Leaving the Conch Republic

Happy Friday eve! Looking forward to another Bait Nite event tonight, plus a friend’s birthday dinner. Also, have some fun plans for the weekend.

But first let’s wrap that Key West trip shall we?

Our last day on Sunday we got up, got all our things together and checked out. Before we left we wanted to grab lunch and visit one last museum. We had walked by this place called Caroline’s Cafe a few times and the prices were reasonable and the food sounded good so we decided to go there.

Good decision!

I got the Macon Bacon salad, which had friend chicken, bacon, corn and glazed pecans.

I also had a bite of Jon’s shrimp BLT, which was also very good!

After lunch we got in the car and headed to our last stop on the island, the Fort East Martello Museum.

East Martello is an old fort from the Civil War that has been restored into a museum. Lots of military history plus some random/cool pieces like old doll houses and abandoned items from Cuban immigrants.

Our main reason for going though was to see Robert the Doll. The doll was given to Robert Eugene Otto in 1906 by an African servant who was displeased by the Otto family. Apparently the servant was skilled in black magic and it is said that the doll is posessed by evil spirits. They even say that if you want to take a picture of him you have to ask politely and if he declines by tilting his head to the side and you take one anyway, you and your family will be cursed. There’s letters surrounding Robert at the museum with some of them stating that they took Robert’s picture and strange things started happening to them…even the Travel channel had trouble with their cameras until they asked politely if they could film Robert.

I’m not sure if I believe in this stuff or not, but just the possibility of it being true freaks me out. I didn’t spend too much time around Robert and didn’t take a picture just in case.

The whole fort was kind of creepy…espicially the tower we went up.

 

There was some cool junk art on one floor.

And a nice view at the top.

After our visit we were officially on the road home. We did make one pit stop in Key Largo. We wanted to stop at Herbie’s because Nick said they had the best conch fritters, but they were closed. So I did a search on my Yelp app and the Key Largo Conch House caught my eye.

 

This place was super cute. It’s family owned and they’re very environmentally concious and use sustainable seafood. Their menu was awesome…I wanted one of everything!

We of course tried the conch fritters. They were good, but not enough conch. Conch Shack by Mallory Square is still the best we’ve had. But I liked the touch of curry the Conch House put in theirs.

We also tried the Conch and Lobster ceviche, which was very fresh tasting and flavorful.

I also got a half tuna and apple wrap and the conch chowder. The chowder was very good, but again there could been more conch. The wrap was chock full of seared tuna and was very good with the apple. I think I would have rather had this combo on top of a salad though.

With out bellies full (again) we made the final stretch towards home.

Welp, that’s it! I’m already missing it…next time I want to go down for longer. I’ve always done weekend trips and would just love another day or two of Key West fun. And next time we need to stay somewhere with a kitchen and bring our own groceries…the restraurants are expensive!

Have you been to Key West?

 

Island Time

Hello again! Back for round 2 of our Key West adventure. Here’s Part 1 if you missed it.

Sleeping in felt SO good Saturday morning. The one thing about traveling with a group of people though is that everyone has their own schedule of how they operate. Nick and Ashley got up an hour or so before the rest of us and were ready to go before we could even think of stepping out of bed. So we decided to break off and meet up later once we were ready to start the day.

Once Tori, Jon and I were ready for the day we called to see where Nick and Ashley had ended up. They were at Pepe’s Cafe eating breakfast so we headed over there.

They were pretty much done by the time we got there so we got in line for a table. This was a popular place! It’s the oldest restaurant in Key West and has a pretty cute atmosphere.

Once we were seated we started off with drink orders. I tried the Mango Fizz, which was fresh mango puree with champagne. DELISH.

As soon as I heard the omelet special I knew I wanted it. Pork tenderloin with cheese, peppers and onions topped with black bean salsa and guacamole. Yes, please.

Unfortunately, it was almost the end of their breakfast so they were running out of things left and right. They ran out of guac 😦 and their homemade key lime bread, which we really wanted to try.

