My tan lines are fading fast, time to relive our vacation via a blog post! The first few days home were an adjustment to say the least. Whew! Seriously, peeing alone for four days and not having to mediate one sibling fight… that kind of freedom is hard to recover from. 😀
We stayed at the Casa Marina Waldorf Astoria Resort and I have to say, it was exceptional. I also have to say that we paid for it with our Hilton points! If we had to fork out actual dollars instead of hotel points we would have opted for a different hotel. This is a huge perk to Brenden’s hobby of making sure we have credit cards that give us the most return for our purchases.
We use the AMEX blue on groceries and get cash back on that until it caps out at the max allowed for the year and then we switch to the Hilton card where we get hotel points for every dollar we spend for the remaining of the year. The most bang for our buck comes from the blue card in the form of cash back so once that reaches its max amount allowed it’s pretty nice to have hotel points racking up on our Hilton card for the rest of the year.
It’s funny to see him geek out on all these details, but it turns out it really does make a difference and I’m so glad he spends time optimizing in this area! I can’t remember the last time we actually paid for a hotel room.
I did’t get any full front pics of the resort but it was beautiful.
Roosters and chickens strolled around like guests at the resort, which was so funny. Everywhere we went we heard clucking and crowing, and they seemed to be monogamous (or maybe that’s just me being a romantic?) Whenever I saw a beautiful rooster I would see a significantly less beautiful chicken with him, palling around enjoying their day together. They spent a lot of time scratching in the soil under the shrubs by the pool, digging up bugs for the chicks trailing behind them.
They were all over the city too!
The first night we went to Mallory Square to watch the beautiful sunset and experience the Sunset Celebration. It was beautiful! Then we walked a few feet away to the Hot Tin Roof for dinner.
The Yucka fries are what stands out the most in my memory. They were ammmmazing and served with a pesto dipping sauce which sounds weird but it was just so good. We also had the PEI mussels with grilled ciabatta, pork empanadas, crab cakes (which we found out had dairy in them so I didn’t eat any sadly) and I had the most refreshing delicious New Zealand Sauvignon blanc. The menus lit up!! Back-lit, people. Which made for a very cool ambiance as you looked around the restaurant.
The Hot Tin Roof is famous for its views and it did not disappoint! The post-sunset sky was stunning.
After dinner we went down to the dock to see a Sublime cover band. Apparently they always have a big live entertainment event for the spring break crowd during this time of year. Let me tell you, we felt ollllld in that group. Happy but old!
Thursday morning we took a two hour jet ski tour around Key West. I was the one who wanted to do it! I was giddy and excited! I pictured us puttering around, maybe occasionally accelerating just to get a rush.. but no no no. This was sooo different.
We were FLYING full speed ahead. I reached 50 mph, not because I wanted to but because I had to speed to keep up with the rest of the tour! We were hitting huge wakes and I thought for sure I was going to flip my jet ski or fly off.
It seemed like everyone else was having a blast but I really and truly didn’t like it AT ALL. The only real moment I enjoyed was when we slowed down and got to play in the Gulf of Mexico where it was shallow and calm and I could see the bottom. (That’s where I got this picture of Brenden. When I was stress-free enough to pull my phone out of its waterproof case.) We did fun circles and got to play around instead of flying through the choppy water 50 mph. Seriously, no thank you.
Okay, enough about the darn jet skis.
One of our favorite places was Grand Vin. It’s a sweet place right off Duval street where you can buy a bottle of wine and sit outside, enjoy a glass and they will put your name on it and you can come back and enjoy the rest later! We had a bottle of wine there all week. It was a unique/fun feeling to go back to Grand Vin for “our” bottle of wine. 🙂
Next we had dinner at Nine One Five. I think this was my favorite restaurant of the trip. Click here to see the fans blowing the flowers above the tables. This was the exact view from our table and it was incredible! The ambiance, the beautiful smells, the food, the colors. It was just too wonderful. The address is 915 Duval Street, hence the name.
For a starter we had calamari and bacon wrapped asparagus. Called ‘Addictive Asparagus’ on the menu for a reason!
Brenden had the Seafood Soup which he said was delicious but I couldn’t taste it because it had cream in it. I had Pasta with Shrimp in a wine sauce. The pasta was made in house and it was to.die.for. The noodles literally melted in my mouth and tasted like no pasta I’ve had before.
