Monday, March 31, 2014

Magic in Key West

 

(That’s the name of one of our favorite songs by Howard Livingston)   Magic in Key West

Florida Keys (high 80, low 70)

Burrr.  It got chilly last night.  When I got up, the thermometer showed 67.  Keys 67 is much colder than regular 67.  :)    I know, I know….no sympathies.

 

We decided since boating was out yesterday due to strong winds, it might be a good day to spend in Key West.

One of these days, we plan to do the walking tour through the housing areas in KW.  There are some beautiful old homes.   You can see a lot of these homes while driving around, but in KW it’s best for both the driver and the passenger to keep your eyes on the road.  It’s crazy in Key West.   The roads are narrow, there are a lot of bicycles, motorcycles, golf carts, tour trolleys, trains, and pedestrians, and the occasional skateboarder.

 

Key West

When we first got into Key West, we were stopped at a light and I happened to see this.

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There was a mangrove behind her and she was standing down below the bridge. The lizard had on a collar and I think a leash.   My first thought was that she was going to release her pet lizard (which is a no-no), but as I watched her lovingly pet it, I think she was just taking it for a walk.  I hope.

As we were driving downtown along Duval Street, we nearly hit 3 or 4 people on bikes or walking.  They think nothing of walking right out in front of you.  We almost got a skateboarder too. 

This is a picture taken from Mallory Square.  It was a perfect day for a sailboat.

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Duval Street is an interesting place.  Some facts I copied from the internet.

The beautiful Bahamian and Spanish influenced Victorian Mansions of Duval Street have been well preserved through local preservation efforts starting in the 1960’s.

On the Atlantic Ocean end of Duval Street there is a mix of early Key West Victorian mansions and bungalows’ dotting the neighborhood. Art galleries, boutiques, inns and Bodega’s line the wide sidewalks.

Near the southern terminus of Duval Street is the buoy marker for the southernmost spot in the United States not far from the Southernmost House, a striking Victorian architecture mansion built in 1896. A favorite of both Harry Truman and author Ernest Hemingway, the building was restored to its formal beauty and opulence with a $3 million renovation in 1996.

Duval Street well represents the cultural influence of Key West’s proximity and cultural ties to Cuba. Many Cubans immigrated to the area beginning in the late 1860’s. At one time, the many cigar stores on Duval gave the city the moniker “Cigar City USA.” There are many pleasant outdoor cafes to enjoy another Cubano influenced product, “Cuban Coffee,” which is espresso made from roasted Cuban Coffee beans with a heavy dose of sugar.

At the north end, tourists from the cruise ships that dock at the Westin harbor complex, Mole pier or Mallory Square are often seen traversing Duval Street's many shops [1] in the afternoon looking for souvenir trinkets and T-shirts. The streets are congested with Pedi cabs, trollies, bikes, mopeds, cars, and the Conch Train all adding to the touristy feel of this heavily visited end of Duval.

Near the northern end of the street is Mallory Square. Historic Mallory Square is the center of Key West’s waterfront. The City of Key West and Duval Street share their beginning along this deep harbor waterfront.

On certain nights, the gulf shores of Duval Street often vibrate with a carnival like atmosphere that lasts until dawn and beyond. In fact, the ritual has a name known to tourists and residents as the “Duval Pub Crawl.” Duval is the location of many famous restaurants and bars, including Sloppy Joe's, Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville, which is the original, Fogarty's Restaurant, Bar and Bakery, "The Flying Monkeys Bar", The Bull and Whistle, Rick's Cafe and Irish Kevin's bar. Tour outlets book the “Duval Pub Crawl” activity and provide knowledgeable guidance for the tourist wishing to visit and imbibe at the famous drinking establishments, for a fee.

 

We parked at our favorite parking lot, near Mallory Square.  It’s a little pricey at $4 per hour, but it’s easy in and easy out….as long as there is a space available.  Key West is the only place in the Keys that I’ve seen, where you have to pay to park.

We decided to go to some of the little touristy shops along Duval Street.  We wanted to get a few things for yard decorations on our new rv lot.  

I’ve been looking for some new sandals and  after doing a little price shopping, I got some nice Merrell sandals.  Of course they came with a nice Merrell price as well!

