Key West is Best

Trip Start Feb 09, 2010
Trip End Jan 22, 2011

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Flag of United States  , Florida
Thursday, June 24, 2010

After the adventure that was South America we headed for North America looking forward to food, fun and the freedom of rented cars!

We got a terrible final last night's sleep in Colombia thanks to the worst snorer in the world. As we knew we had to get up early it was SO frustrating being kept awake and despite our attempts to shut the offender up (including throwing a lime at him) we eventually just gave up and saw the funny side so recorded his dulcet tones as evidence. We got out of bed at about 3:30am after being awake from around midnight and headed to the airport.

Our flight to Miami passed without incident, all of us quite excitable as we’d been looking forward to America for so long as we had so much planned and it’d be a nice break for us from backpacker life (not that it’s overly hard work of course!) We landed in the late morning, USA time, and spent a good hour or so queuing at customs which was quite frustrated as we just wanted to get going with David’s birthday surprise! After eventually getting grilled about our plans in America and what we were bringing in (where I managed to accidentally tell them I had 9000 in cash on me and Scott told them he was 23 when he’s 24!) we got through and got our bags before at customs the official said to Scott "Oh, so you’re heading to Key West are you?" within earshot of David. Our surprise was ruined after so long managing not to say anything and even writing his visa form for him so he wouldn’t see where we were headed! We were both pretty gutted as we were hoping to reveal the surprise in stages but in the end it didn’t matter too much as David seemed very pleased with our plans and enjoyed them so the way he found out didn’t make too much difference at all. What we’d actually arranged was car hire from the airport and then accommodation in Key West, right at the southern tip of Florida instead of just staying around the city of Miami which is what he’d assumed we’d be doing. It was actually quite handy having him knowing where we were going as he could help navigate as I’m fairly useless with that stuff and probably would have got us very lost!

The drive itself turned out to be really straightforward as soon as we got on the road – it’s pretty much just one freeway all the way down to the Keys. Scott drove out of Miami and then when we were about an hour in, I took over. Scott’s a great driver but as I’ve never driven an automatic before, or on the other side of the road let alone a huge Jeep which is what we’d rented (and was a pretty great car to have as we could take the roof off, it definitely felt like something out of American Pie or something!)  so it took a bit of getting used to for me but I got us there safely. Driving down was great because we were crossing bridges over clear turquoise water and passing loads of beautiful beaches and the weather was lovely (if a little clouded over). We stopped a couple of times on the way down for some food and to have a look round a huge Wal-Mart and so David could invest in a new camera and start taking his own photos instead of using mine all the time so we actually got down there in the evening.

The B&B we’d booked was an absolute winner and was so beautiful and quaint. Painted pink, gorgeously decorated and kitted out with a jacuzzi and the biggest bed I’ve ever seen it was a lovely change from the snorer-filled dorm rooms and hostels we’d been in for the last 4 and a half months.  David and Scott bagged the huge bed and we headed out to get some food before an early night as we were all so tired from the day’s flights, drives and excitement.

Our first morning in the US was special for one more reason – it was David’s birthday! We’d bought him some practical presents at Wal-Mart the day before so gave him those to start the morning along with a sleepy chorus of 'Happy Birthday David’. David’s brother had also sent a card to the B&B so it was lovely for him to receive that from home as well. Breakfast at the B&B didn’t disappoint with loads of fresh fruit, bagels, coffee and even a lemon drizzle cake! Amazing!

We then headed out into Key West which was my favourite place on our American Adventure I think. It was so quintessentially American with the blue skies, palm trees and pastel-coloured housing. It was absolutely gorgeous  with such a happy-go-lucky vibe that it was the perfect place to enjoy David’s birthday. We spent the day walking around the shops, all  treating ourselves to new clothes and laughing at the novelty t-shirts for sale. We had a bite to eat at Denny’s Diner which became a regular in the USA as a whole due to it’s cheap grub and free wifi which was most useful.  That evening  we had a night out to celebrate David’s quarter-century. We had a few appetizers nd a pitcher of beer between us to start the evening at a place called the Hogsbreath Saloon before moving on into town. The South African manager of our B&B had recommended a drag-queen show so we headed to that and managed to sweet-talk the bouncer into getting let in for free when it should have cost us $10 each! Something to do with a mixture of all three of our charm I think! We enjoyed the show, finding the acts as hilarious as worryingly-realistic. The drinks and laughs flowed throughout the night and we all had an absolute blast, especially me and Scott who encountered a trolley on the way home and had a great time delighting in pushing each other around in it and being generally silly as only drunk people can.

Luckily the hangover didn’t hit us too hard in the morning – the huge, delicious breakfast and ice-cold water helping us to feel human again. As we had a hotel arranged in Miami we decided to leave Key West in the mid-morning and drive up to Miami sooner rather than later. So we took the roof off the car again and drove back in the blistering heat – it was a nicer drive on the way back because the sun was shining so brightly, really showing off the gorgeous Florida sea in all it’s clear-blue glory. We were all absolutely roasting by the time we stopped to get some food so put the roof back on before any of us got burnt. It was then a case of putting our foot down and heading back to Miami and our next whistle-stop.
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