New York City Diary

Words and pictures from my interesting life in New York.

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Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Island Adventure

This is the story of two New Yorkers in the Bahamas for a long weekend of rest and relaxation.

The air was choppy as the plane descended toward Nassau. Our weekend in the Bahamas was about to begin. Island landings are often bumpy, something about the air being disturbed at the point between being over land and over water.

As we made our final turn on the approach to the airport in the center of New Providence Island, we got a good view of Paradise Island, a smaller, adjacent island connected by two bridges. This next photo (click to enlarge) just about captures Paradise Island in its entirety.

And definitely click on the following photo if you're curious about the famous Atlantis Resort. The Atlantis is the big hotel complex that dominates Paradise Island, and if you look closely you can see that they are building something new in the foreground.

We landed safely, went through customs and immigration, collected our things, and hailed a taxi to our hotel, the Wyndham at Cable Beach. The following photo is of our first glimpse of the ocean from the island itself. Jenn and I found it especially welcoming since we had just escaped a harsh winter day in New York.

We arrived at the hotel at around 1:00 p.m. and had to kill a couple of hours by the beach because they wouldn't let us check in until 4:00 p.m. This is what we looked like as we were waiting to check in.

When we finally checked in (at 4:00 p.m. on the dot) we were pretty happy with the room. We had a "luxury" ocean-view room with a balcony on the top floor (eleventh floor) of the hotel. I had requested a high floor and they certainly delivered. This was the view from the room.

And here's the beach and pool area, seen from the balcony.

That evening we unpacked and relaxed and had a drink in the room as the sun went down and a full moon rose over the ocean. It was a nice moment. Then we took a taxi into downtown Nassau and ate dinner at a restaurant that serves traditional Bahamian food called Bahamian Kitchen. Now, most traditional Bahamian dishes include grouper or conch, and, unfortunately, both grouper and conch are being overfished and stocks are dwindling. That's why Jenn ordered the steamed chicken and I had the pork chops. Both were excellent.

We were tired from traveling, so we went back to our hotel. The Wyndham was quite nice but also a bit run down. It's pretty clear that it used to be one of the finest resorts in Nassau but has since lost the #1 title to Atlantis. That's probably why we were able to get a good room at a reasonable rate. (I priced the Atlantis and it was way out of our budget.) In a few years the whole Cable Beach area is going to be home to a resort complex even more extravagant than the Atlantis, if you believe the developers. It's certainly a nice location, and there's no question the place needs to be spruced up, but we enjoyed it as it was.

We went to sleep and slept well. The next morning I took a long walk in a search for a cheap breakfast place, but, alas, wound up getting breakfast at the hotel. Jenn went to the hotel gym and then we both went out to the beach. The weather was breezy and cloudy, so we found a spot near the hot tub that was protected from the wind. We enjoyed the periodic sunshine. I took a ride down the waterslide. The water in the pool was freezing, and I got right out. Here's a photo of Jenn enjoying the sun. I like the older, white-haired guy you can see in the background. He's a real resort man.

Here are the obligatory Bahama Mama drinks (and obligatory paler-than-pale man). The stroller belonged to a neighbor.

After a couple of hours, Jenn and I got cleaned up and then took a jitney bus back into downtown Nassau (which is surprisingly uninhabited at night). We strolled through downtown with the idea of walking across the bridge to Paradise Island to check out the Atlantis, but as we paused near the beginning of the bridge (a pretty long bridge, I might add) a limousine pulled over and the driver asked us if we wanted a ride across to the Atlantis for six bucks, and I said yes. So we pulled into the Atlantis in style, in a white, stretch limo.

I kind of expected the Atlantis to be really tacky and cheesy, and it is, but it's also pretty cool. If I had a ton of money I'd definitely sail my luxury yacht there. Jenn and I walked around the grounds of the hotel and took some photos.

Here's Jenn at the Atlantis at night. You can click on any of these photos to make them big.

And here's Victor at the Atlantis at night.

And here's another picture of Jenn.

We strolled around and then decided to have dinner at one of the more moderately-priced restaurants at the resort called Bimini Road. Jenn had fish tacos and I had a Junkanoo salad. It was decent.

