February 2, 2013

Conch Republic

A little delayed, but as YJDKIY thought back on some fantastic travels over the blog years, I realized this one shouldn't be slighted! When looking back at Boston, CharlestonCape Cod, and Emerald Isle it's hard to rank them, but our recent long weekend in Key West and Islamorada, FL is way up there.

Another fun fact, this trip is sort of brought to you by the power of social media! It started last spring with a little Pinterest contest: So you want to be a become a Jetsetter Curator? I can rock this in 10 minutes. And then, this fun pinboard was born!

While bopping around the free wi-fi at Bucuti in Aruba, I noticed by Twitter feed had some familiar handles.

I've never won anything like this, so I was a little skeptical at first, but it turned out to be totally true and totally fun! It was posted on Pinterest and I got added to collaborate on a board with Jetsetter and Huffington Post.

After lots of searching, I decided to use my credit for a mid-January stay in sunny Florida at Cheeca Lodge & Spa. I knew it was somewhere we wouldn't likely travel without a little motivation.

After booking everything, I discovered a little problem with the flight from ATL to EYW. With only a 40 minute connection in the worst airport ever, not having assigned seats on a clearly overbooked flight spelled disaster. I tried to email Delta's customer service for assistance with no avail. Then, their system wouldn't let me check in online the day before unless I volunteered (for no more than $125, half the price of the ticket) to be bumped. NOT cool, and naturally I took to social media, this time Twitter to sort it out.

I was quite surprised and impressed with both the time and level of assistance Delta's Twitter customer service provided. Not only did they get me checked in, they assigned my seats (even together!). I have no idea if this was luck or normal but that one little tweet made the entire trip happen. Who knew?Having seats already assigned turned out to be quite fortunate, since our first flight from CLT to ATL was delayed over 40 mins and we were still in the air well past the original boarding time. Once again, Delta responded in seconds (seconds that we were running through the airport like cartoon characters).

From there, it was smooth sailing. Flying into Key West was a really cool sight. The water was so clear you could see the plane's reflection on the bottom of the bay, next to the fishes and plants. The pilot warned of the short runway which requires an abrupt spot, but I didn't really notice a difference. Hello 1957.

Definitely the tiniest and most laid back airport I've flown into. From there, we jumped in a rental car and headed into Old Town Key West for a little weekday sightseeing (which turned out to be an excellent choice, since by Saturday, there were two cruise ships bleeding crowds into the streets).

I was nervous about parking, but we found an easy public lot close to everything and headed to our first tropical lunch at Bagatelle. The service was odd and slow, but the view on Duval Street was nice and the spring mix and fish tacos were tasty!

From there, we drove over (and parked!) at the obligatory photo op. The line wasn't long, but we bypassed the money shot.

And then a 1.5 hour, windows-down full sun ahead drive up Highway 1, the Overseas Highway, to Islamorada.

Bud & Mary's!

As soon as we checked in and saw the room, I loved it!

They have carved out a nice little beach with a pier, reef, watersports, pools, lush grounds and bike paths.

We borrowed two from the hotel and rode down to some local spots.

We enjoyed outdoor dining at Lorelei and Islamorada Fish Company. 


And headed back down to Key West to spend some time walking! Through Old Town, and the cemetery, and on to the 8th Annual Florida Keys Seafood Festival!

A perfect way to end the trip, no tweets required!

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