Even though we all love to travel everywhere and anytime, there are only a few places in the world that one can instantly relate to or even feel right at home at. Key West would become one of these places to me as I found out during a recent mini cruise aboard Royal Caribbean´s Empress of the Seas.
From the moment on that the shuttle bus passed through the picturesque little side streets and alleys with all these gorgeous wooden houses and facades, I knew that this was a place that I could imagine to retire to. Here, at the Southern most point of the United States, life seemed right. And relaxed.
While the touristy downtown area around Mallory Square (right next to the cruise ship docks) was nice to explore and do some window shopping at, it was the random wandering about through the residential areas that took my heart away.
Cute little wooden cottages and houses, nestled into tropical yards and surrounded by lush vegetation. I could literally see us in our rocking chairs enjoying chilled fresh ice tea on the porch, watching the sun dive into the ocean, plunging the sky into a firework of orange, red and pink.
Ernest Hemingway did right when retreating to this little paradise. Far away from the political and governmental stress that mainland America suffered/suffers from. Being on Key West actually makes you feel that you are in a different country. Where the clocks run rather backwards than in fast forward.
People warmly greet each other in the Conch Republic when passing on the streets. But it is not one of these automated and stereotyped “Hi, how are you?”, it almost feels like meeting a long lost friend in the beauty of the instant.
Key West is multi cultural. People of all races, social backgrounds and sexual orientations share the same ground. Showing once again that differences are meant to enrich a society rather than to divide it.
Feeling right at home, we walked around for hours. Taking turns here and there, resting in the shadows of the palm trees for a moment and again looking out for a “possible” spot to retire to.
Of course, we also could not resist standing in line to take the obligatory selfie at the island´s most prominent location, the Southernmost Point.
After our extensive foot walk and a bit of power shopping, no one should dare to leave the island without having retreated to a piece of the original Key Lime Pie! The busy Duval Street is a great spot to sit down on one of the many outdoor terraces while watching the hustle and bustle happening around. Great fun!
Just a little later, we found us back again onboard the ship. What a wonderful day this had been full of positive energy. The marvelous sunset formed the perfect ending, diving the sky in a beautiful bright orange, as the Empress slowly drifted away from the pier, .
We would come back, that was for sure. Enchanted by the magic, we settled down in one of the hammocks on the forward sun deck and savored the remaining views of a paradise that I thought was just too good to be true…