Cruises are the only time I’m happy to see the sun rise.
We had breakfast on the deck, and I got to have gruel for the first of, well, six other times. We hopped off the boat and piled into the Bone Island Shuttle (*snort*). I think we were the only people in a good mood; there were some severely crabby old ladies on there with us. How can you be mad about being in a warm place in January?
The shuttle dropped us off in Mallory Square, which is the ultratacky part of town where the main cruise dock is located. It was only 8am on a Sunday, so little was open. This was fine with us, because we intended to do all of our sightseeing first thing, and then explore the local scene. By which we meant the bars. Key West is well-known for that particular industry.
We headed off down Whitehead Street, which parallels Duval.
the mile zero marker on US route 1. matt’s making fun of parrotheads.
There are wild chickens all over Key West (as well as cats; feel free to make the same jokes we did), so you hear roosters crowing constantly. I love that.
bahama village: it definitely looks like the bahamas.
hemingway house (we didn’t want to pay admission!)
i want to live here.
At the end of Whitehead Street, you come to the marker denoting the southernmost point in the continental United States. From there, it’s 90 miles to Cuba. I just needed to see it because I’ve been to the actual southermost point in the U.S., on the Big Island of Hawaii.
southermost is a big deal in key west, apparently.
We walked back down Duval Street, and businesses were starting to think about opening. We stopped into a convenience store for water, because it was kind of ridiculously hot already. I was regretting my decision to wear a long-sleeved shirt that day, having assumed it’d be the least-warm stop we’d make on the cruise. It was in the mid-80s, but sunny and humid.
We also stopped for iced coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts (an establishment we sadly cannot enjoy in Minneapolis; the nearest are in Chicago), and Matt and Wendy posed by their ‘family tree’. I’d explain, but it’s a long story. Also, Wendy has a hard time trying to look badass, and just starts laughing.
We walked all the way back down to Mallory Square, scouting the places we wanted to visit later. We passed Sunset Pier, where the bartender appeared to be setting up, and asked when they opened. She said they were serving food already, but that they weren’t allowed to pour liquor in Key West until noon on Sundays. We told her we’d be back.
We sat on the pier watching the pelicans and sailboats for a while, and I called my mom to tell her she shouldn’t panic over not hearing from me for another week, because we’d be out of the U.S.. We then went over to the Sponge Market to stock up on all the necessary souvenirs, including my obligatory Christmas ornament, in the shape of the southernmost point marker.
On the way back to the oceanfront, we wandered through a garden full of statues, and Wendy and Matt had to have Superbad moments. BOOP!
matt and hemingway
disney ship: we quickly learned that local businesses hate disney passengers. duh.
At five minutes to noon, we got ourselves a table at Sunset Pier. There were already several people waiting there for the bar to open.
We ordered brunch (by which I mean nachos), then drinks. Like every bar in that region, Sunset Pier claims it invented the Rum Runner. Their frozen beverages come with a test tube full of dark rum.
You know what’s awesome? Having a margarita at noon on a Sunday while overlooking the ocean.
After brunch, we headed back down Duval Street, where everything was officially open. We stopped into Fast Buck Freddie’s, where Matt got a pimptastic hat, then headed to the bar I never, ever wanted to set foot in: Margaritaville. But I had to, of course, because it was there, and it’s the original.
It wasn’t bad at all, except for the fact that it was full of families from the Disney ship having lunch while we were on our second cocktail of the afternoon. The bartender was fantastic. After that, it was time for lunch at Willie T’s!
you are here, this is paradise. so true.
The entirety of Willie T’s was outside, and they featured 39 flavors of mojitos. It was instantly my favorite place in the world. We ordered lunch, and hung out watching the Colts-Chargers game on the giant-screen TV. We also filled out our own dollar to post on the wall. We gave our founding father boobs.
When it was time to move on, they gave us to-go cups. I LOVE KEY WEST.
We walked down Duval toward our last destination, the most famous bar in Key West. I stood out front and finished my drink before we went inside, though I doubt they’d actually have cared.
I fell in love with our bartender instantly. She was the best. The house drink is the Sloppy Rita, which isn’t really distinguishable from a regular margarita. Also, I really like that the standard tequila in most places we went is Sauza. I hate Cuervo a lot.
With about half an hour left til the last shuttle to the boat, we headed out, again with to-go cups. We stopped at a little grocery to shop for amusing British foodstuffs like Lucozade, then circled Mallory Square again, looking at cocks. I mean, what?
The shuttle dropped us off about 15 minutes before the ship departed. We took showers and watched from our balcony as we left Key West. We’d have taken the usual post-island nap, but we had to do the muster drill first.
Promptly at 5pm, the alarms went off, and we all put on our life jackets and lined up at the muster station. Sadly, we were at a different station than Wendy, Cindi, and Jumi, so we were surrounded by antsy Germans. We stood there trying not to giggle about everything, listened to the safety announcement in 5 languages, and were finally freed from responsibility for the rest of vacation.
After everyone else had their meat locker time (i.e. when you go back to your cabin after returning from some bar at the port, and take a shower and nap til early evening), we met in Bar Casanova, intending to play bingo. It ended up costing $20/person, so we went to play cards instead. The cruise staff was dressed in clown outfits for some show that night, and one of them came up to talk to Matt about his Arsenal jersey. It turned out he was from London (and thereafter known as ‘Arsenal’, while we called his friend from Manchester ‘Man U’), and he told us about their most recent game. Another female clown came over and plastered herself against the window while he talked. When he left, Matt said, “I just got a score from a clown while another silver clown humped the window!”
We stayed there so late that even the buffet had shut down, except for the pizza station, so we had pizza and salads out on the back deck, after which we wandered around the upper decks of the ship, looking at the moon and stars and basically being really gay. Shut up.
We found what seemed to be the darkest part of the ship up front on deck 9, so we stayed there for a long time. A couple of ladies wandered by, drunk, and we ended up making friends with them, even though one of them told us all about her boobs and the other was from California. (We named them Droopy and Shingles.) We decided to all go to the bar together; the ladies were kind of annoying, but there seemed to be no shaking them at that point. My favorite moment was when I was pondering the drink menu and Shingles yelled, “Have you had an orgasm??” Well, yes! Thanks for asking.
They told us all about how they’d met the performers for next evening’s show (Anthony and William), and how they were the cutest ever, blah blah blah. Wendy and I discussed this quietly at the bar, and when I asked her again who the guys were, she told me it was Carmelo Anthony and A.I.. We then invented the Melotini, which made absolute sense right at that moment:
- 1 part Kahlua
- 1 part Creme de Menthe
- 1 part Grey Goose
- optional float of Hpnotiq
Try it. You’ll love it.
We went down to the main lobby bar, but it was annoyingly crowded with art sale displays and loud people. We returned to Casanova, then went to Isolabella, the pimp bar on the 1st deck. There were a few more people there this time, thankfully, and the server remembered us. Wendy and I decided that Carmelo Anthony was arriving for his performance on a mini-submarine, so we sat there waiting for him. She tried texting him on her Blueberry, but to no avail. Stupid Melo.
We left after a while and went back to Casanova, where the band was playing Italian songs for a large, drunk group of Romans. Old guys kept hopping up on stage to sing ‘Arrivederci, Roma’. It was awesome. And then, Casanova was closing! We’d never seen that happen before! I’m pretty sure that means we won, and it definitely meant it was time for bed.