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Trip Report Key West, FL Trip Report - July 14-20, 2010 With Pic Link

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Key West, FL - July 14 -20, 2010

This trip was to celebrate our 10th Wedding Anniversary. We had originally booked Sandals Dunn River in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, but were informed that the hotel was closing before our departure date, so we had to make a new decision. What persuaded us to Key West was that after our trip to Cozumel this past December we had enough FF miles for a domestic flight and Key West has been on our ‘to go’ list. We flew Continental from Midland, TX directly to Key West.

Hotel - We chose the Simonton Court Inn because we liked that they had pool side rooms. We booked the Royal Poinciana – MH2, which was a poolside room shared with the Hibiscus – MH1. There are 3 other sections with pool side rooms and then a main bigger pool in the courtyard. Even though the smaller pools were around specific room categories, we were advised that anybody could use any pool on the property as they were not specifically assigned to a certain room. We enjoyed our room. It had a king bed, bath with a shower, closet with a small refrigerator and microwave. A chaise lounge was to the side of the closet area. The room rate included a continental breakfast that included coffee, orange juice, apple juice, cranberry juice, and solid fruits like bananas, oranges and apples. At 8:30am they set out toast, waffles and bagels. We found it to be good and filling. The hotel was calm and quiet and the location excellent to walk to Duval or the Waterfront. The staff that we encountered was friendly and helpful. We wouldn’t hesitant to stay there again.

Dining – We are used to AI hotels in Mexico and Caribbean and have been too many. We have done 3 non-AI vacations (excluding Las Vegas) and found they were not to our liking as food/drinks were too expensive and transportation to/from restaurants was difficult. This was not an issue here. We could easily walk to various restaurants. We found the food to be much better than most of the AI’s we’ve been to. However, it did rival a Princess cruise we took. Did not have a bad meal anywhere and the prices at many places was reasonable. We did splurge on a couple of restaurants.

Half Shell Raw Bar – Had to be our favorite. We had a pitcher of beer, oysters on the half shell, fish and chips, the King Crab ‘bits and pieces’ and the key lime pie. The best Key Lime Pie of any that we tried.

Pepper’s – Once we left the Half Shell Raw Bar we started walking towards Duval and ran into Pepper’s. Neat place. I don’t know how many times at the grocery store it was like I really want to taste the bottles of sauces before shelling out $6-$8 bucks to find out I really didn’t like it. The girl behind the counter told us it was BYOB, so DH went down a couple of stores and brought us back some beers. We tasted several varieties of sauces and ended up buying 5 different bottles.

Kelly’s Bar and Restaurant – Wanted to try just because of the name (the same as mine) It had been raining on and off all morning and as soon as we sat down it started pouring rain for about 30 minutes. We had a hamburger, shrimp omelet and key lime pie. I had the Key Lime martini, which was the best. They wrote the name “Kelly” in chocolate syrup in the glass. By the time we slowly finished our meal the rain had let up.

Latitudes – We splurged and chose this restaurant for our Wedding Anniversary. We picked up the boat transfer passes earlier in the day at the Westin while we were out and about. We made reservations on-line about 30 days out and noted it was our anniversary and requested beach seating. Our request was accommodated and the host congratulated us as we were being seated. We both had the ‘surf & turf’, which was very good, but too much. We could have gotten just one and easily shared it. I ended up taking half of mine back to the our hotel room and eating it the next morning for breakfast. We did share the lobster bisque soup, which was wonderful. Too many times we have had it elsewhere and it was either bland or fishy tasting. Theirs was perfect. For dessert we had the flight of crème brulee; mango, mocha and lavender. The lavender was very good. Got plenty of really nice sunset pictures. It’s a definite must do for a special occasion. If you don’t want a huge bill though plan your selections before going.

Old Town Mexican - This place was packed. We waited at the bar for about 15 minutes before a table was ready. We had the tortilla soup and the chicken verde enchiladas. The soup was OK. The broth had some weird spices in it, which distorted the flavor. The enchiladas were very good, but not something I am used to having. There was no actual sauce on them. They were covered with chopped green chilies and tons of real cheese. Tasty, but different. I opted to not have the black beans and rice - yuck, so they gave me 2 enchiladas. Had coconut flan for dessert and it was yummy.

Salsa Loco – Very reasonable priced and more of a ‘Tex-Mex’ flavor. We both had a combo plate with enchilada, taco, burrito, chili releno and chalupa. Real refried beans and not those yucky black beans. They use queso blanco instead of cheddar cheese, which I prefer, but it was still good and we had a pitcher of beer.

Antonio’s – We decided to splurge because we wanted a restaurant with AC. We had the anti pasta plate, carpaccio and stuff chicken breast. Crème brulee for dessert. The best crème brulee we’ve had since Las Vegas.

B.O. Fish Wagon - We were referred for their fish sandwiches. We each had one with one order of fries and one side salad. The fish on the sandwich was good, but as a whole it could have used more fixings and tartar sauce. Thought it was a little pricey.

Better Than Sex – Cute little place with a lot of ambience. We had the ‘Kelly’s Klimax”, which was wonderful. A sparking red wine with a white chocolate rim and the “Cream Team”. Their version of a crème brulee. It was more like a vanilla and carmel jello pudding than a traditional crème brulee. It was served in a coffee cup and had sweet biscuits on the side. Would have like to have tried a variety of desserts, but it was rather pricey. They should opt for a small portion flight of desserts. It was a nice treat for a special occasion. I noticed that their on-line menu and the menu they gave us in the restaurant was different. More selections to chose from on the on-line menu.

Turtle Kraals – We ate here after our sunset cruise. We had the tortilla soup and the chicken enchiladas. Both were OK, but had better at the other restaurants. I tried their Sunset Ale on tap and thought it was very good.

