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Peter Krynicki
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Posted: 25 May 2006 at 2:55pm | IP Logged Quote Peter Krynicki

I just got back from a week for the 2 dozenth trip (or so) and wrote up "trip impressions" for some of the travel-related forums...

My first impression is that Key West never disappoints me. After having gone down for twelve or thirteen years, as many as three times in one year, there are always places that I can go to for a sit-down, a drink, and a snack and be happy there. There are new places to explore, but there is never enough days to do everything I want to. It takes me about a day and a half to stop walking fast, and then I start to relax. I was scheduled to arrive at 12:35 but my flight from Newark came into Tampa early enough that I could be bumped to an earlier shuttle and got in at 12:05 – and extra half-hour in paradise. I stowed my bags and had a welcome back Key West Sunset Lager at Sloppy Joes. Just sitting there made me happy to be back. Then check-in at 2:00, swimming until 4:00, margueritas at Kelly’s by 4:30.


Secondly, Key West has recovered about 85 % from the last hurricane season. The Sheraton Suites, for example, has had the exterior repaired and re-painted, and it looks like new. It looks like all of the construction at the Hyatt is done and they are now finishing up the painting there, too. The vegetation has come back, more quickly than I would have guessed. The Royal Poinciana trees are blooming as are the hibiscus and various other bushes and plants. There are still a few dead or dying fronds on the palm trees, but these are slowly being replaced by new ones. The gardens at the Pier House are growing and all of the palm trees have survived. The Pier House still strikes ma as a great value, mainly because of the beach and the location, but it is critical that you get a good room. This is probably true of every place to stay.


Thirdly, if you want Key West to yourself, go in May. I didn’t have to wait for anything and there were times when I was one of only a couple of customers. Talk about good service! Even the Island T’ing did not fill up…32 vs. 40 people.

Because I was alone I got into a routine of going running in the morning, and then having breakfast, and again all of the old faithfuls didn’t disappoint; Turtle Kraals on Monday for the huevos rancheros special, Two Friends on Tuesday for an omelet, Pepes on Wednesday for another omelet, The Rooftop Café on Thursday for the Eggs Benedict with a crab cake on both, two eggs over easy on pancakes at the Secret Place on Saturday, and Martins for brunch on Sunday. I never made it to Sarabeth’s. Then I would spend most of the day reading and swimming at the Pier House beach, sneaking down one bottle of beer. (Only caught once but there was a new towel boy the first few days, and the regular, Nate, doesn’t usually hassle me).


Then I would go out for a drink and maybe a snack. Afterwards, I would walk for a while, then go back to the Pier House and read or snooze a little, then have dinner. I had more real dinners this trip than any other. Various items. Big Daddy Conchs does not have the 1.99 / dozen oysters, but at 10.00, it’s still not a bad place to go. I still like the peel-your-own-shrimp with a Sunset Ale at the Half-Shell Raw Bar and oysters and a Sunset Ale at the Conch Republic. But the best deal now is Alonzo’s. You bring your See Key West magazine with the free drink coupon on page 36 and order half-price oysters or clams or whatever, and end up spending maybe $6.00. You could do this every night And Kellys for margueritas and chicken wings. Again it comes to $6.00. IMO the best Bloody Marys are at the Pier House (thanks Markd) but for pleasant surroundings, go up to the Rooftop Café and have one. They are very good, cost $8.25, but the location is great – overlooking Front Street at about the level of the tower at the Wreckers Museum. The Duval Beach club is a good place to sit and have a Sunset Ale and overlook the ocean. I never actually went into Island Dogs or the Rum Barrel, but the thing to do on a Saturday night seems to be to get a bottle of beer at the former, then stand on the sidewalk and listen to the band form the latter. (The latter is going to get wise and call the cops, which would be a shame). And the Iguana Café (across from Capt’n Tony’s?) has been demolished and is going to be re-built. Croissants de France is still not done and I'm getting worried.


