Key West is Strong – October 29th – November 4th, 2017

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Every year for the past fourteen years, my husband and I would go to St. John, in the US Virgin Islands for our anniversary. However, Hurricane Irma changed everything. My heart was broken after seeing the images of all the devastation that occurred to my beloved island. I then had to think about if we were still going to go away on vacation where would we go? I started to do some research for other options. I wanted to go some place that was warm and tropical. We had already been to Grand Cayman, Aruba (and several other islands) which were not affected by the hurricanes. After researching other islands, there wasn’t really place I wanted to go back to, except Key West.

We had already been to Key West 2 times prior this past year and obviously we truly love it down there. Then news started to come out that Hurricane Irma was headed straight towards Key West. I couldn’t believe it. Would this storm take out my 2 happy places? I knew that if Key West was spared I wanted to go back. I wound up contacting the manager of the Gardens Hotel and told him that we would love to return if Key West makes it through okay. I remember the night that Irma hit Key West, I couldn’t watch the news coverage at all. I was so worried for my dear friend down there riding it out.

The next morning I turned on the tv and started to look on social media to see how Key West fared. I could not believe it that my other beloved island was spared. I knew in my heart that we were meant to go back. A week had passed after the storm and I finally heard back from Jim, the General Manager at the Gardens Hotel. He told me he was still in Orlando but heard back from some staff that road out the storm, that the Gardens Hotel was fine. There was some damage with broken trees, but no structural damage. I was so relieved and so happy. I told him we would love to return if Key West would be open by the end of October. He reassured me that Key West would be ready for us and we were set. We were going back to Key West again!

Sunday – October 29th, Arrival Day IMG_0506

Normally I prefer to go to Key West from a Saturday to Saturday, but with Fantasy Fest, we had to wait to return until after it ended, which was on Sunday. To make matters more stressful for me, there was a nor’easter headed our way and it was supposed to arrive that Sunday. I was getting sick to my stomach thinking that another storm would affect us, but I just kept telling myself – don’t stress over the things you cannot control.IMG_0497Luckily, our flight was early enough in the morning not to be affected yet with the heavy rain and winds that were on its way. There was only some rain, but it wasn’t too bad at that point. While we were waiting for our flight to board, I saw an article about Fantasy Fest in Key West. I thought to myself how funny is that? IMG_0498 We had a direct flight on United and had no issues taking off. The flight was a little bumpy at first but then it did calm down a bit. After about 3 hour, I could start to see the Keys come into view below. It was a beautiful sight to see. Once I could see Key West, I began to smile and knew in my heart I made the right decision. IMG_0509It was on the windy side when we landed, but we were both so happy and excited to be back. We did have to wait for a cab since another plane had arrived just before ours. We had to share a cab, but fortunately we were able to have the cab driver drop us off first.

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We arrived at the Gardens Hotel within no time. At first it looked just like I remembered just a few months ago in July. Then I noticed a lot of the canopy was gone and so were the trees that would hide Simonton. There was a decent amount missing on the one side. IMG_0533It was a bit sad to see, but knowing what Hurricane Irma did to the other islands, it wasnt that bad. The staff was working vigorously throughout our stay replanting the trees that were lost in the storm. https://tinyurl.com/yda7lpyq

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We checked in, but our room wasn’t ready yet. It wasn’t a problem for us since we wanted to go see Miguel who tends bar at Rick’s down on Duval Street. We were able to change into our warm weather closes at the Garden’s cabana room and we were on our way. We always love that feeling you get when you first walk back on to Duval. My husband and I always make it a point when we make that right hand turn onto the street and say we are back! We walked down Duval and noticed that it was pretty quiet. Everyone had recently left Key West since Fantasy Fest had ended. We did see a few stragglers here and there, but overall everyone was gone.IMG_0644

We made it to Rick’s and saw that Miguel was working. He was so surprised to see us. We didn’t want to tell anyone ahead of time we were coming, because I wanted it to be a surprise. It was fun to be back and talk about how he faired during the hurricane. We also told him how our friends and co-workers alike couldn’t believe we were going back to Key West thinking it was devastated with the hurricane. There was damage, but not nearly what they were saying on the news back home. Some streets still had some debris in piles to be removed, but overall Key West did an amazing job cleaning up most of the debris  and was back, ready for visitors. IMG_0519

We finished our drinks and walked down towards the Galleon to check out the Sunset Tiki Bar. We walked along the boardwalk and then had to stop. There was damage to the boardwalk and it was blocked, so we had to go around through the parking lot. Once we got to the Tiki Bar it appeared that it faired well. It was pretty crowded so we didn’t stay too long.

