Miami Beach 411
Like what you see? Let's talk about how
we can help your vacation --> Contact Us
Page 2 of 3 FirstFirst 123 LastLast
Results 21 to 40 of 59
  1. #21
    Member Maria de los Angeles's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    South Miami
    Posts
    9,256
    Likes Received
    194

    Default Re: Maria's Keys and Key West Adventure

    Quote Originally Posted by rk View Post
    Maria, great report. I have passed by many ofthose places you mention but never been inside, but next time I have something to look for. I think you missed your calling as a travel writer.
    LOL ... actually I used to be a travel writer. I got into it when I was working on my dissertation at the University of Miami and ended up going to Grenada on a press trip instead of an academic conference. That changed my life because even though my dissertation was going to be about the Caribbean and South Florida literary history/culture, I found myself not wanting to get a PhD just to let that knowledge collect dust on a bookshelf. Traveling as a journalist instead of an academic really opened my eyes and I knew then the audience I wanted to reach was much wider because that is the audience that needed to know things no one was talking about. Most people didn't even realize there was such a thing as Caribbean literature, never mind that Derek Walcott from St. Lucia won a Nobel Prize for his poetry. In any case, there were more opportunities to learn about the Caribbean and South Florida as a travel writer.

    I worked as an editor and contributor to Honeymoon Romantic Travel Magazine and also was a research editor for Adventure Journal. During that time, I traveled exclusively to the Caribbean and also contributed to Caribbean Travel and Life. Since then, I have written travel pieces for various and sundry print and web publications, including ghost writing for destination wedding books and upscale hotel guides. I also write local travel pieces here in Miami Beach 411, as you already know. And most recently, I did a feature story on South Beach for a Dutch travel print magazine.

    I am opening up Sex and the Beach to travel now, and this was one of many first press trips I'll be going on. This was an individual press trip so that's why I had the pleasure of traveling on my own, but more often than not, you travel with other writers. As soon as I get my passport renewed, I'll be flying off to any place in the world that has a beach and caters to romantic travel.

    For more years than I care to remember, I have always wanted to have my own travel magazine. As life would have it, six years of blogging is bringing me back to my original passion. There is nothing I love more than learning about new places, talking to locals and expressing that in way that is meaningful and enjoyable to others.

    So that's the story ... :-)

  2. #22
    Member Maria de los Angeles's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    South Miami
    Posts
    9,256
    Likes Received
    194

    Default Day 2 and 3

    Thanks everyone for all your input and tips! I'm so glad we have a thread about the Keys. I feel like there's so much to explore there that four days is not nearly enough.

    On Saturday morning, I had a great breakfast at the Hyatt's SHOR restaurant. It was a classic Eggs Benedict, but it was done just right.

    Afterward, I had a massage at the resort's JALA spa. Jala is sanskrit for water and they're trying to capture the essence of the Keys being surrounded by water in their branding. This isn't a spa with a lobby, but rather two treatment rooms that you book in advance with the concierge. I got the couple's massage room, which was decorated in soothing tones of light blues and wood finishes. To start, my massage therapist gave me a foot bath and then followed up with a thorough one-hour body massage. I then had a 10 minute steam shower. Needless to say, I was utterly relaxed after the treatment.

    Now the rest of my day had a bit of a glitch, which I won't bore you with too muchhere. It had to do with locating my VIP press pass at the front desk for comp admission to attractions. Also I was waiting for them to put me in a waterfront suite, which was well worth the wait. The room was facing the gulf directly, just above it on the first floor, but high enough so that you could be on your king-sized bed with the curtains open and have complete privacy. People say they want rooms with a view, but when writing about romantic travel, "sex with a view" is nice too.

    Anyway, the bottom line is that I didn't get out until later that afternoon, at which point I decided to walk to the Key West Butterfly and Nature Conservatory at the south end of Duval. That's about a 1.5 mile walk and by the time I got there, it was too late to get a ticket.

    Key West fine dining with a view |Louie's Backyard

    So I walked further east for some refreshment at Louie's Backyard, which is a gorgeous restaurant with a waterfront deck bar. Captain Roger had told me this was one of the most romantic spots on the island to have a drink.

