I think i'd been in need of a good little vacation for a while, and Key West definitely delivered
I didn't have batteries for my camera when we set off (my rechargeables are finally dead methinks) so I don't have any pictures for that portion. I will hopefully get some from Manny (Tony's dad) eventually, though.
We left Miami at around 1pm and after a long (though luckily sunny) drive, we finally made it to our destination. Hunger set in hard core at this point and we were all being a bit indecisive as to where to eat. Almost settled on several places and eventually wound up at the Hard Rock Cafe (not my first choice, but by that point i'd settle for anything.) Threw caution to the wind and overate a bit (nachos, part of a very tasty veggie burger, and some fries), but I think the walking we did afterwards more than made up for it.
Walked over to Mallory Square and walked around a bit. Caught one act (this blonde guy that does fire swallowing and escapes from a straight jacket and chains - he was entertaining, although his jokes weren't flying well with everyone, I liked him.) Gave him a tip and then caught a bit of some other acts during the Sunset Celebration, including the Southernmost Bagpiper, Jeep and Cleo (the man and dog team), the Southernmost Silver Man, Schmegly (the children's balloon artist), the Army Gold Statue Man, and the Bone Island Buccaneers. Went to this Cuban restaurant at the end of the Square that had a really neat Cuban History section, and I bought a shotglass for $2. We stayed for the sunset, because although the sun sets on us daily, how many of us really go out and watch this amazing natural event?
Afterwards, we walked around the shops and saw a number of odd characters, including the guy and dog duo in the picture to my left. I didn't really read the sign but I know that the guy would say a certain word and the poor dog would howl. There was also another guy who would tell dirty jokes for money. I was actually pretty impressed by the entrepreneurial drive of the people in this town. You want money, you don't just ask. You find a way to provide a service in whatever form you
can. I can definitely dig that. It's something I've seen a lot in Nicaragua but not enough of in Miami.
Eventually, we wound up at a bar/restaurant called Jack Flats.
Prices were right and they had good drinks and huge flat screen tv's throughout the place. Hung out and got a good buzz going. I had a black & tan first, thinking I should try to ease my drunkness in to the evening, and while it was one of the most delicious, well-made black & tans I've ever had, it wasn't sitting well in my stomach. I later opted for my recent-usual vodka club soda (thanks, Allie!), which went down a helluva lot smoother. [picture left to right: menu for Jack Flats, Manny Sr. aka Pop Roman after 2 jack & cokes]
Eventually, Manny and Maryanne decided to hit up the Denny's down the road, so us young'ns wound up going to another bar (I forget the name... it was an Irish bar is all I recall.) The bartender had a heavy hand and I was pretty trashed after the first, tall drink I had. I ran in to some cute Irish girl when I was coming out of the bathroom who apparently had had a few drinks herself as she looked at me and exclaimed "you're beautiful!" and went on to ask me if I was Korean or Chinese, to which I replied "Nope, Nicaraguan-Mexican." I don't much see the asin thing, but I get it a lot, most when I'm out of town. Had a few interesting conversations. At one point, Deyse and I snuck in to the pool behind the bar and dipped our feet in (we almost jumped in for the hell of it but decided we weren't that drunk just yet.) [picture: Danny and I at the Irish bar]
Left and walked over to the Southern Most Point. The ocean breeze felt delicious and the night was incredibly dark. I looked out in to the ocean and saw a black nothing. It reminded me of the first time I went to Nicaragua, looking out on to the ocean from a platform at the edge of Montelimar. Except that night was filled
with stars and even darker still. You could see some stars, but
unfortunately there were too many light posts nearby. [picture: left to right- Anthony, Deyse, me, and Danny holding on to the
Southernmost Point for dear life apparently.]
Deyse decided to go walk on the slippery rocks and I went and
joined her. The waves kept rushing by our feet, making the green
algae covered rocks even slipperier with time. We wound up taking a few goofy pictures, and at some point I wound up peeing by a door next to the Southernmost Hotel (or the Southernmost House... not sure which.) You can pretty much meter the amount of alcohol in your system depending on how public a location you're willing to pop a squat at/in. Needless to say, the last vodka drink (which I couldn't even finish) really put me over the edge since I don't really drink that heavily anymore these day... Good times, though! [picture: Deyse and I on the rocks being drunk ladies with Anthony watching us with equally drunk concern]
It was getting late and we were drunk and hungry and started walking back. The streets were deserted. I figured there'd be more drunk people walking around considering it was Key West, but maybe they were on the North side. We opted to hit up the CVS and I bought a bunch of junk food I regretted later on (although it probably well saved my life.) Got back to the hotel room around 3 or 4, from what I recall. Ate with our eyes. Deyse and Anthony had bought some Key West beer but I think everyone opened up a bottle and passed out good. [picture left to right: empty street back to the motel, Tony walking around.]
