Inside a Cruiser’s Head in Key West
A trip to Key West is a lot like how I imagine a tropical cat sanctuary would be. I mean, it’s famous for Ernest Hemingway’s six-toed cats, right? And it’s a gorgeous tropical island with pet-friendly attitudes, sweeping views, palm trees for days and miles of shoreline. So if cats really ran the world – and based on the amount of Internet space they take up, they just might – wouldn’t they totally choose to live in a place like Key West, Florida?
When you first arrive in Key West, you won’t see the cats. Not right away, anyway. They’ve got their own island home, you know. As you step off the ship and make your way past the hordes of tourists unceremoniously dumped out of their own cruise ships, you can sense the relaxed and laid-back pace of this island. No worries, no cares and complete indifference to the real world – I told you the cats were in charge here.
From Mallory Square, you can walk anywhere on this island; it’s only 4 miles long, 1 mile wide and has a total land mass of 4.2 square miles. There’s not a bad part of the island anywhere. But true to a lazy-natured beast being in charge, there are modes of transportation everywhere so you don’t have to walk, including the Conch Train, trolleys, bikes, golf carts and scooters. To utilize your time in Key West fully, I suggest going with the hop on, hop off trolley.
Time to grab a meal in Key West? Guess what the best meals are made of here? You got it – seafood. What do cats love? Seafood. But seriously, if you’re inclined, you can catch your own meal on one of many deep-sea fishing tours, or you could visit one of the many restaurants that offers daily seafood specials. I’ve yet to find a bad place to eat in Key West, and in fact, had the best Mahi Mahi ever on a recent trip to the island.
Lazing the afternoon away sitting in the sunshine? Sounds very feline to me, but I’m happy to enjoy a cocktail at Sloppy Joe’s, just like my literary hero Ernest Hemingway once did. Try out any of the other bars lining Duval Street, including Margaritaville, Captain Tony’s Saloon, Green Parrot and Hog’s Breath. Or if you’re more interested in the sunbathing aspect, Key West has several local beaches where you can soak up the sun: South Beach, Dog Beach (what about Cat Beach??), Higg’s Beach, Rest Beach and Smathers Beach. Be sure to stretch when you get up from sunbathing, though – it’s what the cats would do. While you’re visiting the sunny spots, sneak in some time to see the southernmost point of the United States – only 90 miles to Cuba.
Now, it’s time to visit the place where the cats that run this island really live. Right now, there are more than 50 cats living at the Ernest Hemingway house – one of the island’s top tourist attractions. Hemingway received a white, six-toed cat from a ship’s captain, and Snowball’s descendants still live freely at the house today. The cats have full run of the house and grounds – they’re even allowed to sit on the furniture.
So there you have it, one of the most beautiful cruise destinations and vacation spots in the world is really just a fancy, tropical cat sanctuary. Don’t worry if you’re allergic to cats though – they might run the island, but they’re not overrunning the island anytime soon.
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