Saturday, December 29, 2012

Towels of Key West

Towels of Key West, the store on Duval Street, has been trading since 1986 - which makes (made - see paragraph below) it one of the longest trading in Key West. Opened back then by the same, current owners: Kent Henry and Stan Wellman. This makes this shop the oldest gay store on Duval Street and one of the oldest shops on Duval, period. 5 years ago they also started to sell their own cool clothing range - American Boy Key West - see the pics below. Their shop front window is always well designed, entertaining, and makes me chuckle when I pass.

Update: November 2016. Very sad news..... Unfortunately, you are too late. They closed and sold up and moved back to Idaho in July 2016. Their Facebook says they will open an online store but the link is dead and so nothing yet. Please open the online store guys - we miss you!
The towel range in Towels of Key West.  This shop does what is says on the tin!  I particularly like this blue Conch Republic towel.
Not surprisingly they stock a lot of, yep, towels - see above of a picture of part of the display.  But they also recently expanded into next door and now sell more than towels - including a great selection of funny, clever, and a little rude, t-shirts (exclusive to here).

This cock (as we call a rooster in the UK) is now mine. I bought the t at the top of this picture.
With the closure of FBF and some of the other unique stores in Key West we must treasure those that remain.  This is a gem, the staff are friendly, so go in today and purchase!  I did - I bought the rooster t-shirt in the picture above!

UPDATE: Even better than the great towels were the t-shirts. Now they have closed we are gutted - where are we going to get fab, humorous t's like these now? Argh!!!

Best Key West shopping - click 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Snorkeling in Key West

Let's come out and say it: Beaches and big waves and snorkeling are not very good in Key West (from the shore/beach).  The offshore coral reef breaks the waves several miles offshore.

There is excellent snorkeling at the Dry Tortugas - but that's a day trip from Key West on a boat.  Also Bahia Honda has good snorkelling - but that's 35 miles up the overseas highway.  There are many boat operators who will take you from Key West out to the coral reefs for half a day's snorkelling.

But where is the best snorkelling from the shore in Key West?

I've reported before on Fort Zach beach itself - which is by far the best on the island.

Here's a video I took in November 2012 to set the scene:

Today I tried snorkelling for the first time here.  Here are some pics of the beach today (November 2012):

It's November so not that busy.  Also it's Tuesday and only about 10.30am - the beach did get busier, but not that busy today.  That's the great thing about midweek in November - nice and quiet!
The beach at Fort Zach is 20% sand and 80% coral which makes walking and getting into the sea a tricky and sometimes painful affair!
My snorkel amongst the coral at Fort Zach beach.
Ready to snorkel.
Go! Heads down, looking.
So how was the snorkeling?  I saw 50 fish in total, maybe about 4 or 5 different types.  Even though the swell was not high, it was difficult to see because of the sand and stuff making the water murky.

This area of the beach (see pic below), swimming right up within 1 foot of the rocks, is where  I found the most fish.

You can hire a snorkel and mask from the same beach shack that hires out the deck chairs, right on the beach.
Best snorkelling rocks on Fort Zach beach

Full review and loads of great pictures of Fort Zach beach - click here.

Guide to Key West best beach.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Wyland in Key West

It's difficult to miss the artist Wyland in Key West as he has at least 2 large, dedicated art galleries (shops?) for his output, as well as very keen sales staff!

If you want to experience Wyland for free, his very large mural 'The Living Reef' can be seen half a block away from Key West harbor.  It was originally painted as part of the Whaling Wall series of 100 (this is number 52) in September 1993.  It was re-touched by him recently, in October 2012.  It was looking very faded after 19 years and the re-touch has made it look much better.

You can see it at the old Waterfront Market, at Caroline and William Streets.

Other articles on this blog you might like:

Key West hotels - guide to where to stay and why you should seriously consider a B&B/guesthouse when you stay in Key West

Things to do Key West - my personal recommendations

Friday, November 16, 2012

Perfect weather in Key West

I think the weather yesterday was the best day I've ever experienced in all my visits to Key West!

Not very hottest at all: Temperature was 'only' 80 degrees.  But wonderful low 70% humidity.

Here's a video from my sun deck in Old Town at about 3pm:

And from this morning through to sunset, there was hardly any cloud.  6 tiny clouds around 11am; and then 2 or 3 light wisps in the afternoon.

All the rest of the time, perfect blue skies and amazing light.

And add a light breeze to help the cooling, it was a wonderful day.
Just to break the perfect blue skies, a few wisps of cloud in late afternoon.

Most of the day, perfect blue.  Not a cloud in sight.  I love it when it's like this.

And the great light makes photos easy... Here's a few I took today...

Key West in November

November is a good month to visit Key West.

It's shoulder season, about to go into peak, so still a little cheaper and quite a lot LESS busy than peak time, which is really good because it means you can get into restaurants, find space at the beach, order a drink quicker at the bar etc.

But if you like it mad busy, then come January to March time and you'll get your wish.

In November, the weather has broken - that is to say,  the stifling heat and humidity of July to early October has gone.  Which is very good!  But the weather can be a bit variable some years.

Our visit this week, in early November 2012, is a great example......

At the beginning of this week just gone, I took this screenshot of the forecast for Key West.  It's definitely slightly colder than usual in November.  And look at that 20% rain on the forecast ALL WEEK....Looks like we were set for a BAD week in Key West.

And here's the hour by hour forecast for Monday, which makes you want to head to a Duval bar early and settle in for a long drinking session!....20% rain every hour!!!

Doesn't look too good, right? So, how did it pan out, for real?

Actually, good! Phew!

20% rain here actually means: "20% chance of a small drizzle or dribble of rain, over very quickly."  Not a prolonged rain shower for hours (like back home!).

