Key West July 2017 – Here We Go Again

IMG_9587Even though we were just in Key West 3 months prior we were excited to get back to the place we truly love. This would mark our 16th time in Key West within 11 years. Some say we are crazy for returning to the same place over and over, and others think that why not if you enjoy it so much? We didn’t have much planned but figured that it is always best not to have any plans in Key West.

Saturday, July 8th – Arrival Day

IMG_9283Similar to our most recent trip, we had an early 6am flight out of Newark, however due to the fact it was a smaller plane flying to West Palm Beach, the boarding time was only 30 minutes prior to departure. We still had to make the grueling wake up time of 3am, but knowing we were going back to Key West, made it a bit easier. Our car was on time and picked us up at 3:45am. Security lines were long, but we made it through within a few minutes to spare to have a quick cup of coffee at the United Club Lounge.IMG_9284Soon it was time to board our flight. The flight was on time and we had no issues. Once we landed in West Palm Beach we looked for the Silver Airways Gate. The airport is fairly small so it was a quick walk to the gate. We noticed a few people waiting and even the two pilots. The flight was scheduled to leave at 9:35am and soon it was time to board. We thought we are going to be in Key West at 11am! It would be the earliest time we had even been to Key West.IMG_9285

Well that all changed quickly. We loaded the plane and only about 8 of us were on the plane. The pilot came on to the intercom and said that we were the first flight out for the day so they were going through all of their preflight protocols and noticed a light that came on. And the light that came on wasn’t a minor issue. It basically meant that if we were in the air it indicates “Engine Shut Off”. So with that news they told us that they were trying to get a mechanic to see if they could fix the plane and if need be, there was another plane available.

We all had to exit the plane and go back into the airport. It was not a good feeling. A few of the passengers went up to the gate to ask what was going to happen. They said it could be at least a couple of hours for them to fix the plane and it wasn’t 100 percent if they could fix it. They were trying to see if there was another plane available, but there weren’t any additional flights that were on schedule for that day. They also mentioned that there may be a plane that they could get from Ft. Lauderdale, but it could be long wait.

Two passengers decided to get their money refunded and make the drive down to Key West. We thought about it for a second, but after checking Google Maps and that it was going to be at least a 4 to 5 hour drive, we decided not to do it. Then another passenger asked about any other options. They then said there was a flight out of Ft. Lauderdale at 1:40 in the afternoon and that they would give us a taxi voucher to drive us to that airport which was about an hour away. After debating what to do we decided to get the voucher and new tickets for the Ft. Lauderdale flight.

We walked to the taxi depot and the first passenger got onto the van. We offered to share the ride, but they said with the vouchers we had to go separately. Then the next vehicle pulls up and it was a beautiful Cadillac. The driver was very professional and soon we were on our way. We talked a lot about sports and how he met the Manning family years ago, since we were Giants fans. He made the 50 minute drive enjoyable.

My husband gave him a tip and we thanked him for his service. We had to go back through security but it wasn’t too long of a line. We also heard that there was another Key West flight going out at 1pm so we wanted to try and make that flight since it was only around 11:30am at that point.

We walked up to the gate and told the ticket agent our situation. She was very understanding and was able to change our tickets to the 1pm flight. However as she was working on changing our tickets, we noticed that they were announcing another Key West flight was about to board. She then told us that there was a 10:35am flight that was delayed and was about to leave. Then she said to wait right on the side and she would try and get us on that flight instead. We couldn’t believe it!! And within minutes she tore up our tickets and gave us new ones for the flight. Soon we were on the plane and on our way to Key West! We just thanked our lucky stars and our excitement started to return. IMG_9286

The flight was only about 45 minutes.IMG_9289Soon Key West began to appear below and I was so happy to be back. We landed and grabbed our luggage. There was another flight that just landed so we were worried we would be waiting a while for our luggage. Thankfully our luggage was one of the first to come out of the carousel so we were able to grab a taxi.IMG_9290Before we knew it we were back at the Gardens by 1pm. With all things considered it wasn’t so bad and could have been a lot worse. We walked in to the Gardens and saw Jim the manager at the hotel. It was nice to see him again. We checked in and our room was ready. I quickly unpacked our things. http://tinyurl.com/y7tdf6wpIMG_9292

Not before long, we were back on Duval Street. A good friend of mine and who I do design work for, Zack Seemiller, a musician in Key West was out of town so it changed some of our usual places to go and see him play.

