Random Thoughts on Key West and Life in General

Random Thoughts on Key West and Life in General

If you have been following this blog for a while, and many of you have, I thank you.  Certainly you noticed I have not posted in some time.  I announced recently, with great pride, the acquisition of a Cruise Planners franchise.  Yes, that’s right, Mrs. SirOzzy and I bought a travel agency.  Travel, as you know, has always been one of my many passions and now I do it professionally.  I foresee a lot of “Research & Development Projects” in my future.  For the last two months I have been focused intently on the process of beginning a new business.  Please visit our new website www.sirozzytravel.com  Someone (maybe it was me) once said, “If you find what you love to do, you’ll never have to work again”.

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While we have been celebrating , Sir Ozzy was not particularly fond of seeing us leave on our last trip.

We were patiently waiting for our rental car to be ready for the drive to Key West.  The valet parked it out front and was putting on a finishing shine when we were approached by another gentlemen.  With company shirt and clip board in hand, he smoothly asked if we would like an upgrade.  “How can we get an upgrade when we have the nicest car on the lot?”  We watched him retreat to the 3 Spring-Breakers and read his lips as he said, “no deal.”  And off we went in our convertible Camaro.

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Much has been written on Key West and the drive on the Overseas Highway.  But, after reading the story of a man who walked to Key West all the way from Seattle, Washington, my drive pales in comparison.  He is still there, just look for Darth Vader playing a banjo on Duval Street.

Here are a few suggestions for things to do in Key West:

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First things first, a lunch at Snook’s Bayside Restaurant in Key Largo is a MUST!  Be careful not to miss the turn, it will sneak up on you on the right hand side.  Get the Lobster Reuben and enjoy the amazing view.  The next 100 miles will be the fun part.

BREAKFAST

Island Dogs Bar.  I had the Daily Hair of the Dog Pizza.  This very well may be the most perfect remedy for a hangover I ever had.  And how about the Good Morning Dog?  A bacon wrapped hot dog with fried eggs.  This place has got breakfast figured out right!

Blue Heaven.  This is the most popular breakfast joint in the Keys.  While you are waiting for your table, make sure you belly up to the bar and get a Bloody Mary.  And enjoy the live tunes.

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While we have been celebrating , Sir Ozzy was not particularly fond of seeing us leave on our last trip.

Starbucks.  I know, I know…who the hell goes to Key West to get Starbucks? Well, we got a couple drinks and a breakfast sandwich and walked over to the pier behind Mallory Square.  We enjoyed the peace and quiet while watching pelicans dive for their breakfast.  Hey, don’t knock it.

LUNCH

Here’s the thing about Key West, there are about a million restaurants up and down Duval Street and all around the surrounding area.  Where ever you are, you are within walking distance of everything.  Flip-flops and tank-tops are perfectly appropriate attire at any restaurant.  If you can’t find a good lunch in Key West, well, you ain’t looking.  A good starting point is Sloppy Joe’s.

DINNER

Sure, there are some good, fine dining restaurants in Key West.  But, if I wanted extravagance, I would have stayed in Miami.  Ninety miles from Cuba is all about Happy Hour.

Alonzo’s.  A great view and even better Garlic Oysters.

Kelly’s Caribbean Bar & Grill.  The best chicken wings on the island, and owned by Kelly “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” McGillis.

Fogarty’s.  Huge portions of American Comfort Food served in an outside seating area.  Great spot to eat dinner and people watch.

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While we have been celebrating , Sir Ozzy was not particularly fond of seeing us leave on our last trip.

DESSERTS

Better Than Sex.  Need I say more?  Leave the kids at the hotel.

Kermit’s Key West Lime Shoppe.  Self-proclaimed best Key Lime in the world.  Has a few awards to back it up.

ACTIVITIES

Key West Cemetery.  Grab your jogging (or in my case, walking) shoes and head on over to the cemetery first thing in the morning.  Look for the tombstone that says “I told you I was sick”, and  “If you don’t have anything nice to say, you’re a jerk.”  This could be the most fun you’ll ever have in a cemetery.

Take a Trolley.  It’s always the best way to get acclimated to a new area.  And these are especially enjoyable with the fun stories told by the guides.  The night time Ghosts and Gravestones Trolley Tour is one of the best tours I’ve ever had.

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Mallory Square Sunset Celebration.  Loaded with street performers of all types, including acrobats, jugglers, musicians and dog trainers, this is what separates Key West from everywhere else in the world.  Celebrate as another day ends and night begins.