 

 

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Our next place we wanted to check out was the old Kelly’s restaurant which is now called the First Flight Restaurant. IMG_0784We walked in and I personally didn’t notice too much change as far as the outside bar and dining area, unless the majority of the renovations were done to the interior dining room. We grabbed two seats at the bar and I ordered a margarita. IMG_0527It tasted like the old Kelly ones but it was half the size (not that I needed a larger one), but if they are charging the same price for a margarita during happy hour, I feel that they should have it be the size it once was. If it wasn’t broken, don’t fix it. We also ordered an ahi tuna appetizer just to get something in our stomachs.

 

 

 

The bartender was very friendly and we told her how we were pretty amazed how great Key West looked in such a short amount of time. She said that they need people to come back and get the word out that Key West is back. We thanked her for the drinks and food. It was time to get back to our room and freshen up for dinner. IMG_0532

On our way back we saw a familiar face playing at Willie T’s, John LaMere. I heard he was going to Memphis during the Meeting of the Minds (Parrothead Convention) that was about to start in a few days, so I wanted to stop in and catch a song. It was fun to see him and we probably could have stayed longer, but we were getting quite hungry at that point and didn’t want to miss our reservations at Deuce’s Off the Hook.IMG_0542

Jazz was already in full swing at the Gardens, so we had to walk through a bunch of people sitting at the tables (which we had to do in the past and it always feels a bit awkward even though we are hotel guests). We saw Jim and Kate (the owner) and waved to them both. We freshened up and walked right around the corner to Deuce’s. Besides the fact that they always having consistently good food, we love the proximity the restaurant is to the Gardens especially on our first night after a day of travel. IMG_0535

It was a good thing we had reservations, because there were quite a few people standing outside waiting to be seated. I made the reservations for the bar since their tables are situated somewhat closer together then I prefer and honestly feel that believe it or not the bar gives you more room. They had two seats reserved for us. I was also excited see that their catch of the day was hogfish, which is one of our favorites. I tend to start with their ceviche, but I noticed that they had a dozen oysters on the half shell on the appetizer special. I don’t normally order them, but it just sounded like a good idea at the time. I am so glad I did. They were absolutely delicious. For dinner my husband and I both ordered the hogfish special – which wasn’t a surprise.

 

 

 

Feeling rejuvenated after a much needed and delicious dinner, we wanted to catch the end of Joal Rush’s set who was playing at the Smokin’ Tuna. We were able to find to seats at the bar and listen to him play a few songs. IMG_0545Then the Marshall Morlock band came on to play. I had never heard of them, but they were quite good. We didn’t stay too long since the travel day had set in. It was time to get some sleep and call it a night.

Monday – October 30th – Seeing our Key West Friends IMG_0957

We woke up to a beautiful and breezy day. A cold front had moved in so it was on the chilly side. I wasn’t sure what to expect this time of year weather wise while visiting Key West since all of our previous trips have been either in the spring or summer. Even though it was cool, it was just still so pretty. IMG_0546

I always like to start our first breakfast at Blue Heaven during every trip. We first made our usual stop at Cuban Coffee Queen for a couple of Cuban American Coffees. Their coffee is the perfect beverage to jump start your day in Key West. Ironically we bumped into a friend of ours Joe (aka Kokomo Joe) that we met at the Galleon Tiki Bar back in April. We sat down and talked to him for a bit. He was telling us too how he fared with the hurricane, but overall he did okay. It was nice to see him before we made our way towards Blue Heaven. IMG_0884

We walked to Petronia and down to Blue Heaven. I wasn’t sure what to expect as far as the foliage, but remarkably it looked exactly the same as it did back in July. IMG_0547.jpgThere weren’t too many people so we were seated right away. I wound up having a cheese, spinach and mushroom omelette (with a side of their signature key lime hollandaise sauce) and my husband went with one of their old reliable stables the eggs benedict. The breakfast was good as it usually is, but my favorite part dining there is seeing all the roosters and chickens running around. It gives you that true feeling of Key West. IMG_0550