We were going to stop at Willie T’s but it was too crowded. I wanted to go to Kelly’s, but unfortunately it was closed. New owners recently took over the restaurant and are currently renovating it. We walked by and it didn’t even look like anything was changed or under construction. We continued to walk towards Mallory Square. Then I started to crave a mojito. I remembered how El Meson De Pepe has delicious mojitos so that was our first stop.IMG_9294We sat down and enjoyed the delicious mojitos. We cheered and were both so happy to be back to Key West!IMG_9295We remembered that Al was working at Sunset Pier and wanted to stop by and say hello to him since last time we only saw him once during our trip. We walked over and it was a hot but sunny day. We talked to him for a bit before making our way to Captain Tony’s to see Gabriel Wright. IMG_9300IMG_9297IMG_9299Since it was so hot, Captain Tony’s was pretty crowded because of the AC. IMG_9305.jpgIt was great to see Gabriel again and listen to him for a bit.IMG_9307We had dinner reservations at Deuce’s Off the Hook so we figured that we would walk back to the Gardens to freshen up. IMG_9310While we were passing by Rick’s we noticed that Caffeine Carl and George were playing. Of course then we had to stop by and catch them for a few songs. It was fun to watch and say hello. IMG_9318It was getting later in the evening so we made the walk down Duval to the Gardens to get ready for dinner. It was a long day and I realized I hadn’t eaten yet at that point so I was extremely hungry for dinner. IMG_9491We walked into Deuce’s and we were seated at the bar. IMG_9326We actually prefer the bar then the tables since the place is small, we just feel like there is more room. For appetizers I ordered the grouper ceviche and my husband had a shrimp appetizer which was delicious. IMG_9329I decided to go with the snapper special while my husband settled on the burger. We were happy with both of our choices and enjoyed everything. Once we finished dinner, we felt the affects of the long travel day and ready to get some much needed sleep.

Sunday, July 9th – Our First Full Day IMG_9346

I woke up pretty early in the morning about 4:30am with a terrible headache. I realized that I also had forgotten to pack Advil. The combination of not eating much food, followed by a mix of rum drinks and beer was not the best idea. I tried to sleep it off but the pain did not go away. My husband woke up around 7am and I told him I was in a lot of pain. He offered to go to Walgreens to get Advil and some coffee from Cuban Coffee Queen. I felt so bad, because while he was out, I heard it begin to downpour outside. He did make it back completely soaked. After taking some Advil and sipping the coffee, the pain began to dissipate.

Also the rain stopped and the skies started to clear. We then saw a rainbow from our porch and thought that it was a good sign.IMG_9342Feeling rejuvenated if you will, we freshened up and walked down Petronia Street to Blue Heaven. It was before 9am so I knew there wouldn’t be a wait. I wasn’t sure if they would be serving breakfast outside, since when we went there back in April after a rain shower they kept the outside closed. Luckily when we got there we saw a few tables seated with people. IMG_9353Because it was Sunday, it was a brunch menu that offered more options verses the standard breakfast menu. We were both craving the eggs benedict so I went with the florentine version, while my husband chose the sausage benedict. I also had a side of grits which tasted really good. After our breakfast we stopped in the gift shop because I wanted to buy another tank top. IMG_9348We walked back to the Gardens to relax for a few. We made our way back onto Duval. We walked around up the bight past Dante’s. IMG_9358 It was a gorgeous day, but the humidity was high. We were getting thirsty so walked towards the Galleon. IMG_9359The Sunset Tiki Bar was open so we grabbed a couple of seats. We chatted with the bartender Ramsey for a bit. I remembered that I saw on the Tripadvisor Key West forum that a bar by the name of The Lazy Gecko was closing. She told us that today was the last day it was going to be open. It was a sad story to hear how a place was open for 17 years and when the lease came up, they wanted to increase it to $35,000 a month. The owner’s counter offered for a lower price, but someone from Nashville made the offer. We later found out the name of the new bar will be called the Tin Roof, a chain I believe in Nashville.

