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Day 7 Florida 2017

Key West….the furthest point south in mainland America. It’s further south than Cairo, has an average temperature hotter that Hawaii, and is second only to visiting couples getting married than Las Vegas. There’s a connection. But no, not again! Key West would suggest that it is called so because of its location….not so. When settlers first came here, and when I say settlers I mean the Spanish in the 15th Century, they found that the islands were built up of ancient coral beds, very strong, and hard to dig into. They found that even earlier settlers, the Native American Indians, had used the islands to trade with each other, and to find a route to Cuba, only a short 98 miles across the water (and closer to Key West than Miami). Because many died, and could not be buried due to the hard coral ground, they were placed on a mound in the centre of the island. Fast forward hundreds of years, and the Spanish, finding piles and piles of bones, named it Isla Hoesos, or Bone Island. Isla Hoesos, or as we would pronounce it, Isla Wessos…..Key West.

There, history lesson over. There you were thinking that you were going to read hilarious anecdotes about our travels, when in fact you had a bit of a history lesson. I’ll be honest, this is how I roll after a happy hour that lasted seven. What I do remember is that my cab driver, Akhim, asked if we could pay in cash, as he has a situation with the IRS…whatever that is.

After what can only be described as a sleep catch up, we headed to town for a bit of breakfast, before hitting the touristy area of Duval Street. This is where Ernest Hemingway drank in Sloppy Joes (means nothing to me either), where President Truman had a holiday home (nope), and where Mr Flagler opened his first train station and hotel (still nothing). It is very historic, and second only in age in Florida to that of St Augustine. I’m sure if you’re interested in Hemingway, Truman or Flagler, its interesting, but what I don’t understand is that Hemingway lived and wrote here, and yet in all the photos of him, he’s wearing a big woolly jumper…..its 90* mate! Buy a t-shirt! Just opposite the bar where you wrote your books there are 12 t-shirt shops! Lazy…..

We did the historic trolley tour anyway, despite American history only starting in 1958, and i found it quite interesting. The furthest point south, the longest Main Street in the World, the Atlantic, the Gulf, and a tree that grows down rather than up. Oh, and a statue of a nun.

It was about 4pm that we hit happy hour, which included happy hour food too. Bloody Mary’s, Key Lime Martini’s, conch fritters and coleslaw. Then a beer, and a few more. As we sat, we were joined by the evenings entertainment, a fantastic guitar player and singer called Tony Baltimore (look him up on Friend Face and Spotify). After a few beers and a few songs, I started to talk to him, and said that this crowd of tourists were just enjoying background music, and wouldn’t know a good tune if it bit them in their Miller Lite. I suggested The Smiths, Pink Floyd, Madness and The Beatles. And so it began! Four hours of Hard Days Night, Dark Side of the Moon, an entire Smiths back catalogue and Our House. I think. I was a bit drunk by the end…..Quote of the day goes to Nikki though. As a couple walked past with an Alsatian, I noticed the dog was wearing something on its feet. I turned to Nik and said, “Did you see that dog? It was wearing slippers!”. “Never mind his slippers, did you see the size of it’s bollocks”. What did I marry?

What I do remember about the day, besides my taxi ride, is that Tony, and his girlfriend Ariana (who is from where they filmed Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) are staying with us in September, when they come over to Scotland for a wedding……I think i was drugged.

We’re off on a boat today with some friends of our long time Floridian and Chicagoan hosts Terry and Viv. Apparently, the sea is clear, the beer clearer, and it promises to be a quiet one, as its Memorial Weekend, and there are no tourists around. (Who am i kidding).

*Harry S Truman (who added the S because he thought it sounded good, but it doesn’t actually stand for anything) decided that workers needed many holidays throughout the year, and so made 12 extra days off a year…this being one of them. Also, the reason that children have a massive summer holiday is also historic. In the days when the lands had to be worked manually, children would finish school in July in order to help their families gather crops until harvest in September, before returning to their schooling. Parents insisted that this be mandatory, even after the government made it the law that children attend school, and the tradition has stood ever since. See, not just a holiday blog, but an education! Apologies if you already knew this, and I’m just being an unknowledgeable thicky…..

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