    And indeed it was! There's no loud music here and it's a great place to watch the sunset. My server was so friendly ... I cannot tell you how friendly the staff was ALL OVER Key West, at least where I went to. So many people have been working at a bar or restaurant for ten years or more. And I cannot tell you how many times I heard the story "I came here on vacation and never left ... " But I'll discuss that some other time.

    I definitely want to check out Louie's Backyard for dinner next time I return.

    Name:  mojito_louies.jpg
Views: 1378
Size:  8.3 KB

    Florida Keys Restaurants- Hyatt- Key West FL Restaurant

    So, back to the hotel. Another walk, but I soaked in the energy of Duval and Simonton streets. Later that night, I had dinner at the SHOR restaurant, enjoying a peaceful sunset as a great alternative to the crowd at Mallory Square. On the plate was that night's special -- pan roasted mutton snapper on top of a spicy tomato mango sauce, served with a crab cake on top of some polenta and some perfectly roasted baby carrots and squash. Mutton snapper happens to be one of my favorite fish and this one was perfectly cooked, crispy on the outside and tender, flaky on the inside. The crab cake was one of the best I've ever had -- seasoned just right, chock full of meat and not too heavy on the bread crumbs.

    Better Than Sex*|*A Dessert Restaurant

    After dinner, I walked to Better Than Sex, a dessert and wine bar just off Duval in the Little Bahama neighborhood. This place was AMAZING! Even if you're not into sweets, you have got to try this. The place is dark, cozy and very popular. I tried (and when I say tried, I mean that literally ... even I can't eat that much) the Grilled Cheese which was an award-winning plate of brie, dark chocolate and sweet butter bread sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with a strawberry prosecco soup. For a drink, I had the sweet chilled white moscato wine with the glass dipped in caramel. Yes, you heard that right. If you don't lick that caramel off the glass, you don't have a pulse!

    World Famous 801 Bourbon Bar

    Stuffed to the gills, I wandered out back to Duval, where I happened upon 801 Bourbon. There was a drag queen show for $10 upstairs so I decided to check it out. It was so campy, OMG. My favorite was the host "Gassy Winds" who dressed up in the most outrageous costumes, not really trying to look like a woman. He was hilarious.

    The next day, I had breakfast again at SHOR. Determined to see at least two attractions, I set out on Duval Street on my way to the Butterfly and Nature Conservatory.

    key West Jewelry, Key West Jewelers, Key West Love Bracelet, Key West bracelet, buy bracelet online

    On my way there, I got distracted. Mainly, I wanted to find something original that I could write about as a Key West souvenir to buy. Good lord, there are so many schlocky touristy shops on Duval Street, so you really have to hone in on the finer shops and art galleries. First, a little storefront called Key West Charms, where they sell the "original" Key West bracelet, which is sterling silver or 14k or a combination of both. It turns out the jewelry designer is a Greek transplant who hand casts and makes all the jewelry in a shop just down the street. I met him in person and he let me look inside his workshop.

    Name:  loukas_jewelry.jpg
Views: 1077
Size:  14.3 KB

    Mel Fisher's Treasures

    I also stopped at the Mel Fisher Jewelry store, where I learned about the fascinating history of all the pieces there -- talk about romance of the high seas -- the cross you see was meant to be a dowry item for a Spanish princess. (This one is a limited edition reproduction and sells for nearly $10K ... the original is at the Mel Fisher Museum.)

    Name:  mel_fisher.jpg
Views: 2366
Size:  23.4 KB


    The Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory

    I finally made it to the conservatory but boy was it sweltering hot. The conservatory is absolutely beautiful -- an oasis of tranquility with butterflies and birds. Definitely worth a visit. Here is a live stream video. It's choppy at first.



    Speakeasy Inn- Key West, Florida

    On the way back, I realize I didn't have much time to walk to the Mel Fisher Museum and spend quality time there, because I had to check out by 3 and it was already 1:30. So I stopped at a place called the Rum Bar at The Speakeasy Inn to check it out and order a dark and stormy "to go" ... (I love that about Key West.) As it turns out, I didn't "go" right away I had the most wonderful time talked to the bartender and another local where I was regaled with all kinds of local gossip. It's these kind of random encounters that make traveling so worthwhile. Anyway, there are over 200 rums available here.

