Thursday, February 9, 2012

Mini vacation - Florida - Day 4

Wednesday February 8th

 Our B+B
After a nice breakfast on the porch looking into the pool area we are now ready to explore.
We decide to take a tour at Ernest Hemingway's house. You can go with a guide or by yourself. A tour just started so we joined. It was a large group but the guide was quite funny and made it very interesting.
Hemingway loved cats especially his first 6-toed one "Snowshoes". Her decedents are still around. He had as much as more then 40 in his household and that's as many as there are now. As we waited in the first room for the tour to start, I couldn't resist taking a photo of this one with the sign "no sitting on furniture" right next to it.
The house was built 1851 by Asa Tift. The rich uncle of Hemingway's second wife Pauline bought it 1931 for $8000 as a gift for them. She was used to luxuries and did a number of renovations. Especially all the chandeliers were pointed out.

Much of the furniture was antiques from Europe. The Spanish bed is from the 1700's and was specially made because Hemingway was tall and heavy. The headboard was made from the carved gate from a Spanish cloister and fence posts. You can see the hinges.

The lumps on the bed ...
... yes, sleeping cats everywhere.
This photo of a cat sculpture is unfortunately not very good. It's actually a Picasso (well, this one of course a copy. The original is in a safe).

From the upper story you could the lighthouse across the street. The story is that his friends thought he liked his house because the lighthouse helped Hemingway find it after his nightly visits to Sloppy Joe's Bar.
The property is about one acre. The landscaping was very nice and interesting. James and I wonder whether it was like this at Hemingway's time? 
Our guide talking about the cats.

We are standing between a little house on the left (next picture) which used to be a  carriage house with a hay loft upstairs for the horses and the main house on the right (picture after the next). Pauline had converted the carriage house into guest quarters downstairs and upstairs was Hemingway's studio ... accessible by a cat walk across from the main house bedroom floor.
Iron steps to the studio put in by the next owner after the cat walk was destroyed by a hurricane.
 The back of the main house across from the studio.
A look into the the studio. The   video   shows it better but you can also see the wrought-iron works preventing anyone from taking a step into it.

The studio looks very comfortable and friendly and I can see that it would be conducive for work. Of course this was before computers and you can see his typewriter. He would start every morning early as the guide said "for 700 words or until lunch, whatever came first". His leg got badly damaged during the war and gave him a lot of trouble so he would write mostly standing at his typewriter.
ALL the windows had lace curtains with a cat motive.
This feature in the garden is the watering hole for the cats. The big jug is from Cuba but the trough is a urinal from Sloppy Joe's Bar when it was renovated. Wife Pauline was appalled and tried to hide it behind fancy tiles but Ernest told every visitor with pride anyway. The marriage didn't last. He already had another woman in his life.

All the cats had names of famous people and at their death were buried properly in a corner of the property.
When the house was built stones were quarried out of the ground first and then used for building. Thus it has a basement which is unusual. But it is also very strong and has survived all the hurricanes which is also unusual here.

If you don't want to join a group, you can ask for written explanations and guide yourself. I picked one up in German which was nice to read.
Then we went across the street to the Lighthouse which was built in 1847 but made taller in 1894. It has circular stairs with 88 steps and a great view all over the island.

Stairs looking down.

Finally proof that I was really in Key West, haha.
Hemingway's house across the street.

Stairs looking up.
The lighthouse keepers' quarters next door, now a museum. Very interesting.

Crewelwork on loosely woven fabric (almost like net). Curtains I guess.
I would have never guessed to find a lace (wedding) dress here. It was machine made lace but very charming.

In the photo on the left you can see the lighthouse and keeper's quarters without the now huge trees.

And roosters all over town ... running around loose. Only a few hens though. They are probably busy laying eggs or so. Typical ... the males running around etc etc
Then we came to this sign. The end of ... Brook Road (US Hwy 1 called in Richmond). Going right past Sarah's pharmacy. 
Of course on the other side of the street in the other direction ... the beginning!
Also called the Truman Annex. We went there but then skipped it because there were a lot of people and we were not sure whether it was really worth it.
Walking further: A cruise ship in the harbour. Costa, where have I heard that name recently? Oh, dear.
We also wanted to see St Paul's Episcopal Church. Surprise! Lace!
Beautiful stained glass windows.

More lace. Drawn work.
More lace.

We had walked a lot. Time to relax a little.
The people in the Conch House are so friendly. We got a good recommendation and reservation for The Seven Fish Restaurant just around the corner. It was a small place in a small side road but packed full. They only had place for us left at the bar (2 of 4). Great food, great atmosphere, great service.

Special of the day: fresh catch in a most delicious creamy curry with veggies on rice.

The bartender was fun and the couple next to us too.

They told us they were going to the theater. So we decided that was a good idea. Timing after dinner was perfect too. The play was ... different. "A dead man's cell phone" by Sara Ruhl. Interesting. Quite good entertainment.

On the way back to the hotel we saw this Walgreens. Had to take a photo for Sarah. All chain businesses here look unobtrusive like local places.

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