Archive for November 2012

Key West…good-bye…for now   Leave a comment

Ah, the last morning.  I try not to let depression overwhelm me and insist that we go out for breakfast.  We almost stop by Two Friends again, but on yet another fantastically sunny day, I have to see the Bight one more time.

We walk to Schooner Wharf Bar and decide to sit at one of the sticky tables in the sun.  I’ve read dubious things about the food here (and the condition of the bathroom…which I skipped visiting!) but had read that breakfast is pretty good…or at least safe!  The waitress was friendly and quickly took our order.  The coffee was weak, but after a few days without caffeine (we’d been kicking off  our morning Bloody Mary style!), the coffee was a welcome change.  We both ordered breakfast sandwiches, which at $8 each were huge.  I was a little dubious about the sticky table (seriously, it was very tacky to the touch) but they are obviously aware of that.  The waitress delivered everything in little paper tubs (even the utensils) so nothing touched the table.  They also have hand sanitizer in the little condiment caddy.  Overall, breakfast was fine…the one bad thing was that the propane tanks for the outdoor heaters had been changed as we sat down.  I’m not sure if one was leaking, but there was a heavy propane odor in the air.

Oddly that would have bothered me elsewhere, but it was my last few hours in Key West and I was sitting in the sun.  All was right in the world. 🙂

Back at the room we had about an hour to kill before we needed to check out and catch a cab.  DH happily spent his time on our balcony watching the Gulf traffic.  I took one last walk to Mallory Square and half-heartedly thought about shopping.  The morning was simply too gorgeous to be indoors.  Again, not a cloud in the sky, and it seems the wind had finally died down just in time for us to leave.

We bid the Pier House adieu and asked the Front Desk to call us a cab.  One arrived within minutes and we were (sadly) on our way to the airport.

Check in went too quickly and before we knew it we were through security and killing time at the terminal.  I should have known they’d have a bar (Last Call this time) but I certainly didn’t expect that they had a little beach area, complete with sand, set up!  Only in Key West!!!

Here is where things went south on us (and why I didn’t finish this blog yesterday).  We arrived at Tampa in plenty of time for our connection (we had a two-hour layover)…but Southwest gave our plane to people bound for Chicago when it turned out that their plane had a malfunction.  Our layover stretched from two to seven hours!  Ugh!  We finally arrived home in the wee hours on Sunday…which effectively messed up our entire day!

The good news is that Southwest gave us each $100 voucher…now we just have to decide when we’re using that to return to Key West!!  We definitely have Keys Disease!!!

We had such a great time this trip and I am so glad that we tried out some new places.  I think I have a tendency to stick with “favorites”, but this time we only stopped at a couple of places that we’d been to before.  The list of new “tries”:

Island Dogs – great for watching the Patriots play and excellent char-grilled oysters!

Mr. Z’s – wonderful, hot, and cheesy pizza

Jack Flats – great for watching multiple sporting events…huge TV’s!

White Tarpon – 50 cent freshly shucked oysters and $2.50 beers noon -9:00…what’s not to like?

Bistro 245 – great location, impeccable service

Conch Republic – currently our new favorite bar with good appetizers and 2 for 1 beverages at Happy Hour

Smokin’ Tuna – off Duval, great atmosphere!

Two Friends – really tasty breakfast and again friendly service (is there anything but in KW?)

Schooner Wharf Bar – interesting atmosphere, decent breakfast

Kelly’s – best key lime margarita EVER!!!!

Tattoos & Scars – OK.  We didn’t actually go here, but they get honorable mention for having Turkey Bowling in front of their building on Thanksgiving.  🙂

Thanks again, Key West!

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Posted November 26, 2012 by cubechick in Key West and Bahamas

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Black Friday in Key West   Leave a comment

Ah, Black Friday in Key West. No shopping here…except for one heavily discounted Internet purchase and a Christmas ornament. Not bad!

We do make it to the Blue Heaven. We probably arrived by 8:30 and found a 25 minute wait. DH was grumbling that the last time we were there about the same time, we didn’t have a wait. I reminded him that we were there at the outbreak of a tropical storm. This morning was sunny and gorgeous, so there was a wait. We both went with the BLT Benedict (bacon, lobster, and tomato). It may very well be the most expensive breakfast I’ve ever purchased, but my goodness was it delicious.

After breakfast we walked to the Southernmost buoy. Again, the last time we were here; monsoon. This time, a gorgeous, not-a-cloud-in-the-sky day, line twenty deep for the privilege of a pic with the buoy. We looked at each other and said, “Hey, we already have a picture of the buoy”, and continued on.

Ended up at the Southernmost Hotel. We can see how this location is appealing with a beach right there, but it’s too far away from “stuff” for us. We’ll stick with lower Duval for now.