    Name:  bob_root_juice.jpg
Views: 2942
Size:  17.9 KB

    The Rum Barrel restaurant and bar in Key West, FL serves great grub and grog and houses the largest rum collection in the world! Drink like a pirate at the Rum Barrel!

    Not to end my rum research I then stopped at the Rum Barrel, across the street from my hotel, to check out their list. About 150 or so I was told ... (Please not the URL title above ... *NOT* the largest collection in the world, apparently LOL)

    Pierre's Restaurant: Pierre's Homepage

    I now had to leave Key West and head up to Islamorada for dinner at Pierre's, which is quite possibly the most romantic waterfront restaurant in Southeast Florida, as far as I'm concerned. The tempura lobster tail with soy glaze, wasabi creme fraiche, served on a "hash" of heart of palm, onion, red and yellow bell pepper, is off the charts. So was the lamb ravioli, too. This place is gorgeous with its colonial style architecture and Indonesian wooden touches. There's a lounge on the first floor, where sandalwood incense burns. If anyone wants to have an ultra romantic dinner date, this place is well worth the drive for a sunset dinner.

    Name:  lobster_tempura.jpg
Views: 1166
Size:  15.9 KB

    So that's my trip folks. I hope you enjoyed following me. There will be more about this trip over at Sex and the Beach. And please continue chatting about the Keys here ... we can all learn so much from each other's adventures and tried-and-true tips.

  3. #23
    Member Maria de los Angeles's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    South Miami
    Posts
    9,256
    Likes Received
    194

    Default Re: Maria's Keys and Key West Adventure

    Quote Originally Posted by Under the Sun View Post
    Back in January, we did divert onto Duck Key to check out the neighborhoods. Is it fair to say housing doesn't get better than that on the Keys ?

    Let us know if you come across any irresistable coconut shrimp in KW.
    UTS, sorry I missed this. Duck Key seems like paradise indeed ... so secluded, private and quiet!

    I didn't have any coconut shrimp ... but man everything else was wonderful.

  4. #24
    Member Maria de los Angeles's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    South Miami
    Posts
    9,256
    Likes Received
    194

    Default

    Swaps, wow ... it was that bad? Not one room in all of Key West? Thanks for sharing.

    I found I enjoyed the southern part of Duval a little more, but the area just around the Hyatt was just fine, with Mallory Square nearby as well as the Rum Barrel and the historic seaport walk all spitting distance from the property. There are also lots of little restaurants on quiet side streets.

  5. #25
    Senior Member GandJ's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    mid-Atlantic
    Posts
    1,945
    Likes Received
    203

    Default

    <<...Ten years ago, you could shoot a rocket down Duval St., and not hit anybody "....>>


    It might be the time of year. I remember it being just as packed in 1997 and 2001 as it was last year.

    Glenn

  6. #26
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Miami
    Posts
    645
    Likes Received
    0

    Default Re: Maria's Keys and Key West Adventure

    Hey Maria! It has been awhile. Life's been ridiculously busy!

    For anyone looking for a hand-made souvenir from Key West, you can also stop by the Keyno factory. It's tucked behind Duval street, very close to Mallory Square, in the Keyno plaza. Keynos are handmade sandals, made of leather and are about $13. But be aware that when you go in, you will have to wait in line!

    Also, in regards to bikes/scooters, I believe they do get stolen with some frequency, but most places who rent either will rent them with locks. Additionally, as Jess said, the police will ticket you for riding the wrong way down one-way streets, not stopping at stop signs/red lights and I believe you need to have a light for the night-time, though I'm not sure about that. This isn't just to make money. Bike and Scooter accidents are prevalent around Key West, and sends many to the hospital.

    Not to dissuade anyone from exploring that course, just be aware of the rules on the road :-)

  7. #27
    Moderator
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    South Beach
    Posts
    10,353
    Likes Received
    698

    Default

    Maria, what an amazing review of the island I hope to live on one day. I truly enjoyed it. I am going to also try and get one of the bracelets you mentioned, the key with West written on it is pretty unique, and you say they are all hand made? Wow.
    Better than Sex has my name on it too...

