Saturday, June 28, 2014

4 Days Bahamas Cruise - Nassau (June 2014)

After the disappointment of Freeport yesterday, Nassau was wonderful! The cruise ships still dock across the water from the Club Med, Paradise Island village I visited several time when I lived down in San Salvador. Sadly, Club Med is no longer there as super-power Atlantis not only gobbled up all the business but all the land as well. I understand there is only one building left standing there but we decided not to go to Paradise Island. Having just moved from Vegas, we noted the similarities and ran in the other direction. We couldn't see the village because of all the trees, but I showed mom where it used to be, none the less.  Then I discovered that out of all the Caribbean Club Med resorts, Columbus Isle (San Salvador, where I lived) is the only one remaining. Club Med was the original "All Inclusive" resort and has been around well over 50 years, but they just couldn't battle Atlantis and the American copy-cat resorts (Beaches and Sandals). People say they go on vacation to see the sights and meet the people... usually that really means people as wealthy as I am and as American I am. Obviously, this subject pisses me off, so I'm off that particular soapbox for now!)

First word of advice: do NOT get your hair braided at the port entrance area!  They are a rip off! I told mom she would be so much cooler because she sweats so bad in humidity. I wore them all the time when I lived in the Bahamas and I didn't take them out until 3 months after I got to Las Vegas; and yes it was washed daily! My mom paid a fortune for her hair to be braided (and she only wanted a few braids like mine...I got four) and the girl braided the entire front of her head. They charge $3.oo for each braid (that was the discount cost), and they did hers so small that they got 42 braids done.  Do the math.  Then she threw in a French braid in the back (again she didn't ask for that) and she had to pay quite a bit extra for that. Let's just say she had to make a run to the ATM.  So, if you want to get your hair braided in Nassau, you'll see signs all over the tourist areas for WAY more reasonable prices and be ABSOLUTELY clear that both you and the braider knows what you want.  We had this exact same difficulty in Dominca, only the girls there did crappy braids on both of us, again for a "discount" cost of $2 (we only got a few that time), but said 'discount' was given IF I would run across the street to the Duty-Free shop and buy some rum-based punch thing that they were out of anyway. But she still gave us the "discount" rate. 

(I am a Starbucks addict, so a while back, mom and I decided to take a pick of me & Starbucks when we travel)

We had decent weather, but sunny and humid. Mom was certainly NOT regretting her new up-do while we were walking all over town and up and down hills! In the afternoon we got a brief sprinkling of rain as a break from the sun but the storm never hit so our travel luck remained good!  I am pretty sure mom is going to have her new 'do at least until summer in Florida is over! LOL

 Other than the obligatory geocaches and Starbucks picture, we didn't have a set plan.  But, even though I'd visited Nassau a couple of times before when I lived in the islands, I never saw as much as I did this trip.  And I had my favorite Train-Wreck next to me, so always adventures ahead! Speaking of train wrecks, I almost fell THREE times while on the island. First a 3-foot pot hole nearly took me out (it might have been a little smaller), second a bad curb and the third one because mom jinxed me by telling me I was just convincing myself.  No major injuries though!  I was wearing my "Tommie Copper" ankle support while walking around which is probably what saved me from another sprain, at the least. It also was the worst place to fall because oncoming traffic was on a blind curb and traffic was coming fast.  And I don't care if mom believes it or not, I'm ready to scream the benefits of Tommie Copper from the top of the nearest mountain!  She, of course, would never stoop to wearing any kind of support. It makes her look stronger, I guess.  I'm not sure why she cares on a vacation when she only knows ONE other person, but whatever. I don't care if I look strong or weak, but either way, it feels like it's working! 

(I normally like to get photos of the direction pointer signs. Well, this is the biggest one I've seen!)

We started our day pretty early. The island was beautiful! There were trees with red flowers (mom said they're wild poinsetta). They were everywhere! I took a picture of our cruise ship from the top of the hill and it looked like it was floating on the flowers.  And they were just so striking against the huge forests of 6' grass. As usual, mom told me to get in front for a picture. You can't REALLY get bit by a snake on vacation, right? She wouldn't do it. That makes her a coward but me an idiot.

