I thought I would dabble in writing about some of my little travel adventures. I did an entire post about tips for traveling if you have IBD, but this will be a new category about actual trips I’ve taken, and occasionally I’ll have my own little Crohn’s spin on it.
Over the Memorial Day Weekend we ventured off to Key West. I live in Miami and Key West is about a 4 hour drive. I used to go to the Keys when I was a kid all the time. Before this trip, the last time I was there was on a high school trip when I was 16. The drive is not fun, there is only one road and sometimes the speed limit is 30 MPH. If there is an accident, there is no alternate route. I have a beach minutes from where I live, so a drive to Disney has always been more appealing.
However, Go Busses opened a new route from Miami to Key West and had a special deal of $9 one way. My boyfriend and I decided what the hell, lets do it. Spending $36 round trip for the both of us was cheaper than gas one way . Also, not having to worry about doing the driving was a big plus.
To my South Florida friends, or friends who are venturing to Miami and are also looking to hit up Key West, I highly recommend making the trip with Go Busses. We were on the double decker coach bus, we had the front seats on the second floor, which came with an awesome view of the trip. They give you water, power outlets so you can charge your phones/tablets, there is wifi, but I didn’t really use it. There is also a bathroom which is a plus for many of you, including myself.
We made it to Key West at about 11:00 a.m., perfect time to drop our bags off at our adorable Bed and Breakfast, The Grand Guesthouse. Our room was ready for us, even though it was before check-in time. I grew up in the Hospitality Industry, so I’m well aware of the general check-in guidelines. If our room wasn’t ready we would have left our bags and come back later. We weren’t there to just hang in our hotel room.
After check-in we rented bikes from the hotel and biked our way to meet some friends for lunch. It was interesting trying to GPS on my phone while riding a bike, but I made it work. We found our friends at a brewery and enjoyed some drinks before heading to find some food.
I forgot to mention that Uber/Lyft is not available in Key West. Key West is pretty small, but when it’s hot as hell and you have your luggage with you, sometimes you need a quick ride. I tried to flag down a cab and was told he was already dispatched and had to pick up the person who called him. I then called and after a few minutes flagged down another cab, who told me you can’t flag down a cab if you called for one. So annoying, but all the cab drivers were super friendly and always giving us tips on what to do. I don’t know how they’ve kept Uber/Lyft out of Key West and I probably don’t want to know.
We decided to eat at The Gas Monkey on Duval Street. It had food and A/C and it was brutal outside. It was your typical local Key West bar. After my not so nutritional lunch and a strawberry daiquiri, it was time to hop back on our bikes and head to the Hemingway Home & Museum.
If you combine the greasy sandwich, daiquiri, lack of water, record breaking heat, early start to the day, Crohn’s Disease I’m sure, and a bike ride you are asking for trouble, which is what I got. I was leading the way to the Hemingway Home & Museum and felt really tired all of a sudden. I thought maybe it was because my body just isn’t used to this much physical activity and it’s only a few blocks I can endure it, right? Wrong.
I stopped at Mile Marker 0 (Good photo opt) to take a sip of water and catch my breath. Then all of a sudden I felt like I wanted to go to sleep, I could barely lift my arm to drink from the bottle and I wanted to throw up. I abandoned my bike on the side of the road and my friends helped me find spot in the shade to sit down. I immediately sat on the floor, my legs couldn’t even support me sitting on a ledge, I had to have my butt on the ground. Kevin was right by my side telling me to take deep breaths and counting with me. My friends ran into the bar (It’s Key West, you’re always right by a bar) to get some ice which was a life saver. Kevin put some on my head and I sipped ice water. I had this weird metallic taste in my mouth. It was very scary. Now, I’ve grown up in Miami and I am used to the heat, but this had never happened to me.
