Monday, July 25, 2016

Off The Florida Keys… There’s A Place Called Kokomo

Well, actually there isn’t – although there is a place off Montego Bay, Jamaica that was formerly known as ‘Kokomo Island’, now known as Sandals Cay… but the Beach Boys’ lyrics nicely sum up the amazing atmosphere that is the tropical Florida Keys. This is really what I want to talk about!

Some say ‘bucket list’, others say ‘dream destination’… for me it’s just been a life-long ambition to visit what was once almost a mythical part of the world to me.

I’d seen the movie on the Sunday afternoon TV re-runs when I was a kid (the 1948 Humphrey Bogart / Lauren Bacall film noir classic, Key Largo); I’d listened to it sung about by Bertie Higgins in the early eighties (Key Largo, 1981) and then of course the Beach Boys ‘owned’ the atmosphere in their hit song ‘Kokomo’ from the ‘Cocktail’ soundtrack in the late eighties.

Whatever the driving motivation was, I just had to the Florida Keys one day… and this day, I did!!

Last week, we drove down the East Coast of Florida from our home here in Tampa, crossed the infamous ‘Alligator Alley’ and spent a night in Miami.

Leaving the car at the Hilton Hotel, we called our friends at Uber and managed to get around to check out some of the ‘sights’ (nudge, nudge).

Taking it as a strong recommendation from friends, we took in lunch at the Versailles Cuban Restaurant in ‘Little Havana’ before heading over to South Beach. Wow – for a beach-side Florida city, there is certainly a wide variety of fashion statements, ethnicities and individuality to be found!

Of course, summer in Florida is hot and humid and this day was no exception. However, we are obviously not unaccustomed to the weather (think tropical weather for most of our lives – Qld, Australia, Singapore and now Tampa, FL)... So we soaked up the rays and after making our way to the beach via Ocean Drive and back across to Espanola Way, we landed at Lincoln Road for some of the most well-needed ice cold milkshakes that we’ve ever had. J

There begins our tropical holiday!!

The next morning we trekked across some of the Miami shopping areas before heading south to the beautiful Keys. Through the planning stages, we had decided that we wanted to stay somewhere laid-back but at the same time, somewhere close enough to drive around and take it all in – including the world-famous Key West. This thought process kept taking us to Key Largo, where we stayed for three nights.

As usual, Sammi had done her homework well – the Hilton Key Largo resort was everything we had expected… water sports, private beaches, activities for everyone and a lovely (albeit very expensive) ‘Treetops’ Restaurant.

The location was also central enough for us to laze around the resort, head out whenever we needed and of course, a stone’s throw (less than 2 hours) from Key West. 

After terrorizing the other water vessels enough with my wave runner antics, we made the trip down to Key West on the second day. This is where things rose to a whole new level.

Although it was very ‘whirlwind’, we managed to take in some of the key ‘tourist must-do’s’ such as the Ernest Hemmingway home and the ‘Southernmost’ point of the continental USA (go figure… it’s just 90-miles from there to Cuba) to name a couple, but the highlight for me was lunch at the very original Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville.

Of course, I had to have the ‘booze in a blender’ and we ‘wasted away again’ for a while, but I didn’t get any more tattoos – I’m not sure what the ‘Mexican Cutie’ would’ve translated to anyway.

So there you have it – fitting a 5-day vacation into a few paragraphs doesn’t come close to doing it justice, but I’ve hit on some of the high points.

If you’ve sometimes (or always) considered a holiday to the Florida Keys, you can take this as my unwavering strong recommendation… perhaps it’s time for me to start thinking again about investing in a holiday home   J

Ohhh... and by the way - happy anniversary to my darling wife - the sunset cruise dinner to celebrate when we arrived back in Tampa pales in comparison to your beauty!! (Brownie points earned)

No comments: