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“Key West Time”

 

The Southernmost tip of continental United States!

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Time for me to Get Some Key West Time!

Key West isn’t only a small southern island, it’s a state of mind. The song Key West Time, from the Pirate Sessions album puts that state of mind to music. Don’t we all want a little Key West Time in our lives?

Key West Time – Pirate Sessions

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I’ve travelled to Key West twice in my life and both times it was music, drinking, shopping, more music and more drinking. For me, well not my scene (pub wise) but it was nonetheless great to experience and see how free and easy Americans are when it comes to having a great time out with friends and family.

What do you call this when someone is dressed up like metal standing motionless for hours?

When I got off the cruiseship, day or night, all the passengers were heading straight for eateries or to get a drink and it was always a great time to freshen up, take in the fresh air and either enjoy the sun or the food which I must say tastes pretty good even tho I am used to mainly asian cuisine, american cuisine isnt as bad as some people make it out to be!. More salads and greens is always a welcomed change from hot curries and spices.

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An old photo of Key West in 1856

The first time I was there was from the early morning up to early evening. The second time it was late afternoon until the next day so we were docked there overnight and whoa….dont people love the night! If youre not a “party-animal”, well youre missing out in all the fun! It felt as if the whole cruiseship was deserted, even alot of the crew went to shore.

Ahh..the street train!!

When it comes to Key West, its all fun and play…and not forgetting a great day at the beach which is located way south from the pier where all the cruiseships dock, the southernmost tip of continental United States. And as you see in the picture below, when you reach the southernmost tip of the United States it’s as if youre just on a pier surrounded by miles of white pristine beach full of tourists and holidaymakers. The sky is blue and the weather amazing. You cant help but love it.

The pier with the beach surrounding it, the Southernmost tip of the United States!

 

The Westin Hotel not far from where the cruiseship dock (behind this hotel)

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Key Westis located closer to Cuba than to Miami, Key West is Florida’s irreverent southernmost subtropical paradise, a unique confluence of history, climate, natural beauty, cultural diversity, architecture and unabashed romantic appeal.

The centre of Key West welcoming all. Its a bustling township.

Palm-lined streets with gingerbread mansions and tin-roofed conch houses were home to Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Frost and Jimmy Buffett, a few of the famous people who discovered solace and inspiration in the island city whose Bahamian and Cuban heritage in large part was inspired by Bahamian wreckers, commercial fishermen, spongers and Cuban cigar makers.

The big building facing the main town centre and to the left the Westin Hotel with the main docking area just behind

For me once debarked, I was surrounded by quaint buildings as you see in the photos below, street trains making their way around the main street, drug stores, fashion shops, cute delicacy shops, chocolate shops, pubs, al-fresco lunch and dinner restaurants galore sprinkled all across the busy streets and plenty of shops to purchase items to take home as proof of your wonderful holiday there and cookies the size of I dont know what, never seen back home, same when I ventured into Seattle on the northern west coast of the United States.

Holding Banners and Outside Protests a common feature in the States…

Residents and visitors to the island actively participate in sightseeing, diving, fishing,watersports, golf and shopping by day, and then become part of the sunset celebration held each evening at Mallory Square, when tightrope walkers, jugglers and animal acts perform before the fiery sun settling into the Gulf of Mexico.

Key West Lime Pie….Never got to taste it but I hear its great!

What I found most interesting is the lifestyle of the citizens here – who all dont give a damn about what you wear, how you wear it or even how you behave , a very different (cultural shock also!) lifestyle to what we are used to throughout Asia. Everyone seemed to enjoying their time here and its no wonder.

Damn, what kinda of vehicle is this? Cool!

For me it was easy. Being in this part of the world for six years brought nothing new to me and it was a welcomed change from the rather more conservative type of living in Asia. Things at times can be a tad costly but one must remember the US dollar isnt a weak currency as compared to many in Asia but the variety of goods one can purchase is amazing especially when it comes to medication and drinks. In the USA they call pharmacies “drug stores”.

Wonderful places and shops to venture into along the main street

The streets are filled with sidewalk cafes, open-air bars, legendary pubs (like Jimmy Buffet’s) and world-class restaurants with island specialties come alive. Drama, musicals and comedy flourish on local stages. I even saw musicians playing away live on small stages facing the Main Street in open bars and restaurants.

American vehicles…..so much bigger!

It can be quite a long stroll from the pier past the Westin Hotel down the street to my right into Main Street where all the activity is taking place, like street trains carrying tourists around town, people holding their hotdogs in their right hand eating, tourists and locals alike venturing into fashion shops, curio shops, drug stores (like me for my medication update) and eating ice-cream like no tommorrow..hahaha!