We finished our drinks and walked around for a while before making it back to Rick’s. Our friend Miguel was working so it was nice to see him again. IMG_9374He mentioned that Caffeine Carl’s birthday party was going to be held there on Wednesday so we would definitely made a point that we would go. We also talked about the Lazy Gecko and how it was it’s last day. IMG_9365We decided to go across the street to the Lazy Gecko and have a few drinks before closes. As soon as you walked in, it was pretty crowded and you can see the staff about ready to cry. It was so sad to see a place that has been an icon in Key West become no more. IMG_9375

We found a couple of seats open at the bar and ordered a couple of beers. The longer we sat there, more familiar faces appear, such as Caffeine Carl, Tony Baltimore among others. We stayed for a while thinking there would be a special show, but just the usual entertainers that they had on schedule played.

It was getting to be that time where we had to figure out what to do for dinner. We wished the staff all the luck and walked back to the Gardens.IMG_9325After we freshened up we walked back to Duval towards the Rooftop Cafe. We always have a solid dinner there and wanted to go back. IMG_9304We walked up the stairs and no one was really there yet. We were one of the first customers for the evening and chose to sit at the bar on the outside part. From there you can see Mallory Square nearby and the Front St. below. IMG_9389For our first course my husband had the shrimp and blue crab empanadas while I selected the tuna tar tar. Since we were practically the only ones there at the time, the food came out promptly which we don’t mind since we were pretty hungry. Our main course was the grilled mahi mahi (which I ordered) and the flame grilled NY strip.

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Again we did not have to wait long and each course was delicious and hot. The bartender was also very friendly and professional. We were too full to order dessert so walked back down the stairs towards Mallory Square. We joked how last time it took us practically to the end of our trip to go to Mallory Square, but this trip we were there on our 2nd night. IMG_9397We hadn’t seen “Mr. Mojito” in a couple of years and was hoping to see him. We walked near the Margaritaville Resort (formally the Westin) and sure enough we saw Jimmy in his cart! The line wasn’t too long so we waited a few minutes and said hello. It was nice to see him again and order his infamous “Green Thing” drink. They are so tasty and really hit the spot if you are looking for something semi-sweet and refreshing. IMG_9399

Since it was low season the crowds weren’t too many and we were able to find a spot to watch the sunset. Unfortunately this time of year the sun goes behind Sunset Key, but it is still nice to see. Once the sun went behind Sunset Key we walked back towards the Gardens. It was a beautiful evening and we walked by the Green Parrot. IMG_9415We were tempted to stop in but I was pretty tired at that point so we just kept walking to the Gardens and called it a night.

