You know, you just wouldn't think that this would be a very exciting attraction. And, it wasn't.. exciting, that is. What is was, was very interesting. We saw a lot of people come in and just start touring on their own - don't do that. You will miss the best part if you do. The tour is included in the admission fee and the knowledge and wry wit of the docents is what makes the house come alive. Our guide was Steve - he was terrific!
For starters, you get to explore a period home - a colonial southern mansion, circa 1851. It's a treat just to admire the verandahs, floor to ceiling windows, butler's pantry, first inside bathroom in Key West (added later, of course). The house is stocked with items Hemingway brought home from his travels in Africa, Europe and Cuba. But the story of the man is even more interesting and your guides know all about him - who he was with and when, why he told this story and why he wrote that story, how he found his way home from Sloppy Joe's at night, what the real truths are about the cistern and the expensive swimming pool. Pretty fascinating. And, then there's the Carriage House with Heminway's writing loft. Just wow -
As interesting as all of that is, it's the gardens that truly drew me. Wandering paths take you past traveler's palms, bougainvillea, agave, hedychium and more. It is a tropical paradise and it's filled with --- cats. Everywhere. They say there are 45-50 there now (many more in the private cat cemetary where Eva Gabor and Tyrone Power - the cats - rest) and that they are all descended from Snowball - his sons' six-toed cat. They certainly live a life of luxury today! They are on the master bed, on the display cases, on the chairs - you name it!
This is one of those 'glad I did it' but don't need to do it again locations. I completely enjoyed the guided tour and highly recommend it.
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