Here's what really happened this week:

Monday - From 9am to 11am it was lovely, strong sunshine, enough to make you feel a little bit burned. Yes, it was that hot. Here's what the sky looked like...
Then at 11am, it turned overcast-ish for an hour:
And yes it DID rain... but ... 2 drizzle showers for 3 minutes each.  It was so light I did not need to go in, and I stayed outside.   And that the rain for the whole day, the rest of the day fine with hot sunshine.

Tuesday - No rain at all.  Hot and sunny all day.  Some hazy cloud for a few hours in the morning but the sun came through it anyway.  Actually, despite the haze, less breeze meant it felt real hot.  Temp: 81. In only 3 hours in the morning sun and factor 15, we both got a little burned/red.

Wednesday - Today's forecast STILL predicting 20% rain, just like yesterday.  Morning was lovely, strong sun.  Then heavy cloud came over at 1pm for the rest of the afternoon.  No sunbathing this afternoon.  Cleared in the evening.  No rain.

Thursday - Maybe the most perfect day's weather I've ever had in Key West. Clear skies, 80 degrees, light wind - absolutely sublime!  So much for 20% chance of rain.  I saw 6 tiny clouds all day. Wonderful blue skies.  See here for a post on today's weather.

Friday - forecast said heavy cloud in morning and worse in afternoon.  What happened: moderate cloud in morning (enough to just about sunbathe).  Then, big surprise, turned fine from 1pm to 3.30pm.  Hot and lovely.  Then clouded over.  No rain.  

So, basically, a 20% chance of rain, in November to May anyway, usually means a few drops, or a single thundershower and it's over and back to lovely weather for the rest of the day.  So don't worry!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Mystery of the shiny purple lobster in Key West

I don't know what this is because there is no sign but it looks like a stack of lobster traps forming an arty sculpture.  It's in Key West Bight / harbor.

That is mystery number 1: what is it, and who did it?

When I passed and took this photo it was about 9.30 this morning.

And, looking carefully, I saw a shiny purple lobster at the top.

But when I walked back, 20 minutes later, it has GONE!!!

That's mystery number 2: where has the shiny purple lobster gone?

If you can answer either, or both, these mysteries, please leave comment below.  I'd love to know.

Updated January 2013: Mystery solved.  It was the early stages of construction of a Christmas Tree, slightly eccentric and Key West Bight style.

Here's a pic from January of it all finished and lit up.

Alexanders Key West Room 17 the Apartment

If you want to splash out on the biggest room at Alexander's Guesthouse in Key West then Room 17, otherwise known as the apartment, is the room for you. It's by far the biggest, best and at $410 per day, the most expensive. If it's still available and you can afford it, then it's definitely worth the indulgence.

It takes up the whole of the second (i.e. top) floor of the second building (i.e. not in the main house).  It feels very large. Here are the features:
  • Access by stairs up to main entrance. The stairs are only for the apartment, no one else will use them
  • Before main entrance first of 2 balconies, looks out onto hot tub. Gets the morning light. Recently surrounded by screen and made into lie down seating area.
  • In through main door to the main room on the left and the kitchen to the right.
  • Large main room with large tv.
  • Kitchen is fully fitted with fridge, microwave, full oven, sink. The kitchen comes fully stocked with plates, cutlery and all implements. You need to bring/buy your own food, of course!
  • Bedroom is large and looks out onto Fleming Street.
  • Off bedroom is large, modern, shower. The bathroom was extensively remodeled in the refurbishment.
  • Apartment refurbished in summer of 2013
This is one great room in one great gay guesthouse. If you're not familiar with Alexander's I have written another post on the guesthouse, what makes it special, and the other rooms. Find out the history of this 100 year old building, the ghost and why it's called Alexander's. Click here.

Here, I present you, is Alexanders Guest House, and its apartment (room 17) in its newly refurbished glory!.....

First the outside....
One building of Alexanders facing out on Fleming Street.  The apartment, room 17, is the top balcony/floor here.

Alexanders is a gay and lesbian guest house.  I estimate 95% of the gusts are gay (even split between gay men and lesbians), 5% are straight.  All are welcomed.
Alexanders entrance.
And now into the apartment. 

First, a video tour of the apartment.....

Excuse our mess!....

The stairs up to the apartment from the pool.
Alexander's apartment's number 1 balcony. This is the quiet balcony.
Refurbished kitchen and funky new work surface.

And to the (separate) bedroom with its new four poster bed....
The bed is bigger and firmer.  Excellent!

Hercules under the bed in the apartment.  A rescue cat, very cute and the boss around here!
And the 2nd balcony off the bedroom, facing onto Fleming Street....(Shame the hammock has gone!)

Then, we have the fab new bathroom....Double sink...

The 5 man shower in the apartment.  You really can fit 5 men in there at once.  All glass and mirrors too.  You can see your sunburn from lots of different angles!
In the shower.  It's complex technology this shower! - and more powerful than before.
The control panel.  There is no remote control. Note the microphone on the right hand side for shower karaoke.

Back outside on the quiet balcony.  I love the colors in this table.

So the new apartment is great.  Powerful, fantastic shower.  Firmer bed.

Any downsides?  It's expensive for a guest house room - this room does come at a heavy premium, but I guess you'd expect that bearing in mind the size of it.  Also if you are particularly noise or light sensitive you might have some issues.

This, always the best room, is now even better.

Other articles on this blog you might like:

Guide to Alexander's and it's other rooms

Key West hotels - guide to where to stay and why you should seriously consider a B&B/guesthouse when you stay in Key West

Things to do Key West - my personal recommendations

here's the apartment by night, it's a really bad video, but you might like to see it...