Key West during Spring Break – Florida
We were undecided whether to stay down in the Florida Keys, or just to make it a day trip. Our hotel was in the north of Miami, so it was going to be a long day of driving going all the way to the end and back. The alternative was spending a night on the way, and maybe taking the extra time to do some fishing, but the cost of hotels was prohibitive.
Being the Spring Break school holidays everywhere was a) overpriced and b) already full. The cheapest hotels or motels in the area that are normally $80/night were charging $300+/night for what more than one review website suggested was an “unfriendly, dirty, noisy sh**hole”. I’ve no problem paying $300 for something wonderful, but not for somewhere I probably won’t be able to get any sleep.
Given that we were away for 3 months the expenses were adding up, so we were being a little more conservative with money than during a usual 2-3 week holiday. This decided that we’d go all the way there and back in a day, then go fishing the following day out of Fort Lauderdale.
We set off in the dark, early enough that we could see the sunrise over the Everglades.
Further down we reached the first of the famous bridges, memorably blown up in every Hollywood film or TV series set in Miami. Just like in the movies the water was impossibly blue and clear.
The narrow lands of the Keys don’t really leave room for that much of note on the way down. It’s just a lot of attractive roads dotted with a few small towns, rarely more than a couple of streets wide.
Further south on the water there are less leisure craft and more wildlife. Right at the end of the Keys is Key West, with the wildest life of all. Not knowing enough about the US school timetable we’d unwittingly arrived during Spring Break so the streets were full of open topped cars and trucks full of hollering boys, and girls walking among the shops, getting hollered at.
Stopping in a café for a drink and a taste of Key Lime pie it was obvious some of the older residents weren’t really loving the party atmosphere. The two genteel ladies with whom we shared a table tutted endlessly at the language coming from some of the various trucks and raised an eyebrow at some of the ladies swimwear.
Fortunately they didn’t follow us round the corner to the beach, where an old man stood resplendent in a minute gold thong. I did say hello, mostly to avoid breaking eye contact, but his attention was directed towards the aforementioned teenage girls in revealing swimsuits.
Not far from that landmark lay another, a marker showing the southernmost point in the United States (if you ignore the large car park next door that’s clearly further south, and a private island a few miles offshore). From there it is only 90 miles to Cuba.
Thinking back to visiting Rio de Janeiro during Carnival, it was wonderful but I was left with the feeling I’d like to go back and see more of the city at a quieter time. Wondering the same about the Keys I couldn’t really say that I’d go back any time soon. It’s a nice town, particularly attractive by US standards, but for a similar vibe the effort and money getting there from the UK would be better spent directed towards the south of France or Italy.