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Key West Time
August 3rd
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Key West Vacation Rentals Blog


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Key West Songwriter’s Festival 2015

It’s time again for The Key West Songwriters Festival. This is the 20th year the festival has rocked Key West. For the past 20 year this event has grown to be both a tourist attraction and local favorite. This event is the largest festival of songwriters in the world. With a full schedule featuring five nights of performances and appearances by the best songwriters alive. This year is sure to be one for the books.

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This local event attracts some of the best know in the music industry. The event features several performances and informative talks at various venues across town. There is a complete schedule listed below.

 

See The PDF Schedule By Clicking The Images Below:

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Key West Conch Republic Celebration

The southernmost city is gearing up for this year’s Conch Republic Independence Celebration!

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As Key West gears up for the annual Conch Republic Independence Celebration coming up April 17 – 26, 2015, we do so in bitter sweetness without the leadership of our beloved friend Sir Peter Anderson, former Secretary General of the Conch Republic from 1990 – 2014. Peter is deeply missed in Key West, since he lost his courageous battle against cancer in July 2014. With his passing fresh in our hearts, it’s natural to expect to see him turn up any minute, his vibrant humorous self scurrying about in the official Conch Republic electric car generating enthusiasm. Credited for developing the brand of the Conch Republic, Sir Peter Anderson created and supplied Conch Republic Passports to enthusiasts worldwide. It was our own Sir Peter Anderson that was quick to remind us that, “The foreign policy of the Conch Republic was founded on the mitigation of world tension through the exercise of humor, warmth and respect in a world we find in sore need of all three.”

The week-long Independence Celebration of the Conch Republic 2015, takes place at various locations around the island, on land and sea. For landlubbers the highlight is often said to be the wildly popular benefit bed races down Duval Street. The female impersonator “Great Conch Republic Drag Race” &  the “Conch Republic Red Ribbon Bed Race.” There will also be a “conch cruiser” car show, a pet stroll, a pirates ball, and various other entertaining salutes, tributes, and events in honor of the Conch Republic. You never know quite what to expect in these zany events. But one thing for sure is that a fantastic time is had by all.

If you’re quite not clear on how the Conch Republic came about, we have to go back in time to 1982, when a group of Key West locals ‘seceded from the United States.’ The U.S. Border Patrol had set up a road block at the north end of the Florida Keys, looking for drug traffickers. The ploy was ineffective in catching drug runners, but the nuisance traffic delays it created did have the unfortunate effect of discouraging tourists from making the drive down the Florida Keys, therefore stifling tourism in Key West.

In humorous protest, a group of Key West creatives, lead by then Mayor Dennis Wardlow, was proclaimed the Prime Minister of the Conch Republic, who ‘declared war’ by symbolically breaking a loaf of bread over the head of a fellow prankster dressed in a Navy uniform. Within minutes, they ‘surrendered’ to the man in mock Navy costume and applied for a billion dollars in foreign aid. The Conch Republic evolved over time in legend and lore, and was possibly best described by the late great Secretary General who served with dedication from 1990 – 2014:

 

“Dedicated to the fundamentally American spirit of a people unafraid to stand up to ‘government gone mad with power’ that embodied the founding of the Conch Republic in 1982. As the world’s first fifth world nation, a sovereign state of mind seeking only to bring more humor, warmth and respect to a world in sore need of all three, the Conch Republic remains the country who seceded where others failed.”

-Sir Peter Anderson, Secretary General of the Conch Republic

 

Peter Anderson adored this island and worked hard to preserve its authenticity and environmental integrity, and would expect nothing else but for everyone to move forward full speed ahead with fun and folly … we can hear him now, “Come one, come all.” So with our friend in our hearts, we get ready for this week long celebration of life as we know it in this tiny micro-nation.

Vacation Homes of Key West is most excited for the sea lovers sailing race, known as the Wreckers Cup, that’s staged in honor of the tenacious salvagers known as “wreckers.” With tongue-in-cheek reckless abandon, seaworthy participants sail out and around the coral reef recreating in the imagination the torturous journey taken by the wreckers of Key West’s past. There will also be the truly amazing annual Battle of Key West Secession, a ‘mock battle’ in the Key West Harbor. The Conch Republic Navy, made up of Key West wooden schooners and tourist boats, and the Conch Republic Air Force, made up of volunteer planes flying overhead, face-off in folly with an actual U.S. Navy vessel! This is an unbelievably outrageous Key West event that you don’t want to miss. Make sure you grab a seat on the dock at the Key West Harbor. And don’t forget to bring a conch shell horn to blow in support.

We know you’ll be here with us in spirit, Sir Peter Anderson, Secretary General of the Conch Republic,  1990 – 2014. May you rest in peace.

 

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See the full event schedule below:

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Key West Cuban Coffee Shops are a Tourist Destination

Cuban Coffee Queen Blog Photo sizeCuban Coffee Queen is a Popular Key West Cuban Coffee Shop

Key West locals are experts in authentic Cuban coffee. The island of Cuba is only 90 miles away from Key West which is steeped in Cuban culture. With a prominent Cuban community on the island for generations, Cuban food is a staple for many, and drinking Cuban coffee, (café Cubano) is a favorite daily ritual for most locals. For coffee lovers, Key West Cuban Coffee shops are a tourist destination.

Café Cubano originated in Cuba when espresso machines were first imported from Italy. Cuba has an abundance of sugar cane fields, and coffee baristas were quick to reinvent Italian espresso by sweetening it with their own concoction of with demerara sugar as it is being brewed. Drinking Cuban coffee Cubano remains a prominent social and cultural activity.

