17 September 2015
At the Southern end of Florida there is a string of Keys (small islands) stretching 125 mile out from the mainland, and all 125 miles are connected by an overseas highway which is a marvel itself. Driving South down the Keys the sea is changing every colour as the sun and water change depths and angles.
We stopped at Key Largo in a lovely hotel - our room doorway was only 20 paces from the water's edge with hammocks strung between palm trees, and with temperatures in the 30C irresistible to pass up, but we are not ones to sit around (well not too much). We headed South to Key West. Most of us have heard of Key West. Less actually knew where it was geographically. It's officially the most Southern point in the USA, and famous for its sunsets, laidback way of life and Ernest Hemingway, with Cuba 90 miles away and the Bahamas not much more. You can see how they have influenced the buildings and lifestyle of the Keys over the years. Which is why it is worth visiting to come and soak up the atmosphere (day and night).We really enjoyed walking around Key West with chickens running around the side streets and colourful painted buildings with friendly locals.
If you plan to visit Ernest Hemingway's house, be warned this house is full of cats x 20 - just in case you have a problem with cats and it is always mad busy to the point that inside the house can get uncomfortably hot with 20 people + a few cats in each room. But if you are an EH fan, don't miss it.
We had a lovey meal at a local restaurant which was reasonably priced and finished our day off watching the sun go down. Then drove back to our hotel in Key Largo. Though we would encourage people to visit Key West, it is quite an expensive place to stay and very busy all year round. Hence we travelled in for the day.
Unlike the rest of America, don't expect to park the car outside restaurants and attractions. Better to drop the car off in one of the car parks and go by foot although you can get a bus or a taxi around the town, if needed, but this can be slow in the touristic areas as the streets are busy with traffic so it would be quicker walking. Parking can be a nightmare and all parking is by credit card or coins machines and costs 13 dollars, so if you don't have a credit card, take at least 15 dollars of change.
Top tip: Put some hand&face wipes (wet ones) and extra T-shirt or two in the boot of the car for each person, it's very humid in Key West and popping back to the car for a fresh change of T-shirt and a quick face wipe before dinner will make you feel better.
By Steven Clark from France.