We were sorry to go, but San Juan was calling our name.

Enjoy The Journey…

And please visit my new website Cruise Planners  and LIKE us over at Facebook

 

 

 

 

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The New York Times Travel Show, Stay Tuned Folks…

The New York Times Travel Show, Stay Tuned Folks…

The illustrious New York Times Travel Show was held at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City this past rainy weekend.  Vendors representing every region of the world lined row after row of the enormous convention space.   I attacked the floor much the same way I go after food in a Chinese Buffet, hungry for more. I always go for the ribs first, yesterday it was the Caribbean.

As much as I enjoy tasting new things, I go to the familiar first.  We visited and chatted with people from places we’ve been like they were old friends.  I heard interesting first hand news on happenings in Jamaica, Mexico, Costa Rica, St. Thomas, and even Canada.  We’ve been there, done that, and can’t wait to go again.

For the second course, I needed information on places we are visiting in the near future.  Jackie, from St. Croix Department of Tourism, loved my question.  “I am going to St. Croix for one day next month.  I do not want to spend it with 1,000 other cruise passengers, and I also want to keep my money local.  What can I do?” It was a $64,000 question, and I got a million dollar answer from Jackie.  We’ll have a private island tour ready for us.

We had the familiar and tasted some new offerings, but what is life without trying something new?   Meetings with representatives of Africa and Asia got our adventurous juices flowing.  In the not so distant future you may be reading a post about climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

For dessert we went to the seminars.  A presentation on how to easily score first class airfare was held by Nomadic Matt.  (Thank you Matt for the secret code to score free tickets to the show.)  Mrs. SirOzzy sat in on a lecture regarding family travel locations and secrets.  I went to the writing seminar.    Mr. Max Hartshorne, editor of GoNomad.com, and Mr. Paul Shoul, staff photographer, were speaking.

The two gentlemen presented an introduction to travel writing and photography.  Prior to Mr. Hartshorne taking the podium, my balls grew to the size of grapefruits and I presented him my business card.  I explained I was the pest who had been hounding him with emails and I would like to join his writing staff.  He looked at me like I had 4 heads and abruptly cast my card aside.

Shockingly, I heard from GoNomad this morning.  They are looking forward to my upcoming travels to Key West and Puerto Rico.  They like my stuff.  Stay tuned folks, good things are happening…..

 

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions, And The Evolution Of An Itinerary.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions, And The Evolution Of An Itinerary.

I find wherever I go people are generally supportive of my endeavours and some even a bit envious.  But,  “I can’t (or wish I could) travel like you,” is what I hear over and over again.

I don’t believe that.  I believe if you want to travel, you can.  But it helps if you follow our formula.  SirOzzy’s aim is to help guide you on your perfect vacation.  We want to help you decide where to stay and eat, and where to relax and play.  We want SirOzzy to become a verb.  “Wow, where did you get all that great information for your trip?”  “I SirOzzy’d it!”

Yes, we have an amazing trip coming soon, but it wasn’t planned overnight.  As with most trips the SirOzzy clan takes, this one took two years in the making.  There is an infinitesimal amount of planning and organization that goes into a successful trip.  The details can be overwhelming.  Here we will begin to spell out and simplify the decision making process that goes into a vacation like this.

There are three key elements to the art of travel.  Each piece has it’s own importance in the puzzle and will affect the outcome of another piece and thus, the trip itself.  These pieces are Time, Location, and Money.

Let’s start first with the time frame.  The busy time at Mrs. SirOzzy’s job ends every year in early February.  The busy time in my career starts in March.  Now we know February is a good time to travel.  Lesson number one is plan ahead, there are way too many decisions to make in a short period of time.

Now begins the process of where do we go?  This is the fun part.  We could go virtually anywhere in the world, so before we decide where we’re going, let’s decide where we are not going.  Europe is out, it’s too cold in February for us.  Australia is out, we went just two years ago.  Hawaii?  No, too long a flight for what we want.  Africa? No.  Asia? Nope. The Caribbean?  The weather is perfect in February and it’s fairly easy to get to from New York. Yes, the Caribbean it is.

The Caribbean.  That’s kind of a big place, a little too big to conquer all at once.  Let’s narrow it down.  There are some amazing all-inclusive resorts and beautiful hotels in the islands.   But for this trip I don’t think I really want to fend for myself too much and I don’t want to sit in one place for too long either.  A cruise?  I love to cruise.  My favorite thing about cruising is that everyday you wake up you’re in an entirely new place, and you’ve done absolutely nothing to get there.  Yes, a cruise it will be.

