trolleys left from a different stop to all the others, outside the Key West Aquarium. Eventually we found the right place and discovered that the next trolley left at noon, giving us just enough time for a quick refreshment break.

Key Lime Pie…on a stick!

We also got an orange slushy drink – no idea of the cost (you know why). The key lime pie on a stick was delicious but very messy. We just shared one, which was more than enough, although Daniel kept moaning that he wanted one to himself.

We caught the 12 o’clock trolley but it was barely 5 minutes before we were at stop 5, the stop for Hemingway House, so we disembarked there. We got our tickets and entered the grounds of the house.

The house was really beautiful, as was the garden. Gary pointed out that, had I ever got round to writing that novel I’d always wanted to write, we could be living in a house like this.

Who lives in a house like this?

There was a guided tour leaving in just under 15 minutes so we decided to wait for that, rather than look around ourselves. Meanwhile, Daniel asked if he could wander round the grounds and garden while we were waiting. I suspected he wanted to try and find some of the famous polydactyl (6-toed) cats so we agreed he could wander round by himself as long as he stay out of trouble.

Cats with thumbs

The tour started and our guide led us from room to room, telling us a little about Ernest Hemingway as we went. At one point, he asked where we were from and then made a joke about being disappointed that Piccadilly Circus isn’t?!? He repeated it three times but it still wasn’t funny.

Inside the house of Hemingway

After we’d finished touring upstairs, we were walking around the upstairs patio area when I spotted Daniel down in the garden. He appeared to be limping or walking funny. I quickly went down and asked him what was wrong. It was then that I noticed he was soaking wet. It appeared that, while ‘exploring’, he had managed to slip and fall into a small stream at the bottom of the garden. Not only was he soaking wet but he was filthy too. To say I was fuming would be an understatement. I was so ashamed but angry at myself too for not having kept a closer eye on him. I felt like such a bad parent at that point, I can tell you. The biggest problem was that, as I’ve mentioned before, Daniel suffers from heat rash and we had discovered previously that the combination of being hot and wet was a sure-fire way to bring it on. I was really annoyed that he had more or less ruined the day. There was no way that we could continue with the tour now and it looked as though we may well have to cut our day in Key West short too. I was all for abandoning our remaining plans and heading back to the hotel; however Gary suggested that we catch the trolley back to Mallory Square and try to buy him some clean clothes. Of course, by this point, Daniel was upset at the thought that he had ruined our day out. There were tears and recriminations all round.

The trolley arrived as we reached the stop and we jumped on. Since we were only at stop 5, we had to stay on until the trolley arrived back at the beginning, back at Mallory Square. However, it was so warm that, by the time, we arrived at the stop for the Southernmost Point, Daniel was only damp so we decided to at least try and get our picture. It did make us laugh that the trolley driver was talking about the ‘boo-ey’ and we couldn’t figure out what she meant until we realised she meant the buoy

We were dropped off right by the Southernmost Hotel on the Beach, which I knew is where Karin and Tom were staying. I did have a quick look to see if I could spot them on any of the balconies but no luck. It looked lovely and I think I would like to stay here if we ever came back to Key West.

Southernmost Hotel on the Beach

We joined a small line of people waiting for pictures and fairly soon it was our turn. Of course, typically, it was at this point that my camera finally gave up the ghost. Luckily, I had my mobile phone with me in case Karin and Tom needed to get in touch. Although the camera on my phone isn’t great, it would have to do. A nice family waiting in line behind us agreed to take our picture and we returned the favour for them.

Could we BE any further south?

Continued in the next post…
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Old 09-03-2012, 11:00 AM   #2
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There were lots of ‘Southernmost’ things on this street so we had a few more pictures

The Southernmost House in the USA

But this one is MORE Southernmost

Daniel was more or less dry now so I made an executive decision that we would continue with our original plans. Next stop, Blue Heaven for their famous key lime pie.

Gateway to (Blue) Heaven

I had seen this place featured on a Man v Food Keys special and so we had to see if the pie tasted as good as it looked. We got some seats at the outdoor bar, in the shade, and ordered a couple of diet cokes for the boys and a Key West Lemonade for me (I needed a drink after the day I’d had so far).