Monday, July 10th – Overcast Day – A&B Lobster House IMG_9478We woke up to cloudy day so we slept in a little bit. Our first usual stop each morning again was Cuban Coffee Queen. Sometimes you get there and only a couple people are there, other times you can wait for a while, but the coffee is worth the wait.  http://tinyurl.com/y8ym6ju9IMG_9417.jpgWe were going to go back to Bagatelle’s but as we neared the building it was closed because they were working on the front porch. So we thought about going to Kermit’s Cafe Kitchen for breakfast to try something new. I looked at the menu and only saw sandwiches and I was craving huervos rancheros. I remember last time I wanted to try Amigos for breakfast since I saw that they did have huervos rancheros on the menu. IMG_9419We walked to Amigos and just when we walked to the entrance the skies began to open up. We couldn’t ask for better timing. We sat in the front which is a great place to people watch. Since it was raining not too many people were going by. IMG_9421My husband ordered the egg burrito while I had the huervos rancheros. When they came out there were 3 instead of the usual 2. They were tasty but I personally prefer when the beans are refried and mashed verses just whole beans. IMG_9423Once we were done the rain did subside. It didn’t look like it was going to clear so we made the decision this would be the morning we walk around and do some shopping. It was actually good to pick the day we did since it wasn’t too hot to walk around with bags in tow. Our first stop was Hog’s Breath for a few shirts. They always have a nice variety of shirts to choose from. Then I remembered last time I saw a shirt I wanted for my husband at the Conch Republic Seafood gift shop so we went back. In addition, last time we never made it to Peppers and we were running low on our hot sauce inventory at home so we had to make it back. IMG_9426We walked down Greene St. to Peppers and noticed the red awning was no longer but a pepper sign. That was the only thing that was different – as soon as we walked in we saw all the hot sauces and other condiments. Neither of us was in the mood to taste anything but we knew what we wanted. The young lady at the tasting bar helped us with a few of our selections that we had questions about. We also wanted to ship everything home since we only do carry-on. It wasn’t a problem as usual and order was placed and ready for shipping. It is always fun too to have it arrive when you come home. A little reminder of where you were just at, which brings a smile to my face.IMG_9425We had a few bags to drop off at the Gardens before setting out for the rest of the day. It was still too cloudy to lounge by the pool so after freshening up we went back out onto Duval. Back in April we never made it to the Blue Macaw and wanted to go back to check it out. IMG_9429

A local musician was playing, James Whitehead so we sat down and ordered a couple of beers. We hung out for a bit before going back to Rick’s to see Miguel.

The weather that day never really got better so we just chatted with Miguel for a bit. And we just watched all the neon signs and other things get taken down/ removed at The Lazy Gecko. It will definitely be strange to see a different place in its location.IMG_9435

We were supposed to go out on a sunset boat trip with our good friend Billy (whom we have been going out fishing with for the past 6 years) but it didn’t look like it would be much of a sunset. So I wound up getting in touch with him and rescheduling our trip for the following evening.

That night Caffeine Carl was playing at the Smokin’ Tuna and before him was another musician Joal Rush from South Carolina that I wanted to catch since it was a couple of years since the last time we saw him play in Key West.

We told Miguel we would catch the next day and went back to regroup at the Gardens.IMG_9323We made it back onto Duval and into the Smokin’ Tuna. It was about the time Joal Rush was supposed to play and we noticed the place was quite empty and so was the stage. We then found out Caffeine Carl wasn’t feeling well so he wasn’t playing and that Joal Rush was playing at 8pm. It was only 5pm and we didn’t want to sit there for 3 hours waiting. IMG_9610.jpgSo we walked down towards the Bight to find a place to eat. Being it was happy hour, everywhere we looked was crowded – Conch Republic, Commodores, Alonzo’s, etc. You wouldn’t think it was low season. Then as we were walking around I saw the entrance to A&B the Lobster House. I laughed when I saw it because we have been going to Key West for 11 years now, and I never noticed the door to the fine dining upstairs. We walked up the dark staircase into the main dining room. It was beautiful with large windows overlooking the marina. The hostess told us that the dining room wasn’t open yet, but that we could have a drink in the bar which turns out to be Berlin’s. IMG_9446We walked in and the AC felt wonderful. It was on the dark side but we got a kick out of the old retro vibe it gave. The bartender was very nice and said that anything offered in the main dining room you could have at the bar. We tend to prefer eating at the bar at certain places and thought that it was perfect to dine there. IMG_9440.jpgWe each ordered a class of wine and I still couldn’t believe I finally found the entrance (not that it is hard to find, I just never noticed it before). For appetizers I decided to go old school and have the shrimp cocktail martini and my husband ordered the escargot sauté. When my appetizer came out a flashback of the movie Beetlejuice came to mind. The shrimp were huge hanging over the martini glass, but they were delicious and so fresh. My husband’s escargot was full of flavor as well. IMG_9441.jpgAnd the amazing food just kept going with my husband’s steak au poivre and my grouper oscar. It was probably one of the best meals we had on the trip. It is on the pricey side, but if you are looking for that one special dinner while you are on vacation, this is the place to go to. http://tinyurl.com/yb295f7e