Our first day in Key West was the result of a cruise stop. We were traveling with a friend who guided us on THE crawl. In homage, we did part of the crawl; the Blue Heaven for breakfast (complete with Bloody Geese), the Green Parrot for more Bloody Mary’s, the the Hog’s Breath for a beer (we skipped the Flying Monkey and Sloppy Joe’s). A great day and great memories of our friends.

Oddly, I realize that in three visits, we’ve yet to take in the “attractions”. No Hemingway House, Little White House, snorkel excursion, or Conch Train Tour. But we’ve been perfectly content just exploring. Other couples spend their down time by the pool; we walk all over the place. I continue to put places with locations, “Hey, there’s Cuban Coffee Queen” as we roam.

We end up at Alonzo’s for a marginally disappointing lunch. DH’s burger was overcooked and tiny, but my chicken sandwich was fine. The waitress kindly took our drinks off of the tab due to the disappointing burger. Very nice, and I tipped accordingly.

Happy Hour found us (and several locals) at the Conch Farm again. No stone crab today, but the best fish dip I’ve had anywhere and Key West Pinks that were huge! I think the Conch Farm will be a must visit going forward.

Finally we dropped in at the Chart Room at the Pier House. I love that our lovely resort boasts a hole-in-the-wall bar complete with free popcorn and peanuts. Only in Key West! A couple of satisfying drinks later, we moved on to Mallory Square. Everyone seems to be back from their holiday. Everywhere we go we find crowds. We definitely don’t have Key West all to ourselves any more!

After a disappointing stop at the Westin (all of the Palm trees were strung with Christmas lights, but almost none were on), DH insisted we needed carbs and Mr. Z’s pizza. I have to say that the piping hot pepperoni slice was just as good the second time.

Even though the Green Parrot was a siren’s call away we somehow resisted. Instead we popped into the Smokin’ Tuna. Much more lively than our first visit. The place was packed, the staff super friendly, and the atmosphere great. DH’s experience with the jumbo stone crab at the Conch Farm has made him a crab snob. The Smokin’ Tuna did have stone crab, but they were mediums at best, so DH ordered shrimp. 🙂 We loved the atmosphere and will definitely be back!

Back to the hotel to pack (BOO!). Had a nice conversation with the gate guard about the street flooding (high tide and a northern wind) and the cost of living in Key West before facing the dreaded luggage.

(check back later…I’ll be adding pics as soon as I have a chance to move them to the iPad)

Posted November 24, 2012 by cubechick in Key West and Bahamas

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Turkey Day in Key West   1 comment

After a fantastic night’s sleep we decided to give Two Friends a try for breakfast. Right across the street from the Pier House, you can’t beat the convenience. We were offered a choice of sitting indoors or out. But with the patio in “winter mode”, plastic sheeting in place and heaters running, it is pretty much the same as eating inside. After our yummy breakfast (steak omelet for DH, shrimp and crab quiche for me) we walked around areas that we hadn’t been to before.

It’s gorgeously sunny out, but the wind is still strong, making it a little chilly if you’re in the shade. Still it’s way better than the mid-forties at home so we’re happy to be out! Found Pepe’s and Finnegan’s Wake as we roamed. Pepe’s had a fairly long line of people waiting to get in for breakfast. Finnegan’s Wake wasn’t open…not sure if they’re closed for Thanksgiving or if it was too early. We did notice a couple of places closed for the holiday (Harpoon Harry’s being one) but everything on Duval is open.

Despite the presence of a cruise ship in town, DH and I kept commenting on how quiet it was. We weren’t the only people out and about, but it felt like it at times. I kind of liked it. It made me feel like we had Key West all to ourselves. So far I’m really happy with our decision to spend our Thanksgiving on Key West!

After a lot of hemming and hawing, I finally settled on Bistro 245 at the Westin for our Thanksgiving dinner. I liked that they began serving their buffet at noon, which meant we could have an early meal. This was important as the Patriots were playing in the 8 o’clock game. Priorities, right?

Overall, I was happy with our choice. Despite the blowing wind, we chose to dine outside. There are a lot of good things to be said about having your turkey dinner while basking in the sun in Key West and overlooking the water. The presentation of the food was lovely and the variety tremendous. I particularly liked the butter-poached lobster, the gruyere and caramelized onion tart, and the butternut squash soup. But the rest of the food I tried suffered from the typical buffet problems of being dry. Food can only sit in chaffing dishes or on ice for so long. Overall, it was a lovely experience and the service top notch.

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After lunch we walked to the 900 block of Duval. Partly to work off our meal, but also to see where we have dinner reservations tomorrow at 915 Duval. Past experience leaves me dubious that we’ll keep the reservation (we may decide to just kick back instead) but you never know. We poked our heads into various bars along the way, keeping tabs on the Detroit/Houston game as we went. I was excited to find the Smokin’ Tuna for the first time, but disappointed that only 4 people were patronizing the establishment. We hastily left in search of a more lively environment and landed at Island Dogs long enough to watch the Lions lose. Drat! Island Dogs has their Patriots flags flying, so we know we’ll be back. 🙂

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Eventually we find ourselves at Mallory Square awaiting the sunset. We find the crazy cat guy performing in front of the Westin. Boy, is he weird, but he’s got those cats trained! I was especially amazed at how calm they are surrounded by people. They obviously love and trust him.

