Surfcomber Hotel

South Beach

South Beach

South Beach Architecture

South Beach Architecture

Cruise Liners

Downtown Miami

Captain Tonys Saloon

Kurt Playing Pool

Duval Street




                    Home | Prequel | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10                                05.12.2002

03.31.2002 - Day 3

After checking out of the hotel, we determine that a picture-taking session of South Beach is in order. After all, wed been out of film the day before. So we head through the Art Deco district to grab a few shots of the colorful area.

Then we head into, and out of, the city destination: Key West. As we wind our way around downtown Miami, we begin to suspect that our fears about the heavy traffic down Highway 1 might be founded. However, once fully past the downtown exits, everything thins out a bit and we appear to be quickly on our way.

We stop only a few times through the suburbs of South Miami, but it stills seems to take forever to leave the city behind. Once we do, we find ourselves on a narrow two-lane highway surrounded by tall swamp grass. On the slim occasion when the swamp grass clears, we can see that the water comes right up to the edge of the road. It appears as though we might be headed in the right direction! Once again, the traffic is extremely heavy for miles stop and go for close to an hour. Finally, we see the source of the jam; a drawbridge. Once across the drawbridge, we find ourselves on Key Largo! We made it to the Keys!!

Im not quite sure what I expected of Key Largo, but from the highway, there really wasnt too much to see. There must be more extravagant civilization, but we didnt have time to dally there long; we had a sunset to catch at the end of the road in Key West. It wasnt long before Highway 1 led us across the water for the first time. To be honest, both Kurt and I expected the bridges to be longer. I had this picture in my mind that when we crossed the bridge to the next key, I would only barely be able to see land. This isnt the case at all. The first bridge is perhaps a quarter of a mile long and only several meters above the water. In fact, crossing this bridge is a little like crossing a bridge over a river: except for the fact that there is a lot more water.

So the pattern continues, a narrow strip of land 1 or 2 miles long, then a bridge a quarter of a mile or so long. Except for the Seven Mile Bridge. You guessed it - this is the longest bridge in the keys, and its seven miles long. Dont let me mislead you; the drive through the keys is very beautiful and very relaxing. There are tons of diving outfits, restaurants, and shell shops scattered along the road. There is also a lot of open grassland. Again, not quite the rain forest I had pictured, but beautiful none-the-less.

After about three hours of driving time, Kurt and I find ourselves crossing the final bridge on Highway 1 and arriving at Key West. Its just before sunset a very important time in Key West. There is a square on the very westernmost edge of the island Mallory Square where everyone gathers at sunset to be entertained by the local artisans, sip on a cool drink, watch the boats sail in, and of course gaze at the sun as it sinks into the ocean. Unfortunately we determine that its way too close to sunset to make it Mallory Square in time, so we set about finding our Guesthouse. As we drive around the old part of Key West, I immediately know that despite my misconceptions about the rest of the keys, Key West is exactly as I had pictured - a true paradise. Its gorgeous; the colorful conch-style houses, the palm trees, the quaint shops, the bright flowers, the narrow streets everything about the town makes me forget whatever worries from reality may still be lingering in the back of my mind. I know Im going to love it here. Even our Bed and Breakfast is exactly as I had hoped; an old conch-style house furnished with wicker furniture and surrounded by a luxurious garden and pool.

With the bags stashed in the room, Kurt and I set out to find the source of the action Duval Street. We had been informed that Key West was the place to party in the Keys. In fact, Key West lays claim to more bars per capita than anywhere else in the United States. Heaven!

Finding Duval Street wasnt nearly as complicated as finding a place to park. Eventually, we find a space not too far off the beaten path to leave the RAV4. Duval Street is all that was promised. Its almost like a tropical Bourbon Street; lined with bars, restaurants, art stores, trinket shops, more bars, clothing boutiques, ice cream shops, and oh yeah. Did I mention bars?

The first bar we choose to visit, The Bull and Whistle, is a 3 story building with a different bar on each level. The first floor, The Bull, is a laid-back open-air bar. The second floor, The Whistle, is more of a pool hall and game room. The third floor, which is actually the roof, is called the Garden of Eden. Not only is the bar aptly named because its located in Paradise, but also because it turns out to be a clothing optional bar much to our surprise! Luckily it is early in the evening and the action hasnt really started yet. Kurt and I partake in a Margarita and head out before it does.

The next stop is Captain Tonys Saloon, the bar where Jimmy Buffet got his musical start. After a few margaritas and a game of pool, we head to a bar named Sloppy Joes where Ernest Hemmingway spent a majority of his time.

The night progresses with a series of other bars and of course delicious seafood for dinner. Almost every place takes advantage of the fresh sea breezes all the bars and restaurants are open-air. Along the way, I decide that the Rum Runner is definitely my new favorite drink; a fruity frozen concoction consisting of light rum, dark rum, sour mix, grenadine and topped off with Bacardi 151. Pretty tasty and pretty potent! Yummy

After visiting nearly all the bars we could muster, we found ourselves in the authentic Margaritaville Bar drunk dialing Larry in Manhattan. Yep, this is the bar owned by Jimmy Buffet and the one named after his famous song. Needless to say, Kurt and I had to indulge in a final margarita for the evening. In all, Kurt and I agree that Key West is much more our style than South Beach (To Day 4)