Feeling fully satisfied with all the food we ate, we made it back down to the Smokin’ Tuna. Joal was already playing so we sat at the bar. We noticed the bartender Ed sitting at the bar instead of working. He is always very nice to us whenever we have gone to the Tuna in past. He came over and we talked to him for a bit. He said that he now works at Rick’s and that he would be bartending Carl’s birthday on Wednesday. IMG_9454We stayed for a while and listened to Joal play before calling an end to the evening. IMG_9455

Even though the weather wasn’t perfect, we still enjoyed the day – who wouldn’t while you are in Key West?

 Tuesday, July 11th – Beautiful Day & Sunset Boat Trip with Billy IMG_9489We woke up to a beautiful day. So like any other morning we walked to Cuban Coffee Queen for much needed coffee. We tend to prefer the Cuban American Coffee, so we ordered two of those and walked around contemplating where to eat for breakfast. The breakfast choice of the day wound up being the Blue Macaw. IMG_9480

We walked in and it was empty. The waitress then seated us at the smallest table possible right in the middle of everything. We thought about moving our table to something a bit larger and off to the side. Our server came over and told us to move to another table to be more comfortable. I understand if it is crowded you seat the number of people to the appropriate number of seats at the table, but if no one is there? Plus we noticed a couple more people came in, again it was very quiet and she sat them right on top of each other?! Then we saw the one table move to another one.

Once we were settled in and comfortable with our new table, we both ordered an omelet. The portions were quite large and definitely didn’t leave much room for a “make your own bloody mary”. I also noticed that they had sticks of bacon that you can put in your bloody mary. I just couldn’t do it – plus I am not a fan of bloody mary’s, I wish I was. Still the food was decent and the service was good. http://tinyurl.com/yahj595u

IMG_9488Since the weather was so nice, we took advantage of it. When we were done with breakfast we walked back to the Gardens just to relax by the pool for a bit. IMG_9499It was getting hot so we decided a nice cold beer was in order. We walked down Duval and grabbed a couple of cold beers at the Porch. It is quite a pretty area to sit out on the porch and watch the people go by.

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We only had one a piece since we were going out later that evening with Billy for a sunset boat trip. We walked back down Duval and saw Miguel was working again. We grabbed the two seats right outside by the bar which are our favorites. Miguel told us that Caffeine Carl’s birthday would start at 7pm the next day. So at least we could plan accordingly since we wanted to go.IMG_9502We scheduled to go out with Billy at around 6pm and thought it would be a good idea to grab something to eat before going out with him otherwise it would be a long time since we had breakfast. IMG_9506

We said goodbye to Miguel and went back to the hotel. We freshened up and decided to go back to the Blue Macaw since it is not too far from the Gardens. Nick Norman was playing that afternoon so I wanted to catch him this time since our last trip we never did. We walked in and found two seats at the bar. It was definitely more crowded then earlier that morning and then realized it was happy hour. We ordered several different appetizers that were being offered for half price since it was happy hour to share. Our favorite wound up being the ahi tuna tartare with wasabi guacamole. In fact it was so good we ordered a second one.

We didn’t have that much time to hang out so we as soon as the last appetizer was finished we paid our tab and went back to the Gardens to meet Billy. He picked us up promptly at 6pm, which was a surprise because he usually runs late. IMG_9504He drove us to the marina and it was a beautiful evening. IMG_9511He took us out past Sunset Key and then we eventually went back towards the sandbar. IMG_9513On our way we passed by Mallory Square. IMG_9526The sandbar was so shallow that we can the birds just running round. It was so nice and relaxing to sit back and relax. IMG_9557It was a beautiful sunset but then just when you thought it was going to touch the water, it fell behind the clouds. IMG_9590IMG_9595IMG_9601IMG_9603We still witnessed quite an impressive sunset. IMG_9568It was fun to hang out with Billy for a bit before going back to the marina. IMG_9605IMG_9607 Billy dropped us off back at the Gardens. We thanked him again and told him when we return, we would definitely do the sunset trip again. http://tinyurl.com/y7ml5jz3 It was pretty late so we turned in for the night.

