Suzy and I have just returned from our Caribbean cruise and I wanted to share a little taste of what we saw on the Key West Island. A visit to see Nobel prize winning Ernest Hemmingway’s house and bar has long been on my bucket list so when the cruise lines offered us a price that was so low, we bumped it up on the list. For around $500 (for a suite on the ship and VIP treatment) we actually knocked off two other things off the list; Harry Potter World for Suzy’s list and the Mayan ruins of Tulum on both of our lists. I’ll post more on the other venues in later posts.
Pictured is the first church on the island which is now someone’s home. Ernest’s, aka Papa, house tour entrance is well kept and there are always lines waiting to get in. The Key West folks seem to have a unique sense of humor and this sign on the fence is but one example.
Some of the things that shocked me include the fact that Hemmingway took electroshock treatments to treat his depression. This was a common procedure in the past and it helped some forget their problems. In the case of Ernest, it destroyed his ability to write. It is said he’d go to his writing room over the carriage house and stare a blank sheet of paper, unable to write. This probably lead to his suicide.
He and his wife lashed two twin beds together to make a double bed as those were not available in his times.What??? No, really. And the headboard was fabricated from a gate they discovered in Spain. The two posts are fence posts. Looks rather nice if’n you ask me. Still the bed would not have been long enough for Ernest to stretch his legs out. For me the bed would be six inches too short!
And the cats, 42 of them on and around the property. Hemmingway’s Polydactyl cats, many of them had six toes and one had seven toes on one paw. An avid cat lover, Ernest left money for his cats to be taken care of. Suzy caught one of them urinating on the floor in the living room of the house during the tour. But the foundation must have to clean the house daily as the place didn’t smell bad. And they had a vet visit once a week to check out all the cats.
The final stop was the bar that Hemmingway is said to frequent. Sloppy Joe’s is the restaurant that invented the sandwich of the same name, where Papa is said to have hung out and drank often while he lived there. He spend a lot of nights moving from bar to bar to find those marvelous stories that gave him inspiration for his books.
Sloppy Joes (now Cape Tony’s) was one of these unique places where there are so many stories. It’s a dark little bar, not a restaurant, with a pool table area, but it’s also a stop on a local ghost tour and has an interesting history of how it transitioned from Sloppy Joe’s to Captain Tony’s. I won’t spoil the stories. There is a lot of memorabilia in the place; read the newspaper clippings on the wall, find out about the tree in the center, look for the skeleton, find Elvira’s grave. And there are easily 100 pictures or more of the man on the walls of the place.
It would seem that the tours always end with the obligatory shopping “opportunity” which apparently is the highlight of most tours for many, many people. Suzy and I use that time to see the locals, listen to some music, if available, and in this case pick up a 12-pack of diet soda, saving Suzy over $20 from the cruise prizes and more importantly making them available to her in our cabin on the ship. Sometimes it’s the little things, eh?