This was so good. Never tried pork tenderloin in a omlete before! I missed the guac, but the other components came together nicely. We also got a side of corned beef hash to try, which was also delicious…salty meaty goodness!

After we stuffed ourselves we walked around some and met back up with Nick and Ashley. We came across the Custom House, which houses the Museum of Art and History. It was only $6 admission so we decided to check it out.

This is the first time where I really realized how much wonderful history is in Key West.

Downstairs there was an exhibit of a famous cartoonist, who’s from Key West. I’ve forgotten his name, but maybe you recognize the cartoons?

Up the stairs there was a dedicated room is Mario Sanchez, who did some wonderful wood paintings depicting life in Key West. They were so cool and I couldn’t believe the detail!

There were also a few displays dedicated to Ernest Hemingway.

Then lots of history about Key West, including information about Henry Flaglar’s vision for Key West as a high class destination and the building of the Overseas Railroad. Did you know that Key West was the richest city in the U.S. in 1891? Who knew!

Outside of the building there are a lot of creepy/funny statues. There’s no plaques explaining why they’re there, but they made for some good photos.

Love that there are roosters/chickens everywhere!

After that we walked across the street to the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum. We didn’t go in, just explored the lobby a bit. I’d never heard of Mel Fisher though so it was cool to hear his story. He spent the majority of his life searching for the 1622 wreck of Spanish galleon, Nuestra Señora de Atocha, which held $450 million worth of treasure. Many people thought he was crazy and didn’t think he’d ever find it. His wife was also his business partner and was the only one who stood by him. She was also the first woman diver and earned a record for spending 50 hours underwater! Sounds like quite the team.

We then split off again since we wanted to do different things. We stopped at Kino’s so Tori could get new pairs of the famous sandals. I’ve been wanting a pair, but I tried some on and didn’t like the way they felt :/

Then we stopped at Flying Monkey for a beverage.

If you know of Fat Tuesday, this is the same kind of place, only better.

I got a Pain in the Ass, which was a mix of pina colada and strawberry daiquiri. Man was it tasty!

After some more pool time at the hotel it was time to hit up the town. We stopped in Mallory Square. We missed most of the fun street performers, but got a lot of photos.

 

 

We decided to stop by the Conch Shack and get some conch fritters on our way to dinner.

These were the best we’ve had yet!

They were freshly made with a nice amount of filling and conch and the sauce was great too. This place had great reviews so I suggested we try it, but we were still surprised to find such good fritters right outside of such a touristy location.

Dinner was at Kelly’s Caribbean Bar, Grill and Brewery. This building was the birthplace of Pan American Airlines and is owned by Kelly McGinnis from TopGun. Very cool!

Unfortunately, we had a few problems here…you know it’s not going to be a nice dinner when the first thing the waitress says to your table is how long her day has been. She was nice enough, but barely smiled, looked exhausted and looked like this was the last place she wanted to be. I feel for servers…I really do…but we’re a nice crowd and just want nice service.

They were out of snapper, which was what I wanted, so I chose the grouper, which was encrusted with coconut. Served with coconut rice and vegetables. Not the best meal ever, but it was pretty good. Unfortunately Jon’s lamb was less than desirable and Nick’s food was cold. At this point Jon was getting peeved so he sought out the manager. In the end Nick’s food got heated and we got two free meals. Boom!

The rest of the night was spent here…

This is always a stop for us in Key West. It’s the most fun bar out there and we saw quite the characters.

Stay tuned for Part 3!

Mile 0

Holy Tropical Storm! Debby sure has shaken up us Floridians and reminded us what hurricane season is like. We got into Cape Coral from Key West Sunday night at around 8 p.m. and I’d already been keeping track of the storm. Once we saw how bad it really was we decided to just stay the night and get up early to see if Debby had calmed down any. 5 a.m. came awfully quickly. The Skyway bridge was still closed from the night before and there were still tornado watches and patches of heavy rain. But we decided to go ahead and try to make it back to St. Pete.

