Monday, September 19, 2011

Visiting Key West by myself - Key West for the independent traveler

The big difference for me this visit is that I'm alone - my partner could not get as much vacation as me and so I left him (sorry!) in cold, rainy London and came by myself - it's the first time I've ever visited Key West alone.  So, what's it like solo?

Today's a good example about how you're never alone in Key West!

First thing this morning (that is to say 11am!) I needed a coffee so I went to my favorite coffee shop on the island - Coffee Plantation on Caroline.  I had a very quick chat with Theo Glorie, the owner, while he toasted my bagel and then sat on the balcony lapping up the hot sun.

While there I had a long chat with 2 of my fellow coffee drinkers about SCUBA diving in Key Largo and the recent Poker Run, among other things.

I then set out to my favorite art gallery, Gallery on Greene, to admire the new Peter Vey's. Peter is a local and very successful artist and you can see why - the new paintings were great.  I chatted to the lady in the gallery for a bit (it was not Nance and I did not get her name).

After leaving here, I got stressed wandering around Front Street and 'lower' Duval - this area seems even more commercial and cheap by the year! So I got out of there quick.

Up on the 700 block of Duval I went in to check out the new look, new location, Graffitti - fashion shop for men.  I had a good chat with Phil the owner to learn the story of why he'd moved, after 23 years in the old location, a few doors down.

I'm really pleased that Phil's made a success of the new location and that business is booming.  The new shop looks great!

Then on to pick up some lunch from Help Yourself! on Fleming.  I first visited Help Yourself when it  opened in October 3 years ago.  I chatted with Charlie the owner and am delighted things are working out great and they are very much a part of the local community.

She's expanding the operation into the next door space which is great.  I'm biased - this is my third take away here this week - but the food was yummy - see my review of the organic foods and drink at Help Yourself! (coming soon).

Then it was home to eat the take out and take in some sun.  Happy hour is in a few hours so it'll be more chatting with the lovely folks staying at my guest house.

It's shame Virgilio's on Duval is now closed (for 10 days only) as it's almost impossible to sit at that bar without talking to people!

So there you have it Key West is indeed a friendly place.  I had 6 conversations this morning in the space of a few hours... and even when you're not chatting there's lots to see and do around town.  It helps that this is a 'walking city' - that is to say most people see it by foot and not by car, by day and by night.  It makes it much more accessible and friendlier.

Choose the right guest house (not a hotel) with a happy hour (=ie free drinks for an hour for all guests to meet round the pool /bar), the right bars and then some casual (not too formal) places to eat and it's a superb place to visit as an independent traveler.

Other Key West things you might like on my site....

Key West hotels - hints, tips and recommendations

Things to do in Key West - best of list, with lots of pictures and reviews