A Day in Key West

Sothernmost Point

After spending yesterday in Islamorada, I decided to drive the 80 miles to the southernmost point in the United States and spend a day in Key West.

Key West is like a different world after spending hours driving down route one through various islands connected by bridges, you enter what is essentially a small city.

Key West is similar to the wild west, in that it has an anything goes atmosphere and you are never sure what you are going to see next.

I made my way down to Duvall Street along with the throngs of tourist to do the touristy things.

I rented a motor scooter and began to explore this eclectic island.

My island adventure led me to Fleming Street where I found the Help Yourself Cafe and decided to go in, sit down and see what it was about.

I immediately took to the Bohemian atmosphere and was even more pleased to find a Matcha Green Tea Latte on the menu.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with Matcha, it is a type of specially grown green tea that is loaded with antioxidants and has an earthy, grassy flavor.

The best guide to learning about Matcha that I have found is at MatchaConnection.com.

The Matcha Green Tea Latte was pretty good, maybe not the best I’ve had, but only because I make my own that I absolutely love.

I got back on the motor scooter with a jolt of new found energy from the Matcha Latte and made my way to the corner of Whitehead Street and South Street to find the southernmost point in the United States.

And wallah, here it is!

Sothernmost Point

 

From there I made my way back to Duvall Street where I went into the Famous Sloppy Joes Bar and had a mojito.

Yes, only one this time!

Sloppy Joes was a combination of tourists in flowered shirts and locals that looked they were attached to the bar stools for years.

Sloppy Joes

 

As the day was getting later, I made my way down to Mallory Square to catch the most famous show in Key West.

Mallory Square

The entertainment in Mallory Square takes the form of multiple street performers tackling everything from juggling to tightrope walking and more.

But those are not the most famous show in Mallory Square.

Yes there is a daily gathering to witness one of the most beautiful forces of nature.

Sunset…

key west sunset

Watching the sunset in Mallory Square is almost a spiritual experience and I got goosebumps when the large crowd erupted in applause as the sun disappeared.

Overall, I liked Key West, although I see why some call it Key Weird and I’m not sure that I would want a steady diet of it.

But it sure was fun to visit…

Shopping in Islamorada

Ocean Gardens

So I spent the afternoon shopping in Islamorada and I found a couple of really neat places that I wanted to share with you.

The first place is kind of an eclectic collection of artists and local craftspeople selling their wares and I really enjoyed shopping here.

The thing that got my attention and made me stop here is the giant sea creature that adorns the parking lot.

Apparently it is a spiny lobster and goes by the name Betty!

Giant Lobster Islamorada

The name of the store is the Rain Barrel and they carry all kinds of Keys gifts and memorabilia including awesome things from local artisans.

If you walk through the Rain Barrel, there is a whole another world out back with little shops and art galleries.

It is a very cool place to shop and one of my favorite places that I have found so far in South Florida.

Rain Barrel Islamorada

 

The pictures don’t really do it justice. You have to stop here to experience it.

You can’t miss it. It is right on route one in Islamorada and there is a giant lobster named Betty out front!

I made a few more stops, but most of them were your typical tourist traps that I would not recommend. There was one more however, that I absolutely loved.

It was called Ocean Gardens and like most other places in the Keys, it is right on US 1.

Ocean Gardens

Ocean Gardens is a little more high end than the Rain Barrel and I bumped into a few of the obnoxious Cheeca guests here, but I didn’t let it affect my awesome shopping experience.

I found shells from the local area and some really cool things from local artisans. The store has a nautical theme, which is appropriate as we are surrounded by water here in the keys.

I purchased this Lookdown Fish Metal Sculpture for my living room at home.

Steel Fish Art

I absolutely love it!

I would say that my day shopping in Islamorada was a success and I would recommend stopping at the Rain Barrel and at Ocean Gardens.

There are a lot of tourist traps to avoid and these two stores are worth stopping at.

Cheeca Lodge – Florida Keys

Checa Logo

I arrived at Cheeca Lodge in Islamorada Florida in the afternoon and they told me that my room was not yet ready, but that I could go ahead and enjoy the resort and they would call me when it was ready.

I took a short stroll around the resort to get the lay of the land.

Cheeca Lodge

Cheeca is considered a luxury resort and it oozed of high society everywhere, which was a welcome respite after driving all the way down route one through the Keys.

The keys reminded me of an era gone by. It was somewhat like traveling back in time with run down hotels and shacks and then all of a sudden you are thrust into the future for a mile or so and then back to the past.

If you have ever been to the keys, you will know what I mean.