We walked back to the Gardens to relax for a bit, however it is always hard for me to sit still. I typically want to head back out and just walk around Key West. It was still too early to have a beverage so I did wind up taking at few pictures around the Gardens Hotel while my husband read on our front porch. IMG_0719IMG_0557I also stopped in to see Nancy and Jim who have been working at the Gardens for years. It was nice to see them and they thanked us repeatedly for returning to Key West and supporting the much needed tourism that needs to come back. IMG_0517.jpg

It was finally that time to get back on Duval and stop by to see Miguel who was bartending again at Rick’s. He was even commenting how cool it was that morning. I think it was around 68 degrees, but being from New Jersey it wasn’t too cold for us. The sun was out and it did start to warm up. I originally had reservations for Latitudes later that evening but with the cooler temperature and wind, I knew it would be too cold to enjoy a meal out on the beach. We figured it was just as well since we wanted to catch up with our friends playing around town. IMG_0569

Our next stop was Captain Tony’s where Gabriel Wright was playing. It was nice to see him once again. We hung out for several songs until he was able to take a break. We talked a bit and he was telling us how he was in Paris when Irma hit. He was only back in town for a few weeks. We also mentioned how the media made it seem like Key West was destroyed back up in New Jersey. P1030251It was then getting to be about that time to see my great friend Zack Seemiller playing at Hogsbreath. We have been working together for a couple of years creating fun ads that he posts on social media each day.  IMG_0571

We walked in and he immediately recognized us. We were lucky enough to find two seats at the bar. http://tinyurl.com/ybh5ldaq It was great to be back and listen to him play. It was also nice to see his son Kai stop by to say hello. We talked for a bit and stayed until his show was over. It was so nice to be back in Key West to see them both. IMG_0573

It was getting later in the evening and we knew we should get back to the Gardens and get ready for dinner. We said goodbye to Zack and his son. We were going to try and meet up later, but if we didn’t we would see him the next day at Willie T’s. IMG_0584

As we were walking back to the hotel we contemplated where to eat. We agreed that it would be nice to go back to the Roof Top Cafe since we have never had a disappointing meal there. We walked up the stairs and noticed it was getting quite breezy and the temperature was dropping. IMG_0588Thankfully I had a sweater on and my husband was wearing a sweatshirt we bought earlier in the day at the Conch Farm giftshop. We tend to gravitate to the bars at restaurants since we enjoy the interaction with the bartender and follow patrons, so we chose to sit on the outside section of the bar, which gives you a great view of Mallory Square behind you. P1030261I was thinking about going to see the sunset after dinner, but this time of year the sun sets earlier, around 6:45pm. It was going to be too late after dinner, but it was still nice to see the sunset partially from the restaurant.

For appetizers, my husband ordered the gnocchi with truffle oil and I had the shrimp and crab cake. They were excellent. Right after our appetizers we saw everything go dark. The entire place and streets were without power. It was kind of surreal at first. However, within minutes the power was restored. The bartender told us that it has become the norm since the hurricane, which is totally understandable. Then for dinner my husband had the sirloin and I had the snapper. Again, we both thoroughly enjoyed our meals.

 

 

 

At this point we were getting pretty cold. It was time to figure out our next game plan. IMG_0603.jpg

We wound up going back to our favorite place to watch live music, the Smokin’ Tuna. Scott Kirby was in town, so we saw him finish his set before Tony Baltimore went on stage. We sat back for a while and enjoyed the music. Another added plus was Erin, Caffeine Carl’s wife was bartending. It was so fun to see her again! IMG_0608

Before we knew it, it was getting pretty late. We figured that we should get back to the Gardens. All and all it was a great day seeing our friends again in Key West.

Tuesday – October 31th – Halloween in Key WestIMG_0632

This was going to be the first time in a while not spending Halloween in St. John. I heard that Halloween isn’t really a big deal in Key West since the week before is Fantasy Fest, which makes sense. We woke up to another cool but gorgeous morning. We made our regular stop at Cuban Coffee Queen before walking around Key West. I didn’t really have a plan as to where to eat breakfast, but was open to the idea of trying something new. IMG_0610Eventually we made it to the Bight and my husband suggested going to Kermit’s for breakfast. I thought that why not since we never had been there before we should give it a try. IMG_0616

We walked in to order our breakfast and sat down in the back while we waited for the server to bring it out for us. Once we sat down, I noticed how cute this place was. They had a little waterfall and a koi pond. A few minutes passed, and our breakfast was brought out. My husband had ordered the strawberry crepes which looked amazing, even though I prefer to order something savory for breakfast. I chose their standard breakfast of two eggs, bacon, home fries and toast. The bacon was cooked perfectly.