Dinners were great. Without too much detail…grilled shrimp with a kind of Key Lime chutney sauce and rice and beans at Turtle Kraals. A Cuban dinner of beef and pork with plantains, rice and beans and a glass of Spanish red wine at El Meson de Pepe. Finished with a café con leche which was better than D*mn Good Food Co. Blackened grouper with rice and beans (do we see a trend here?) at Blue Heaven with a Kalik. And two dinners of fish and chips and a Corona at B.O.’s Fishwagon, still my favorite place. I meant to have a dinner of Black (not blackened) grouper at the Rooftop, but never got around to it.


And in terms of activities, the Sebago Island T’ing is still the best IMO. And for a change I went out on the Caribbean Spirit for the snorkel, sunset sail. This is a little more expensive than the others, the Fury, e.g., but if they go to Sand Key, this is the best spot I’ve found for snorkeling. There are “fingers” of coral reef which you swim through and where all of the fish hang out. The only place I’ve found a coupon (2.00 off per person) is on their web page, but if they go to Sand Key it’s worth the extra money. Ask when you book. For deals, try Janet Masilgill at booth # 1 on Duval and Front, or Captain David Brown just before you come to the end of Front Street, on the right.


I always need some diet soda and orange juice for the room, and might need film or whatever. There is a coupon for $3.00 off a $10.00 purchase at the Walgreens in the See Key West magazine on page 51. Not usable for beer 8-(. I bought myself a nice tank top at Summer Salt on Front, and, finally, a new pair of patch-pocket shorts at the Saltwater Angler off the Mallory Docks. These are great for a vacation – wallet in one patch, digital camera in the other, and See Key West Magazine stuffed over one cheek in the back.

And!!! I left my initials somewhere at one of the places mentioned above. (Not at Sand Key) I’ll buy drinks for the first person who spots them.

Pjk

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Papa Cosa
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Posted: 25 May 2006 at 8:00pm | IP Logged Quote Papa Cosa


  Peter,

  I was there a couple of weeks ago.  It was great being back.  The island looked clean and bright and youre right about not waiting for anything.  We stayed at The Cypress House B & B just off Duval on Caroline.  Its a beautiful place and the prices are great. 

  We had a blast at Captain Tony's, Sloppy Joes and various other haunts.   Also, Blue Heaven was wonderful.  We also discovered The Rum Barrell.  It was a nice place with some interesting drinks on the menu.  Its next to Pirate Soul which was fun by the way.  Its the new pirate museum and a good way to escape the heat and learn something.  The trip just reignited my love for the island and I was sad to leave.  I swear I actually felt a blackass for several days.  We wont be heading back for sometime...seperation anxiety I guess.  Seperation blackass?

  best,

  Larry

 
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Daughter
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Posted: 26 May 2006 at 7:39am | IP Logged Quote Daughter

Hello Pjk,

Thanks for sharing. I'll have to try some of those places you mentioned for breakfast next time I'm down there. Just wondering, have you ever visited SanMiguel, Cozumel, Mexico? I have a hunch you'd like it.

Cheers,

Gail

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Peter Krynicki
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Posted: 26 May 2006 at 11:43am | IP Logged Quote Peter Krynicki

Caroline is the best cross Street. Kelly's is at one end, at Whitehead, then there is B.O.'s Fishwagon and Pepe's, and it leads right into the Bight.  Some of the nicest B&B's are on Caroline. They finally closed Valadares (?) book / magazine store - the one Hemingway used to go to. I have tentative plans to go again in September.

No, never been anywhere else except Key West and Paris for the last several years. But I'm going to Spain for the conference next month. Look...

