Day 1 - Travel day - Wednesday 27 October 2016
10.40 plane from Heathrow. Picked up the rental in MIA and hit the road at just before 5pm. Heavy traffic through Miami but ok once we got onto Highway 1 at about 6pm. Good traffic through the 128 mile drive through the Keys, sunset at 6.30 and arrive at guest house at 8.45 - so good run of almost 4 hours. Took 10 mis to a find a non resident parking space.
In Virgilio's, with Chocolate Raspberry Bomb in hand, at 8.35.
Dinner at Virgilio's, our server was Catherine, a fellow brit. Most of the old guys still at Viriglios which is great, except Erin has moved on.
Day 2 - Thursday
Overcast and light rain on getting up. Drove car to Publix to get booze for tomorrow then dropped it off at rental office and walked back into Old Town. Lunch inside at Hard Rock which was a great decision as within 10 mins of sitting down, torrential tropical rain for 15 minutes.
Then walked to Fairvilla (local large fancy dress store) to get final pieces for Masquerade March costume tomorrow. While in store, starts to rain really, really hard again.
Wait for it to stop and then walk to 801 bar for some drinks. When it's raining in Key West - drink, as I advise in this post. Weather was very dramatic today with wind and hard rain which I like (as long as it stops in the next few days and we have some blue skies!). But I think we made the most of it!
Evening. Tried to get into Virgilio's for quick martini but the place was busier than I have ever seen it. Said brief hi to a very busy Tiffany but then left. Went to a deserted Mangoes. More cocktails on the list than previous visits and a nice refurb - fab to people watch on Duval. Still would never eat here though!
Meal tonight is in best veggie in town: The Cafe on Southard Street. Good meal as always. I was going to choose butternut squash but other half said this was too healthy so chose more calorific shrimp stir fry (yes they don't do meat but they do seafood). Was nice but wish I had chosen butternut squash. This is one of the few Key West restaurants we visit twice per vacation, so will try this one next time.
Still jet lagged to home early. Big day tomorrow.
Day 3 - Friday 28 October - Masquerade March day
Morning walk was lovely. Still very overcast, windy, damp in the air and humid. Not ideal for the parade later.
My morning walk is combination of wonderful sea scenes with pelicans giving expert flying lesson in the strong wind, and then hilarious human scenes like this - the end of the night before's party - this at 9am.....Gotta love Key West, it's got it all!
Spent morning indulgently blogging. See my separate posts on Fantasy Fest live blog 2016 for more on this.
Late brunch to line the stomach (needed preparation for the boozy Masquerade March) at Pepe's. In the end, Pepe's was out because thy stop serving breakfast and move onto lunch menu at 12 noon. And we had craving for eggs so went to Harpoon Harry's.
Then we got dressed in our outfits for Masquerade March and from 5pm marched. Quite boozy, very fun. This is by far the best event of Fantasy Fest.
Day 4 - Saturday- Fantasy Fest main parade
Hungover. Key West getting very full for tonight's main parade down Duval Street. The busiest night of the year.
Breakfast = eggs in Pepe's - had to wait in line for 1 hour! Then met old friend for drinks in Mangoes, out to watch the parade which I always find is not at all one of the better events of FF.
Crowds (70,000 of 'em) too much so had early night after pizza in Onlywood just off Duval - good pizza, very attentive and good service. Really nice guys. There are so many poorly run places in Key West it's nice to find a business that's run really well.
Overcast morning and all day, but no rain today. I think it's only rained once in 27 years on the FF parade.
Day 5 - Sunday - "It's not over 'till the fat lady sings" Tea Dance at LaTeDa.
Sunday brunch always has to be at Blue Heaven (no reservations taken so we know will be a long wait). I had lobster benedict which was the best breakfast I've ever had in all the years I've been coming to Key West. Why have I not had this before? Classic.
Then back to the guest house when it promptly starts to rain. We get ready anyway because you can't miss a tea dance for rain! By far the busiest tea dance of the year, saw some old faces, danced to the disco. Great fun.
Went to Antonios for dinner. Same good food but poor service, this place is in long term slow decline.
Day 6 - Monday
Still a week to go of vacation. Back to normal now the crowds have cleared out of town.
Fantasy Fest 2016 is over so we see blue skies and this lovely yellow thing in the sky for the first time in 4 days. Yeah! Back to normal in many ways. From this day on, weather was PERFECT!
Went on my morning walk (just like William Hackley, Key West Citizen 2016 in joke) around the harbor. Always entertaining.
To see more amazing pictures of Key West's flowers and trees click here (goes to my blog).
By the pool. Very lazy day.
Virigilos for martini. Made mistake of having 2. Have decided to change the order of best martini places and make Viriglio's number 1.
Then Veggie Cafe for dinner. Met English lady that runs it. Good meal, as always.
Day 7 - Tuesday
Morning walk. Blue skies.
Coffee Plantation for coffee, then shopping on lower Duval including surf shop and Ron Jons.
Back for picnic lunch via Faustos and also Eaton Street seafood market for best lobster lunch roll. Fab!
Hot by the pool today, moderated by lovely strong wind.
Tonight Virgilio's for martini, met Ed the raconteur and ex-GM of the Copa nightclub. Hi Ed - it was great to meet you.
Then Cafe Sole for a wonderful dinner. Wow this place is good!
Day 8 - Wednesday
Lovely ideal sunny perfect day by the pool reading books and sweating in the lovely sun.
Day 9 - Thursday
Easy day by the pool.
Then pop into Sloppy Joe's for a beer to hear the live music (not very good today, usually excellent).
Then Virgilio's for martini, meet Ed there. Dinner at Trattoria - good quality as usual. I have steak.
Then I twist Mark's arm to goto the drag show at Aqua - Inga there and Faith and new performer I had not seen (Elle - very good). Shame to have missed the excellent Jessica. Brilliant as usual and funnier than usual too. We there until the end of the final show of the night.
Then quick one on the way home in Bourbon Street pub - and our fellow guests at the B&B are there so join them for several drinks, several chasers (creamy, cinnamon whisky - nice!) which guarantees morning hangover.
Day 10 - Friday
Was going to take seaplane to Dry Tortugas to go snorkelling like 2 years ago but the plane is full already so need to go snorkelling elsewhere. Go to Fort Zac beach after late lunch (lobster bennies) at Blue Heaven. There was 1 hour line but we went into the inside bar at the front and got seated immediately.
Day 11 - Saturday
Last morning walk. Last 1 hour in the sun on the top deck. Then shower, pack and off to Miami. No traffic on way back to Miami (between 12 and 3pm) but on way South into Keys very very busy.
Cheesecake Factory at Dadeland Mall on way to MIA and then home.
See you Key West next time!