Continuing my stories on my first trip to the United States, the beach lover in me was over-excited for the Key West leg to begin. The usual traveller in me always loved googling every aspect of the town I plan to visit, but this time I decided I’ll take it as it comes. Key West was one place I did not google, I heard a couple of people out on things to do and see but restricted the urge to delve any further into it.
Of course, I couldn’t help myself from researching after the trip. Key West is part of the Florida Keys Archipelago that was earlier a Spanish colony. The name is derived from the Spanish word “Cayo” meaning small island. While it could be geographically small, the islands are a major tourist hub and a pit-stop for most cruise ships sailing past the coast.
Sure, I had heard the drive is the most beautiful part of the experience and for once what everyone claimed lived up to the expectations. So, all the way from Orlando all I was doing was pretty much putting my head out of the car like a dog, with eyes as big as popsicles, chanting water water all the way through and believe me when I had the first sight of the water there was no need for any further chanting. In most such scenic drives, you know how it works, you first get a glimpse far far away and you slowly you cruise your way to it. Well, here it was just the opposite, when it came, it came with such a bang, with water on all sides all at once. Wherever you see there’s water around.
It was like paradise for me. The roads and bridges go over and under with vast blue oceans with a slight tinge of green here and there, that makes you look back twice just to check if the water is actually green there or if it is just the sun playing games with your eyes.
The 7-mile drive was just the cherry on top of an already very well iced, decorated cake. The stretch where you drive up the bridge almost feels like the end of the world. The bridge just stopping mid-way touching the skies with pristine blue ocean waters joining from all sides to the contrast of the clear sky blue skies with white clouds. It almost felt like nature coming in from all sides and engulfing the concrete and all man-made inflictions on earth in one swooping breath. That moment right there I felt would have been the perfect place for the world as we know it to end.
The names they kept for the key shaped islands will always intrigue me. I mean Florida Key, Fleming Key, Upper Key all that is still fine, but as we go further inside we actually found one that said “No Name Key” I mean seriously?! It was like they gave up.
We decided to splurge a little and encash our travel points with the Mariott Group and had booked the Mariott Beachside Resort at Key West and it was truly worth it! The view was mesmerising. To wake up in the morning to the expanse of those blue waters and sails parked all around and the gradual tint in those skies as the sun comes up is enchanting. It was like a picture waiting to be painted, Alas, we all have our shortcomings, I had to make peace with capturing it on a mobile camera and Instagram it.
We set out on our day to explore the town starting with the Southern Most Buoy and it was a terrible disappointment We did go to a butterfly park nearby but believe me it was no great shades either; it was just a very well marketed ploy for tourists. Beautifully maintained etc. but very few varieties and barely a 10-minute visit. Since we had more than enough of the touristy destinations we decided to make our way to Mallory Square. Now, that was a place you can spend hours and not know time passing by. The most happening part by the famed sunset point.
The sunset was nothing short of glorious and the night life at Key West in the middle of the week was admirable and it only heightened the day even better. There are just rows of pubs and places to hang out with brilliant live music. You could just continuously hop from one place to another and it was a scene that lasted all night.
There are a couple of other touristy spots in the heavily commercialized Key West but the 7 Mile Drive and Mallory Square would always be etched in my heart in a special little way.