Parlor Spider...Step In, Little Fly

Insightful thoughts and/or rants from atop the soapbox from one who wishes to share the "right" opinion with everyone.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Anticipation is Greater Than Participation

The Real Macaw?

One of the wonders of the world everyone is supposed to visit before death is the temple area of Angkor Wat in Cambodia: supposedly one of the first settlements of a million people back in the 12th century or so. I managed to get there about 10 years ago before the "tourist companies" discovered it's value. Now, apparently, hotels and five-star restaurants abound throughout the area, and tourists are carrying off chunks of the temples as souvenirs. I am glad to have seen it "before."
Key West was another one of those places I'd always wanted to visit...not so much for the "Margaritaville" atmosphere but for the chance to see water, wildlife and sunsets unparalleled. While I knew the place had undergone tourist-type expansion over the years, I did not expect to be buffeted (pun intended) by people at every turn and see more T-shirt shops than anywhere I'd ever been previously.
Door County, Wisconsin on crack.
The Key West mystique diminished somewhat when I discovered that there was NO sand on the island except what had been brought in from other places. No beaches other than the man-made ones by the hotels. Hundreds of plants and trees, but only a few were native. Take the palm trees: all imported and growing in holes dug out of the coral and filled with soil. The luster dimmed considerably when I found that out though it was mitigated somewhat by exploring that coral reef with fins and a mask.
Getting there was NOT half the fun, either: a four-hour ride from Ft. Lauderdale in an uncomfortable shuttle that dropped riders off at various spots seemed much longer. In the dark, it was hard to see the natural beauty that I knew to be there.Fortunately, there were a couple of bathroom stops! Flying in was an option, but the price was exorbitant.
On the other hand, the sunsets were stunningly everything I had hoped for and more. Bands played at all hours in almost every bar, street performers worked the crowds, and there was no end to the odd and unusual...just as I expected. It was small enough to walk/bike everywhere, and the hotels are most accommodating with free shuttle rides all over the island.
The temperature never varied much: mid to upper-70's during the day and only a few degrees cooler in the evening. Perfect for January in Wisconsin! Snorkeling, kayaking, cycling (with the exception of wayward handlebars) were exceptional. Following dolphins while they gamboled in the crystal clear water: priceless.
All in all, while the sojourn was not exactly a secluded "my island only" trip (unless 3 cruise ships per day at dock equates seclusion), it definitely was something to savor.
Despite being a dream fulfilled, the trip to Key West was nothing like the visit to the Greek Islands, though. I think I've been spoiled and will compare everything I will ever see to that area.
But I will keep on searching for the next best place.


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