Dante’s – Really like the pool/bar/restaurant concept. We spent about 4 hours there. It was hot and the pool was great. We went right when it opened at 11:00am. It didn’t get very crowded. We had 4 beers a piece, a chili cheese hot dog, club sandwich, one pina colada and one mud slide for dessert. The food was OK, but just average. I thought it was very overpriced as the bill was $82.00 before tip. Ouch!

Westin Sunday Champagne Brunch - We debated between the Westin and La Te Da and finally decided to go with La Te Da. The front office at the Simonton called for us to see if we needed reservations and was informed they were not doing the Champagne brunch. I didn’t quite understand if they were no longer doing it or just not that Sunday. So we headed over to the Westin. We got there a little after 11:00am, and they don’t serve champagne until 12:00 noon. Somewhere I thought I read that since the champagne wasn’t being charged directly, that it could be served with the brunch before noon. I guess I didn’t read that right as they wouldn’t serve it until it was noon. We decided to leave and come back in an hour, but as soon as we made the decision it started poring down rain. So we stayed and took our time until noon. They had a very nice selection of breakfast foods, seafood, and Chinese food. All was really good. The desserts however, were just OK.

Activities – Duval Bar Crawl. We didn’t really need to do this since you can just walk up and down Duval and hit all the bars, but we have found in the past it’s fun to go with a group and meet new people. We started at Rick’s then went to the Flying Monkey, Schooner’s Wharf, Lazy Gecko and Durty Harry’s. Like the Lazy Gecko the best. They had a live band playing music from my era – the 80’s. However, every bar we went to was packed shoulder to shoulder. Too crowded and hot to actually dance. They were having a street dance with live band that night, so Duval was really busy. We had the one comp drink at each bar until we got to Durty Harry’s and then we and 2 other couples hit up the jello shot girl several times. At $1 a piece it was worth it. Yum! . I came in second for the conch blowing contest. It helps to have more people that know you well to scream for you. Afterward, we went upstairs to Rick’s Martini Bar. Yes, AC finally. We had the key lime martini and a dirty martini. They key lime was pretty bad. I couldn‘t finished it, so DH choked it down. The one at Kelly’s restaurant was so much better. The dirty martini was good, but also have had better. They were quite expensive also. By this time it was after midnight and we had the too much too drink munchies. We asked around if anything was open this late and their was only a couple of places. We found a street vendor cooking/selling hotdogs, so we got a couple and ate them as we walked back to the hotel. They were really good.

The Trolley Train Tour – This was fun and we got a good overview. We stop at the Southern Most Point for the obliged picture and then we went to the shipwreck museum, Pirate Museum and Ripley’s Believe It or Not. All really nice interesting exhibits. Also went to the mall by the Westin and upstairs to the Toy Factory. Really neat place. We started at 9:00am and it was raining on and off all day. By the time we hit Kelly’s for lunch it was pouring and then stopped. When we hit the Pirate Museum it was raining again. The streets in that area were flooded. During the night it poured rain again. We were glad we took the Trolley Train with windows that opened and closed and not the Conch tour, which had open seats. We would have been drenched.

Dolphin Echo Sunset & Moet Cruise – The original evening that we booked was cancelled due to more rain, so we went the next night. It was rather windy and the boat rocked a good deal. I was surprised how small the boat was. Though they said it held 14 people plus the 2 man crew, I thought it would have been really crowded if that many people were actually on it. Fortunately for our cruise it was us, another couple and the 2 man crew, which was plenty to still be able to move around. I thought it would be like an open bar with champagne and wine with snacks, but it was more like a champagne tasting. They had 4 bottles of champagne. Each bottle was shared between the four of us until it was gone and then they opened up another one. We drank all four bottles and then we had our choice of 3 different kinds of wine. Snacks included a fruit and cheese tray, a veggie dip, pieces of bread and crackers. It was all very tasty. We sailed around the harbor area until sunset and then sailed back.

We were scheduled to also do the morning dolphin watching/snorkel cruise with the same company, but the weather wouldn’t hold up and it was cancelled. It was too late in the week to re-book, so we missed out.

Weather – The weather was quite iffy. It rained on and off and it overall it was just hot and humid the whole time. We are more used to a dry heat, so the humidity really got to us. During the first part of the week it was dead calm with a couple of breezes here and there. By the end of the week, the wind had picked up, which was great for walking around, but not for cruising the water. We felt tired and drained by the heat. Sweat was literally dripping off of us and it became a joke that we were only going to eat in restaurants with indoor seating and AC. We did spend a lot of time either in our pool or in our room under the AC. A week was too long of a trip. We should have spent about 4 nights. There’s just only so many times you can walk up and down Duval in the wet heat and drink, which just makes you more dehydrated. If it hadn’t been our anniversary we would have never come in a July. We like to travel in May or November, when the weather is not as hot. For our next milestone anniversary were looking at Alaska.

Before going, I e-mailed several photographers to see about getting some anniversary pictures on the beach. I got 2 replies, but when trying to pin them down for a date, time and price never heard from them again. In hindsight, I found it was for the best. It was too hot and I really didn’t want to spend that much money for pictures with sweat and make-up running down our faces. We got some good shots at Latitudes and the sunset cruise. I ended up going with a local photographer and got the formal shots I wanted including a beach background.

We enjoyed our trip and glad we chose Key West for our anniversary. If we didn’t have the FF miles for air, we probably wouldn’t have gone as overall it was quite expensive. We could have stayed 4 – 5 nights at an AI hotel with air in Mexico for what I paid for the hotel only, but it was a nice change from our usual type of trips. We have pictures posted at:

http://community.webshots.com/user/kvrlvn

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