The next morning was Friday and I remember thinking, we still have three full days!! It was incredible to have that much time with my man in full relaxation mode. No responsibilities and not a care in the world. We never travel without the kids so having this much time together alone was just bliss.
I had so many naps… I told Brenden I didn’t know I was that tired and he said napping is my super power. I can nap on command, even if I’ve already napped twice that day, and it doesn’t even ruin my sleep that night. Yes, I’m proud of my cat-napping ability. It serves me well. 🙂
We heard we HAD to go to Latitudes Restauraunt. It’s on Sunset Key, a short ferry ride over Key West harbor. They were booked for dinner until May! Which was a good thing, considering I can’t imagine spending the $$$ to eat dinner there. Some locals joked that we should bring three wallets. So yeah, no thank you. We decided to go over for lunch, and it was delicious.
We had stone crabs caught that day.
I ordered a blackened fish sandwich and fries… I wish I had some of those fries right now!
Brenden had a fish and risotto dish. He said it was good but I couldn’t taste it because of the cream.
All in all the food wasn’t anything to write home about. It was just some yummy fresh seafood. But the sights, the ferry over, the panoramic gulf views. The warm wind and scents from the flowers and trees. The atmosphere. All of that combined is why it’s worth raving about.
After lunch we took a walk around the Island. Sunset Key is a private island with adorable little houses and sweet picket fences with colorful flowers draping over every-which-way. We walked the entire island in about twenty minutes and loved the quiet atmosphere. No cars, just the occasional gulf cart. Peace and serenity.
The white sandy beach where we sat for lunch is apparently where those blissful Corona commercials are filmed! Makes total sense:
We took our time heading back and before we knew it, it was dinner-time. We got a recommendation from some locals for dinner:
I was seriously excited for some Cuban food!! Bring on the rice and beans! It was authentic, amazing, and just a taste of Cuba for real.
I got grilled chicken with black beans and rice and it came smothered with sweet plantains. Realllllly good. The portion of chicken could have fed a family of four which kind of turned me off considering I saw these birds in live action clucking around all day with their cute little chicks behind them. It’s okay… I value lean protein for fuel too much to be phased by this for long. So I enjoyed every bite.
Meanwhile Brenden had the slow roasted pork and was right in his element. There was a hot sauce on the table that was almost gone when we left. It was delicious, all of it!
One of my favorite discoveries on this trip was the watermelon juice. I found it at the hotel breakfast buffet and I was determined to recreate it for the kids as soon as I got home.
I would drink two glasses with breakfast and then take some to the pool with me for later. My version of it at home was not quite as good, sadly!
It was surreal spending so much time together with no distractions and no responsibilities. Wow. At home a two hour date night is a treat!! Here we had a date night every night… and all day. I mean, come on. Mom-life culture shock much?
The last night we decided to go to Sunset Pier to just see if they could accommodate us. We didn’t have a reservation and it worked out perfectly. We got a table right on the water and got to see the boats and the insane sunset.
We started dinner with some conch fritters. Mostly because I was curious!
They were okay. Kind of a weird texture… I detected some stringy-ness every now and then.
But my dinner was two-thumbs up. I mean three if I had three. I am a sucker for ribs. Ribs and coleslaw and street corn?? BRING IT ON.
Brenden got steak skewers and raved about his too.
We were so happy. And this was our view.
The next morning was Sunday, time to go home. We woke up in time for the sunrise for once! So glad we did.
Four days was my limit. I loved every single moment of independent bliss but by night four I wanted to SWIM home to see my babies. I missed their little faces and non-stop noises and fighting and their very persons. I MISSED THEM.
That is what makes a vacation without kids so amazing…. there is such a contrast from vacation to mom life!
Sunday morning we went to Banana Cafe before taking the taxi to the airport. The herb and potato omelette hit the spot.
I am so grateful to our incredible moms (and company!) who made the kid’s time so healthy and happy. They felt like they had a vacation too, I could tell when I got home! They were so full of love and joy and security. It was such a gift, to be able to relax with each other knowing our babies were happy and well cared for.
Key West, we are coming back for you!