Sunday, February 12, 2012

Weekend in Key West - Part Two

One of my favorite parts about vacation is being allowed to eat every meal at a restaurant or cafe without feeling guilty about it. And one of my favorite meals to eat outside of home is breakfast. Selecting from a list of hearty, cheesy egg dishes, followed by endless sips of warm coffee (with cream!), without constant glances at the clock and timing my meal, brings me much pleasure. In addition, eating breakfast at a restaurant usually means one thing - I don't have to work; the day is mine. Thus we awoke on Sunday morning with visions of a long breakfast, followed by another laid back day, in our heads.

Once we were bathed and dressed we set out on foot in search of Island Joe's Coffee for our morning fuel. With a cup each of freshly roasted coffee we strolled the quiet morning streets of Key West for solid sustenance. We entered Sarabeth's, our eyes drawn to it by the colorful Conch Republic Gay Pride flag juxtaposed to the American flag above the restaurant's entrance. Just like so many of the historic houses in Key West, Sarabeth's has been standing since the 1800s, although used as a restaurant only in the recent decade. We sat outdoors in the crowded porch area and ordered puffy omelets and more coffee. 

After breakfast we changed into our bathing suits, grabbed the bottle of wine, and walked to Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. We headed straight to the beach and sun bathed for an hour. Although the temperature was warm that early afternoon, it had dipped into the 50s the night before so the water was still cool. Being totally uncomfortable with coldness, I merely walked around the shoreline while Chris went for a full body swim. Then we sipped our wine and took in our surroundings - the heat of the sun on our bare skin, the different shades of blue amongst the ocean and sky, the sailboats cruising at a distance, the pine trees behind us, the small shells and dried coral at our feet, and the other people lounging about, probably thinking, as we were, that Key West in December is the perfect place to be. 

Feeling satisfied with our beach detour we headed to the old fort.  Fort Taylor was constructed in the 1800s and used by the Union during the Civil War and later by the U.S in the Spanish American War. It still contains cannons and other arsenal used for the Civil War and has become a National Historic Landmark.  Now it's used for tourism and as a resting spot for large iguanas (see fourth picture, below).

Later that afternoon we went to the Hemingway House for their last tour of the day. The first thing to catch our attention was all the cats hanging around. I thought they must have wandered in from the street since Key West has so many (seemingly) stray cats lounging about but I learned that the cats at the Hemingway Home actually belong there and can be traced back to a cat Hemingway received from a friend during the 1930s. That cat, Snowball, was polydactyl (six-toed), which Hemingway came to believe brought good luck, so he continued taking in cats with six toes. The tour guide claims there can be between forty to fifty cats at the Hemingway Home at anytime, and although not all of them have six toes, they all carry the polydactyl gene in them. 

Chris and I both enjoyed the tour and learned some new things about Hemingway:  That the guys he hung out drinking, fishing, and boxing with during his years in Key West referred to him as "Papa"; that he had the first pool in Key West built in his yard, right where he had had a boxing ring; that he wrote A Farewell to Arms in Key West, albeit not at his famous home but in an apartment he rented beforehand; that he met his third and last wife, Martha Gellhorn, in Key West; and that The Old Man and the Sea may have been based on Hemingway's real life first mate during his time fishing in the Caribbean - Gregorio Fuentes. But even for a literature lover like myself, I still think the cats were the most interesting aspect of the Hemingway Home, perhaps because they were the most tangible link to his past. 

After the tour we walked back to Mallory Square, just in time for another breathtaking sunset. Afterwards we had "dinner" at a dessert restaurant called Better Than Sex . The ambiance was a great combination of sexy and romantic: deep red walls with bursts of gold, low lighting from candles and sparkling chandeliers, soft jazz music in the background, and, of course, the desserts. From an extensive menu of sweets with salacious names we decided on the Kinky Key Lime Pie for Chris and the Cookie Nookie Pie for me, preceded by Cabernet in a wine glass rimmed with chocolate. It was delicious and probably one of my favorite dinners ever. Better than sex? You'll have to be the judge on that one.

Thus our weekend in Key West ended on a sweet note. The next morning we ate the modest breakfast included in the price of our room and then left for Miami, hoping our next Key West trip happens sooner than later.


Anonymous said...

How's that picture of Bear with his eye popping out? He is EXCITED about returning home haha.

The tropics in December is to be appreciated no doubt. Well-written and thank you for sharing as always.


Anonymous said...

Nana, your writings are always very enjoyable to read. Looking forward to the next one. Pop.