Blog2008 ≫ Our actual first day in Key West

I realise that my previous post about our first day in Key West a) didn't contain any info, b) had things from our second day on the map, and c) has slipped down the page and no-one will read it. So here at last is the first part of our journey. Clare did I miss anything?

So, back from Key West then and trying to write up all my thoughts from the position of a desk, an office, England, very far in space and mind from where we were. We travelled to Key West (Florida, USA) for Clare's bro Kevin's wedding to Guiselle, the wedding was on a Sunday, and we had a few days either side for a holiday. We settled on six nights instead of seven or more to save money, as we couldn't find a package (where two weeks can be the same sort of price as one), you never can find a bargain when you want one can you? I'm not much of a traveller these days, and generally like to come home after a week anyway, but we had a really great trip and I could have done with it lasting a bit longer.

The holiday started extra early for me, while Clare was off on the Wednesday, I had to be all packed Tuesday night, to take my bags into work, and head to Gatwick right after. A busy day at work and a hastily called 4pm meeting meant I just scraped out at half past, meeting Clare at Westenhanger where she even had a beer waiting for me, lovely! We were staying overnight at the Moat House, Gatwick, booked through work, and of course I HEARTILY RECOMMEND IT! We were intending to go for the on-airport Hilton but the savings were enormous on the one we picked, so that's that. Tea and a few pints of real ale in the nearby Ye Olde Six Bells were great, that's something we could not have walked to if we'd stayed on airport. I don't think I ever go near an airport unless I'm actually at an airport, so it's good to find there are real villages and things nearby, it's not just acres of car parks. Nice hotel, nice room, the bar was open, what else do you want from an airport stop? Our transfer the next morning was free, and while it could have been quicker (by not going via other hotels in the area) nothing to complain about at all there. We got to the airport, checked in, and went for a civilsed cooked breakfast, with no booze, lordy!

The flight there was uneventful. It wasn't comfortable or fun, I would not fly Delta1 again if there was another choice at about the same price, but we went for the cheapest deal we could find this time so we paid our money and [s]we[/s] I took our choice. The plane didn't have seatback TV's, just little screens suspended every so often from the ceiling. We were too far away from these, and Clare could not hear anything through the supplied headphones, man was she furious! She didn't miss much though, daytime flight, shared TV, of course they're going to show only childrens films, pretty poor. I didn't bother with The Water Horse or some half cartoon fairy princess movie, but I did quite enjoy National Treasure: Book Of Secrets. I'd not seen the first one, but will now, it's The Goonies meets The Davinci Code, and I quite liked both of them. I don't think I slept on the flight over, I read a Lovejoy Paid and Loving Eyes2 (nice and light for packing purposes, and I've got two copies of it for some reason, so intended to leave it there) and ate my airline snacks; they remembered my vegan-ness. Almost no free booze though. Free soft drinks, with $5 upgrade to a cocktail if you wanted. A free glass of wine with our meal, and because I probably looked like a desperate wino, the stewardess gave me two, lovely. I prefer free drinks all the way though!

To increase the cheapness, we had to change planes in Atlanta, though you have to change somewhere to get to Key West. The rest of the family were flying to Miami and driving down from there, but we opted for the more awkward flight but more time in Key West. We had to reclaim our bags here, basically just moving them from one conveyor belt to another though, no security or anything. Then came the security... we shuffled round queues for a couple of hours I'm sure, this was the big immigration moment that you get every time you go to the US though. Atlanta airport34 is huge, we had a bit of a sprint round looking for food and beer, I heard there was a brew pub on site, but it was just a Sam Adams bar, not much cop. We settled on Sweet Georgia Brown instead, also not any good but we only had about an hour to kill, then on to our tiny little plane to take us the last eighty minutes or so to Key West. This plane was small, and a bit bumpy, but I think I'm getting better at flying, I hardly cried at all. There was a hen party in front of us, and some chap being mysterious about his bar5 trying to get the hen party along. No food on this flight, nor TV, nor any free booze, but before you know it we've landed in Key West.

Clare had joked that Key West airport would be one small shack with a man who'd have to stop selling his mangoes outside to come and do immigration and passports and things; not far off at all. As there are no external flights from Key West there's none of the delay and paperwork, the plane parks up next to the terminal building, you step inside, your bags come in, and you step out the other door to a waiting taxi. I didn't even have time to check out the mango stall. There's a special rate for taxis from the airport, and as we were heading from one end of the island to the other that's the maximum fare of $7.50 each. We ended up sharing a cab with two other people and dropping them off on the way, I think this fixed fare is quite common in the USA from airports. A quick peek at the hotel, drop the bags off, and out on the razzle dazzle!

First impressions of (my second visit to) Key West - it's pretty hot, and it's night time (about 9pm local time when we got there I think). It was the week of the Conch Republic6 independence celebrations when we arrived, so perhaps there were more people out and about, but to be honest there's always something going on. This was the 26th anniversary of Key West seceding from the rest of the union (for about one minute, after which they surrendered to the navy and then demanded one billion in aid). There were events planned for all over the weekend, starting with a big parade this day that we'd just missed, doh. The streets were still full of people though, which was to remain the case all week. We had a bit of a scoot around town, getting our bearings again, and went in Captain Tony's7 for a drink. Sloppy Joes'8 is probably the most famous bar in Key West, it was one of Hemingway9's favourite hangouts; the name moved to a bigger premises on Duval Street10 at some point but Captain Tony's is the original spot. There was live music (there was live music in every bar now, not sure this was the case on our last visit, good place to go live if you play guitar I think), a big old tree in the middle of the bar, and hundreds of bras hanging from the ceiling. It's not that this was too much to take in, just that we'd been travelling a long time, were tired, and headed back to the hotel after this.


Hmm, no map action for the 24th actually. Onward and upward, more to write, coming soon!

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Paul Clarke's weblog - I live in A small town. Married + father to two, I am a full stack web engineer, + I do mostly js / nodejs, some ruby, python, php ect ect. I like pubbing, running, eating, home-automation + other diy jiggery-pokery, history, tree stuff, TV, squirrels, pirates, lego, + TIME TRAVEL.