We continued our tour of Key West today. Our first stop was at the Eco-Discovery Center, which has free admission and free parking. This is indeed a rarity in the Old Town section of Key West. Free admission to other attractions or free parking were not available there. Yesterday we spent $16.50 for all-day parking in one of the parking lots dispersed throughout the Old Town section. We decided we would make the Eco-Discovery Center parking lot our base camp for the day while we toured the Old Town section on our bicycles.
The Eco-Discovery Centers’ mission is to draw attention to the delicate ecosystem of the Florida Keys. It has several animated and live aquarium displays, plus a 30-minute movie that draws attention to the important responsibility each of us have to preserve and protect our environment.
The Eco-Discovery Center is located on the Atlantic Ocean waterfront next to the U.S.C.G.C. INGHAM, a Coastguard ship, and the U.S.S. MOHAWK, a WWII destroyer that is credited with destroying a number of Japanese war ships. Both ships are operated as museums, but only the Coastguard ship is available for onboard tours. The U.S.S MOHAWK has sustained substantial degradation through the years and is scheduled to be towed in 2012 to the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Fort Meyer, Florida, and sunk there to provide an artificial reef.
We spent the remainder of the day exploring the Old Town section of Key West on our bicycles. This is a very bicycle friendly area, so we felt quite comfortable riding our bicycles here. We probably covered about every square foot of the area and had a wonderful time exploring all that Key West has to offer.
We were successful in completing two items on our menu tasting list for today. The first item on the list was to sample some Conch Fritters. Conch Fritters are made from farm raised Conch shellfish. The heel of the Conch is used in a seasoned flour-based recipe. They are made into the shape and size of a golf ball and deep-fried. Every street-side café that offers Conch Fritters advertises they have the best secret recipe, so you just have to ask around and then select one. We found a small street-side stand that had absolutely delicious Fritters. Our second item on the list was Key Lime Pie. One does not visit Key West without doing Key Lime pie. We were informed that Kermit's Key West Key Lime Shoppe had the best Key Lime pie and they did not disappoint. Sharon had the standard version and I had the chocolate covered version. Kermit lived up to their reputation. Did I mention that Kermit will ship their Key Lime pies anywhere within the U.S? Now those will be some expensive pies indeed!
After comsuming our high caloric indulgence of the Fritters and Key Lime pie, we rode our bicycles over to the harbor on the Atlantic Ocean side of Key West. Sitting in the harbor was a magnificent blue colored yacht manufactured by Baglietto, an Italian shipbuilder that builds custom designed multi-million dollar yachts. The name of the yacht in the harbor was Bellissima, registered out of Bikini. If you google Bellissima yachts, there is a 2003 model for sale, listed at $9.5 million dollars. It is listed at 127 feet in length.
There were also two very large cruise ships docked in the harbor. We were fortunate to be there when one of the ships was making preparations to depart. It is amazing to see how gently the ship is eased away from the dock and slides gracefully out into the ocean.
We decided to take a pass on the "Sunset Celebration" this evening. We figured we had done enough celebrating for today, for our age group!
Tomorrow, another new adventure begins!