Aug 16, 2012





Goodbye Key West! Hello Fort Lauderdale!


When we woke up, our first thought went to the iguana. Was it still there? Sneaked outside and yes, it was. After that we got ready and decided to try and hit Higg’s Beach in the morning for some more pics. After we had showered and packed away everything that had still been out, before we started to haul down our suitcases and stowed everything in the car.

After all that work we sat out on the balcony one last time taking in all the beautiful scenery before checking for forgotten items and closing the door behind us. Again, we went to the Southernmost Beach Café for breakfast. When we arrived we were stunned. The Café was full. There were no empty tables, but we thought about asking anyway. And when we approached the hostess stand we saw why they were so full. The wedding party from the day before was enjoying breakfast there as well. The hostess looked around and offered us a small table close to a wall towards the back of the Café and we were happy to have a seat in the first place. Our server was in charge of the wedding party as well, so she was really working hard, but she was friendly and fast to take our order. I ordered some Orange juice and Tom had some coffee and we had quickly decided on our breakfast fare. The special Quiche was, what had tickled Tom’s fancy. It was made with scallions, ham, provolone and asparagus and came with a side of breakfast potatoes and a fresh fruit bowl. I was missing Key West already and took refuge by ordering something I can always eat, the Beach Café Benedict, poached eggs atop English muffin and sliced ham, topped with a light creamy hollandaise sauce. They too came with a side of breakfast potatoes and fruit and were delicious.

We both really enjoyed our breakfast but were fast to leave after we were done, because they needed more tables and because we wanted to see if we could get to Higgs Beach. So we walked back, checked out and handed in the booking request for next year, then got into the car and off we went. Since there was a d-tour on the shortest route, we headed towards the beach. Within a few minutes we had made it there and there were several free parking spaces, so we stopped. Several people were checking out the beach and the pier and we quickly made our way out onto the pier. There were so many fish in the water, it was just amazing.

We watched for quite some time and could even see our hotel in the distance. But the sun was very strong and we could feel our skin burning, so we made our way back to the car. Not even out of Key West we were already thirsty and dug for a bottle of water which we emptied right away, then got into the car and off we went. The drive takes you all around the island on one side, then you head towards the main land. We wanted to take a photo of the sign when you leave Key West, but I missed it and Tom was kind enough to turn around at the next stoplight, so we could get the sign driving into the town and leaving it again. And once we had the photos we got on our way towards Fort Lauderdale.

The drive is pretty scenic, over lots of bridges and crystal clear waters. Since you cannot drive to fast there is lots of opportunity to look around. Around midday we started to watch out for Marker 88, a restaurant I had read quite a lot about. We had said that we would at least have a look IF we found it. So when we passed marker 80 we started to look. We made our way up to 88 and found it right away. You need to make a left turn when you drive towards the mainland and drive down to the beach to get to the restaurant. To say the beach looked awesome would have been an understatement. It looked wonderful.

The restaurant looked inviting too, so we decided to stay and give it a try. When we walked up, the hostess asked where we wanted to sit, outside or inside. We considered dining inside for a split second, but since the beach looked so awesome, so we asked for a table outside. We were then led to a nice shady high table right at the water’s edge. The server told us that as guests of the restaurant we were free to use the beach. We hadn’t planned on that and our swimsuits were buried somewhere in the trunk of the car, but it was something to keep in mind for a return visit.

We both ordered a Diet Coke and it was served fast, while we were still studying the menu. When the server came back to take our order she already had refills on the tray. Shows that we were truly thirsty by then. I wanted something a bit more on the lighter side, so I ordered the Grilled Mahi Caesar salad, grilled Mahi Mahi over Caesar salad with Haiku tomatoes, roasted red peppers and Reggiano Croutons. I really liked how light and fresh it all tasted and I was very pleased with my decision. Tom had ordered the Key Lime Seafood Penne, lobster, shrimp and blue crab sautéed in a Key Lime Tabasco butter with tomatoes and scallions. It was a huge helping and shock full of seafood and he enjoyed it quite a lot. When we had both finished our main courses the server offered desserts and since I had read about their Key Lime Pie before I could not help myself and had to try it. It was a HUGE piece of pie that she brought out and I was sure there was no way I could finish this. But this was the VERY best Key Lime Pie I had had all vacation. The crust was homemade and a little thicker, tart, creamy filling and meringue piled high. Heaven on a plate, so good. And after every lust crumb was picked up from the plate and the bill paid we walked out onto the pier that is part of the Marker 88 beach.

