Thursday, January 6, 2022

Key West charms with activity, history, sun, sand, homeland safety

Christene "Cookie" Meyers and Bruce Keller stroll the waterfront in Key West, readying to sail. 

U.S. TRAVELERS ARE LUCKY TO HAVE THE LIVELY YET LAID BACK FLORIDA KEYS IN OUR BACK YARD

STORY By CHRISTENE MEYERS
PHOTOS By BRUCE KELLER
The Conch Train is a well loved travel option downtown.

WHEN ONE
yearns for balmy breezes, fun food and the soothing sound of the sea, it's not necessary to book a ticket to Fiji, the Canaries or French Polynesia.
Those are beautiful places, but with COVID, and all the time, angst and red tape necessary to enjoy foreign travel, U.S. citizens can't do better than Key West, Florida.
OUR COUNTRY'S southernmost subtropical paradise is a unique blend of all that we seasoned travelers yearn for: perfect climate, the beauty of nature on both land and sea, flowers galore, cultural diversity, history, and a romantic appeal that one usually has to go to another continent to enjoy.
Cookie shows her ticket to board Old Town Trolley.
One of its stops is Hampton Inn near the water.
ALL OF
THAT MAKES
Key West attractive to us, with one huge additional advantage.  We're still in the good old U.S., and don't have to fill out entry forms and paperwork to experience the new.
While many restaurants and hotels now ask for proof of vaccination, it's much easier to head for south Florida than it is to cross a sea and risk getting detained or quarantined on foreign soil.
So the appeal of Key West is enormous.
Coffee is a huge industry in Key West, and you'll
find coffee stores as well as cafes serving the 
sweet, strong and pungent Cuban coffee. 
There's the exotic amenities one looks for in foreign travel: interesting architecture, new food options, history with an opportunity to learn, top hotels, comforting familiar language and enlightening nature experiences. There's also a fine butterfly conservatory and world-famous museums, including Mel Fisher's fascinating one, where one views artfully curated treasures found on the shipwrecked Atocha.
If you want to see the sights without the expense of renting a car, the wonderful Old Town Trolley offers is a delightful way to get around with access to nearly everything of interest.
Old town Trolley gives bird's
eye views of homes, museums
.
It picked us up at our Hampton Inn to transit famous Key West streets and squares, popular local places and tourist attractions ranging from the fine Key West Aquarium, Key West Lighthouse, the shops and restaurants of Mallory Square and other historical and entertaining places.  
Sunset sails are a popular Key West option.
Close-up of a cigar poster, touting the stogie grown
from Cuban seeds, but on other Latin American soils
.
Salvaged from the Spanish
ship, Atocha, pottery in the
fine Mel Fisher Museum.
Key West's history is filled with drama and the amiable, well informed trolley guides share the history with colorful anecdotes, engaging stories and humorous asides. You'll see the coffee shop where President Harry Truman ditched the secret service at his Florida White House to share a morning cuppa with Florida friends. You'll see key lime pie adverts and get tips on the best places. You'll stop near Ernest Hemingway's lovely home and see how the writer lived and worked -- with his adored six-toed cats. 
A wonderful museum is housed in a historic building run by the non-profit Key West Art and Historical Society.
This handsome rooster
 and all chickens are
 protected in Key West.
OTHER TOWNS in the U.S. -- including our own San Diego -- have successfully introduced Old Town Trolley.  The entertaining trolley operation also runs in Savannah, Washington D.C., St. Augustine, Boston and Nashville. 
Key West is an artistic town, with galleries
and museums showcasing everything from ship-
wreck treasures to carvings and paintings.

Cigar making was once a huge industry in Key West and Island Cigar Company still sells them. Key West has a rich cigar history, but most stogies in the Keys are now made in other parts of Latin America with tobacco grown from Cuban seeds.
Watersports abound in Key West, with sunset sails, dolphin and snorkel watching, eco and paddleboard
tours and many other options,
Among many historic buildings, this one is the
original office of Pan American World Airways.
It is now First Flight, a brewery and restaurant.


including a wonderful rare opportunity to sail on General George Patton's custom made schooner
"When and If," which he designed and hoped to sail with his wife around the world "when and if" World War II ended. Sadly, Patton died in 1945 and didn't accomplish his world sailing tour.  He did sail it up and down the East Coast, and Chesapeake Bay, and down into Key West, according to biographers. (More about this lovely boat later.)

For more info: www.hilton.com/en/hotels/eywkkhx-hampton-key-west/
www.historictours.com
www.keywestchamber.org 
https://www.trolleytours.com/key-west
www.furycat.com
www.keywestbutterfly.com
www.sunsetsailkeywest.com 
www.kwahs.org/museums/custom-house/visit
www.sunsetwatersportskeywest.com 


The Hemingway Home and Museum showcases the author's
literary memorabilia, awards, collectibles, portraits, history
of his several wives and his unusual six-toed cat progeny. 
UP NEXT: Our visit to Key West and the Florida Keys continues with a look at two famous fellows who loved the place.  Famed author Ernest Hemingway lived many years in Key West, and President Harry S. Truman set up a White House in this charming Florida town.  Both made friends with the locals and enjoyed the leisurely, warm and inviting life the climate and temperament offer. Descendants of Hemingway's famed six-toed cats  roam the place as privileged, pampered pets. Truman's beloved vacation home gives insight into why he loved Key West.  Both homes are interesting museums. Remember to explore, learn and live and catch us each week for a fresh look at travel, nature, family, the arts: www.whereiscookie.com

 

5 comments:

  1. We go every year to Key West, a great get-away and not bad distance from Boston. Thanks for memories and update.

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  2. What a wonderful place! We go for the feeling of the Caribbean with the safety of being "home." Such a good idea now especially.

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  3. Georgia Road TrippersJanuary 9, 2022 at 8:50 AM

    Fun piece on a fun place! Great photos, too. You captured the variety and spirit of our favorite vacation spot.

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  4. Great, encouraging piece. Thanks.

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  5. We love Key West, which has remained remarkably unchanged through the years.

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