  8. #28
    rk
    rk is offline
    Senior Member rk's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    2,781
    Likes Received
    258

    Default

    Maria, fascinating reading about your travel background, and the Keys report isn't bad either Looking forward to more vicarious travel once you get your passport renewed. We are very lucky to have you as a contributor on the site. Hoping your energy and optimism are contagious so we can catch some of it. Thanks again!

    sungal, thanks for explaining about the handbag and the link. It's a world I know very little about.

  9. #29
    Full Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Europe
    Posts
    96
    Likes Received
    0

    Default

    Oh, I'm totally in love with Key West! Can't wait to visit the Keys again.... Maria, I really envy you, getting to travel to such gorgeous places as part of your job

  10. #30
    Member Maria de los Angeles's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    South Miami
    Posts
    9,256
    Likes Received
    194

    Default Not that I want you to fall in love with Key West or anything ...

    Name:  4909442870_fa33d046a2.jpg
Views: 2185
Size:  93.2 KB

    Sipped at the "afterdeck" behind Louie's Backyard on 700 Waddell Avenue. A rustic waterfront spot (the restaurant itself is elegant and gorgeous). It doesn't get better than this, does it?

    http://www.louiesbackyard.com/

  11. #31
    Full Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Europe
    Posts
    96
    Likes Received
    0

    Default

    Hmmmmm..... MOJITOOOOO......

  12. #32
    Member Maria de los Angeles's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    South Miami
    Posts
    9,256
    Likes Received
    194

    Default Traveling Solo in the Keys

    Here's the first of two or three more stories on the Keys: sex and the beach: Travel: Going Solo

    I think traveling solo is great ... and the Keys is a good place to do it!

  13. #33
    Senior Member Doug's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA
    Posts
    6,900
    Likes Received
    374

    Default

    i agree, Maria! The Keys is great for a solo trip!

  14. #34
    Full Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Europe
    Posts
    96
    Likes Received
    0

    Default

    Good to know that you don't get the weird looks if you travel by yourself I don't mind traveling solo either, though I prefer a fun trip with friends. But sometimes it's great to be just by yourself, isn't it?

  15. #35
    Member Maria de los Angeles's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    South Miami
    Posts
    9,256
    Likes Received
    194

    Default

    It is great! When I was younger, getting weird looks bothered me but then I realized it was me labeling it as weird. Nowadays, I don't give a sh... ;-). Life is short, we need to enjoy it. I also don't mind doing things on my own locally, either.

  16. #36
    Moderator
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    South Beach
    Posts
    10,353
    Likes Received
    698

    Default

    I just wrote in another thread how much I enjoy doing things on my own. You only have myself to please, you can do things when you want...last time I went to Key West I chose to go alone, to the great concern of a few of my friends. I had a fabulous weekend and did everything I wanted to do

  17. #37
    Full Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Europe
    Posts
    96
    Likes Received
    0

    Default

    You are right, I also enjoy doing things on my own when in the mood. Then other times I just can't stand being alone. Good thing is that I always have Lizy (my dog) with me, she listens, no matter how much bulls.. I say

  18. #38
    Member Maria de los Angeles's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    South Miami
    Posts
    9,256
    Likes Received
    194

    Default

    Thanks for your input, Jess! Did you spend the night in Key West or just do the one day tour? What did you visit while you were there?

  19. #39
    Moderator
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    South Beach
    Posts
    10,353
    Likes Received
    698

    Default

    I actually went overnight as I am so in love with KW I wanted to spend the weekend there. I rented a bike and rode round the entire island (4 x 6 miles!). I want to live there one day, so I like to go and pretend I am a local for the weekend.

    I also did touristy things though, like the aquarium, Mallory Sq sunset, lots of shopping, and I also went to the Little White House as I really enjoy that section of KW.

    It's amazing how much you can pack in to a weekend if you don't have to go with anyone else!

  20. #40
    Member sungal's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    3,744
    Likes Received
    1

    Default Re: Maria's Keys and Key West Adventure

    Quote Originally Posted by Jess View Post
    I also did touristy things though, like the aquarium, Mallory Sq sunset, lots of shopping, and I also went to the Little White House as I really enjoy that section of KW.
    What's the Little White House?

Page 2 of 3 FirstFirst 123 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •