Ports of call on the Flower Power Cruise 2016 included a stop in Key West, a small city in Florida, which is walkable at only four miles long, so we set out on a self-guided tour of the area. Our time was limited, but we did manage to see a lot in the few hours we were there before returning back to the ship. Because it was the first week of March, the weather hovered at a comfortable 73 degrees.One of the first buildings we passed was the Key West Art & Historical Society Custom House. The landmark is an award-winning museum and home to the Key West Historical Society and if we had more time, we would have ventured inside. These cool statues out front caught my eye.
|Statues in front of Art & Historical Society Custom House Museum|
|Sights at Mallory Square|
Beautiful travelers palms, ficus trees and ginger blooms dotted the island. We spotted a few interesting trees as well. Shown below is a Banyon and a Kapok. Kapok trees were known as the sacred tree of the Mayans and used to make caskets and dugout canoes.
|Formerly home to Joseph Porter Yates, M.D. and first health official of the state of Florida.|
A taste of Pennsylvania in Key West.
Roosters are a common sight in Key West.
During our walk, we stumbled upon the "Little White House." The dwelling, constructed in 1890, was home to Navy officers. In 1911, it was converted into a single family residence. Theodore Roosevelt visited in 1917, 1926 and 1939 and Thomas Edison stayed at the house for six months while working on 41 new weapons during World War II. Harry Truman used the house for 175 days during his administration and eventually the dwelling became known as the "Little White House." President Dwight D. Eisenhower conducted meetings there while recovering from a heart attack and Bill and Hillary Clinton used the house as a weekend retreat. The structure is considered the birthplace of the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Air Force. Tours are conducted daily every 20 minutes from 9-4:30.
|The "Little White House."|
We decided to forego the "Little White House" tour due to the rather long line and because I had my sights set on the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum located about a mile away. When we arrived, we were free to venture inside, at which time I had a few minutes to shoot a picture of the dining room and kitchen before the crowds poured in.
|Outside of the Hemingway Home and Museum|
|Kitchen and dining room of the Hemingway home.|
During the tour, we learned all about the Hemingway homestead and a little more about the life of the prolific writer. The house was built in 1851 and Hemingway resided there from 1931 to 1939 with his second wife Pauline. The dwelling was presented to the couple as a wedding gift from Pauline's Uncle Gus, who purchased it for $8,000. The grounds are also home to 54 descendant cats, many of whom are polydactyl and consume about 80 pounds of food a week. We learned that Hemingway was once a boxer, a bit on the clumsy side and suffered from a total of nine concussions, which may have contributed to his sometimes erratic behavior.
|This picture was taken just a few weeks before the famous writer committed suicide.|
|Hemingway's writing room.|
|The Hemingway headboard is a gate from a monastery and yes, that's a real cat.|
Word has it that when Hemingway learned of the cost, he tossed a penny on the ground and said, "Well, you might as well have my last cent." She memorialized the moment and visitors can view the penny embedded in the cement.
|Hemingway's "last cent."|
|The urinal he dragged back from Sloppy Joe's (his favorite bar) during a renovation is now a water source for the cats that roam the grounds.|
|One of the 54 happy cats who lay claim to the Hemingway home and grounds.|
When the couple parted ways and Hemingway set off for Cuba, Pauline resided in the home until her death in 1951, after which the family decided to sell it to Bernice Dixon, who now runs the museum. Thirty-minute tours are conducted 365 days a year from 9 to 5 p.m. Tickets (cash only) can be purchased at the door. Prices can be seen here.
As we walked down the street a few blocks from the Hemingway House, we spotted this structure with an interesting plaque out front. I researched the house a bit and didn't learn much, other than the realtor said it was built in 1928, so someone is likely pulling our legs. Last I heard, the house was for sale.
Bagatelle, before returning to the ship.
|Uncharacteristically quiet moment on Duval Street|
|A unique truck we spotted parked on the walk to the Hemingway House.|
We chose Bagatelle as our lunch destination.
To learn more about travel in the Florida Keys and Key West, visit their website by clicking here.
To view more pictures, visit and be sure to "like" the facebook page here: Cheese Plates and Room Service
Next up: A little more about our brief time in Cozumel.