When in Key West…

Yes, we’re friends again

We also ordered a slice of the key lime pie. It was huge and absolutely delicious. Unlike traditional key lime pie, it had meringue on top, rather than whipped cream, which somehow made it lighter and sweeter.

Mmmm, pie

The bartender was very complimentary about my hair, claiming it was standing up well in the humidity. I told her I used an anti-humidity product while in Florida, which I usually find does help keep my hair straight. I couldn’t remember the name of it for the life of me so she asked if I would mind Emailing her. We spent a pleasant hour or so chewing the fat, chatting about such things as hair, the Olympics, life in the Keys and cost of living in both Florida and the UK. We were having so much fun, I decided to kick back and have another drink. It was soon time to leave and head back to meet Karin and Tom.

We settled the check ($28.60 plus $7 tip), promised to Email the details of the hair stuff and headed back to continue the trolley tour. It was really very interesting and I was in a much more relaxed mood now.

Pie (and a couple of Key West Lemonades) makes everything better

Key West chickens

The original home of Pan American Airways

The most photographed highway end sign in the United States

Back at Turtle Kraals, I spotted Karin and Tom straight away. It was like meeting old friends and we were soon chatting away. Turtle Kraals was very busy and there was a turtle race taking place that night. Each person in the restaurant was given a number. If the turtle with that number won the race, you were given the opportunity to choose a key which could open a chest containing $450. Daniel and Gary both had number 1 so got the chance to choose a key each. Daniel, bless him, had spent the money before he’d even chosen his key but, sadly, neither of them were winners.

It was a great evening, with a pleasant meal and a few laughs. We joked a lot about the turtle race commentator – every time poor Tom opened his mouth to speak, the commentator started talking again and drowned him out. I wasn’t enamoured with the food but I think I chose badly. I am sure Karin will do a far better job of describing what we had and my photos are none too good but I will put them here anyway.

Chicken wings

Brisket sandwich

Brisket platter

The check came to just over $85 ($100 with tip).

It was getting late and we decided that we ought to get back as Daniel was starting to get uncomfortable and really needed to take his medication. We managed to find our way back out of Key West, despite many detours in place due to road works, and were soon on the Overseas Highway heading back to Duck Key.

Karin and Tom had given us some lovely little gifts, including a booklet of Austrian recipes, some photos of Austrian landmarks, a cute knitted Mickey tissue holder and a couple of lollipops for Daniel (one of which was demolished on the drive back).

Lovely gifts

My boy lollipop

It was starting to get dark as we crossed seven-mile bridge and the view was even more stunning in the half-light.

I could never tire of this view

What had started out as a pretty bad day had ended up really well. We were so glad to have got the chance to meet with Tom and Karin and had really enjoyed Key West. We would definitely go back as I don’t think we did it justice (and I am already craving another piece of that delicious key lime pie). Ironically, the least enjoyable part of the day was the one thing I’d been most looking forward to – Hemingway House. Putting aside the incident with Daniel, the guide was not that great and I don’t think I learned anything about Ernest Hemingway that I didn’t know before we went.

We arrived back at the resort just after 8.30 and were in bed and asleep by 10 (after unplugging the fridge again).
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Old 09-03-2012, 11:48 AM   #4
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Another great day, I can't believe how quickly you are getting them posted.
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Old 09-03-2012, 01:36 PM   #5
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I've reverted to my preferred trippie reply MO of opening a new window to type as I read. That way I won't forget anything I want to respond to by the time I get to the end. And the first thing I want to say is, great thread title!

As a self-processed reformed control freak, I'm trying not to get stressed by your late start/seemingly thwarted plans. I do find it much easier these days - really I do - but that doesn't stop me from fretting on your behalf! (Backtracking a bit after posting and trying to find my place, it's dawned on me what Copilot is! Co-pilot. Ahhhh! (Lightbulb moment.) I'd been reading it as coppalot!)

Love, love, LOVE Hemmingway's House. What I would give to see that!

however Gary suggested that we catch the trolley back to Mallory Square and try to buy him some clean clothes
Thank goodness for a dad's common sense. Props to Gary.