 

It was definitely a good call to give this place a try.  https://tinyurl.com/y8zdhr7d

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After breakfast we walked around for a bit and made our way towards sunset pier. As we approached the pier, you could immediately see that it was not ready to be open. IMG_0625IMG_0623You could see the damage that occurred from the hurricane and all of the extra tables and chairs were being stored in the garage area.

 

 

 

We made our way towards Mallory Square and again you could see some damage to the aquarium and also the bridge that connects Mallory Square to the Margaritaville Resort (previously the Westin). IMG_0627All and all though, that was really the only other things we noticed from the hurricane.

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We walked to the Gardens Hotel to unwind for a little while before going back out. We agreed to stop by at the Blue Macaw since we had not been there yet and also noticed that Joal Rush was playing. IMG_0637We sat down and listened to him play. It was such a beautiful setting, between the atmosphere of the place and the weather. http://tinyurl.com/yc8otcf3IMG_0642.jpg

I knew that Zack was playing at Willie T’s that afternoon, so I wanted to go and see him play since he was going to be off for the next several days due to the  Meeting of the Minds that was starting the next day. So we finished up our drinks at the Blue Macaw and walked down to Willie T’s. It was somewhat crowded, but after a few people left I was able to get us two seats near where he was playing. IMG_0649.jpgWe always have a lot of fun at his shows and even his son Kai stopped by and played a song. It was a nice afternoon before it was that time to get something to eat. We said good bye to Zack and Kai and hoped to catch them again later.

 

 

 

Its nice that the Gardens Hotel is located pretty close to Willie T’s so it didn’t take us long to get ready. IMG_0653One place I thought of going to dinner this time was the Half Shell Raw Bar. We had been there numerous times in the past, but we had never eaten there and after watching the guys shuck oysters each time we were there, made me quite intrigued. Plus it is a bit of a walk from the Gardens for dinner – so we tend to eat some place closer to the Gardens. IMG_0654IMG_0656

We walked in and the place was packed. I didn’t realize that it was happy hour and they offer 1/2 price appetizers. The hostess was able to find us a table. Of course I had to order the oysters for an appetizer. We also ordered the buffalo shrimp and calamari all which were half price for happy hour. It didn’t take long for the appetizers to come out and everything was fresh and delicious. My favorite though were the oysters. They also had hogfish on the menu so we both ordered the hogfish. I went with the grilled hogfish over a caesar salad and my husband had his with french fries.

 

 

 

I was so glad we finally made it to Half Shell for dinner because everything tasted so good.  http://tinyurl.com/ydcmh6dk IMG_0666IMG_0669IMG_0671

It was time to walk off our dinners so we walked along the bight and made it back to Duval and once again to Rick’s. I noticed a few people walking by with Halloween costumes on, but not too many. We had a couple of drinks and ran into this guy. IMG_0682

The temperature started to drop again and planned on going back to the hotel, but instead we stopped by the Tuna again. IMG_0685Caffeine Carl was finally playing! We probably stayed later then we first intended, but we were having so much fun that it was worth it. Eventually we did get back to the Gardens to get some sleep.

Wednesday – November 1st, Sunset Pier and Cafe Sole IMG_0717

We wokeup to another beautiful morning in Key West. It was later then we normally get up but it was okay. I also noticed it was slightly warmer then it had been but still was windy. We didn’t have much planned for the day. I had originally had a sunset boat trip planned with our good friend Billy at 6 Pack Charters, but he said that we should wait the next day when the winds would be calmer. IMG_0716

The night before, Zack recommended 5 Brothers for coffee. We never had been there before and wanted to give it a try. It was a perfect morning to walk along the streets of Key West, which I love to do. IMG_0699

Once we got to 5 Brothers we walked in but there was a line. I guess 5 Brothers wasn’t a secret. IMG_0704We noticed there were a lot of construction workers and cops in the shop. We planned on having breakfast there, however the place was quite small and there wasn’t enough room to sit. I wanted to try their coffee anyway, so we waited and ordered two con leches. The coffee was indeed delicious. I can see why all the locals go there for their coffee. It was a tasty start to our day. IMG_0705

