Monday, March 19, 2007

Staying Cool in the Pool

Call me crazy, but with all the exciting things to do in the Bahamas, one of my favorite things to do was chill out in the pool. In some sense, it felt weird not to be taking advantage of the beach or the tropical setting, or anything but the fact that it was warm enough to be in the pool. Nevertheless, floating around, staring at the coconut trees and the wires holding them together was strangely peaceful and relaxing. Not so relaxing that I'm looking for a pool around here or anything. But relaxing enough that next vacation in the sun, I'm sure I'll grab an inner tube or a floating chair and head for the pool pretty early on.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Not Exactly a Cruise Ship

In a post from the Bahamas, I stated that I had heard a cruise ship coming in that morning. Boy was I wrong. As you can see from the picture, it was a US military ship. Well, you can't actually see the US flag, but trust me, it's there.

This picture is one of my favorites of the ones I took in the Bahamas. I like the contrast among the seagull in the foreground, the ship, and the construction at the monstrous Atlantis resort & casino in the background.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Shoal

Wednesday night, after the snorkeling, we decided to treat ourselves to a nice meal out. We had been doing a lot of eating in the executive lounge and the cheap-o Imperial Cafeteria across the street from the hotel (perhaps worth of a separate entry). So we decided it was reasonable to spend a few bucks on something fancier. I looked through the guidebooks and came up with The Shoal Restaurant & Lounge. Somewhere I probably lost the "fancier" idea...

We went downstairs and got a taxi. When we got in, the driver asked where we wanted to go. Forgetting slightly, I asked to be taken to "Shoal's." This request confused him to no end. He kept asking the bellman at the hotel if he had ever heard of this restaurant. Finally, we checked the guidebook and mentioned that the restaurant was a few miles up Nassau Street. A light bulb appeared over his head and said, "Oh, you want to go to The Shoal. Not Souls." He kept repeating that the name of the restaurant was not "Souls" -- I guess my accent threw him.

Anyway, he was delighted that we wanted to get out of downtown to a non-touristy restaurant. After we established that the fare would be $10 (approximately what I figured it should be if metered -- but no taxi driver ever turned the meter on for us), he started giving us a tour of the "Over The Hill" neighborhood. Several guidebooks had warned us against this neighborhood, and our driver in fact referred to it as the "ghetto". Christina remarked that it was the nicest ghetto she'd ever seen. There are places near our house (that I'd feel comfortable driving to) that aren't as nice as this neighborhood.

When we got to the restaurant, the driver gave us his card and said to call him when we needed a ride back. I tried to pay him the fare, but he said we could just pay him on the way back. That was remarkably friendly and trusting and set a good tone for the evening.

At the restaurant, we had what was probably the best meal of the trip. After having a salad (me) or soup (Christina), we enjoyed some delicious grouper (me) or snapper (Christina). We finished off with way too much guava duff, which we couldn't finish. During the meal, the manager (the owner?) kept coming over and giving us information about the Bahamas. He explained, for example, that Bahamians have the same last names as Americans because they are largely are descended from Loyalists fleeing the American Revolution...and their slaves. He further expressed optimism that things were only going to get better in the coming months, because they were due to replace the government in an election. I'll watch for the results with some interest.

Once our meal was over, our driver was waiting for us. He took the pictures displayed in this entry, in fact. On our drive back to the hotel, he explained that he normally doesn't work this late, so he went across the street to a bar and had a beer. (As Christina pointed out, at least he said '''a''' beer.) Thus ended our one venture into a local neighborhood and one of the high points of our trip.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Snorkeling, both with and without sharks

Well, we got the photos developed from the waterproof cameras, which I believe we didn't do when we did the snorkeling with sharks in La Jolla two years ago.

Last Tuesday afternoon, we went on a snorkel excursion with Stuart Cove's.

They took us out on a boat around New Providence Island to two sites where we swam around and looked at pretty fish through our snorkel masks.

The third site was somewhat different. The boat first lowered shark bait (some sort of raw meat -- no, not the snorkelers). Then some of us jumped in the water and did not swim around -- that's one of the things they told us not to do. Also on the no-no list -- petting the sharks. How silly do they think we are?

Pretty silly, I guess. I was planning to hold onto the rope line to prevent drifting, but my fellow snorkelers (a lot of spring breakers among them) engaged in so much thrashing and giggling that I paddled a short distance away to watch. Fortunately, the sharks seemed equally intent on keeping their distance.

These were Caribbean reef sharks, which were somewhat bigger than the types of sharks we saw in La Jolla. It was a neat experience seeing them up close, but a few minutes of it was quite enough.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Police Band

One of the serendipitous sights we saw in the Bahamas was the Royal Bahamas Police Force Band. The band is quite a big deal...they're on the back of the $1 bill. We were enjoying the Hilton's executive lounge (one of its best features) when we heard music coming from outside. We looked out from the balcony and saw the band marching away. A hotel employee later told us that a group had hired the band to escort them to dinner -- he implied that a lot of money had been involved.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

More Bahamas Pix

Here's me in front of the "Queen's Staircase", Christina in front of Parliament, and one of Nassau's newer tourist attractions...

First Pictures from the Bahamas

Here is our first set of pictures from the Bahamas. Many of our pictures are on the waterproof camera, so we'll wait until we get back and get them developed. But here are a few pictures from Sunday and Monday.

The first picture shows the view from our hotel room. Unfortunately, the largest coconut tree on the property is right in front of our window. Still, you can sort of see the pool and the Hilton's "private" beach. (All beaches are public, but the only access to this beach is via the Hilton property -- or the water.)

The second picture shows Christina on the beach, with one of the cruise ships in the background. The last two days there have been three in port. I'm not sure about today, but I heard one coming in this morning.

The third picture shows Christina shopping at Prince George Plaza. No, not that one.

And, finally, the fourth picture shows us sitting down after wandering the downtown area.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Greetings from Nassau

Hello from the sunny Bahamas. We've been here about 24 hours now and are enjoying ourselves. The Hilton is nice enough...unfortunately, there's a tobacco convention going on at the same time. The tobacconists are a bit rowdy and, well, they smoke a lot. We managed to avoid them at the Hilton's beach this morning. The water was a little bit cold today, so we floated around the pool for a little bit before lunch.

After a couple of fish burgers, we booked a couple of excursions for later in the week & then headed into the downtown area. The hotel is a couple of blocks away from where the cruise ships dock, so most of the shops cater to their passengers. Yesterday, a Carnival ship was in port -- today it was Disney. Fortunately, that made it easy to pick up a few souvenirs before stealing a glance at Fort Fincastle and the Queen's Staircase.

When we get back to the hotel, we'll probably go to the Cable Beach area for dinner. At some point, we'll get Internet access from the hotel and post some pix.