A culture shock for most; home for me.
Key West is unlike anyplace else in the world. I grew up in one of the most popular vacation spots, complete with busy cruise ship ports, vulgar t-shirt shops, and bars that welcome wife beater tanks tops and flip-flop sandals. This beautiful little island is home to some of the most incredible sceneries, the most interesting stories and histories, and hands-down the best restaurants I've ever eaten at. Known mostly for its Duval Street Strip full of bars, shops, and well ... some more adult venues, the reputation of my beloved island is, in my opinion, amazingly underrated.
Of course, Key West is a beautiful place to come to on a Christmas vacation. Sunny and 75? Try 85 actually, and with the island lifestyle on top of it all. There is no such thing as being in a hurry in the southernmost city. Growing up with this mentality has taught me so much about life. It's been said a million times that you simply cannot rush great things. Visiting cities such as New York City or Miami make me so frantic, and I never quite understood why until I went back to visit my beloved Key West. I recognize the same traits I find in myself in mostly all of the people down there; it’s like a vacation every day. You can’t be in a hurry, because it doesn’t take more than five minutes to get anywhere; and if by chance it does, then there is guaranteed to be something gorgeous just outside of your window to gaze at and eliminate your stresses.
Among the incredible lifestyle and the colorful city-island life, Key West is full of rich history. It seems that every corner you turn houses another museum or tour to remember a great man of another time. Ernest Hemingway wrote most of his treasured novels on this island, and you can visit the very place where he walked the halls of his home. Key West is home to some of Mel Fisher’s enormous treasures and elaborate tales. We have tried to become our own republic simply to keep this unique lifestyle alive and still fight for it every day. We are a bright culture, an accepting culture, and most adoringly, a diverse culture.
This diversity brings me to my last and final point. Perhaps the one thing I visit Key West the most frequently for is the different cuisines that are served on this incredible island. With Kew West being an island in which people escape to, our locals have come from all across the world bringing their unique passions and cultures with them. Most often, when you walk into a Spanish tapas restaurant like Santiago’s Bodega (my personal favorite), you find authentic Spanish tapas. You not only get the genuine cuisine but the culture as well. You sit for hours while you drink and order tapas among friends, similar to those of traditional restaurants in Spain.
Key West is a place where everything is welcomed and everything is celebrated. Whether it be your culture, your lifestyle, your sexual orientation or simply your quirky talent that your family never understood, this is one place where it will thrive and be turned into a true passion. The best part about it is that you become a part of a much larger family being here — we like to call it “one human family.”
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