Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Yes, Indeed. The Florida Keys Lived Up To My Every Expectation. Sit Back, Relax And Let The Warm Gulf Breeze Wash Over You. But You Gotta Find A Place To Sleep Off That Hangover, Right? Status: Siesta Motel - Marathon Key FLA
While there are a few grand neon motel signs still up and in working condition in the Florida Keys and along the coasts in general, the massive storms they have to endure tend to thin their numbers and as a result you find many more like this. Still cute and the motel itself...Retro-tastic!
Note that almost all of the places we stay on our roadtrip vacations are "motels" and not "hotels".
This is an important distinction for those of you who might like to play along on your next vacation.
My chief and easiest way to find these places while out on the road (remember, I don't plan all this
out before we leave!) is to just pull up the city or town we are in or near using Google maps on my
smart phone, then I just type "motel" in the search box on the map and up pops all these little mom
and pop places, largely ignoring the larger, upscale, more expensive hotels in the area. Then I just
start sifting through the results on the map until I find one that looks promising. A quick call for the
rates and a drive by for a visual and BAM, we're done! That's not at all how we found the Siesta
Motel. Nope, that was just plain ol' luck. Then again, all the motels and hotels in the Keys are pretty
much on highway 1 so, does one really need a map?
The sign DID catch our eye and the retro vibe of the building style didn't hurt either, but it was when
the owner opened the door to the room that sealed the deal. Cleanest Rooms In Paradise is what it
says on the sign and yes, the joint was clean...but check out the original Terrazzo flooring. That is
just a joy to behold. It looked so good that I was momentarily in a confused state of disbelief. How
on earth had this survived in an inexpensive little Florida Keys motel for 60 odd years? Dunno, but it
has. The place was not at all expensive either. Sure, the beds weren't the best (the Palms Retro in
Neptune Beach WERE!) but for real, we didn't come to the Keys for an amazing bed. We came for
the sand, warm water, amazing food and drink and...oh yeah ::sigh:: The Sunsets!
On a recommendation from the motel owner we found a bar attached to a restaurant called Keys
Fisheries Market And Marina on the Gulf side of Marathon Key. The guy knew exactly what I was
after. Fresh seafood right off the boat, plenty of fruity coctails and a banging view of the sunset over
the Gulf Of Mexico. This is an amazing sight if you think about it. How many places on the East
Coast can you watch the sun set over the ocean? For that matter, how many places can you watch it
rise over the ocean in the morning and then watch it set over the ocean later that day?
The sunset was amazing but for a few clouds and the drinks were fabulous but I made a poor decision
concerning my choice of entree. I chose some locally caught fish (Grouper maybe, can't recall) and
had it fried up in Cajun seasoning but it was WAY too salty. Thankfully the batter was easy if
inconvenient to remove and imparted a vaguely Indian taste (yummy!) to the fish. The girlfriends
dinner was spot on and I wouldn't think twice about recommending the joint except to say avoid the
Cajun fried option. I don't know if the bar is actually part of the restaurant or not but we had to order
our food at a window and wait for our name to be called to go back and pick it up when it was ready.
It's all VERY casual but worth the effort. The bar is up on pilings so you get a great view of the Gulf
and after the sun goes down there are lamps under the water all around the dock that attract fish. Big
fish... BIG TARPON fish! That was a nice topper to an otherwise lovely evening.