Alas, it’s come time to say goodbye to Key West. I guess it’s not truly goodbye, rather more like a reluctant ‘see ya later’. We plan to return to this crazy, wonderful slice of paradise after we complete our Bahamas trip, and may even have the distinction of becoming “Fresh Water Conchs” (the term for non-native residents living here for seven or more years). We’ll see how it goes.
It was actually a lot harder to leave than I thought it would be, even with the bitterness of our stolen bikes fresh in our minds. We’ve met a ton of cool people and have done so many neat things during the two months that we’ve been here (wow, it’s really been two months already?). We’re a bit reluctant to leave, but there’s another adventure to look forward to, and as excited as we are to put down roots here, if we don’t make it to the Bahamas, we’d be kicking ourselves in the asses forever.
So what makes this little salty piece of land so special?
The people here are by far, the friendliest, most welcoming group that we’ve ever found in one single place. This is a very small island, and it’s evident that people take care of one another ‘round here. We found that no one is actually from KW (although we did meet one “Salt Water Conch”, who was a true native), and hearing people talk about where they came from and what brought them here is a natural conversation starter that inevitably leads to some pretty interesting stories. We’ve heard everything from ‘I came here on Spring Break back in ’88 and never left’, to ‘I never wanted to shovel snow again’, to (my personal favorite), ‘It was as far away from HER as I could get’. It’s like a little band of misfits who are all inevitably running away from something or the other, whether it be the cold weather, responsibility, exes, the law – you name it, we’ve heard it. And that just makes us love it here even more.
From five star restaurants to food trucks, seafood to spaghetti, this place has it all. We love, love, love going out to eat, and have discovered some amazing food nearly everywhere we’ve been. We’re not ashamed to admit that we’ve happily surrendered a good chunk of our cruising kitty to discovering delicious places to eat. Happy Hour specials are definitely the way to go here, with most places offering 2 for 1 drinks and half price appetizers somewhere between the hours of 4-7. We like to hit some of the pricier spots, like Martin’s Steakhouse for HH, and are able to get a nice dinner (surf and turf) and drinks for under $40. Not bad. Some of our favorites are off the beaten path, like The Cafe, a quaint vegan cafe with amazing salads, and Kojin, a Japanese noodle bar that reminds us of something you’d find squished in a side alley in NYC. And of course there’s the key lime pie. The debate’s still on whether it’s best topped with whipped cream or meringue, but just know that authentic key lime pie is yellow, not green.
The saying ‘the lower the latitude, the better the attitude’, definitely applies to Key West. Everyone is just so damn happy and chill here. And why wouldn’t they be? They’re basically living the Caribbean lifestyle while still under the safety of US laws and protection. You can wear cutoffs and flip flops everywhere. Bikes are the preferred mode of transport. There’s palm trees and beaches at the end of nearly every street. Time moves just a little slower here. Add to that, the constant cash flow from happy tourists ready to surrender their money for pretty much anything. Here, you get a do-over from whoever you were in your previous life. Ex-CEO’s are cab drivers. Teachers are bartenders. Guys who like guys can dress like girls. Anything goes. One big human family living down here in Paradise. If that doesn’t sound like your thing, then maybe you’re better suited for life on the mainland.
So alas, we say ‘See Ya Later, KW’! We’ll be back to zippin’ around your streets on our old crusty conch cruisers (bikes) again in no time!