full disclosure. The title should read, “Istanbul, never changes. Bad old town’ and is a line from a William Gibson novel. I’m not going to lie to you. I love that cyberpunk genre although I don’t read it much anymore. We went on vacation a few weeks ago–took a cruise that made stops in Key West, Nassau & Freeport, Bahamas. We aren’t what I’d say your typical cruisers are as we don’t love the food, the smokey casino or, in general, port towns. All the shopping is the same and the food is actually bordering on brutal in quantity. We love to sit on a breezy deck by the pool and consume books (& magazines) and rum punch napping at a whim and taking a break from the email of it all.
All that said, I really enjoyed our stop in Key West. It was the one part of our trip I had planned and really looked forward to. We walked off the boat and made our way to Duval street. It was about 9AM so the full contigent getting their beer on at Sloppy Joe’s were definitely not out yet. Duval is just another shopping street filled with bars. We picked up our one of our slim vacation purchases, coffees at Starbucks, and headed over to the Southernmost point of the US that is the big ole landmark that points the way to Cuba. We got our photo snapped in the tourist way by our line waiting compatriots and then headed up the street to find Papa Hemingways not-so-humble abode. After shelling out $26 (total) for the tickets we definitely jumped at the offered tour. You can chalk that up to professional and/or plain curiousity. I didn’t really know much about Hemingway prior to the visit and can’t claim to have read any of his books. It was interesting to learn of his life and get a little bit of info about the island in general. The famous cats on the island (45 at the home) are all descendants of his son’s cat, Snowball. We chased down a cat (ok, chased is a strong word, we tried to coax her out for a photo) with seven toes. Those cats own the place and have the total run of the house in that standard kitty way. I am totally inspired by the gardens at the home, full of lush green plants and a great big pool. I’ve decided I want a pool and a super shady yard. Right now I have neither and we’ll see how that goes.
We also learned about the chickens that free roam the town and are everywhere. There used to be cock fighting in the Cuban community in town and at one point they outlawed it and told everyone to release the chickens. It’s a $500 fine to pester the chickens and as a result they are like sparrows and just about everywhere you look. We saw loads of little chicks, mama’s and great big red combed roosters.
We paused at the Audubon house and briefly at the Pirate museum. I’m totally enamored with pirates. I know they were terrible and all that but I have this romantic idea of sailing ships and desert islands and tend to forget the pillaging and thievery. Audubon is a class unto it’s own and I just love the illustrations. I purchased a very small one recently (postcard size) and framed it in my office.
Key West is a bad old town that has more than it’s share of revelry and rabblerousing, oddity and audacity too. I miss the trade winds and the idea that the island is there but can’t be quite conquered.