It Really is Better in the Bahamas

Where is your favorite place to visit?  I have a few, but two and one half hours out of New York takes you to where I always manage to wind up – the Bahamas.  My friend’s mother – the same pal who endured that horrific flight with me – used to say to us, “As much as you girls go to the Bahamas, you could have traveled around the world.”  I can’t begin to tell you, how she certainly hit the nail…well, you know.  I also have to say that we could probably fast forward an entire century, and one would still find the hospitality, and ambience in the people; along with that continuous turquoise sky reflecting it’s colors on a never-ending crystal shore.

I have mentioned in a blog somewhere along the way, that this spectacular locale is the only place on earth where the aqua blue can be seen from space.  Actually, to be literal, it is one of three.  Now, I know many of you reading this like to vacation when the temps are down around freezing where you are.  But, let me just mention, my first trip during winter returned each and every one of us home to a brutal case of influenza. Coincidence?  Maybe – maybe not.  And, just FYI, I have also known the numbers to drop to around 55 on Nassau in December.  But, anyway, personally, my reason for traveling in summer is two-fold.  The prices are lower, and when you arrive back, it’s always nice to show off a really deep tan.  Of course, now-a-days we all run for the sun block.

Moving on, Nassau/New Providence is the Capitol of this eastern paradise, but the tiny nation boasts 700 islands; not all of them are inhabited.  With that being said, if you don’t choose to stay on Paradise Island, I would recommend only a brief stop on Nassau, and then, hop a puddle jumper to one or two of the out islands.  Those Shangri-la’s show off what Nassau used to offer many years ago.  But, if you are there for a day or two (Nassau), here are a few sites to take in on the landside of this getaway:

Fort Charlotte – A Fort with underground dungeons and passageways;

Government House – The Queen’s representative to the Bahamas lives here, although the islands gained their independence in 1973;

Blackbeard’s Tower – A tower supposedly used by the pirate, himself;

Queen’s Staircase – A limestone staircase built by slaves to honor Queen Victoria who helped with the elimination of slavery;

Straw Market – Here you’ll find all things straw, weaving’s, wonderful carvings and much more; and

Bay Street – Nassau’s busiest street.  It is broken up into two sections – East Bay, and West Bay Street, and is filled with interesting shops and some restaurants.  The east side will lead you out toward the cruise ship wharf as well as the Paradise Island Bridge, whereas west takes you to Cable Beach and the airport.

I don’t normally like to refer restaurants, because everyone’s taste is so different.  But, I will recommend some dishes that you should not leave without trying.  Let’s begin with the Spiny Lobster, which is found in warm waters only.  Grouper fish – excellent prepared in any fashion; however I did manage to find it lightly sautéed and served with a gravy.  If you’ve never had fish with gravy, hold on to your seat.  Also, locate Bahamian Peas and Rice – much different from Jamaican Peas and Rice.  As a must, do not leave the island without a serving of Conch Salad, it is excellent. And, lastly I’d like to give you a little tip – I have known some places that try to serve shark as regular fish.  How will you know this – if it tastes extremely lemony, then you probably are eating shark, and that is not a good thing.

Some of my favorite outer island jewels are:

Cat Island

Eleuthera(or Elu-tra as the natives pronounce it);

Andros;

Exuma; and

Cat Island.

How many of you have heard of Bimini.  That is also in the chain, and is one of the world’s most premier fishing spots.  On Nassau you’ll find all the nightlife, gambling and clubs, but together with all of those goings on, they are experiencing even more growth.  So, if you want a seriously relaxing vacation, I’d suggest one of the out islands.  They each offer fantastic swimming, snorkeling, boating, and nightlife; only, the night-time activities are simply on a smaller scale.

Nassau

Now, these are all reachable by a very easy flight from Nassau.  You should also check, because depending on your location, it may be possible to obtain a direct flight.  You can also reach Eleuthera via the new ferry service out of Nassau.  Spending a week on one of these gems will definitely not disappoint.  As I always say, unless you’re deep in the south pacific, the only other place to offer such beauty is, uh…I think…heaven?  What better way to enjoy their exotic ocean than on a pristine beach where the only sound is the smooth surf, and the occasional beat of a Caribbean tune being carried on the wind from somewhere on the hotel property.  That my friend, is a peaceful vacation.

