Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Walking Duval Street, And Walking...And Walking...

Duval Street in the sunshine: it makes you want to take a stroll, pick up a Cuban coffee, sit and check out the newspaper and do some people watching...The bugger of it is that there's nowhere on the entire street to do that. If you go to Duval prepare to be a zombie.

You might wonder where a man might be going with coconuts under his arms. Wonder away because he can't stop to tell you. The flow of zombies shuffling along the sidewalks carries all in its wake...


Brace yourself because the crowds are intense. This is Key West's most famous street after all, 14 blocks that connect the Straits of Florida to the Gulf of Mexico.

People crowd Duval because this is what the visitor literature talks about incessantly. We all know there's more to Key West than the t-shirt shops and souvenir stalls, art galleries and national chain outlets that pay preposterous rents to have street frontage here.

CVS has nice toilets my wife up informs me and she was delighted to see this familiar name offers one useful thing 24 hours a day. Fast Buck Freddie's is gone and there is nothing to be done. Long live CVS. Sigh.

Actually a toilet open 24 hours has one advantage: somewhere to sit. There is nowhere to sit the length of Duval Street. You can sit on your motorcycle of course.

Or you can bring your own chair, I suppose:

There is Jimmy Buffett's place on Duval, itself one of a chain. As I understand it a cheeseburger in paradise is to be found at Le Select in St Barth's, a French island that is even more expensive if you can believe it, than this town.

Nonetheless they crowd Margaritaville fondly imagining themselves in Paradise.

I want to enjoy Duval, but I want it my way. I want a pedestrian zone crossed at intervals by streets open to cars. I want wide shaded sidewalks, with tables and umbrellas, I want interesting shops and eccentric people. I want places to sit, I want street artists with talent able to amuse and enlighten, I want a place worth visiting and hanging out on.

My Duval Street is out of reach it seems. Grr! They have even screwed down blocks to make the planters uncomfortable to rest on.

I pity the zombies shuffling from end to end of this unremarkable street, struggling to find the street we all know should exist, but this town is too scared to embrace.