It did make us laugh that the trolley driver was talking about the ‘boo-ey’ and we couldn’t figure out what she meant until we realised she meant the buoy.
You haven't been paying enough attention to the Alan Jackson/Jimmy Buffett classic, It's Five O'Clock Somewhere. (And I know you've been subjected to it often enough! )

Love all the shots of Key West. We definitely need to make it there someday soon. Feeling quite envious about the chillaxed drinks and hair chat. #littlethingsandallthat

I was pretty sure you'd get to meet Karin and Tom, but pleased nonetheless to discover that you did. Isn't the DIS just dandy?

I wrote my piece about Hemingway House before I reached the end of your report and read your views. That's often the way, isn't it, that the things we build up the most are disappointing? That said, I don't think I could pass by and not visit. And another time, another day, your experience could have been totally different.

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Old 09-03-2012, 01:47 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by UKDEB View Post
(Backtracking a bit after posting and trying to find my place, it's dawned on me what Copilot is! Co-pilot. Ahhhh! (Lightbulb moment.) I'd been reading it as coppalot!)
Deb, too funny - at the beginning of the next instalment, I will have to now tell the story of 'coppalot'

Originally Posted by UKDEB View Post
You haven't been paying enough attention to the Alan Jackson/Jimmy Buffett classic, It's Five O'Clock Somewhere. (And I know you've been subjected to it often enough! )
Note to self: Pay more attention next time I am drunk at Deb's and that song is playing

Originally Posted by UKDEB View Post
I wrote my piece about Hemingway House before I reached the end of your report and read your views. That's often the way, isn't it, that the things we build up the most are disappointing? That said, I don't think I could pass by and not visit. And another time, another day, your experience could have been totally different.
Deb, ain't that just the truth - you may have read what I wrote on FB about our experience at Beach Club Villas. It was exactly the same. I think I just built it up too much.
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Old 09-03-2012, 01:49 PM   #7
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Great read.

Glad the day improved for the better with a couple of drinks
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Old 09-03-2012, 02:05 PM   #8
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Hi there Joh!!! What a great time in Key West - love the "southern most" everything. And that key lime pie.... oooohhh ahhhhh!!

Glad to see that your meet up with Karin and Tom worked out well. How nice to share a meal and spend time together! Wish we'd had more time with you and your family but there is always next time!!

Take care and I look forward to more of your adventures!
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Old 09-03-2012, 04:16 PM   #9
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Great day. Glad you met Karin & Tom(I never knew you knew them) I have tried twice and failed.

Looking forward to next update.
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Old 09-03-2012, 04:23 PM   #10
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I got day 1 up for Mike to read, came back to find him reading day 2, first thing he said to me, "Daniel fell in a stream, Joh was not happy", nothing about the beautiful Keys, I don't think my plan is working.

I think you should rename this TR, how much Key Lime Pie can one person eat.
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Old 09-03-2012, 04:28 PM   #11
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OMG !!!! The Southernmost Hotel .... we stayed there on our honeymoon ... it was just wonderful to see it again and made me feel all warm and fuzzy. That Key Lime pie looks incredible. I so need to go back to Key West
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Old 09-03-2012, 06:02 PM   #12
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Please tell me the name of the anti-humidity product!!! Next time I go I'd like to look less like King Louie from Jungle Book!!
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Old 09-03-2012, 06:40 PM   #13
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Another lovely day, despite a few setbacks. I bet it was so nice meeting Karin and Tom. I am also a fan of her fantastic dining reports. Now... You simply MUST share the name of the anti-frizz product you use!
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Old 09-04-2012, 07:46 AM   #14
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A lovely day in Key West and what a mahoosive slice of Key Lime Pie - yummy and definitely better for meringue on top instead of whipped cream.

Next time you go you really need to stay for sunset at Mallory Square Dock.

What a shame that Hemmingway's house was a disappointment - just shows that a bad guide can really spoil things.

Glad poor Daniel didn't end up with heat rash after the stream disaster.

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Old 09-05-2012, 02:09 AM   #15
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I love key lime pie and that slice was wow! Why do kids manage to find things AND fall in them? You turn your back for a nano second and bam in they go! Glad you enjoyed your dis meet
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