Sunday, February 23, 2014

Hemingway House Museum

One of the six toed cats at the Hemingway House
Oh the cats. That's the first thing you'll notice. There are a lot of them at the Hemingway House, somewhere between forty and fifty. But these aren't just any old cats. They're polydactyl cats, which means, they can have extra toes on each foot. Four to Seven additional digits is common.

The first was Snowball. A gift to Hemingway, from a friend, who was a sea captain. According to legend, if you're a sailor, it's good luck to have a six toed cat on your ship. Today, not all of the feline residence have extra toes, but each carries the gene that causes the mutation.

The Hemingway House and Museum is open daily from 9-5 and is one block off Duval and Olivia at 907 Whitehead Street. Admission is $13 for adults and $6 for children. Group rates of 12 or more are available, call to check on rates: 305-294-1136. Set aside at least 90 minutes for your visit.

If you drive past, watch out for pedestrians. Getting that perfect shot of the entrance, often requires stepping out into traffic. Add in jaywalkers and a few bikes and scooters and navigation can be tricky.

Once you're safely inside the brick walled estate, go directly to the front porch and check to see when the next 30 minute guided tour is scheduled. If one has already started, wait. Go check out the gardens, and come back for the next tour. The well trained guides will regale you with stories and insight into a man many consider to be one of the world's greatest writers.  It's definitely worth a short wait.

Howard Hughes, a 7 toed cat. 
Highlights, on your tour, will include Pauline's pool and Papa's revenge, the cat cemetery out back, and Hemingway's typewriter in his office over the carriage house. There's oh so much more, but I don't want to spoil it for you.

There is a small gift shop, in the carriage house, where you can buy Hemingway's novels, poems, short stories and biographies. They carry a nice variety of souvenirs too.

The grounds are beautiful, so take a few minutes to wander. If you're looking for an unusual wedding spot, you can get married here. You can even get a Hemingway look-a-like to perform the ceremony.

Bar Reviews

Are you wondering about a specific place? Here's a guide to our bar reviews. Only eighteen so far. We need to get drinking. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Bobby Shop

Sometime in the next couple of weeks, I need to head over to the Bobby Shop and sit in the chair for Liz. She's a wiz with color and my strands are looking pretty drained.

The big question is, of course...




I probably won't be able to decide till I'm in the chair. If you find yourself in need of a cut or color, the shop is just off the corner of Whitehead and Southard. They're cash only, but there's a small grocery next door with an ATM.

I'd recommend calling the shop before you head over. There's a slim chance that you'll find Bobby, Scott, or one of the other stylists hanging at the table out front, playing cards and waiting for a customer, but don't count on it.

When you make your appointment, it doesn't matter who you get. I have yet to see a bad cut come out of this place.

You can reach the shop at 305-292-6999

Now, I have to get back to deciding. Pink....or.... purple.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

New-to-Me Small Crawl January 2014

Hey Gang, long time no talk.  Mark here.
With the new year upon us, it seemed mandatory to tackle some new bars.  Besides, Melissa had fallen way behind with posts so it was a good excuse to bike into town for some drinks.

Our first stop was Seadog Tavern. It's a long, slender strip of a bar that rose from the old back bar of Cowboy Bill's.  It's just a half block west of Duval on Angela Street. We were pretty early so we were also the first customers of the day. 

They have a nice variety of beers I hadn't tried and Deena, the bartender, let us sample them.  I chose a Funky Buddha (how could you resist the name) from a brewery named Floridian and Melissa ordered a UFO.  They also have daily food specials so I went with the Beer and Hot Dog for $5.  Melissa couldn't pass up the tacos.  I don't have a full list of their food specials but I remember that one was $.39 wings all day. I think that was on Thursdays. Both Melissa and I were real pleased and we will definitely stop back. 

Our next stop was just a half block away and back on Duval Street - Mangoes.
It was a very cool day so the heaters over their bar were really welcome. The bartender that day was Dan and he claimed his Mojito was the best in the island.
That's a gutsy claim to make to me.  I'm really picky about Mojitos but I like a guy with confidence in his craft. I gave him a shot. His mix was spot-on but I like mine with a subtler lime flavor. Dan's was great but he sits at number two on my list. Bahama Bob still makes the best on on the island. Melissa ordered their version of a Southernmost Punch, which is a rum punch with mango instead of orange juice. She loved it and followed it up with something called, Southernmost Punch a la Dan. Whatever was in his secret mix wasn't as sweet as the first, so about halfway through, I took over and finished for her. Big props to Dan.  I love a bartender who treats his job as a profession.

Now, for those of you tempted to cry "foul" and disqualify Melissa from the crawl for failing to finish her drinks, I have carefully examined all aspects of Rule 3 and she is OK.  I tried hard but I really couldn't find any verbiage relating to finishing your drinks.  You just need to order the drinks.  That's a clear oversight that will certainly be addressed at the next meeting of the Rules Committee.

Next up was Margaritaville. As I have said before, we generally sidestep the touristy places but it was high time to check out Jimmy Buffet's place in the center of Duval.  Melissa was hungry and happily ordered their corn and crab chowder. It was a shallow bowl of creamy satisfying soup with corn and chunks of crab served with oyster crackers for $6.99.   As usual, we had a nice chat with the couples seated beside us. 

For drinks, we both ordered a 5 o'clock Somewhere.  It's the Maragaritaville version of a Hurricane, made with authentic silver rum, margaraita paradise passion fruit, tequila, bacardi 151 rum, sour mix, orange and pineapple juice and a splash of grenadine on the rocks for $8.75.  The food and drinks were both very good and the ambiance was relaxing. A huge video screen on the backwall plays continous videos of Buffet and friends helping to cement the beach paradise flavor. I can see how it will appeal to vacationers. The big down side, even for Duval Street, their prices were a bit high. If you're a Buffet fan, that's easier to overlook. 

Our last stop was at a joint named 2 Cents.  Like Seadog, it's tucked about 1/2 block west of Duval, on Applerouth Lane and conveniently located beside Leather Master - a bondage boutique. (This IS Key West.)  :)  They have a small window display for those too timid to go inside. 
Melissa grabbed a table while I headed straight to the bar to order drinks. Here is a quick pic with some new friend I made while I waited for the bartender to mix our drinks.

2 cents has a couple interesting gimmicks for your Happy Hour.  First, they put cups of bacon out for their patrons and, second, you can roll the dice to determine the price of your drinks.   I gave it a shot and rolled a 2.  My drinks were $2 each. If I had rolled a 4, 5 or 6, they would have been full price.  A 3 gets you half price and a 1 gets you a drink for a buck.  I ordered Mojito for Melissa and I for the life of me, can't remember what I ordered.  It doesn't matter, because both drinks stunk. Melissa didn't even finish hers. I rolled the dice and gave the bartender another shot, having the same as my new friends (pictured above) Again, I forget what I ordered but like before, it doesn't matter. It was another dud. We won't be back. The bartender was cute but not nearly cute enough to cover up for those drinks.  Miss Florida would have barely been enough to make up for those.

Melissa claims she has 4 or 5 posts in various stages of writing. Hopefully, she has something up in the next couple of weeks. Until then...Chao