 

 

 

 

Images courtesy of 123rf.com and iStockphoto.com

 

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I’m No Tourist

I haven’t shared anything funny in some time, so I thought we were due.  On a trip to Nassau, Bahamas – one of many to what I call my second home, I had an unforgettable experience while swimming.  Who here loves frolicking in the sea?  Just, as a matter of reference, when I’m on a Caribbean vacation, I’m a hard-core beach person.  For me, being out there close to the shore is as near to God as one can get.  Now, if it’s not a sightseeing or shopping day, the routine is as follows: get up, shower, swimsuit, cover-up, head out for breakfast, after which I locate my perfect spot on the sand, lade on the suntan lotion, and begin the ritual.  That would involve sunning, swimming, sunning, more swimming, snorkeling, and a definite spin or two on the  large yellow banana.  You know, the one that’s pulled behind the boat.  Then, sometime around three or three-thirty I head in – get a second shower, and a clean swimsuit.  At which point I head  back out, only this time it’s to hang out, socialize, and enjoy the sunset.

On this particular day, the water beckoned one last time before we headed back to the room that afternoon.  So, without my snorkel gear I set out to splash around.  I am traveling along in a westerly fashion, probably just a few yards out, stroking, floating, peering ahead of me, when after about fifteen minutes something brushed my right ankle.  When this happens, what is the first thing a normal person thinks?  I don’t know, because my brain automatically went some place else.  Mind you, this is all taking place within a matter of seconds as I glimpse a dark object coming up behind me.  Then, another touch.  Only now, it’s a bump against my calf.  Okay, without a doubt I know it’s a shark.  It doesn’t matter that I’m in the warm water of the Bahamas, and  close to shore.  Flailing, and drinking in a few gallons of water I propelled myself upward.  I attempted my way out of the ocean, mouth open, letting out a gurgled squeal as I tried not to scream, while entangled with this large form.  At this point, racing through my mind is – oh God, it’s got me.  At the same time I am also thinking, I must get to the shoreI’ve gotta get to shore.  Because, what else could be after me, fish see objects and it wants me.  However now, my thrashing, and being out of control, has seriously entwined me with whatever is trying to eat me.

Suddenly, and out of nowhere I heard a male voice, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.”

By this time I’m frantic, and just about ready to throw up.  But, my brain is screaming, a person – not a shark?  You just know that he has definitely earned attitude, even if I did have to reach way down for it.  I growled, “Are you trying to give me a heart attack? What in the world are you doing?”

His response, “I am really sorry.”  He mumbled, “I was swimming with my eyes closed.”

My only thought by this time screamed….What! Excuse me?  I only had to put my extremities down, because the shore lay only a few feet away.  I trudged out of the water. Now, I mumbled – highly agitated, “Tourists.”

Has anyone reading this ever been to the Bahamas?  Have you ever seen the water?  How can a person go for a whirl in that part of the ocean, and not want to take in the sights.  In fact, if you go onto Google Earth it is the only area in the entire world where you can catch sight of the ocean floor through the emerald waters from space.  Later on as I thought about it – actually, every time I think about it or tell the story, I have to chuckle.  I guess all of my trips to Nassau made me think I didn’t qualify as a tourist.  I mean, really, with his eyes closed?  Please, do everyone a favor, if you are one who takes a dip with eyes closed, become swimmer friendly; learn to open them.  Otherwise, you may run into a real shark, the human kind.

Three Places I Love To Visit

I’m limiting my topic today to three places due to the time and space it would take to discuss more.  As I write this, I’m getting the sense the piece should have been entitled, The Best Places I’ve Ever Been, like that show on the Food Network, The Best Thing I Ever Ate.  But, I’m leaving it as is, and we’ll just consider this as part two to my Exploring blog.  Who doesn’t love to travel.  I have not journeyed as much as some, but I’ve done my share.  I just know I haven’t stored my luggage away for good.  A friend’s mother used to say – the friend who introduced me to the sport; “As much time as you spend in the Bahamas, you could have been around the world.”  I don’t know how I got stuck on that island, but she certainly did not speak out of term with that remark.  Hey, there is still time, isn’t there?

Okay, I must remember to stay on course here.  In any event, I’m usually always dreaming of going somewhere, and as much as I love it, I probably should have turned this blog into one about travel.  Hey, is there anyone out there who would like to sponsor my trips, and I’ll do all the writing?  Ooh…..I shudder that thought – please know that is a huge joke.  Especially since my fear of flying has only escalated with age.  Yes, I admit, I’m a “white knuckled flyer.”  On my last flight my husband said, “This is it for you.  You are not flying ever again.”  The problem arose when we had to rush through the airport, because of, I don’t remember what.  I had never gotten a chance to take my tranquilizer.  Therefore, as we taxied, and took off, so did my nerves.  Picture this poor, panic smitten woman, scrambling through her purse for a Xanax; trying to get some water from the flight attendant – all while dry heaving and trying to keep down her coffee.  Yes, go ahead, have pity on me – it’s quite all right.  But, if I have to say so myself, it’s not a pretty sight.

