Wednesday, December 5, 2012

We made it to the bottom!

I'm reserving my opinion on Key West until tomorrow night when we've had a chance to check out more of the non commercial sites. It was quite a long drive down the Lower Keys, it drizzled rain all day and I wasn't really in the mood to enjoy anything because I was too tired. Despite smothering myself in super strength insect repellant ( and aerogard bought from home) I still managed to get savaged by the bitey things in the Everglades and spent all night itching. Obviously I have super sweet blood because the same thing happens with sand flies every time I go to NZ and yet Taine and Geoff haven't got s single spot between them!

The highlight of the drive to Key West is the 7 mile bridge. 7 whole miles without any land to be seen is a pretty remarkable engineering effort. The remains of the original bridge run alongside the new one and I have to say I'm glad I wasn't traveling down here in the days before the new one was built. A lot of the trip is over water on the overseas highway and of the parts that are on land there is often just room for the road with the Gulf of Mexico on one side and the Atlantic Ocean lapping at the other. I'm sure it's just a trick of the light but the Atlantic side looks green and the Gulf side blue (or maybe it's the other way around). Anyway, you can just about reach out and touch both seas at the same time. Needless to say, I bet it's scary down here in a hurricane.

The keys are fascinating in that each one seems to have quite a separate identity. Some are quite opulent, like Duck Key. Others, like Knights Key look really run down and then there was Ohio Key which was really just a big RV park. There are so many keys that there's even one called No Name Key because they must have run out of names or just couldn't be bothered anymore.

We are staying at the Parrot Key Resort in the new part of town (staying in old town doubles the bill). It rates pretty well on Trip Advisor but it hasn't done much to thrill me yet. It has nice pools and pretty coloured furniture but to be honest I've come to appreciate the 'homegrown' nature of the La Quintas and Travelodges who don't pretend to be anything more than they are, charge accordingly AND give you breakfast. The hidden traps in booking hotels in America are the added tax and the resort charges. Every city and state has a different tax rate and this changes daily so you can never be exactly sure how much extra to add to the advertised price. On top of that, anything that calls itself a resort adds a resort tax. In this case for instance, the advertised rate for AAA (RACV members) was $135 per night, plus tax $32, plus $25 resort fee. When Geoff asked what the resort fee covered the receptionist said it was a way of re investing in the resort. Hmmm.

Anyway, the beds seem comfy and there's a fridge for the Budweiser so all's well. We took a drive into Duval  St to check out the action this afternoon. Duval St in the day time is a little bit like Beale St and Bourbon St but with chickens. Seriously, there are chooks (and amorous roosters) running free all over the place.

It's also very reminiscent of Cavill Ave in Surfers Paradise. Lots of T Shirts shops and cheap souvenirs. We did the obligatory visit to the southern most point of the US mainland and headed down to Mallory Square for the nightly sunset ritual.

Unfortunately sunset was a non event today because of the rain so we headed back to Duval St for dinner at Caroline's. This improved my mood immensely because my shrimp & bacon sandwich on multi grain was excellent and we were treated to our first taste of the famous key lime pie, a delicious cheesecake concoction served with real cream.

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