A few days earlier when we were walking along the harbour walk, I noticed that the White Tarpon now offers breakfast. Since we were in Key West twice already this year, I again wanted to try another new place for breakfast. We sat down with our con leches and ordered breakfast. My husband had their egg sandwich while I had one of my favorite breakfasts, a bagel with lox (smoked salmon) and cream cheese. I normally stay away from bagels – a lot of carbs, but I was on vacation and enjoyed every minute of it. IMG_0707

After our late breakfast we walked around and did some shopping. IMG_0620I remembered that Al was working at Sunset Pier that day and realized that we had not seen him yet. IMG_0706We walked down towards Sunset Pier and found a couple of seats along the side of the pier. The actual pier that goes out over the water is sectioned off. Al immediately recognized us and brought us over a couple of beers. He was telling us how the pier wasn’t going to be repaired and ready until next Summer. Instead of just repairing it, they were going to rebuild it using cement so hopefully it will last a long time. It was nice to see him and hear that him and his family were doing well.

 

 

 

The afternoon seemed to fly by and I had changed our reservations for Cafe Sole from the next night to this night due to the fact we had to change the sunset boat trip to Thursday. The reservation was early but we still had some time to relax at the Gardens before having dinner at Cafe Sole. IMG_0721

We walked in and the hostess recognized us because we were there just a few months ago (plus I think it was the hat I like to wear while in Key West). We were seated at my favorite table near the road outside in the covered porch. IMG_0733IMG_0735

It was just 5:30 so the restaurant only had another table seated. The owner came over and told us how he was offering wine specials where selected bottles of wine were half priced. We knew we had to take advantage of the offer so we chose a bottle of malbec.

 

 

 

For appetizers my husband had their beef carpacchio and I don’t normally eat red meat, but wanted to try their lamp chops. And I probably don’t even have to write what we both ordered for dinner, but yes we had their signature hogfish dinner. I don’t know what I enjoy better, the fish or that red pepper hollandaise sauce that accompanies it.IMG_0743

Once we left Cafe Sole I remembered that Gabriel Wright was playing again at Captain Tony’s. It was the last time he was playing before we were leaving so we stopped in. This time his parents and girlfriend were there so we talked to them for a bit. It was a lot of fun. IMG_0744

I checked the Smokin’ Tuna schedule and saw that Scott Kirby and Caffeine Carl were playing together. A couple years ago, we saw them play Last Flying Boat together and was hoping to hear it again. I wasn’t sure how crazy the place was going to be with the Parrotheads in town, but wanted to stop by and give it a try. So we said our goodbyes to everyone and said that we would hopefully see them next year.IMG_0747.jpg

We walked into the Smokin’ Tuna and I was pretty surprised that it wasn’t too crowded. We got great seats dead center at the bar, which was perfect because we were able to see them play Last Flying Boat again! http://tinyurl.com/ycboqxyt Once again, we probably stayed longer then we should have but it was fun to hear them play and see Caffeine Carl.IMG_0751

Thursday – November 2nd, Sunset Boat Trip with Billy IMG_0766.jpg

The day before I got in touch with Zack to see if we could get together for breakfast since we hadn’t seen him a couple of days. Luckily I set my alarm and we got up in time to meet him at Harpoon Harry’s around 9:15. I think this is the first time in Key West that we would sleep in and stay out later. Usually we get up early and call it a night pretty early. We were having fun so it was all good. IMG_0752

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We wound up taking the long walk to Harpoon Harry’s after grabbing a couple coffees from Cuban Coffee Queen. Once we were there Zack met us and we enjoyed a great breakfast. I always enjoy their grits there too. IMG_0758It was nice to catch up with a great friend. He was off again so we told him we would catch him at Rick’s the next day. IMG_0765

We did our usual walk back to the Gardens to regroup and relax for a bit. As I sat on our porch I noticed how blue the sky was and it was exceptionally clear. I thought to myself, now this is going to be the perfect evening for a sunset boat trip. I got in touch with Billy to make sure we were still on for later on that day. We agreed that 4pm would be perfect for him to pick us up.  IMG_0773

It was time to motivate once more and walk down Duval. However, first we had to stop and grab a few snacks for our boat trip with Billy. There is a liquor store close by to the Gardens on Duval, so it was perfect to grab snacks and a bottle of wine. We dropped off our supplies and got back on the road. We had not been to El Meson De Pepe and I was craving a mojito. They were refreshing as usual. IMG_0770IMG_0775

