Trip Start Apr 01, 2013
Trip End Jun 28, 2013

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What I did
Fat Tuesdays
Tattoos and Scars
La Conch Hotel

Flag of United States  , Florida
Thursday, April 25, 2013

Woke up feeling a little jaded and, as my room was like a sauna due to me turning off the noisy air con unit prior to crashing out last night, I decided it best I get moving.

It was back to having the complimentary breakfast but sadly the one at this hotel was bollocks. Disillusioned and hungry, despite my late night chicken meal in the wee hours, I showered and took the hotel shuttle into town. It felt like I had just left. Mind you, 6 hours earlier, I had :)

Once again, the weather was gold. Very warm, no clouds and a slight breeze.

Today I decided to take a good look around starting with the Southernmost Point Marker which marks the southernmost point of continental USA, with Cuba only 90 miles further south.

On my way to the Marker, I took a turn down the wrong street but fortuitously ended up at South Beach which had a great cafe on the waters edge. Given my hunger, this clearly was a sign from God. I stormed in clearly looking like one of those undernourished African children and was promptly seated and served. I had a beautiful ham and cheese omelette washed down with a cup of Joe and freshly squeezed OJ (orange juice, not Simpson).

Feeling alive once more, I reset my bearings and headed one street over to the Southernmost Point Marker. There was a queue of people waiting to take pics so being the sheep-following tourist, I did the same. A couple of hard looking older lesbians did me the honour of snapping a pic. There is quite a large gay community in Key West which generally means a lot of friendly, fit and well-dressed people. Not these two though.

Having got that out of the way, I spent the rest of the morning and the early afternoon strolling the streets of Key West checking out the quirky little shops and buildings. There are some fantastic old buildings and houses and based on my limited time here I believe there are 4 things that summarise Key West:
1. Beach theme - Key West is like an oasis and as I mentioned yesterday, very laid back. It is kind of like a large Whangamata, although no surf, in that a lot of people have holiday homes there.
2. Pirates - there seems to be a pirate thing going on. It is not unusual to see the occasional person walking around with an eye-patch on (which admittedly could be due to an incident involving a firearm) or a parrot on their shoulder. There are a number of shops selling pirate shirts, costumes, skull n crossbone flags, etc. There are also the occasional pirate and wench statues that you run into as per yesterday's photos. Now, I haven't researched the history but I am wondering if the close proximity of Key West to the Caribbean may have something to do with it. In fact, if I'm not mistaken, prior to them relocating to Somalia, pirates operated primarily in the Caribbean.
3. Key Lime Pie - world famous apparently and a dessert on every restaurant menu in town. Another 'when in Rome' moment. I got me a slice of Key Lime Pie which is like a very sweet lime cheesecake. Quite nice but you couldn't eat to much of it.
4. Conch Republic - Key West knows itself as the Conch Republic which was established by secession of the Florida Keys from the USA, in response to a US Border Patrol blockade setup on highway U.S.1 at Florida City just to the north of the Florida Keys. This heinous act effectively isolated Keys Citizens from the U.S. mainland since the blockade was on their only land artery to and from the mainland.This roadblock portrayed Keys residents as non-U.S. citizens who had to prove their citizenship in order to drive onto the Florida mainland. So they protested and carried on but it was all a bit of a laugh by the sounds. It remains an effective tourist gimmick still to this day. They celebrate their Independence every year with a week long celebration and it just so happens that is this week. They also have their own flag that often sits on flag poles at houses and buildings throughout the town. A number of things are named Conch this and Conch that. They have a train, which is actually a motorised bus, with multiple carriages which is mocked up to look like a train. It is called the Conch train and you can get on and off it at what appears to be an expensive price of US $29.95 for a day. They do give you a tour of the town and give you background and history of Key West though. I stuck with the walking.

I ended up back at the coast and had a look at an old Coast Guard boat which had been used in World War 2 and was now a Museum.

It was time for a hair of the dog. I decided to start easy and walked into a Daiquiri bar called Fat Tuesdays. I got me a Tropicolada which is like a Pina Colada except it has Tropic at the front instead of Pina. The barman asked if I wanted an extra shot of Bacardi gold rum in it for $1.50. I said, "go on then ".The extra shot came in a test tube which you just plonk in the cup upside down. Very refreshing.

I went to catch the shuttle back to my hotel but it wasn't there so I popped into a bar called Tattoos and Scars across the road. It looked a bit like a biker bar. I had a lazy JD and then jumped on shuttle and headed back to the hotel. After a couple of hours of rest and repacking my pack for tomorrow's early start, I was back on the shuttle to town.

First stop, the La Conch Hotel which is the tallest building in Key West at 7 stories. They have a roof top bar so I headed up there to snap some photos.

The next item on the agenda was the Conch Republic parade. The main street was closed off at around 8.20pm. The parade was kind of cool. Lots of pomp and ceremony. I saw some of the oldest cheerleaders and marching girls I have ever seen. There were some neat cars too -Mustangs, Hot Rods and even a Monster Truck. The folks in the parade were tossing out beads and lollies. The bead thing seems to be big in the Southern States of American.

After the parade I decided to grab some dinner. I went to a joint on the main street called Fogarty's. After long consideration, I decided on the buffalo wings as a starter. They ended up being so hot I started to get the meat sweats and I was practically crying by the time I had finished them. Next up, I ordered a steak burger. That was bloody underwhelming and lacked any flavour at all. So, all in all, another junk meal.

I was starting to fade and headed back to the hotel and gratefully hit the scratcher.

Over and out !
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