A day and a half later, arriving 6am, about 400mls from Grand Turk, we arrive in USA. We have to go through an individual face-to-face meeting with US customs before we're allowed ashore. We later discover that we were some of the lucky ones who pass through quite swiftly and we're ashore soon after 9am. Our fellow diners who are unlucky to be on deck 4 are called much later, and in the scrum to get ashore have to wait until about 12noon!
Huge Banyan Tree Key West
We've been to Key West a few times and really like it. You really immersed in the Florida Keys, bright blue sky, turquoise sea, lush, tropical gardens,colonial-style,clapperboard houses, some painted in pastel colours of turquoise, lime green, blue and pink. About 90 miles from Cuba, it's not surprising that there are strict immigration procedures to follow. Grandma came ashore with us and she and Ian enjoyed a short bike ride around the historic old town. Needless to say, they paid someone to do the pedalling! A brief stroll around Duvall St and then grandma returned for lunch on board. I found my favourite shop over here, called Fresh Produce, and bought a pair of white short trousers and a t-shirt. Beautiful cotton. We tracked down a place for lunch where we'd been before. With an hour to wait for a table, we went to the oldest bar in town, called the Green Parrot, established 1886, and enjoyed a couple of Blue Moons, and chatted to some very excited Americans from Daytona, drinking Jaegermeister and Red Bulls. Ian had just finished telling me how sensible they were for drinking just cokes, seeing as they were on push-bikes!
Blue Heaven restaurant
We wandered back towards the "restaurant" called Blue Heaven, past the Banyan Resort, a time share hotel built around a huge Banyan Tree, whose spread must have been at least 50ft or more, a huge shady tree. We were eventually shown to our table where we ordered shrimp sandwich and chicken tortilla with black bean rice, followed by Key Lime meringue pie. The reason we were willing to wait for so long was not just because the food is good, but because the surroundings are atmospheric. You sit at basic tables in a back-yard with a dirt floor, with chickens and rooster scratching around, (I'm sure they've grown in number since we were here about six years ago!).
Local weiss beer
Back to the boat and we went back ashore with grandma for a drink in a warehouse bar at the port, which was overpriced and disappointing. Won't be doing that again! Back on board, and the boat had to leave before the sunset celebrations start in Mallory Square. Quite happy to leave cos it's a bit of a circus! We waited and waited for a couple who hadn't arrived on board. Someone told us that they were later seen being man-handled onto the ship from a tender, as it was moving! Not many captains would have gone to so much trouble, I suspect!
As the sun went down, we joined in the singing and dancing at the stern of the ship. Once again a great atmosphere and good fun, leaving Key West behind us. Lots of passengers joined in to make it a fun end to the day, and the ones who couldn't join in, sat and watched, like grandma.