Wednesday, July 12th – Another Beautiful Day & Caffeine Carl’s Birthday Party IMG_9647

We slept in a bit and when we woke up we saw it was another bright and sunny day. It felt a bit more humid then the previous day but still it was gorgeous. IMG_9494

We did our usual coffee run to Cuban Coffee Queen and a bite to eat. We walked along the bight once more and made our way back to the Sunset Tiki Bar at the Galleon.

IMG_9613IMG_9612IMG_9614IMG_9616This has become one of our favorite places, since it is sort of an out of the way place it never gets too crowded, the service is always very friendly no matter who is working there, and the view of course. IMG_9615I realized the last time we saw Al at the Sunset Pier, it was his last day working before he will be off for a few weeks. We headed back to the Sunset Pier to see Al. We wished him well and told him that we will hopefully see him next year. IMG_9637Then it was that time to say hello to Miguel again at Rick’s. We saw the posters set up for Carl’s birthday. They were pretty funny. It wasn’t that late but we were getting hungry. We thought to get back and freshen up so we could hit Martin’s for happy hour. Last time we just barely made it to happy hour but it was only about 3pm. IMG_9648After we freshened up, we walked down to Martin’s and it was just 4pm. It was perfect! There just one other couple there and we sat right at the bar. I think we ordered almost everything off the tapas menu we were so hungry. Each item was as delicious as the next. IMG_9651IMG_9656We had some time before Caffeine Carl’s birthday at Rick’s so we went back to the Smokin’ Tuna to listen to Joal Rush again. It started to rain again but not too bad. Just a few showers. We then noticed Carl walking in and grabbing a few things for his birthday show. We wound up walking back to Rick’s with him. He told us he had a terrible sinus thing but obviously he was going to play for his birthday. IMG_9660We were able to get our two seats right at the window. We saw big Ed and Carl’s wife Erin who was also bartending. It was funny when Carl went on with George, he mentioned how it felt like it was the Smokin’ Tuna in the bizarro world.

IMG_9667IMG_9687The music began and the drinks started flowing. More and more people came in and it was a lot of fun. IMG_9691IMG_9668Eventually even Joal Rush showed up after his show at the Smokin’ Tuna for it. IMG_9692IMG_9690We wound up drinking a lot and staying up late (for us), but it was worth it. IMG_9696We made it back to the Gardens and we were done.

Thursday, July 13th – Last Full Day – Already 😦 IMG_9331.jpgI would have booked our trip like we did back in April – Saturday to a Saturday. And that Saturday, the day we left, we were able to book a direct flight home to Newark so we literally got home by 10:30 am. This time of year there are no direct flights so the flights available if we stayed until Saturday would have had us arrive home later in the evening so we decided to leave a day earlier so we would still have the weekend to decompress. IMG_9701

I wanted to go to Blue Heaven for our last breakfast but we slept in and I knew there would probably be a wait if we went. We did go back to Cuban Coffee Queen and had to wait a while since we were late. Plus when we got our two coffees they weren’t the right ones. We didn’t realize it until we were already leaving. They were good but still not as tasty as the cuban americans.

