Saturday, April 21, 2012

Kicking it in the Keys

There is nothing like getting on a plane in the middle of winter and arriving a few hours later in a warm and sunny clime.  Our first trip to the Keys was years ago, the first vacation Georg and I took alone after our sons were grown.  I will never forget driving across miles of bridges in a convertible, Latin music blaring on the radio, with nothing but blue sky above and blue water below us.  I've wanted to return ever since.

The Keys vibe is unique.  The lifestyle is laid-back and casual.  No need to bring fancy clothing.  Flipflops and shorts are the dress code.  It is similar to Hawaii in that way, another location to which I could return again and again.  I'll leave the high heels, short skirts, fancy jewelry and glitzy hotels to the younger crowd. 

My favorite key is Islamorada.  The location is central to either Miami, which is where we fly into, or Key West, the farthest and southernmost spot in the continental U.S.  Our accomodations were perfect at the Pines and Palms Resort.  We had our own cottage with a kitchen with a little front lawn and patio table.  The entire property was pristine.  In fact, I've never stayed anywhere that was better maintained.

The food in the Keys quite naturally revolves around seafood and there are no dearth of wonderful places to sample it. The Hungry Tarpon was one of my favorites. From the highway, you could almost miss it. The flea market surrounding it and unassuming exterior might dissuade you from entering, but once you are seated at a shady table overlooking the harbor and the bridges you feel as though you might never want to leave. The food is startlingly good for such a rustic place. My lobster frittata was superb. We were entertained by pelicans and seabirds as all sorts of watercraft drifted by. 

Another steller meal was at the Island Grill, home of the ahi tuna nacho, served on a bed of seawood. We celebrated Valentine's Day watching the spectacular sunset with other couples at the Islamorada Fish Company. The food was not as memorable here, but the setting was very romantic.

Key West is a must-do for a day trip. Because it is very touristy and crowded I would not want to overnight there. We love to people watch and sitting at a beachside table, sipping a mojito at the Southernmost Beach Cafe at the foot of Duval Street provided ample entertainment for hours. We didn't stay for sunset this trip, but I have fond memories of Mallory Square, which is filled with street performers from cat acts to jugglers and contortionists. The crowd cheers when the sun disappears below the horizon. One of the most beautiful sunset photos I have ever taken (and I have taken many in my lifetime) was at this spot.

Refreshed and renewed, our last day was spent poolside at our resort, soaking in as many rays as we could before returning to the cold and snow back home.


More photos on my Picasa Photo Album here

1 comment:

As the Crowe Flies and Reads said...

THanks for vicariously taking me on your travels once again. Lovely photos! I've never been to the FL Keys but one of these days I hope to get there.