It was a picture perfect day and I noticed that it was starting to get warmer then it had been earlier in the week. We finished our mojitos and stopped at the Sunset Pier to see Al one last time. IMG_0782

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The time was going by quickly and we had to get back to meet Billy. We walked along Whitehead St. and I wanted to take another picture at the Mile 0 sign. Ironically, a conch train was coming by so it was a perfect picture that my husband captured. And I also noticed he got the pink maxi taxi in it as well. IMG_0789.jpg

We did make a side stop to DJ’s Clam Shack for a late lunch. I wasn’t exactly hungry but once I saw the lobster roll my husband ordered, I had to have a few bites. It was really good. IMG_0795.jpgWe were going to freshen up but realized that we were going out on the water and to wait until after we got back. I got call from Billy and he was waiting for us. We grabbed our supplies and he drove us to the marina. IMG_0797

Soon we set out for the sunset. It was a beautiful evening. Along the way, we did see some damage to some of the houseboats from the hurricane. It was sad to see.IMG_0798IMG_0801IMG_0803

We made it to the sandbar and Billy got out on the water to check for some shells. We did see a few stingrays swim around in the water. IMG_0809It was then time to open the bottle of wine and cheer a beautiful sunset that we were about to see. IMG_0818P1030269

We couldn’t have asked for better weather that evening. The winds were light and the sun just sank into the water. There weren’t any clouds to disrupt the few. It was truly amazing. IMG_0845IMG_0853IMG_0854P1030282P1030289We could not have asked for a better sunset. I didn’t want to leave and just the thought of going home in a couple days got to me. I just took in the view and thought how lucky we were to return to Key West and how lucky Key West was to be spared from the destructive storm Hurricane Irma. IMG_0863IMG_0866

After the sun had set, I noticed there was a full moon. I had never seen a moon like that while we were out on the water in Key West. It was just as beautiful as the sun.

On the way back, Billy noticed that a bunch of markers were down from the storm so my husband had to a hold a light at the front of the boat to help him navigate his way back. We got back safely and thanked Billy again for a great evening. http://tinyurl.com/y7y7cwxc

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We freshened up and wanted to grab something to eat at the Smokin’ Tuna. It was really crowded but we were able to get a couple of seats at the bar. We weren’t sure if they were still serving food so we just had a couple of drinks. It was getting really late and we were starving. We walked back towards the Gardens and found a pizza place. We ordered a few slices to go and enjoyed the pizza back on our porch outside our room. It was a good thing we had something to eat. ,Even though I hate to eat that late, it definitely prevented me from feeling terrible on our last full day in Key west.

November 3rd., Last Full Day – Rick’s and Berlin’s Cigar Lounge  IMG_0883

This was our last full day so I didn’t want to sleep in too late, but again we did. To save some money we figured that we would just enjoy the breakfast at the Gardens. We did run out first to get a couple of coffees at Cuban Coffee Queen. IMG_0885We sat down at the Gardens for breakfast. Because I had the pizza the night before so late, I really couldn’t eat much. I did take the time though, to get all our clothes in order and the painstaking process of packing up most of our things since we were leaving the next day.

Zack was playing at Rick’s that afternoon so I wanted to be sure we saw him before we left. On our way out we noticed that the Garden’s had out a couple of baby turtles that they were feeding. Jim, the General Manager of the hotel, told us that 7 turtles hatched during the hurricane. They were so cute! IMG_0882

I did hear that day was the street festival for the Parrotheads. It was odd to see Duval Street closed as they were setting up the stage. This was the first time we had ever been to Key West when there was something going on like that. IMG_0886IMG_0888

On our way we decided to stop at the Porch for a beer. It was a nice way to ease into the afternoon.

IMG_0899IMG_0898My husband then wanted to stop at the Sunset Tiki Bar too one last time. So we walked on over enjoyed a drink there too. I also was able to check in for our flight while we were there. It is always hard to enjoy your last day, just knowing you are leaving the next day but we made the best of it. IMG_0903IMG_0905IMG_0906

It was that time to catch Zack too. IMG_0907

I thought that Rick’s was going to be quiet since the Parrothead Street Festival was taking place, but it was crowded. Luckily we were able to get the two seats on the outside part of the bar. We had another great time listening to him as we always do. IMG_0912

Of course I had to get a few more pictures of us and the banner I designed for him. We were going to try and meet up later but if it didn’t I thought that we could meet up again for breakfast.