We didn’t rush, we just stayed there. After about 15 minutes I slowly got back up and went inside to use the bathroom. Kevin didn’t let go of my hand as he walked me through the restaurant. He kept a watchful eye on me. After my scary episode we walked the remaining block to the Hemingway Home and Museum to do some sightseeing. Even though I’m not a big Hemingway fan, I love that house. I love history and cats, so this place is perfect for me. The cats are so chill and are used to all the tourists taking their pictures and petting them. Be warned, you can only purchase tickets with cash, they do not accept credit cards, even in the gift shop.
After the Hemingway Home and Museum we had some down time before our evening plans. Our hotel was about a ten minute walk away and since I was recovering from Heat Exhaustion we just walked slowly along shady streets. No actual bike riding (we had to get the bikes back to the hotel otherwise we would have just grabbed a cab), but I made it. I took a nice cold shower and laid down for an hour and felt a million times better. I was nice and refreshed and ready for our evening.
My friend Liz scheduled our evening activities, she’s a big fan of Key West and knows some of the best spots so I trusted her judgement. We had dessert at Better Than Sex, which is an experience in itself. I’m not a big chocolate person (unless you are talking about white chocolate), but I still enjoy a good dessert. It was great and reasonably priced. For our party of six, we spent about $15/person.
I was laying off alcohol, one I’m not a big drinker, two, after my little episode I wasn’t taking any chances. I had one of their virgin drinks, the Goo Goo. Which is ginger ale in a champagne glass with caramel around the rim. Interesting combo that I wasn’t sure about, but loved. A little messy, but when in Rome, or Better Than Sex, go all out.
After Better Than Sex we headed to the marina because we booked a private Star Gazing Night Time Sail. It was $300 for an hour and up to six people. They provide a cooler, ice, water, soft drinks, and cups. You can bring your own alcohol. We brought champagne to add a little something to the evening.
The night time sail was perfect after suffering in the Florida sun all day. The water was calm and there was a nice cool breeze. Once we sailed further away from the coast and lights of Key West were able to really see the stars. I don’t have many pictures because it’s not something you can really capture and we were living in the moment.
On the way back, our sail boat got stuck thanks to low-tide. Now, the water was about one foot deep, we could see the coast in the distance, we still had plenty of beverages, and most importantly we all had service on our cell phones. We weren’t exactly reaching for the flares. It took about an hour, but our captain got us moving, right before the Sea Tow showed up. In the end we got an extra hour out of our star gazing sail, no complaints here.
The next day we slept in a little, we were exhausted from the day before. The Grand Guesthouse has a free continental breakfast every morning. Your basics, which is all I need. I’m usually not that hungry so early. I had a bagel and a hard boiled egg. I wanted to make sure I ate a little better and drank plenty of water. We biked back downtown and met up with our friends again.
More walking around and exploring and even a visit to the Key West Aquarium. It’s been around forever, a little small, but if you have the time it’s worth a visit. We walked around a bit more before deciding to head indoors to have lunch, Cuban food this time. We stumbled on the same Cuban restaurant that I went to when I was in Key West with high school back in 2002. It looked exactly the same. Also, it was nice, dark, and cool, just what we were looking for. It wasn’t packed so we were able to have a leisurely lunch and take our time. I think we were there for three hours.
After lunch our friends headed back to Miami in their car and Kevin and I took the World Famous Conch Tour Train around the island. We got the full tour, even though we had already seen some of the sights, but also heard a little bit more about the history of Key West. There are a few stops after the tour and you can get off and on all day, however it stops running at 4:30 p.m.
We ended our trip by biking back to our hotel to check out. We had some time so we enjoyed the The Grand Guest House Happy Hour and just relaxed in the common area before heading back to catch our bus home.
Now that I know about Go Bus, I can’t wait to go back, probably after Summer when it is a little cooler, and when I go back I’ll make sure to hydrate better. I would love to have more time to bike around the island, it’s the best way to see Key West.
Key West is great and for all my Crohnies if you are walking around and looking for a bathroom just go to any bar and walk towards the back, that’s what I always do. There’s a bar on every corner just about. If you happen to be on a cruise and have a stop in Key West, make sure you get off to walk around, get some Key Lime Pie, have a drink and see some of the sights. It’s definitely worth a visit.