Take your Picture?
Word to the wise: Taking photos for tourists is a local moneymaking scheme, so the "helpful" people who offer their photography services will most likely expect a tip. A better bet - ask one of the tourists behind you to take your photo, then offer to reciprocate!Related to:
Paradise Lost -- Most perverse city in Florida
As laid back and friendly as Key West can be, this island of beauty can also be a dangerous temptress. Historically, Key West has attracted people living on the fringes; eccentric authors and artists, societal drop-outs, outlaws, salty characters, and homosexuals have sought asylum here from mainstream society. “Conchs” (as the locals call themselves), are generally warm and welcoming to all visitors but some have staunchly defended their “live and let live” mantra to a fault. Rather than just accepting people, they seem to encourage and celebrate their transgressions, often in over-the top fashion. For instance, sexuality -- of both a homosexual and heterosexual nature – is marketed to excess here, particularly along popular Duval Street, where even the average gift shop sells specially-shaped phallic pasta and raunchy T’s are featured in the window displays. Porn shops and strip clubs are also readily visible here. Drag queens cross-dressed to the hilt wander the street soliciting business for their clubs. One local “gay” hotel (noted by the male and female surfing couples on their sign) even has a dock and pool deck crawling with nude recreationists located almost in spitting distance of the wide-eyed children who can sometimes be seen staring in amazement from a neighboring hotel’s dock. And at night, while many tourists participate in the mindless inebriation ritual known as the “Duval Crawl,” some people choose to hit the town wearing as little as a leather fetish outfit or body paint.
I know all this because I was between the ages of 17 and 20 when my family used to regularly vacation in the Keys. While I was more of a “goody-two shoes” than most people my age (thank God), I certainly learned how encouraged voyeurism can easily desensitize callow college minds in such a permissive atmosphere. The temptation to look when one shouldn’t is terribly powerful – particularly when there is very little preventing that possibility. That’s why I say that while the other Florida Keys, like Key Largo, Islamorada, and Marathon, have the requisite natural attractions minus the smut factor to foster many great family vacations, Key West itself is best left off the family travel itinerary. It is an island all its own in more ways than one.
Take a GOOD map
The Free maps they hand out in Key West are misleading, incomplete and not to scale. While the streets may be mostly on a grid, it is not a square grid. Some streets end abruptly on one way streets not going in the direction you are wanting to go with no easy way of going around the block.
It is expensive to buy maps there if you can even find them.
Buy or order a good road map online before you travel.
There are very, very few signs pointing the way to attractions in Key West. You either need a good map, nav system or good directions if you don't want to spend a great deal of time driving in circles.
key west all in all is a very safe town for tourists but with all tourist towns in florida you should take certain precautions. watch your valuables and beware of pickpockets. on duval street on weekends and during festivals you will encounter obnoxious drunks. at night stay in the well lighted tourist areas because there is a possibilty of being mugged on dark side streets. violent crime is rare in key west but there is a lot of property crime. pictured is a laundromat on fleming street. a number of years ago i was washing clothes here and left the place to get a beer while my clothes were washing. i returned later to find that some bum had stolen my laundry.Related to:
- Historical Travel
Dangerous side streets after dark
Like most popular destinations, Key West can be pretty shady at night. If you stay in the Duval/Mallory Square area you shouldn't encounter many problems since it's busy, well-lit and police patrol around. However, if you're wandering around at night off Duval it's a different story. If you're in a group, I wouldn't worry but I wouldn't advise a single female to wander around and families with kids might want to avoid it as well.Related to:
- Women's Travel
- Family Travel
Time Share Tours, Beware
Time Share Tours, my wife and I wasted a morning touring one of these places. We were promised, 7 nights at one of the condos or at one of the hotels (Sheraton the guy told me) if we took this stupid high pressure tour. When we applied for the 7 nights we were told send in $19.00 for each person for processing. They then called us to tell us that it would cost $500.00 additional for a place up in Marathon. Trying to get my $266.00 back, don't get trapped like we did!
The airport. NOBODY HOME most of the time
You know the old joke about being in a little town where they roll up the sidewalks at night? Well the Key West International Airport is like that. The only times that there are any activities are when the few planes come and go. Otherwise, counters, cafes, rental car places and everywhere is abandoned.