On our way back the street fair was ending but there were still a lot of people around. Besides the specific venues that they had reserved for Parrotheads, it really wasn’t that crowded for Meeting of the Minds.IMG_0922

We went back to the Gardens to get ready for our last dinner in Key West. For dinner I wanted to try El Meson De Pepe, however by the time we got there, the sun was setting so  of course being located right on Mallory Square – it was packed. I wasn’t sure where to go as an alternative, but I remembered my husband really enjoyed the newly discovered restaurant/lounge from our last trip in July, Berlin’s Cigar Lounge which is located upstairs in the A&B Lobster House. IMG_0612

We walked on over and went into the dark bar. It is definitely a throwback when you go in there. IMG_0929We sat down and ordered a couple of drinks. For dinner I had to order the oysters rockefeller and my husband had the tuna. Our entrees consisted of filet mignon and the lobster thermidor (which I had). In hind sight, I probably shouldn’t have ordered two rich dishes back to back, but they were so good.

 

 

Before we left for our trip, I noticed that a band we saw years ago down the Jersey Shore at Jenkinsen’s Boardwalk called Jimmy and the Parrots were playing that night at the Smokin’ Tuna for Meeting of the Minds. I knew it was going to be crowded because of the Parrotheads, but I remembered they were so much fun when we saw them years ago I wanted to see them again.

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With our stomachs full from dinner, we walked back down Duval to the Tuna. Before we got there, we saw that Big Ed was working at Rick’s so we wanted to stop in and say hello. George was also playing. It was pretty empty and we told them if we couldn’t get a seat at the Tuna that most likely we would be back.

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We walked into  the Tuna and with no surprise it was filled with Parrotheads. We said hello to Erin and were able to order a couple drinks. I even ran into Carl again who was there for a few minutes. As we were standing a couple of seats opened up at the bar. I couldn’t believe it. What were the chances? IMG_0939

We had fun for our last night in Key West. Since our flight wasn’t until 1pm the next day – again, we stayed out pretty late. Then it was that time to make our last walk down Duval and back to the Gardens.

November 4th – Last Day 😦 IMG_0633

I woke up around 8am in the morning and packed up everything. It is always hard for me to be happy on the day we leave – but I tried. I did get in touch with Zack and he was able to meet us for breakfast before we left. During our trips to Key West, we always noticed this little breakfast place right near the Gardens Hotel on Duval St. called Havana’s Cafe. We thought that we would give it a try. Once we got inside it was really cute. IMG_0952We didn’t know what to expect and the prices were reasonable. http://tinyurl.com/y8pg7375  I don’t know if it was from the rich dinner I had the night before and/or just the feeling of sadness knowing we were leaving in just a couple of hours, but I really couldn’t each that much, but what I had was delicious. Everyone else enjoyed their breakfast too. It was nice to have breakfast with Zack and see him once more before we left.

It was getting to be that time to get back to the Gardens and say our goodbyes. I felt so sad leaving, but it was a great trip seeing all our friends down in Key West.  IMG_0956

We checked out of the Gardens and took a taxi to the airport. We probably got there too early but it gave us some time to decompress before our flight. Again, we had a direct flight home, so it only took about 2 and 1/2 hours to get back to NJ. It was so nice not having that connection. Before we knew it we were back home around 5pm and reality of not being in Key West anymore was already setting in. IMG_0960

Although Hurricane Irma changed our plans to return to my other beloved island, St. John, I am so grateful that we were able to return to Key West – my second happy place. The more times I visit Key West, the more difficult it is to leave. I used to think it was because of how beautiful the island is, but now I realize it is because of all the great people that make Key West so special. IMG_0918

Thank you again for taking the time to read my blog.

 

…..Until next time!

3 thoughts on “Key West is Strong – October 29th – November 4th, 2017

  1. Janet

    Hi! I enjoyed reading about your recent trip to Key West. We also love St John and have spent many many vacations there. Key West is also one of our favorite places.
    I went to the Gardens Hotel website and it looks like they have several different types of accommodations. What type of accommodation do you typically stay in at the hotel?
    Thanks!

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