We were up fairly early on the second day of our cruise. Or perhaps the first full day of our cruise. I was eager to get after my favorite cruise breakfast; eggs benedict with smoked king salmon, fresh melon and fruit chunks, fresh squeezed orange juice, and hot coffee with cream. It was my second salmon munchie. The first was the night before, salmon and tuna tartar topped with salmon roe for the first course, a hors d’ouvre (sorry, the spell checker doesn’t recognize it). Wow was that good!
Next project was to meet some of the people I’d met on an online forum that were on this cruise. Up to the Crow’s Nest lounge, I got three paragraphs typed before they started showing up. I was trying something different on this cruise, try to meet some people before the end of the trip. It worked out well, Praxy and I have several people to chum around with. More on this later as the time comes. Time for lunch, then off the ship to Key West, Florida.
Our ride, the Ryndam. It is almost identical to the Statendam from our Panama cruise. I have a whole blog entry dedicated to the description of the two vessels, including a visit to the bridge under the Panama section in my blog. Although it looks quite large, it is merely medium sized and carries 1,250 passengers. The largest ships carry over 5,000. The reason we cruise Holland America is simple. Smaller ship, less people on board and less people in the ports when we stop. Also, very few children. Other passengers on board reflect our feelings.
Off we go! No first trip to Key West could omit these two sights…
Mile post ZERO on US route 1. This highway traverses the east coast from Key West 2,200 miles north to Calais, Maine. This signpost is the most coveted feature on the island and it is constantly being stolen and replaced. Maybe the local government needs to chain a “guard chicken” to it. Guard chicken? Yep.
Thousands of chickens inhabit the island and roam freely. There was involved story about the history and it goes something like the locals had to release them years ago or be heavily fined. They are now “wildlife” and “protected”. My guess is that if a young one wanders into the wrong back yard, it becomes dinner. Maybe 30-50,000, but at least they are relatively quiet compared to the fighting chickens in the Philippines. They stay out of your way and are not any type of problem.
The other super famous landmark. I don’t really call Key West the southernmost point as it rests on an island over 100 miles south of the mainland (114 to the nearest Walmart, wow are the locals in the boonies?). But, I’m on vacation and I’m not going to get excited about a detail, right?
There are three major industries in Key West, tourism, the US Navy, and tourism. They get over 6 million visitors a year and we were made to feel welcome. The highest point on the island is 18 feet above sea level, we crossed it on our tour. My ears popped, but otherwise there was no discomfort. Some other odds and ends…
Pictures from the butterfly refuge. Worth a stop if you like animals and plants. I can’t remember the name of the tiny quail, they are native to the island.
The Cityview trolley that hauled us around town. On and off all day for $20 each. It’s too far to walk and see everything.
The lover’s statue near the cruise dock.
And Marylyn Monroe. We didn’t see Elvis, but if he was to retire in the US, I would expect to find him here.
All in all, a nice touristy and unique place to visit. Next up, Roatan Honduras.