The next morning, it was business as usual. By business, I mean hangover time. Painful, but not too painful. We left the hotel around 11pm, famished for some breakfast. We wound up at Tony's Cuban Cafe, which served breakfast all day and even had a hangover special *grin*. I got the potato and cheese omelet with cuban toast and a cortadito. The omelet was whatever, but it did the trick. The toast they give with the eggs sucks, but I had a little of Manny's toast (which was the REAL Cuban tostada) and it was dee-lish. And the cortadito was to die for - we were all pretty impressed by the coffee. [picture: leaving the motel]
Left the cafe feeling refreshed. Walked down a few blocks. We thought about going to the Hemingway House, but they raised the price to about $12 a person. Plus, most of us had already been there and seen the best thing about it (the six-toed kitties!) However, I found this artist right outside who was selling
Hemingway Cat portraits for a dollar. They were very Ralph Steadman looking drawings, and I bought two. I later asked the guy (whose name I found out was Scott Gruppe - this is the only thing I could find about him on Google, but it has two of his paintings so you can see what I'm talking about) if he had a website, but he said he was still working on it, gave me his "business card" (a cut out from a magazine with an ad for his artwork) and unabashedly hit on me in front of my boyfriend. I normally don't bring these kinds of things up, except they don't happen often (what can I say, I live in a bubble.) Frescura aside, if you're ever by the Hemingway house, check him out. It's really great stuff at a very cheap cost. [picture: my boyfriend and i having a mushy moment until some shirtless guy on a moped yelled at us to knock it off. wish i'd gotten him in the picture too, hah!]
We walked around some more and I happened upon a cute little boutique gift shop called Blue Heaven. Apparently, it's part of a larger restaurant (which I could see on the outside.. or at least I could see the bar.) Bought some funky magnets for my brother and my parents as souvenirs. Walked around some more, took the car and took a little mini-tour of Key West in air-conditioned comfort. Wound up passing by the "'hood," which I wasn't even aware there was one in Key West.
Drove around some more and wound up parking by some docks, near a wall with a bunch of cool graffiti art. Makes me want to pick up some spray cans and learn a thing or two myself. We walked down closer to the pier and found a little road which had a ton of cute little shops in front. Most of them were jewelry and
bag shops, as well as misc. knickknacks for the home (some of my favorite kind of shops!) Unfortunately by this point I was pretty broke, so I couldn't buy anything... but I took a ton of pictures for next time. There was even a little shop called the Dragonfly (Gilmore nerd moment!)
We walked down a few blocks and saw a cool key lime pie shop with some guy dressed like a lime green chef and also a super quaint looking Russian cafe. It was the kind of place i'd like to open someday, but with all vegan cooking. On our venture, we also found the best antique shop i've been to in ages, where we did some browsing and met a cute little pug whose name I didn't catch. They had some pretty awesome stuff: old advertisement signs, antique tables, old books, glass bottles, mirrors, very cool vintage jewelry, old postcards, funny lamps (they had a poodle lamp which made me have yet another Gilmore nerd moment!), and some awesome mermaid stuff I was dying for (especially the mermaid bookends!!)
Almost got key lime pie on the way back... but then didn't (but we've regretted it since then.)
We hopped back in to the car and took the long drive home. It went smoothly for the most part, even when we all started losing our sanity over a rousing game of "Would You Rather...?" Stopped by a Burger King (not my first choice then either) and ate some junk to keep the hangover at bay. Got stuck in stupid onlooker traffic in the rain on the last leg of the trip, but we finally made it home by the afternoon, just in time for it to stop raining in Miami. [picture left to right: the old Seven Mile bridge or the old trolly track.. at least that's what everyone was guessing, Maryanne aka Momma Roman sleeping on Tony's shoulder during the ride back]
All in all it was a great trip. And now I have a greater fondness of Key West than i'd ever had before, not to mention a mental list of all the places I went to go back and visit and things that I want to go and do. This wasn't my first trip w/ the Roman clan, but I think it was definitely one of my favorites (thought it could be the fact I didn't puke this time haha... a story better left for another time.)
For now, here's to you Key West!