So, let’s have some fun, shall we?  I’d like to begin in the Bahamas – why not?  I’d also like to preface this portion by saying I never made it to the Kauai side of the Hawaiian Islands, or the South Pacific; now you just have to know that is entirely too many hours.  I understand Aruba also has crystal clear water, but look at this.  Probably, equal to the South Pacific, yes?  I must say, standing or sitting on that beach presents the same image.  Well…..only better, since then it becomes touchable, living and breathing.  Also, not that this would help anyone now, since she has retired, but I knew this elderly woman who brought lunch to the workers at a hotel that will remain nameless.  Along with lunch came the best cornbread anyone ever tasted.  I think a collective sigh rippled across the island when she parked her truck.  But, as far as it goes for the Bahamas, I’d like to throw a plug and say the water alone makes the trip extremely travel worthy.

View of some of San Diego from Pt. Loma

#2.  This would have to be without question – San Diego, California.  In fact I almost missed this spectacle.  My husband spent a lot of time in this place as a Marine, and could not believe that in all my travels I had never ventured west.  I remember a travel show many years ago, I can’t recall the name.  But, the host said, when a Marine makes it back to San Diego as a Civilian the first thing out of their mouth is, “I don’t remember this place being so beautiful.”  And guess what, that’s exactly what mine said as we drove out of the airport.  I have to say, I had only witnessed mountains, street, beach (in that order) in Europe.  So, when my eyes beheld this same sight right here in my country, I went into shock mode; watching, aghast and unable to speak – only able to shake my head in wonder.  Right then, I understood why earthquakes, fires, mud slides – nothing will move a Californian from their home.

Juan Cabrillo Monument at Pt. Loma

This picture is also at Point Loma; a park dedicated to Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo who discovered what he called “San Miguel,” back in 1542.  Let me just say here, on the west coast, there are many people who play Frisbee in the park at 10:30 a.m.  My next question had to be; does anyone work in this state?  The second……let’s call it…..phenomenon of this haven is, the weather.  I’ve heard many jokes about them not having any.  What stays with me is; every – underscore every morning this is me.  “Oh, its going to be overcast today?”  Then, as though my switch became stuck, on day four, I’d repeat the question.  My poor husband would remind me.  “Honey, remember it’s like this every day.”  And, as usual, by 9:30 or 10:00 a.m. the sun did it’s daily chore, and burned the haze away.  Do yourself a favor, don’t miss the beauty and grandeur called the West Coast.  One of these days I’m going to start in Eugene and work my way all the way back to the red trolleys that line the streets of downtown San Diego.

Seaport Village/Downtown San Diego

San Diego Trolley

The wall of names at Pearl Harbor

#3.  Believe me when I say, this little exercise has proved difficult.  How does Samantha Brown do it?  Now, let’s head off to my last, and most favorite tropical Shangri-La.  I have to say, for me, this place definitely proved more of a spiritual experience than anything else.  I’m talking about the Aloha spirit one absorbs in Hawaii.  I missed the chance to take this trip many years ago with my travel buddies.  All I can say is – man, I’m glad I did.  Let’s just say the locales a person visits are always more magical when a significant other is there to share.

Molokai in the distance from the Kaanapali coast of Maui

After a brief stay on Oahu – a huge mistake – we journeyed over to “The Valley Isle,” Maui.  By the time we settled into our room, evening had arrived.  I made my way from the kitchen area and through to the dining room.  When I lifted my head, my focus went directly to the sliders leading to the balcony.  Right there in front of me loomed twinkling lights that were hidden in the mountain crevices of Molokai (another island across the water).  It stopped me in my tracks, and at that instant the tears effortlessly flowed.  (Okay, I know that’s a woman thing.)  Maybe, but I do believe there is only so much splendor a body can absorb at any given time without having it spill over such as this.

Moving on, there is a plethora of things to do on these islands, it is impossible for me to list even one-quarter of them.  Basically, I think with such a great distance, it’s imperative to bring memories of a least two islands home.  But, if nothing else, and although this may be clichéd and touristy, include Pearl Harbor,  a Luau, a dinner cruise and the Road to Hana drive on Maui.  And, if one of the locals happens to chuckle when that drive is mentioned – under strict orders from me – just completely ignore the laughter.  Miss that drive, and I believe the entire essence of this region will be left in the twists and turns, hidden caves and black sand beaches hidden there.  It is indeed a miracle to witness the destruction, yet wonder a volcano can create.

On the road to Hana

Wainapanapa State Park/Black Sand Beach

So, there you have it, and I seriously intended to have fun with this piece.  But, as usual I have gone way off the mark, and turned it into a travel log.  Oh, what the hay – if I have helped anyone with any of this, that makes me happy.  Also, if anyone out there has any questions, please leave them below.  You can also leave a comment or a complaint.  I’m open to it all.  Bon Voyage.