Okay, even a guy who writes about mob guys needs a break once in a while. So me and the wife took a four-day vacation to Key West, Florida for a little R&R before I go back to mob-busting again.
The quandary you face when going to Key West is what to see and how to see it. There are scores of attractions to see and great food to eat at dozens of restaurants. And every hotel, and even the Key West Express boat we took to Key West from Fort Myers, is pushing a Trolley Tour Bus that goes for 29 bucks for maybe an hour, or so, tour of downtown Key West.
So we decided not to decide on anything until we actually took a cab to downtown Key West from our Comfort Inn Hotel. Our cab driver Richie from Brooklyn (who moonlights as an excellent drummer for several Key West bands) dropped us off at stop number 5 on the City View Trolley Tour. We stepped up to the information counter and was greeted by a cheerful young lad named Marty. We asked Marty a few questions, which he answered effortlessly, and then Marty told us about the City View Trolley Tour.
The City View Trolley Tour makes eight stops in all, each stop having its own great tourist must-sees in the area. And get this: you can get off the bus as many times time you want, get on as many times as you want, see the sights, and a bus stops every 15 minutes at all eight stops to pick you up again and continue on the tour. And if you want to take the tour again that day, no problem. Just get on the bus again at any of the eight stops. The City View Trolley Tour costs only $19 a person, and if you come back the following day, it’s only 9 bucks a person.
The best part of the tour is the constant banter and boundless information the cheerful and always humorous bus driver regales you with over the bus loud speakers, as he tools around downtown Key West. It seems that every street on Key West has its own story, and even the cemetery is filled with fun-stuff information. Like the one tombstone that says, “I told you I was sick.” And another tombstone, where a weary wife put on her philandering husband’s tombstone, “At least I know where you’re sleeping tonight.”
In the course of the two days we took riding the City View Trolley Tour, we must have seen everything two or three times, but never told in the same manner, by one of the tour buses dozen or so drivers. Of course tips are permitted, and believe me even a buck or two is greatly appreciated, and much deserved.
In addition, Marty gave us several discount tickets for various attractions, and bars and restaurants, including 2 for 1drink coupons (he gave us four) for the Conch Republic Seafood Company, which has the best sea food this side of heaven.
One place you must see in Key West is the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum ($12.50 per person). A nice lady gave us a grand tour of Hemingway’s house, and besides all the great tales of Ernie, you get to see 44 of Hemingway’s six-toed cats, which are all descendants of Hemingway’s original six-toed cats. (Actually, the genes for six toes are present in all the cats, but only about a half of them actually have six toes.)
Other grand tour must-sees are: Harry Truman’s Little White House, West Martello Tower, Southernmost Point (which is actually the Southernmost tip of the United States), all of Duval Street (which is like Key West’s Broadway), Clinton Square Market, Higgs Beach, Pat Croce’s Rum Barrell, Sloppy Joe’s Bar (Sloppy Joe Russell was Hemingway’s best friend in Key West), Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, and Fort Zachary Taylor State Park.
So remember this folks, if you plan on visiting Key West for the first time, or maybe you’ve been there before but wanted to see more of the attractions, stop at the City View Trolley Tour. The main office and stop number one is located at 105 Whitehead Street, right across the street from the Clinton Square Customs House. Or see Marty at stop number 5, where you can also buy tour tickets, Stop 5 is located one block from the Southernmost Point near the end of Duval Street (upper Duval Street.
As for me, I’m back home and have my head up the butts of the world’s worst mobsters again. But I’m looking forward to going back to Key West as soon as possible. And of course, I’ll take the City View Trolley Tour again. Maybe twice.
If Key West was good enough for Ernest Hemingway, it’s certainly good enough for little old me.
PS – Did I mention Al Capone visited Key West frequently when he had his winter home in Miami Beach? I wonder where he buried all the bodies.