A fabulous selection of Key West Cuban coffee bars serve up a long list of delectable favorite coffee concoctions including cortadito, colada, café con leche, and Cuban espresso. Cuban espresso is known as bucci in Key West. One Key West Cuban coffee bar, Sandy’s Café calls it “Cuban Speed,” as it’s sure to get anyone going. Café Bustello and Café Pilon are two favorite coffee brands that many of the Cuban coffee houses prefer.

It’s easy to find a Cuban Coffee shop just off Duval Street. Cuban Coffee Queen, Five Brothers Grocery, Sandy’s Café, White Street Sandwich Shop, Ana’s Cuban Café and Blossoms are a few of the local favorites. Key West Cuban restaurants El Siboney and El Mason de Pepe, also pour some of the best café Cubano to follow up an authentic meal. Whether your Cuban coffee destination is off-Duval Street, on the Key West Seaport, on the beachside, in the heart of Old Town, or in New Town Key West, there is always a place close by to go for real Cuban coffee.

All the talk right now is about Cuba opening up, and Key West citizens are excited and ready to make Cuba their destination. People have a long history of moving back and forth between the islands. Old timers tell us baby-boomers about the ‘good old days, when Cuba was like an extension of Key West. Havana was the place to go to shop during the week and for nightlife on the weekends. Ernest Hemingway fans know that ‘Papa,’ fished the waters between the islands and had homes in both Key West and Cuba. And we know that he drank café Cubano in the morning before he started on the mojitos in the afternoon, on both islands.

Nowadays, when Key West friends join up with American and Cuban neighbors alike, drinking our Key West Cuban coffee at our favorite coffee place, we often ponder about when the doors of Cuba will open completely and imagine how we will get there. Will it be a 4 hour ferry ride across the Florida Straits, or a 45 minute plane ride? Shall we go and spend the night in Havana, or take a day trip and come home to Key West at night?

When Cuba finally opens up, the Key West International Airport will become a real international airport again. Gone will be the days when Key West is the final destination for commercial air-craft. Hopefully sooner than later, it will be possible to easily ‘hop over to Cuba and back again.’ But even when Cuba does open up wide, Key West Cuban Coffee Shops as a tourist destination will remain as we love it today; the U.S. Caribbean island to get a Key West Cuban coffee brew that’s tried-and-true, guaranteed to rev you up in Key West for a visit to Cuba!

As a tourist destination, Key West does have a Starbucks on Duval Street, which beckons many tourists, but real coffee aficionados don’t want to miss the bliss of authentic Cuban coffee. Buying American coffee in Key West is kind of like going for going for American hamburgers in Italy. ‘While in Rome, do as the Romans do.’ Experiencing authentic food, wine, and coffee wherever you travel will bring you closer to the local culture. Key West is a Cuban coffee destination, so while you’re in Key West, do as Key Westers do, and indulge in a cup of fresh made-to-order Cuban coffee.

New Additions To The Key West Restaurant Scene

It is no secret that Key West is a culinary destination all it’s own. The selection of places to dine is always expanding, and this year is no exception. While most of these new fares are food trucks or smaller food stands, don’t let the looks fool you. This little island packs quit a punch of flavor. This past year the island has seen several new hot spots popping up around town.  Good food is good food, and gourmet or not, these spots are guaranteed to satisfy. All of the places here are casual, kid friendly, and follow the key west motto of no shoes ,no shirt, no problem. Here is the short list of new favorites from the southernmost city:

Garbo’s Grill at Grunts: 409 Caroline Street.

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This is the reincarnation of Key West favorite food truck. You can find it in the new location behind Grunts on Caroline Street. The courtyard provides a great ambiance for dinning, with plenty of tree cover and shade. The menu consists of just a few choices, even so it can still be hard to chose. The local favorite is the Korean BBQ Rib Tacos, although the extravagantly adorned hotdogs are a close second. Beer and wine are available at the bar and this is a great stop for a quick lunch or diner in the courtyard.

Andy’s Cabana: 308 Petronia Street. 

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The Bahama Village neighborhood is host to many great key west restaurants, Andy’s Cabana being the newest. This hideout is located across from Blue Heaven and is a great alternative if your not up for the 30-45min. wait. Serving an assortment of fried Key West treats along with some of the best Conch Salad in the world. Andy’s Cabana is a fun funky find, great for a quick snack or to get your Conch Fritter fix. Good beer on tap and outdoor courtyard for seating.

Lagerheads Beach Bar: 0 Simonton Street. (North End)

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How about sitting down to a cold one and some fish tacos on the beach? Thats right I said on the beach! This little food shack is located just off the end of Duval Street at the Simonton Street beach & boat ramp. Offering a specialty smoked fish dip and crab cakes, this little gem is a good snack spot. The views from anywhere you sit are amazing. Go rest your feet in one of the lounge chairs on the beach and knock back a few cold ones.

White Street Station: 1127 Truman Ave.

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Curb side Gourmet, just like the sign says! This little food truck is located at the intersection of Truman and White Street. You’ll find various offering including a great Veggie Burger and the town favorite, the Al Forno Steak Sandwich. Made with prime tenderloin, blue cheese & arugula, this steak sandwich is one for the record books. If your a fan of Fried Chicken & Waffles, don’t miss the Special only offed on Thursday. This is a great stop while driving down Truman, heading out of or into town.