Cheeca Pool

I made my way to the tiki bar and sat down and asked the bartender what they had for tea.

Judging by the look he gave me, it wasn’t much, so I told him never mind, give me a Mojito.

I must say the Mojito was so good that I had another and by the time the front desk called to tell me my room was ready, I was ready for a nap.

The next day after a mediocre breakfast in the main restaurant, I explored the beach and the pier.

Be forewarned that the beach really isn’t a beach that most people are used to. It is more of a corally sand that goes down to really shallow water. You can’t really swim in the water, but you can wade and the pool is right behind you if you want to swim.

Cheeca Water

All in all I would say that Cheeca Lodge is a nice place to stay. My one complaint is that the other people staying here all have an attitude, but that is always the problem at a high end resort.

Stay tuned as today I am going out shopping locally and I will let you know what I find.

The Tea Room – Miami

Tea Room

On a recent visit to South Florida I found myself looking for a quality cup of tea. After asking around, it became abundantly clear that if you are looking for good tea in this area, you have to try the Tea Room Restaurant on Southwest 224th Street in Miami.

After a short drive south we arrived in time for lunch.
cauley square directory
The Tea Room is located in Cauley Square, which is an old railroad village transformed in to a shopping area and art gallery in the old Florida style.

It is a pretty cool place with an Aviary, restaurants, the old railroad village and more.

Apparently you can book the place for weddings and such.

I must say I like this place and I never would have found it if I wasn’t looking for a good cup of tea.

The Tea Room

Once we found our way to the Tea Room, I was so impressed with the decor!

It was like going from nostalgic Old South Florida to a fancy tea room in London.

The Tea Room Restaurant actually consists of six rooms all decorated in a different style.

We were seated in the Wicker Room which I absolutely loved!

Wicker Room

The first order of business was to order some tea.

I found the tea menu to be nothing special, but impressive by Miami standards.

Tea available at the Tea Room

  • Earl Grey Tea
  • English Breakfast Tea
  • Estate Darjeeling
  • Bombay Chai Tea
  • Hazelnut Truffle
  • Sweet Orange Spice Tea
  • Belgian Mint Tea
  • Chamomile Citron Tea
  • Swiss Apple Tea
  • White Ambrosia Tea
  • White Ginger Pear Tea
  • Cucumber Mint Green Tea
  • Mango Peach Green Tea

I ordered the Cucumber Mint Green tea and I was pleasantly surprised by the green tea flavor softened by the cucumber and the strikingly sharp fresh mint.

Tea Room Tea

The lunch menu at The Tea Room features salads and sandwiches and in true Tea House fashion, I ordered the Finger Sandwiches.

They arrived neatly presented and a combination of Egg, Tuna and Banana with Cream Cheese all served with Ambrosia.

For a short while I was transformed back to being a little girl and having a tea party with my Dad and my stuffed animal friends.

It was a delightful experience and I will return to the Tea Room the next time I visit the Miami Area.

Now it is on to the Florida Keys!

 

California Tea House

California Tea House

Wow, I think I have found my nirvana! I was blessed to stop in to the California tea House yesterday and if you love tea, you have got to see this place!

I absolutely love their slogan…

Sip into something comfortable.

I wish I had thought of that.

California Tea House is a family owned tea store that specializes in loose leaf tea of all varieties.

Yea… Pretty cool.

They got their start by going to farmers markets and their versions of loose leaf tea blends became so popular that the decided to start selling online!

I must say…

You can’t even compare loose leaf tea with the tea we traditionally find in bags. It is like comparing a fine wine with wine from a box.

Ever Heard of Blooming Tea?

blooming tea
One new thing that I learned about tea is about blooming tea.
I had never heard of it before, but blooming tea is a mixture of fine tea and flowers tied into a bundle and steeped in hot water.

I tried it and OMG I’m hooked!

The blooming tea pictured here is the California Tea House Golden Sunrise and I highly recommend trying it.

Other Types of Tea

They have some awesome varieties if tea at The California Tea House. Here are some of the varieties of loose leaf tea available.

  • Blooming
  • Green
  • Black
  • White
  • Oolong
  • Rooibos
  • Herbal

Herbal Teas

And under each of these categories they then have numerous selections to match your taste in tea.

The California Tea House imports the finest loose leaf teas from around the world, but they also are focused on introducing the local California herbal teas to the market.

There is a whole world of exquisite herbal teas grown in California that are virtually unknown.

A big shout out to the founders of California Tea House, Will and Ani, for opening our eyes to the world’s finest teas and helping to spread the word!

You can find the California Tea House online by clicking here.