TENTATIVE PROGRAM

 

4C (Sala Hemingway): The Fifth Column Moderator: Peter Krynicki (Plainsboro, NJ)

 

a.) “Hemingway’s Civil War: Variations of the Divided Self in The Fifth Column, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and

‘Strange Country,’” Anna Beskin (U of South Florida)

b.) “‘Show me a guy that doesn’t want to come down off the cross’: Death as Duty in The Fifth Column and

‘Today is Friday,’” David McKay Powell (U Georgia)

c.) “Spanish Translations of The Fifth Column,” Milton M. Azevedo (U of California-Berkeley)

 Pjk

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Shine KW and Me
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Posted: 09 June 2006 at 1:17pm | IP Logged Quote Shine KW and Me

Peter,

Thanks for the culinary updates in KWest. I will try as many as possible when I go in July for the Look-a-like contest. The food at the Kraals, Rooftop and Dos Amigo's sound particularly interesting.

Speaking of the "two friends bar" back in 64-67 when I was stationed in KWest it was a fairly rough place, the word was you couldn't find find two friends down at the "Dos Amigo's" or "The Tomato Patch" and "The Habana Madrid". We Corpsman took care of a lot of beat up military that wound up  at the Naval hospital from those bars. It sure has changed since those days.

I will look for your initials (pjk) while I'm there, I thought you couldn't have left them at Sand Key as it has been gone for quite a few years. I am attaching a picture of that wonderful place as it was in the late 50's and early 60's, I had some great times out there. Getting back drunk was a challenge, let's see if I remember how "DEAD RECKONING" worked. Leaving Sand Key you kept the Lighthouse at your back and cruised along until you saw the spot where all the sewage from KWest blew to the surface (or the submarines from Subron 12 surfaced going to port), then you veered right until you got caught in the current that pushed you towards KWest. It was at this point you tried to stick the stern of the boat halfway up the swell and at the same speed as the current while you walked back to the motor and recycled the Busch Bavarian beer into a wave the same height as your head. The last thing you tried to do was have the "CHICK" you were with take off her top and salute the sailors at the Naval Station as you went by the USS BUSHNELL . (a perpetual monument grounded for years where the cruise ships now come in) Geez, I can't believe I remembered all that after 40+ years.

Just as an after thought has anyone rented one of those electric cars in KWest I just recently tore my L medial miniscus and I intended to visit as many of the old points of interest as I could. I thought that might do the trick since my knee injury precludes me from walking as much as I used to. Any thoughts renting one?

John

shine kw and me

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Peter Krynicki
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Posted: 12 June 2006 at 1:30pm | IP Logged Quote Peter Krynicki

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Peter Krynicki
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Posted: 12 June 2006 at 1:32pm | IP Logged Quote Peter Krynicki

Shine - It's not always above water but Sand Key and the "lighthouse" is definately there. So was I.

 

Pjk

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Shine KW and Me
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Posted: 12 June 2006 at 7:28pm | IP Logged Quote Shine KW and Me

Hi Peter,

Oops!, I stand corrected.

I was going on a report I read way back in 1988 that in 1986 the Sand Key lighthouse was destroyed by fire and decomissioned or placed out of order by the Coast Guard. It makes sense however that they would have rebuilt the the light for navagational purposes. The one from the picture I posted has a total of 16 (4 on a side) cast iron screw poles in the sand so it looks different from the current view. I hadn't given any thought they might have rebuilt it before I posted my message. So Peter, give us a clue did you write, scratch or carve your initials on wood, metal or concrete, inside or outside? Please don't say you carved it on a piling while snorkling cause I'll never find it (can't swim good).

Regards,

John (shine kw and me)

 

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Peter Krynicki
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Posted: 13 June 2006 at 2:11pm | IP Logged Quote Peter Krynicki

I think I recall someone telling me that this lighthouse had burned and been re-built. There was an actual house on stilts like this that blew over during a storm.

Initials are on the roof rafters of my favorite restaurant. Head's up!

Pjk

 

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Doug Hemingway
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Posted: 24 June 2006 at 3:37pm | IP Logged Quote Doug Hemingway

 Thanks for the info on dining in Key West,  We were down there in March but didn't have much time. We are returning on the Hemingway look a like contest in July, looking forward to spending some time there.  Thanks again, glad I found this site.

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