A few pictures later and back on dry land we decided to hit the restroom before driving further towards Fort Lauderdale. Tom used the one in the annex, while I headed into the main building. And that was the moment I was happy we had decided to sit outside. While it was clean inside, the restaurant appeared to be dated and dark inside. Once we were ready and had finally dipped our toes into the ocean as well we got into the car and were on our way again. We still had a chunk of drive ahead of us and made good progress until we hit the Miami area again. Guess what, we were greeted by grey clouds again and hit heavy traffic. Thankfully the clouds didn’t open up and we slowly crawled out of Miami. Miami behind us traffic got lighter again and around 5pm we were close to Fort Lauderdale.

 This was our third stop at Fort Lauderdale, with the first one being in 1999 where we had been sure this was the worst stop of our tour. Then in 2009 we stopped in Ford Lauderdale again and while we had a nice hotel at the beach and stayed close to Bubba Gump, it was loaded with mosquitos and we got bitten by some really poisonous ones. Now, we hoped that this third visit would be the best one ever. Initially we had thought about having dinner at Bubba Gump, but by then we were not sure if we would be able to make it in time as a few miles prior to Fort Lauderdale the traffic had become considerably thicker.

And not only the traffic, but the clouds as well and it started to rain. It started to rain hard. Finally we exited the highway and went towards the city. And after a 20 minute drive we finally pulled up to the hotel. We walked up to the front entrance and checked in and were pleasantly surprised that everything had already been prepared. All we needed to do was pick up the keys. The guy at the front desk showed us the side entrance, so it would be easier for us to bring in our luggage, explained about the areas where there would be free internet and then walked us to the elevator.

We rolled our hand luggage inside and went up to our floor and were shocked when we saw the door. There were obvious signs that someone had to tried to break open the door. But the lock was still intact, so we opened the door and walked inside. And that was the moment it really hit me. Compared to the hotel we had just checked out of this one looked run down and shabby. Don’t get me wrong. Everything was clean, but “old”. We checked everything and I was really shocked to see the balcony.

I had picked the hotel because it showed a nice oceanview balcony. Well the actual balcony was less than two feet deep and half of it was occupied by the air conditioning. I definitely wasn’t happy with the creative photography they had used, but it was only for one night. So we headed downstairs again and hauled all our luggage up to the room. We unpacked what we needed to unpack and went on exploring the room. Now, the last straw was when Tom found out that the deadbolt was hanging by a thread. Now, that was it. We went down to the front desk and I complained about it. The receptionist was very nice and apologetic, but if we wanted to move all he could offer was a room with a king bed and no view.

He offered to send someone up to check the door though. So, a little later that employee came by and despite the obvious break in markings we were told that this was a very safe hotel and nothing had ever happened there. Yeah right. He then offered to repair the deadbolt by pushing the screws in with his thumb. I wasn’t happy but we had decided to build an inside wall with the ironing board and our suitcases instead. Actually when I later tried to pull at the latch it was easy to pull it out with my little finger. After we both had cooled down a bit we decided against Bubba Gump and headed out to just pick up some groceries.

We made our way into Fort Lauderdale again and while we had to wait for a draw bridge to open I wanted to grab my purse and it was gone.I knew I had last had it when we checked in, but was not sure if I had put it down somewhere along the way. So once we had crossed the bridge, Tom turned around and we headed back to the hotel. Luckily after a few minutes I found it in one of our suitcases. Now, purse in hand we were on our way back to Publix again. We picked up some sandwich necessities and some drinks and snacks and when we headed out of the parking lot we thought about dessert. I knew there was a Krispy Kreme somewhere close, so Tom asked his trusted GPS and we were on our way.

They did have the Hot Now sign on, but once inside it didn’t look like they were actually hot. We bought half a dozen and finally got on our way back to our hotel. In the meantime it had become dark and when we finally arrived at the hotel all the “free” parking at the side of the hotel was gone. So we parked in front of the main entrance, as these were the only parking spots available. We hauled our loot upstairs, Tom put the drinks in the fridge, we set the table and turned on the TV and had a leisurely sandwich dinner in front of the TV. Once we were done we built our “castle” in front of the door with the help of an ironing board and our suitcases and then went to bed. We needed to get out of there early the next day. The Contemporary Resort was waiting.