By the time we reached the Skyway it was still closed. We pulled off for a while to see if it’d open back up, but no luck. So we made our way up I-75 and took the Causeway to Gandy all the way back, which is an extra whole hour tacked on to our drive. Needless to say we were both late for work and were exhausted.

But we had a great weekend in Key West!

We decided to drive there…it really isn’t as bad as you’d think! We drove down to Cape Coral the night before, got up at 5:30 a.m., were on the road by 6 a.m. and in Key West by Noon. We had five people (Myself, Jon, his sister, Tori, our friend, Nick and his girlfriend, Ashley) total so between naps, conversation and goofing off the drive flew by.

I’ve been to Key West 2 other times and each time we go we always stop at Robbie’s in Islamorada. This time was no different.

It’s a great place to stretch your legs. They have cute stands with clothes, art and trinkets. You come to see the tarpon though.

It’s $1 to see them and almost $3 to get a pail of fish to feed them. We’ve all fed them before so we decided just to visit them. They’re SO big…the pictures don’t do their size justice.

Hungry pelicans looking on.

All the stuff that people have dropped in the water.

This may be a touristy stop, but it’s so fun!

We stayed at the Crowne Plaza La Concha. I had won a 2 night stay certificate through work 🙂

 

I wish I had gotten more photos of the hotel. Our room was so nice, but the instant we got in all of our stuff was everywhere, which didn’t make for nice photos. They had just redone their rooms and we all loved the furnishings and decorations. The room was very tasteful and classy. The only problem was that it was small! The hotel was built in the ’20s so I think that was why. There was a king bed and a good size couch. We thought about upgrading to a suite, but figured that we wouldn’t be in the room much so it didn’t really matter too much to us.

You couldn’t beat the location of this place! Located right on Duval it’s an easy walk to everything. And the staff was really nice and helpful during our whole stay. And the hotel itself is beautiful. There’s also a nice looking casual restaurant and a Starbucks adjacent to the Lobby. We didn’t go to either, but nice to know that they’re there.

After we dropped our stuff off in our room we were ready to seek out lunch. Myself and Jon’s sister Tori like to plan ahead so we already had a few places in mind. We decided to find local Five Brothers Grocery, who is supposed to have the best cuban sandwiches. It’s a small place that’s part grocery store part sandwich shop. Family run by…you guessed it…five brothers 🙂

Unfortunately, we were all a bit disappointed. These cubans were far from the best ever. They were just ok, but we all downed them because we were so hungry. I think it was the pork…it was flavorless and not a good texture.

After lunch we found a small grocery store to pick some supplies for the weekend. Then we headed back to the hotel for some pool time. It was sprinkling, but we made the best of it. A downside to the hotel pool area…no hot tub! We really wanted a soak in one. The pool area also seemed like it needed a bit of a facelift. It just didn’t match the rest of the hotel very well. It’s a small area too, but not a lot of people were using it so it was never crowded.

After getting cleaned up we were ready to hit up the bars. Our first stop was one of our favorites, Irish Kevin’s. There’s always an entertaining musician playing and the place has a great atmosphere.

It started to downpour on our way there…it had been misting all day. Luckily, it’s Key West and you don’t really have to worry about looking your best 😉

We started to get hungry so our next stop was Hog’s Breath Saloon. I’d never been and was afraid it would be really touristy and not be good. Luckily I was wrong!

We started off with onion rings and conch fritters for apps. Nothing amazing, but good.

For an entree I had the pulled pork sandwich, which was awesome! Pork was tender and delicious and loved the homemade chips. I didn’t have the coleslaw. I also had a bite of Jon’s burger and it was one of the best I’ve ever had. The atmosphere is pretty cool here to. Typical divey Key West.

Our next stop was Captain Tony’s, which is famous for all the bras they have hanging from the ceiling.

They also had tons of business cards and photos stapled to the wall. We had the most fun here. They had a few arcade games and a foosball table and we played a pretty rowdy round of foosball. So fun!

We were exhausted from our long day of travel so we decided to head back to the hotel and get a good night’s sleep after Tony’s.

Part 2 coming up next!