(ships in the harbor)

While we were looking for geocaches, we went to Parliament, first. Now, almost all government buildings in Nassau are the same shade of pink. Now, I love all the bright colors in all the Bahamian islands, but not of THAT color.  Firstly, it's not a bright color. secondly, in fact, it looks like they haven't painted it once since my last visit in 1993! Mom was saying what a pretty color it was and I was thinking what a hideous shade of Pepto Bismol that was. Ew.  Then onto the Queen's Stairs (reminded me a lot of the Coit Tower stairs in San Francisco) up to a historic water tower (virtual geocache!), Fort Charlotte, and then we walked down the hill (SO much better than the climb up).  We were sort of looking forward to seeing Christ Church "Cathedral", but it was disappointing. It looked much bigger in pictures. Mom didn't even go inside (she was outside already looking for the geocache there...priorities!), I poked my head inside and it looked just like any other Gothic English churches in the colonies, but I wouldn't call it a cathedral. And updates have taken away some of the gothic character. The original arches have been removed so central air conditioning could be installed and with the exception of the main stain glass window behind the alter area, I would say skip it unless you're REALLY into gothic churches, or geocaches (yes, we found that one). 


 (L: The Queen's Stairs and ancient water fountain.   Rt: me goofing off in the flowers and grass as tall as me.)

We were seriously hot, sweaty and weary at this point (How did I ever live in this? Oh, yeah. Less 'personal padding' (fat) back then and beach only 100' from the door!), so I told mom she needed to have at least one Bahamian beer before we left. Now, wasn't it convenient that right across the street from that gothic church was the Pirate Store and Pub? It was a sign! We were meant to drink beer right then!  Right THERE!  Can I get a "HELL YEAH"?! And, wouldn't you know, "half-pint" was up at the bar before I was even into the shop! 

 (Background story)  I call her "Half-pint" because when I went to England the second time, mom was with me as we went to her first pub. I warned her that the alcohol content was quite a bit higher than at home, but I also told her you have to at least drink a pint. The Irish thing, you know.  Mom did pretty good. Until about half-way through her pint. Then she got all goofy, and in the end, one pint was too much. I cut her off, finished her beer, and I just can't let her live it down, although recent attempts to make amends are pretty impressive!

Back to Nassau - It was very similar to the pirate store in St. Augustine so I didn't buy anything, but the pub attached was awesome and so was our Kiwi bartender. We were sharing stories while we drank ice cold bottles of Sand.  You heard that right, SAND.  That's the name of the beer which, apparently, is the only decent thing to come out of Freeport. I had hoped that she had the Bahamian beer that was forever in my hand when I lived in San Salvador and beer was hard to come by. They had to ship it in, and since the Riding Rock bar was the closest place near the Club, every other Wednesday night, they knew all the G.O.'s (employees in Club Med terms), would be there, so they ordered extra cases of beer and the reggae band ready to groove on the dock out back for da dancing, mon. Good times. From what I remember, anyway! They didn't carry the beer I was familiar with and I'd never heard of this 'Sand' beer, but despite it's name, it was smooth and I liked it!  Apparently, mom did, too, because the first one went down fast and the second round was on the bar while I'm still on my first. She was like, DRINK!  What the hell?!  Peer pressure from my own mother?!

After that, we were going to hit the straw market and go back to the ship. I'd been to the straw market before and it was much like I remembered, but they're so aggressive about buy this and look at my booth and I'll give you a discount, anything to get you to buy. Mom doesn't like close places with lots of people and I've discovered lately that I don't either.  Neither one of us wanted to haggle with them, so after one row of 'shops' we took the back gate and decided we'd seen everything they offered in the straw market a dozen other places.  Once out of the market, we were back in tourist-ville again. All the high-price jewelry, clothing, etc. that they sell on every ship and in every single cruise port in the world.  We did manage to find a shop that had a lot of stuff and all of it reasonably priced. We bought our last minute souvenirs and talked each other out of another swim suit cover dress that we both already own and then we were done. Back to the boat and I think I took a nap at some point, but I may have been too tired to even remember.  At the end of the day, my step-tracker said we walked just under 5 miles.  Nice.  We needed it too, especially since we went straight to the buffet when we got back on the ship!! Tomorrow is a day at sea, which is usually the cruise days I hate because if you're under 100, there's really not that much to do.  Maybe I'll blog again. Or get into movie trivia. Or go to an Art Auction introduction.  Ooh, ooh! That's the one! 

On a side note, I just had share this photo. Partially, because I was a cop and am trying to figure out just how much they would have to pay me to direct traffic from a phone-booth rolled into the center of the busiest intersection, and also because the Bahamians almost killed me within 10 minutes of walking through their traffic! Dude is taking his life in his hands. No pun intended there, really.

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