I don’t remember seeing this beautiful larimar Caribbean stone before, but yesterday, it was everywhere.   This stone is only found in the Caribbean and it reminded me of the color of the Caribbean waters.   Beautiful, isn’t it?

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I didn’t buy any, but I probably will someday.  It was gorgeous.

 

Duval Street is only 14 blocks long, but there are 150 bars.   Many of them have open fronts so that you can see what’s going on inside. 

We passed by Coyote Ugly to see a young woman dancing on the bar.  It looked like a fun place, but it was a little noisy.

We stopped to listen to the  music coming from a cigar bar.  The owner/manager caught us and tried to get us to come in for a drink.  We explained we hated cigar smoke, but he finally convinced us to walk upstairs and check it out.  He explained that they had a big air filtration system inside and also seating outside on the balcony so the cigars shouldn’t be a problem.  The music was so compelling, that we walked upstairs to see for ourselves. There were comfy leather couches and a  few people sitting inside having a cocktail.  The air was fine.  We walked outside to the balcony, where you could look down and see al the action along Duval St.  We did get some aroma from a particularly stinky cigar, but it was still a nice place.  The  live music didn’t start until 7pm, but if it’s as good as what they were playing, we’ll probably go back….maybe with a gas mask.  :)

Many times when we’re on Duval, we hear live music from many of the bars.  Yesterday, only a few had live music.  We were wondering if it was because the cruise ship was leaving port?  

Mallory Square

As our 3 hours ticked away on our parking meter, we hung around Mallory Square for a few minutes watching the street performers getting ready for their nightly performances. 

We were reluctant to leave, but vowed to go back soon, and do the Duval Pub Crawl.  We think it will be better once we move down to Venture Out, because the drive will be much shorter, and we won’t have to worry about going through Big Pine Key and hitting one of the Key Deer.

 

Another common site here in the keys are homeless people.

Hey….if I’m homeless, I’m moving to the Keys!  I understand they get a bed and one free meal a day!   There are drunks everywhere, but they all seem to be happy drunks!  I guess it’s the Keys living!

 

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The homeless aren’t allowed to have open containers, but everyone else can.   You can buy a beer or drink and take it with you as you walk down the street….as long as you’re wearing clean clothes?

15 comments:

  1. So even if I'm homeless but my clothes are clean, I'm okay with an open container? That is one strange rule. What if I'm a mess but I'm not homeless. I would be a wreck driving down there with all the people everywhere.

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    1. That's why so many people ride their bikes...but that looks very dangerous to me!

      I guess the homeless people can be a problem if they are walking around drinking. Not to worry though, they seem to manage to get a drink too!

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  2. I wouldn't make it for very long in a pub crawl. Not that I'd even give it a try...

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    1. The secret is more crawling, less pubbing, I guess.

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  3. With 67 over night and we had 32, somehow I don't feel sorry for you. lol We had snow yesterday. (the nasty four letter word.)

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  4. Sounds like a great way to explore Duval st.

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  5. You are making me miss the crazy Key West energy, I never saw the beautiful larimar stone. I think you should have those earrings!

    Don't forget to go for lunch at Salute on the Beach! You will love it.

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  6. I have done several walking tours in interesting places. It is suprising how much you can see on foot that you miss driving or biking. I like to browze shops even though I very rarely buy anything. To me a current gift shop or even a hardware store can be like a musume of the far future. What will survive? what is disposeable?

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  7. You, too can be one of those people laying on the sidewalk, especially if you complete the Duvall Street Pub Crawl.

    150 bars? Not only is that a lot to drink but your might need a caste iron bladder! :cD

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  8. Looks like a great way to spend the day - We must make it to the keys at some point. With a spot there and in the GA mountains you are pretty well set with good home bases.

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  9. We found free parking just a couple of blocks from Mallory Square...over between the cruise ship terminal and the Aquarium. Works great it you want to spend more time without paying 4 bucks an hour. I love Duval Street, but love walking the side streets even more.

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    1. Thanks Sue. We'll look for it. $4 an hour gets expensive.

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  10. Someday we'll get there. I really want to!

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  11. Beautiful header photo.

    People laugh when I take Bella for a walk on a leash. I can't image seeing someone take their lizard for a walk. What a hoot.

    Duval Street sounds like a place Paul and I would love to visit.

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    ReplyDelete

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