Avalon Bed and Breakfast along the Main Street, Key West

What a glorious sight it is, always. And best of all, it aint that hot and humid…not like in tropical Asia where it can be quite unbearable most of the time. The warmth in Key West is tolerable and even to the point of enjoyable.

Off to the back alleyway from the Main Street

 

The architecture of the old houses around Key West amazes me..

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Music video by John Mellencamp performing Key West Intermezzo (I Saw You First). (C) 1996 John Mellencamp under exclusive license to the Island Def Jam Music Group

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Another important thing about Key West is that it features the former President Harry Truman’s “Little White House”, his summer house he would stay at, I guess when he was on a break from his usual duties as president and/or on holiday whilst still remaining in his country. He did live during America’s most tumultous times, World War Two, The Korean War, its my guess he would be “around” alot of the time just in case?.

President Harry Truman’s Little White House

And as you walk down the Main Street from the main junction center of town southwards you would pass this remarkable white house and lawn on your immediate right. Opposite it are a couple of eateries and a bed and breakfast place and more shops and restaurants. A very colourful street indeed, palm trees along the entire stretch of this road with many large american cars and vans parked alongwide the curb. Unfortunately I didnt venture inside, maybe it was closed to the public the time I was in Key West? I think I presumed it was.

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Detailed Map Of Key West

Key West is not that small a town, better to call it a small city in many ways with hotels like the international hotel chain Westin Hotel right in front of the dock where all the cruiseships dock and some smaller less well known ones, probably local american chains.

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Where all the cruiseships dock in Key West

The Key West port is rather large and stretches for at least I would say four miles along the coast as on the second time I visited this place, we were docked much further away and had to get onto trams to get into town, which took around ten minutes or so. This photo shows the cruiseships, big and small “parked” more or less right in front of the center of town at the rear of the complex adjacent to the Westin Hotel. A great shot no doubt.

This wonderful red building in the center of town not far from the Westin Hotel
White Beaches…almost pure white sand!

 

A shot taken from the viewpoint of the beach facing north back towards town

Personally, I dont think you could see all of Key West and experience what it has to offer in just a day. You’d need at least a few days because there’s so much to see and do being one of the most popular tourist attractions in the United States mainly because the weather is great the year round. Its no wonder so many locals flock here every year in their millions. I think I saw more americans in this town than actual foreigners.

The Key West Women’s Club – Christmas decorated along the Main Street

The first time I debarked in Key West, I noticed that alot of the quaint houses and buildings around town were already adorned with christmas decorations as Christmas was indeed approaching and this time of the year, its a huge thing for Americans so there’s no doubt they wont hold back adorning their houses with such colourful christmas decorations, trees and mistletoe.

The Key West Maritime Museum

In the center of town lies the Maritime Museum. Beautiful building  and even though I didnt make it inside because time was kinda limited for me in order to get to the beach and it was a pretty long hike I shot this picture standing right in front of this magnificent building.

Splendid statues stand in front of many of their buildings downtown, whether government or private.

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Ever heard of Key Largo?.

The music video for Bertie Higgins 1982 hit, “Key Largo”

Key Largo, the first and northernmost of the Florida Keys, is an hour’s drive from South Florida’s two major airports, and a world away and not that far from Key West itself.

Home to tropical hardwoods, winding creeks, two state parks, a national park and a portion of a national marine sanctuary, Key Largo boasts some of the most fascinating botanical scenery in the state.

BogartfilmfestlogoGiven Key Largo’s remarkable land and water scenery, it is no wonder Hollywood chose to film movie scenes there, including notable ones in the namesake “Key Largo.” Each year, Key Largo hosts the Humphrey Bogart Film Festival, the only one of its kind, celebrating the life and films of the man the American Film Institute named “America’s greatest male screen legend.”

 It’s not just Hollywood producers who are drawn to the area. Even Fantasy Fest revelers relax in Key Largo before, during or after Key West’s famously outlandish costume festival.
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Getting back to Key West itself..
There are so many fantastic photos I shot those memorable days in Key West, so let me create a nice slideshow for you all to enjoy them all…
Its an amazing town! If you ever get the chance to hop on a cruiseship to the States, make sure you dont miss out on this destination. You’d probably need to book a nice hotel, and stay there for at least one week if not longer!. And if youre from tropical Asia, this is the ideal holiday destination for you, great weather,  great cuisine, great shopping and a great beach!. Great people too. This is the fun and sunny-side of America. What more could one ask for?.
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The Southernmost tip of the United States Of America

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