Travel Date: Monday, Dec 08 2014
Got up in the morning and said goodbye to Sarah as she was leaving for work. Had one last coffee with AJ and wished my fraternity brother well.

Perhaps I needed the luck being stuck in Miami traffic.

Eventually I drove past Homestead and headed towards the Florida Keys.

You can say that is the official welcoming sign: Florida Scene Highway & Florida Keys

I pulled into Wahoos Bar & Grill on the Islamorada Key.

The view from my table.

And got some chilled, cooked fresh seafood.

Drove along the road and stopped nearby to appreciate the turquoise waters.

And then got stuck behind an RV on one of the lanes. This is to be expected. Fortunately, they eventually sped up. EVENTUALLY.

Typically Florida Keys roads. Long stretches of road and blue ocean waters on either side.

Old bridges which are now tourist walk ways.

The old rail road that AJ told me to look out for. Too bad I couldn’t pull over to take better pictures.

And finally I get to Key West, and find my hostel: The Seashell Motel and Key West Youth Hostel.

That is what it looks like on Google Maps… south of United States.

My hostel seems nice.

Ah room number 17.

Bunk #2: the bottom one. Reminds me of peregrino life in Spain.

Time to walk around and see the ocean and more of Key West. I guess they are prepared for Christmas.

I head over to the Key West Marine Park.

Stop by the ocean to take in the views.

Then I head to a visit to the Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory.

After which I walk around and go to CVS.

Why CVS? I need to buy supplies for camping tomorrow at the Dry Tortugas National Park.

After my camping supply run I drop my stuff off and head back over to the Marine Park to catch the sunset, or what is left of it. 😦 Just missed it by a few minutes. Darn!

I leave the Marine Park and walk towards the Main drag of Duval Street.

The Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory looks pretty at night.

I stop by my hostel to take of some things.

Wander off in Hopeless Wanderer mode past some lit up houses.

And accidentally stumble at a authentic Cuban restaurant: El Siboney Restaurant away from the popular Duval Street and there is a line. When there is a line you know the food has got to be good.

I find an empty seat at the bar.

Great they have their own Cayenne Sauce. I like this place ALREADY.

In typical touristy fashion I start talking to my neighbors. The Latino gentleman to my right doesn’t speak much but the two ladies to my left are really friendly. Stephanie (in the front) lives in Key West and told me this is one of her favorite places and her friend Jen is visiting her.

Stephanie recommends I get the El Siboney Skirt Steak. So I do.

And the give me some of their banana chips.

Seriously everything was fantastic. Couldn’t ask for better random company for dinner. Stephanie and Jen thanks for the great recommendation. I know whom to call if I come back to Key West 🙂

After dinner I make my way inevitably to Duval street. The second most interesting house on the street is the Key West Woman’s Club.

Walk from one end to the other. And stop by one of the vendor kiosks to get recommendations of where to park for FREE for my trip to the Dry Tortugas National Park.

Forgot his name, but he saved me some money with his recommendation. Thank you kind sir!!

And then while walking back and I decide the martini bar at Martin’s Lounge catches my eye, and I decide to succumb to my dry tongue and have a few cocktails.

Turns out the bartender Andrew is from Lynchburg, Virginia: 60 minutes from where I used to live. I guess I still live there technically since I have a storage locker.

I decide to get a chocolate martini: my favorite type of martini.

Andrew tells me that the order makes the chocolate liqueur or something like that. It is quite good.

And after two cocktails I head home… to a Gideon’s bible in one of the drawers.

Time to go to bed. I have to wake up and be there at 6:30 AM at the Ferry. No good night sleep for this Hopeless Wanderer.

Reflections:

Great to spend some time with AJ before I departed. Seriously cant thank him and Sarah enough for the great hospitality and generous stay in Miami.

The drive to Key West was long but beautiful. The seafood at Islamorada Key was between average and good, but nothing to rave about. My hostel was relatively cheap $50.00 for a night. Fortunately they had the AC cranking on high. The bed was uncomfortable and the shower/bathroom was gross. Maybe worth the $50.00 I paid for it since everything in Key West is EXPENSIVE.

By losing myself, following my intuition and wandering around I run into the most amazing unexpected experiences and I love it for the stories. Accidentally finding El Siboney restaurant which I highly recommending trying, sitting at the only remaining seat at the bar right when I walked in, and meeting Stephanie and Jen for dinner was a treat. Stephanie’s recommendation of the Skirt Steak was ‘right on the money.’ Go there AND GET IT.

Walking around Duval street and running into the Kiosk guy who gave me the perfect place to park my car and save some money was also a blessing. And finally going into Martin’s instead of walking away and going home, and meeting Andrew from Lynchburg was icing on the cake.

Fantastic set of experiences in Key West on just Day 1. Can’t wait for the Dry Tortugas National Park experience tomorrow.

Expenses: $222.95
Gas: $25.00 (Westar)
Lunch: $24.50 (Whale Harbor Restaurant)
Camping Supplies: $51.37 (CVS)
Hostel: $49.50 (Seashell Motel & Keywest Hostel)
Dinner: $19.75 (El Siboney Restaurant)
Beverages: $20.42 (Martins on Duval)
Beverages: $5.00 (Martins on Duval)
Water Camera $27.41 (CVS)