We were going back and forth between Sarabeth’s for breakfast or Croissants de France and Le Bistro. Since we went to Sarabeth’s on our last trip, we decided to go with Croissants de France. I ordered the eggs benedict with salmon and my husband had the americanos which was basically 3 scrambled eggs with several sides. The food was tasty but we noticed the same thing last year when we went, the food wasn’t hot – at all. It was a bit disappointing but we still ate our breakfast. We also ordered a couple of double espressos to give ourselves a little boost which was served hot (thank goodness). IMG_9704.jpgWhile we were finishing breakfast a few more showers rolled in. So much for relaxing by the pool our last day – I thought. We did go back to the hotel to sit on our porch and relax for a bit before going back out for our final day. IMG_9710We wound up walking back to El Meson De Pepe. We were in the mood for sangria but disappointingly the Little Jazz Room Bar isn’t open during the day – not until 4pm now and we really enjoyed their sangria. We sat down and each had a glass of their sangria. It wasn’t the best sangria I have ever had but it hit the spot. We watched the clouds come in through Mallory Square. IMG_9712bOur next stop was Half Shell Raw Bar. We have never eaten there before and the next time we come back to Key West I want to make it a point to do so. The food that comes out of the kitchen looks so good. We had early dinner reservations at Café Solé so I didn’t want to have any lunch. IMG_9715

I wanted to get back to the Gardens to arrange for our taxi pickup the next morning and do the taunting task of backing up all of our things. We only stayed for a drink at the Half Shell and got back to the Gardens.

IMG_9719We wound up having some time to spare so after we were packed and freshened up, we sat at the Gardens bar for a drink. Kate the owner was there and it was nice to chat with her for a bit. We have been going to the Gardens every year since 2006 and the past several years staying there twice a year so she really appreciates our loyalty to the hotel and plus I redesigned their logo which I am really proud of. gardenshotelogoThe skies appeared to get brighter so we didn’t need to bring umbrellas with us. IMG_9356We made the left turn on to Simonton St. and then a right turn onto Southard St. IMG_9721We joke now because it took us several years to figure out where Café Solé is and it isn’t that far or difficult to get to from the Gardens.

We were seating in the outside covered area. It was bit warm compared to the inside, but I enjoy sitting in the outside area. Our server came out and he was very pleasant. He told us about the happy hour offering where wines by the glass were two for one and all entrees were $20. I remember hearing about their happy hour, but completely forgot about it. It was a nice surprise. For our appetizers my husband always orders the beef carpaccio. I usually try something different and being it was so hot I felt like a nice cold salad, so I went with the caesar salad and of course we both ordered the hogfish for dinner. After we ordered we were brought out soft warm bread and hummus which is always flavorful. We enjoyed our appetizers and obviously the hogfish was amazing. IMG_9731Café Solé is definitely one of my favorite restaurants in Key West. http://tinyurl.com/yacn7s2d

My husband start talking to our server and mentioned how I do design work for a musician down there and mentioned Zack’s name. And turns out the server Dan is a good friend of his. It was nice to meet him. IMG_9738He even brought us out a complimentary piece of Key Lime pie. And I hate to admit this, but I think that was the first time I have ever had key lime pie in Key West! I am not a big dessert fan so I usually don’t order it. I think maybe my husband had one of the key lime pies on a stick dipped in chocolate during our first time in Key West. The pie was delicious. IMG_9739We thanked Dan for a wonderful dinner and we were on our way again. IMG_9746It was our last night in Key West and knew we would spend it at the Tuna. We walked in and sat at the bar. Joal Rush was playing again. Erin was bartending too so it was nice to see her again. Then it was time for Carl to come on. We had to be up for our flight home around 6:45am. It wasn’t that early but early enough where we wanted to be back in our room by 10:30. Soon it was time to call it a night and say goodbye. Last time we were in Key West I knew we were returning in a couple of months so I was fine, but that night I realized we wouldn’t be back for a while and I did get upset. It is just seems each and every time we visit, it gets harder and harder to leave. IMG_9752We made it back and turned in for our long travel day ahead.

Friday, July 14th – Back Home IMG_9410

Usually I wind up booking an early flight so we have to be up and out the door before anyone is up. Last time we left our keys in the room and the front gate was still locked so we had to climb over it in order to leave. We didn’t want to make that mistake twice so we had our keys with us. The Gardens does have a place where we can leave them – once we open the gate. IMG_9484

The sun was up and the staff was setting up the tables for breakfast. This was a bonus for us since they had coffee ready. Knowing how terrible the coffee is at the airport I made sure I grabbed a cup.