We had switched flights to accomodate an overbooking...thereby earning ourselves $250 vouchers apiece. But, we ran into a little problem with our luggage getting in. At one point, in desperation, I found an employee at a National Rental Counter and asked her WHEN the American Airlines desk would open. She said "God only knows, but there are a couple of guys working here now. They're probably hanging out in the back and playing cards. Go bang on the door to the luggage area." No kidding, that's what she said.
So, doing something that might get me shot at another airport, I went behind the ticket counter and climbed onto the luggage belt. I beat on the door and yelled "anyone there". They finally answered and managed to find my suitcases. I was happy and they went back to their poker game. Such is life in Key West, and especially at the airport.
Non-swimsuit types in swimsuits
If you've watched any Travel Channel videos on Florida and the Keys, you'd probably assume that everyone running around has a terrific tan, a great bod and THE perfect swimsuit. And you'd be dead wrong.
Sometimes, it's hard not to gasp or even laugh at some of the swimsuit + people combinations you'll see walking Duval Street. That in itself is a good warning tip...laugh at some biker's old lady and you may visit the Key West Cemetary sooner rather than later. :^/
Now, mind you I am the last person to criticize people with less than terrific bodies. But in my defense, you wouldn't find me walking around in a thong in public either. I suspect that some of these people either don't own a mirror, or perhaps they started drinking at sunrise.
A side note about this lady's outfit...my beer of choice these days is Corona. But, I have to admit that I thought about making a switch after seeing "Corona" plastered on this lovely's backside. Sends shivers down me spine, matey.
Another tip to keep an open mind
Some places in Key West hype up public nudity (inside their establishments, of course). Some of these places include topless beaches (hotel guests only) and clothing-optional restaurants and bars. If you are offended by public nudity (as I am), you may want to check out the bars and restaurants you choose fully before committing to them.
Robert the Doll
Outside the East Martello tower entrance was a goofy looking larger than life sized sailor cutout. I took a picture. Later when I got into the museum, there was a large doll in a sailor suit. Oh -- that's what the cutout was - it was meant to be a representation of this doll. I read the story of the doll (second picture). Also exhibited were postcards and letters (some addressed to Robert himself) which spoke of the difficulties which have followed people who have tried to photograph Robert.
From the Original Ghost Tales of Key West I read One of Robert's favorite activites is to prevent his photo from being taken. Visitors have reported a variety of camera malfunctions and Robert's favorite trick is to black out his own photo, while leaving the remaining film unharmed
I sneaked a photo of Robert in his case (third picture) rather than make him angry by taking his picture directly. When I look Robert up on the internet, I find two pictures used over and over again by most of the websites, so someone must have successfully taken Robert's picture.
Scott Johnson for the Horror Channel calls Robert 'the original Chucky' and writes:
Though Robert is available to take visitors year-round, the best time to introduce yourself, a practice recommended and followed by the museum staff, is during the month of October. During that one month, Robert is taken from the Martello Museum and housed in the Historic Custom House a few blocks down. It is during this time of year that he is said to be most active, and the employees always leave a bag of peppermints in his case with him in an attempt to cajole him into behaving. They swear there are always fewer candies the next morning.
Until next time . . .Related to:
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
- Historical Travel
Beware of hurricane season!
Although Key West offers nice weather year-round, it can change quickly during hurricane season, May-November. It's not easy to get out since there is only a two-lane road through the keys. If you decide to visit Key West during hurricane season, check weather warnings frequently and get out quickly if necessary.Related to:
- Road Trip
Doesn't this look like fun? If...
Doesn't this look like fun? If you are a sailboarder, the danger is that there's no place to rent equipment such as this in Key West...this is my own stuff. Okay, I guess that's not really dangerous, but disappointing if you want to sail.
WARNING///WARNING...what you see in this picture may very well be the most insidious trap in the world. Its called a SAILBOAT!!Just the SIGHT of them causes some males of the species to buy them...or WORSE...quit their jobs and do something weird like sail around the world!! I once was stricken with this malady so severely I owned TWO!!!If the person you are with should fall prey to this unfortunate phenomenon..EMAIL CAPTAIN AMERICA AT ONCE!! (Ill need to know when hes shoving off and IF he needs a crew..;-)(bada-boom!)
Mallory Square Sunset...
Mallory Square Sunset Celebration
Located on the historic waterfront between Whitehead and Duval Streets.
Exciting attractions and the famous Key West Sunset Celebration, Old Town Trolley Tours go see the Best of Key West on ninety-minute tour.
Free re-boarding, get off at any 14 convenient stops
to shop, dine or sightsee and then re-board.
Key West Hotels
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