Our favorite cruise line is Royal Caribbean, for reasons we’ll leave to another post.  Looking through the cruise book can be a bit overwhelming.  The first thing we decide is where do we leave from.  Bayonne, NJ and Baltimore, MD are both within driving distance and have cruises departing from there, but sailing the Atlantic during February can be unpleasant.  We looked to leave from further south and found The Jewel Of The Seas is in Puerto Rico.

The Jewel is the first ship Mrs. SirOzzy and I went on together and has been our favorite ever since.  On that ship was the first of many times I would ask her to marry me.  Yes, The Jewel Of The Seas.  Next, the itinerary.  The Jewel has two different sailings in the month of February, both are 7 nights and both go to the southern Caribbean.  One itinerary happened to also fall on our anniversary.

Simple, right?  No way.  Sure, you can just fly straight to Puerto Rico and jump on a ship, but why do that when you can go a few days in advance and acclimate and enjoy your trip even more?  Besides, we have 2 weeks of vacation time, let’s use it.

We began to look at different hotels and realized, shit, we’re already down there, do we necessarily have to stay in Puerto Rico?  No, we started looking at the surrounding US Virgin Islands.  St. Thomas is not part of the cruise itinerary, and since it is part of the US there is no international flight required.  Sounds good, but, hmmmm, there is one other option.

Key West is only a short flight to San Juan.  One item that has been on my bucket list for a very long time is driving a convertible to Key West.  We can get a direct flight from our local airport to Fort Lauderdale, we’ll rent a car from there.  We’ll use our top secret code to get a deal on a room at the Hyatt next to Mallory Square.

Now we have a cruise and Key West.  Coming off a cruise and going straight home is always a bit of a drag, so let’s stay one more night and take advantage of San Juan before leaving.

This didn’t happen over night.  We began our planning two years ago and solidified the itinerary about 6 months ago.  Here’s what it looks like now:

  • Day 1  Fly to Fort Lauderdale. Drive to Key West.
  • Day 2 Key West
  • Day 3 Key West
  • Day 4 Drive back to Fort Lauderdale
  • Day 5 Fly to San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Cruise
  • Day 6 Sailing on The Jewel Of The Seas
  • Day 7 Bridgetown, Barbados
  • Day 8 Castries, St Lucia
  • Day 9 St. John’s, Antigua
  • Day 10 Philipsburg, St. Maarten
  • Day 11 St Croix, US Virgin Islands
  • Day 12 San Juan, Puerto Rico. Intercontinental Hotel, Isla Verde
  • Day 13 San Juan. Fly home.

Now that is what a two week vacation looks like.

As far as the 3rd part to planning a successful trip, Money?  Shit, we’ll have to figure that out too, but we have two years to do it.

Enjoy The Journey.

 

 

Coming Soon…Key West

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The period of time leading to a trip excites me as much as the travel itself.  All the anticipation and planning is a better feeling than looking forward to Christmas Day when I was a kid.  This is my Super Bowl.  I love to travel, I love to write, and you get stuck with my blog.

I get lost in the planning.  What airline will we be taking?  What seats?  Should we upgrade?  Should we use miles?  How do we get to the hotel?  Taxi?  Bus? Shuttle?  Train?  Private transfer?  For any one trip I have a thousand questions that need to be asked.  There was a time when I could just throw a clean pair of underwear in a backpack and go, without a care in the world.  Now that I’ve reached middle age, I need to know EVERYTHING.  I hate surprises.

And guess what?  You get to know everything too.  I’ve begun an online blogging course thru WordPress called Blogging 101.  My aim has multiple fronts.  First, I welcome critique in my writing, my ability to get my voice across.  Secondly, I want to improve the blog site itself so I can gain more readers and followers.  Maybe someday I will have enough followers that a great hotel wouldn’t mind having SirOzzy.com along to write a review.

SirOzzy will be traveling again next month.  We’ll be flying from Long Island to Fort Lauderdale, where we will pick up a car for our drive to Key West.  From there, we head to San Juan for a Caribbean cruise.  For the next month I will publish posts detailing what it takes to plan and organize such an undertaking.

In the meantime, I’m open to all critique and hate-mail.  I’ve always been a tad envious of people that have stalkers. Enjoy The Journey.