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We then went to the Conch Farm for the first time ever. I’ve read negative reviews of this place, but have to say it’s been packed every time we’ve been by, and we loved it. 2 for 1 beers at happy hour and jumbo stone crab on the menu. Way better than the medium (guessing?) claws we had at the Half Shell last night. Well worth the $10 per claw. I now understand why people compare the stone crab to Maine lobster!

Watched the Redskins spank the Cowboys then deemed it time to head to Island Dogs. Our arrival thirty minutes before game time was about perfect and we grabbed the last high-top. The game started slow with no score in the first quarter, but the Pats kicked it into high gear and scored 35 in the second quarter. I ran to our room at the hotel for a minute and we doubled the score in the time I was gone! (The Pats scored 3 touchdowns in under a minute.) It was great to watch the blowout (Patriots won by 30) with like minded people. Island Dogs was great because they also play music that the Pats would play at a home game during commercials. For example, instead of listening to a commercial for Buick, we were treated to some Metallica. Awesome!

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DH took me on a forced march to Mr. Z’s after the game, only to find they we’re closed for the holiday. Ended up at Wendy’s instead for a late night snack. There managed to be even less people out at night than there were during the day. Crazy.

Tomorrow we’re thinking Blue Heaven for breakfast…will we make it???

Posted November 23, 2012 by cubechick in Key West and Bahamas

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Sunset from our balcony   Leave a comment

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Posted November 23, 2012 by cubechick in Key West and Bahamas

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Thanksgiving Key West Style   3 comments

Had awesome flights to Key West. Completely uneventful. Just how we like them. Really appreciated the Southwest pilot’s warning that the landing at Key West would be rather abrupt as the runway is short. Yikes did we come in hot!

Had to grab a beer at First Call at the airport…just because really. I mean, where else can you buy a beer while awaiting your luggage?

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Bag quickly off the conveyer belt and on to a cab (I was a smidge disappointed that it wasn’t one of the pink cabs). It’s amazing how we went from frenetic travel pace to Key West time. Arrived at the Pier House. Room not ready? No problem! We walked over to Mallory Square and checked out the Carnival Fascination, but we were about 30 minutes too early for serious pier runners.

So where to? Decided Island Dogs would be the first stop. We want to go there tomorrow to watch the New England Patriots kick the NY Jets butts. ;-). Plus they say they have the only char-grilled oysters in Key West. It was snack time…and time for another beer. The oysters were delicious…and I don’t usually eat oysters!

While at Island Dogs, my phone rang. It was the Pier House letting us know our room was ready. I think it may be the best room ever. First floor of the harborview building. Juts out further than the other rooms (so no one blocks your view) with the Gulf dancing before you. I may have to request this room in the future. DH and I sit on the balcony and feel like we’re in a Corona commercial. Bliss. This may become a Thanksgiving tradition!

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After we settled in our wonderful room, we walked to the Bight and the White Tarpon. Somehow, we missed this gem our last trip. 50 cent freshly shucked oysters (for DH, shrimp for me) and $2.50 beers are not to be missed.

From there it was the Half Shell Raw Bar and our first ever sampling of Stone Crab. Good. Better than Maryland crab, but missing the joy that Dungeness crab bring me.

After, we strolled along the Harborwalk, which is decorated for Christmas. If the wind wasn’t whipping like crazy, the weather would be perfect.

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We continued to let Key West guide our day, roaming about with no real plan. We stopped in at Jack Flats to check it out for Thanksgiving football. The gigantic televisions sure look promising! A traditional stop at the Green Parrot was followed by a slice of Mr. Z’s pizza. $3, piping hot, and loaded with pepperoni, it sure hit the spot! We ended the night at Kelly’s where I just had to try the Key Lime Margarita. OMG was that delicious! Just the right balance of lime and margarita. A definite new favorite!

We’d been up and on the go since 5:00 so had to call it a night. What a great first day in Key West!

Posted November 22, 2012 by cubechick in Key West and Bahamas

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Christmas Tree Key West Style   Leave a comment

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Posted November 22, 2012 by cubechick in Key West and Bahamas

’twas the night before Key West…   2 comments

Tomorrow!

‘Twas the night before Key West

And all through the house

Creatures were packing, even the mouse!

I in my kerchief, DH in his cap,

Have settled down for our pre-Key West nap

Tucked into our snug little bed,

Visions of stone crab dance in our head

Our bags are all packed,

Lined by the door with care,

In the hopes our driver soon would be there!

(I wrote this yesterday, but couldn’t get it to post!)

Posted November 21, 2012 by cubechick in Key West and Bahamas

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