With much anticipation, Thursday finally arrived so we were off to Key West, Florida for what we hoped would be four days of fun in the sun. Looking at the weather forecasts it looked to be about 50/50 for rain but at this point we were committed and, well, if you’re going to be stuck inside looking at the rain where better to be than at the Flying Monkey Bar or Sloppy Joes!? We’d be flying from Atlanta to Key West for this trip on a 9:40am Delta flight that would arrive just before noon; about 5 hours from house to hotel vs. the 13 hours it would take if we attempted a road trip.
We were both up at 6:00am, had our bags packed and were on our way to Hartsfield International Airport by 7:00, which should have given us plenty of time to make our flight. Traffic was exceptionally light given it was Independence Day and we had no trouble finding a parking space in the parking deck. However, once we hit the terminal and security checkpoint our progress slowed to a crawl. As I noted in a Facebook post, I saw the security process at our airport to be somewhat ironic given the significance of July 4th. As I wrote, “Nothing like going through the make-work, non-valve-added TSA screening process on Independence Day to remind me that we’ve lost most of what we sought to gain when we declared our independence and later adopted the Bill of Rights. This is why I rarely fly.” The erosion of our liberties and rights in the name of “security” is a modern-day travesty. OK, I’ll leave it alone at that instead of going into rant about the Patriot Act, etc., which would be easy and, well, just piss me off. Back to vacation….
The flight was late departing but made pretty good time and we were on the ground just around noon. After waiting for my bad (impromptu bag check at the jetway which I still didn’t fully understand) and a few laps around the Key West terminal in our taxi as the hack collected additional fares, we arrived at the Curry Mansion by around 1:00pm and were promptly checked in. The Curry Mansion is a bit tired, and it was a bit noisy as there were a number of families stating there but the location was great, right off of Duval Street and perhaps a 1/4 mile from Mallory Square. I think we’ll come back, but we’ll definitely ask for a room in the main house, and definitely not along the back row of rooms: they back up to some bars and you get woken up around 4:00am to dump trucks emptying dumpsters.
Once we were checked in, we headed out to explore Key West on foot and to find some lunch. The weather was beautiful and again… location, location, location: the Curry Mansion was mere steps away from Fogarty’s and the Flying Monkey Saloon which has the best frozen drinks on Duval Street (far better than Fat Tuesdays, etc.). We resisted a stop at the Flying Monkey and, instead, headed over to the Commodore’s Boat House for a blackened Mahi-Mahi sandwich with side-salad, our favorite lunch-time meal in Key West.
On our way to the Boat House we happened upon a world-record-setting event during what was the first annual Key Lime Pie Festival!!! Apparently, the Key West Key Lime Pie Company owner and the author of the Key Lime Cookbook came up with the idea of setting the Guinness Book of Records benchmark for a 2.5 meter wide Key Lime Pie that could feed 1,000 and we were lucky enough to find this even taking place on Greene Street in front of the old city hall as we made our way to the historic pier area of Key West.
We were pleasantly surprised by the weather, which was nearly perfect all day Thursday, with just a sprinkle that night around 10:00am. That gave us all day Thursday and Thursday evening to explore Key West. As noted, after getting some lunch one of our first stops along Duval Street would be the Flying Monkey Saloon for some lovely frozen cocktails. I snapped a quick photo of me and the lovely Debbie at the bar with the blue skies and puffy white clouds in the background as evidence that we’d somehow escaped the never-ending wet-weather than had been dashing our spirits back at home.
We did a pretty good job of covering the water front on our first day in Key West, even paying a visit to Mallory Square well-before the sunset celebration, just to see what that might be like without a few thousand people standing around. It was actually a good thing we did that as we discovered we could make our way along the Gulf to Duval Street via a very nice deck at the Sunset Bar & Grille! During our first visit we never ventured past the Glass Bottom Boat tour kiosk and hotel, as we figured it was a dead end. Not so, there’s a great little bar with live music and boat/jet-ski rentals hidden back there!!
After checking out the Mallory Square area we made our way back to the Curry Mansion so we could get cleaned-up for dinner. We decided that we’d revisit the Commodore’s white-linen restaurant for dinner just to see how good the food was “upstairs” compared to our wonderful lunches. We were not disappointed in the least !
I had the blackened Mahi with Scallops and Debbie had their Salamon; amazing! Especially the Salmon! Perhaps the best Salmon I’ve had outside of Seattle and it was all in the preparation. The Mahi was good too but the Scallops were out of this world!
We ended our evening by finding a proper vantage point in Key West that allowed us to watch the aerial fireworks being shot-off from the White Street Pier on the south side of the Island, next to Smathers Beach. Interestingly enough, I think they over did it: we actually got tired of all the fireworks and simply wanted to get back to enjoying our evening. There was a very short sprinkle of rain at some point during the evening, but that was it.
Suffices to say, we had a great first night in Key West!!