Our taxi was scheduled to pick us up at 7:45am and showed up a few minutes early. My husband was wearing his Yankees visor and the taxi driver was from Boston (or just a fan – I can’t remember), so as soon as he picked us up he was picking on my husband. It was all tongue and cheek but it got to be enough by the time we got to the airport. On our way to the airport, we were stopped at a light and the taxi driver saw a girl on her bike being squeezed on the side of the road by this van across from us going the other way. As soon as the light turned green, the taxi driver drove towards the van as if we were going to get into a head on collision and then screams at the driver of the van “what are you doing?” Then our taxi driver told us how he doesn’t care since after that day he isn’t driving the taxi anymore. Wonderful.

We did make it to the airport and we were dropped off by the Silver Airways check-in counter. There were a few people ahead of us but we didn’t have to wait that long. Security was a breeze and we sat at the gate until our flight was called. It was nearing the boarding time and the Silver Airways agent came onto the speaker to tell us that the flight was being delayed a few extra minutes because they could not get one of the tray tables to stay up – apparently the little clip that holds it up broke. Seriously? We didn’t get delayed that long, maybe about 20 minutes. They solved the problem by just not having anyone sit there since they couldn’t fix it! We did make up the time in the air so we arrived only 5 minutes late. IMG_9288BWe had an hour or so layover so I wasn’t so concerned. I had the Silver Airways boarding passes and wasn’t sure if I needed to have them reissued at the United Gate. We walked over and I noticed a few people waiting in line. As I walked closer I saw that our 11:30 flight was delayed until 1:30. My heart sank, all you want to do is get home when it’s time to leave. Apparently there were heavy rain storms back up in the northeast that caused a lot of delays. Our plane was actually there in Tampa, but the time to land the plane in Newark had to be pushed back. So they called it air traffic control delay. People were not happy. Many of them had connections to international flights out of Newark. I didn’t need new boarding passes so we wound up finding a place to have lunch.

We noticed there were a lot of new restaurants. We used to connect in Tampa a lot, but recently the flights I have been booking have been taking us through Orlando. The food looked pretty good at this new asian restaurant Pei Wei. We sat at the bar. I just had a glass of water and my husband a beer. We shared this shrimp appetizer which was surprisingly good. Then I had a chicken salad which was gigantic and my husband had the chicken with egg noodles. We were shocked as to how good this “airport” food was. It made our wait tolerable . Then I noticed I received an alert on my phone that now our flight was delayed until 1:56!

Once we were done with our lunch, It was a little after 1pm so we walked back to the gate. I saw that they were showing preboarding on the digital sign, so we waited online. We made it onto the plane. We sat at the gate for 35 minutes before we took off. The pilot came onto the intercom to explain how there are certain windows when planes can land and once they get backed up with delays they have to find a certain time. He said that we would take off and would have to wait until there was a window.

We took off around 2:35. Once we were airborne people were expressing concern since several of them had connecting international flights in Newark. The airline stewardess reassured everyone that they would make it. At one point we were over Virginia and the pilot came on the intercom again and said he had to put us in a holding pattern and we would stay up there for about 30 additional minutes before making our decent into Newark Airport. I thought we were never going to get home.

We eventually landed around 5pm which was perfect for the rush hour home just before the start of the weekend. We all deplaned and people did make their connecting flights, thank goodness. Finally – we got home at around 7pm which we were originally supposed to be home around 3:30pm. It was a long day but at least we had the weekend ahead of us.

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Once again we had a great time in Key West seeing familiar faces and new ones alike, listening to great music, eating great food and experiencing all the beauty Key West has to offer. We will never get tired of visiting this special little island and hope to be back sometime in the not too distant future. endpic

Until then…. thank you for taking the time to read my blog!

 

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