After dinner we checked out some of the amazing luxury yachts docked in the Atlantis marina. Some of those boats were so opulent they were just dripping with wealth. It looks like a nice way to blow millions of dollars. This little boat was called Hush.

The highlight of our trip to the Atlantis was a walk through their aquariums. I have always loved aquariums like that. When I was a kid I wanted to be the scuba diver that gets to go into the tanks and hand feed the fish, a memory I recalled as I pressed my nose to the glass as a 35-year-old, trying to get another glimpse of the stingray they call Zeus.

Sorry, but I didn't shoot any regular photos of the fish. I shot some video, and I don't know how to put that up on the blog yet. But here's a photo of Jenn somewhere near the casino.

We said goodbye to Atlantis and took a taxi back to Cable Beach, where we retired early.

The next morning I awoke to the dawn of a beautiful new day. So I shot it.

And then I shot it again.

The weather was much warmer and sunnier, and the breeze was much calmer, so after a quick workout in the gym (I did the "elliptical" which was kind of boring) Jenn and I hit the beach for some serious beach bumming. I didn't take too many pictures, but here's one Jenn shot of me splashing around in the snorkler's cove.

And here's a shot of our hotel room. You see the two units in the center, with the slighly higher roof area? Ours is the one on the left, with the backs of two deck chairs next to each other. I can tell you that room 1109 in tower F is a nice room.

We retreated from the beach and I took a few photos from the balcony before we went out to dinner. Here is a random Bahamas beach and ocean photo.

And here is another one.

And here's what the room looked like. Kind of tacky, but delightfully so.

After we got cleaned up we took a jitney back downtown to walk around a bit before sunset. This is a picture of the Queen's Staircase.

And here's the Christopher Columbus statue.

One of the main things we wanted to see downtown was the famous old Graycliff Hotel and Restaurant. Check out the link for a good history of the place. We walked around the beautiful 250-year-old Georgian home built by a wealthy pirate. Here's just one view. Isn't it lovely? This photo looks great when you click on it.

This is a photo of Jenn at the Graycliff.

This is one of several courtyard areas at the Graycliff. I know there's not much to these two pictures but I'm including them because they show perfectly the colors that define Nassau: green plants against subtle island-pink walls.

Another view:

And here's a picture of me, looking boyish.

We wandered through the gardens until we found a restaurant we had read about called Humidor. It was too early for dinner and we wouldn't have wanted to spend that much money anyway, but it looked like a spectacular restaurant. In this photo Jenn is standing in front of the patio portion of Humidor restaurant.

We asked one of the employees if we could see a menu and look around. Then we got to see the best part: he took us to the cigar factory, where they employ actual Cuban cigar rollers. They were speaking Spanish to each other. As you know, English is the official language of the Bahamas.

I especially like this next photo. And yes, I did ask permission to take these photos.

We continued walking around and somehow wandered off the property. A woman hanging up shirts in the yard we were walking through informed us that we were on "private propatty" but very kindly showed us back to the Graycliff. She had a big dog but the dog was also very polite. The dog had a plate of what looked like pork chops or something.

Here's a picture of Jenn after our trespassing adventure.

So we walked along, crossing over this bridge.

Breezing past this lovely swimming pool (one of three on the property).

And stopping in the main courtyard area for more photos. A very friendly hotel employee offered to take our picture.

Victor and Jennifer at the Graycliff Hotel in Nassau.

Having very much enjoyed the Graycliff Hotel, we left and walked toward where the jitney buses wait. I took this photo of a traditional Nassau building on the way.

This is the pirate museum, which we did not check out.

At this point, I started feeling a bit sick, like I had a fever. It wasn't very bad, but I certainly had a cold or something. For that reason Jenn and I decided to be pretty low-key for dinner and visit a charming part of town called the Fish Fry or maybe it's just Fish Fry without the the. In any case it's an area of affordable seafood restaurants and bars, where both tourists and native Bahamians go to enjoy themselves. I was very impressed with the Fish Fry and recommend it to anyone visiting Nassau on a budget (and even if you're not). I can't remember the name of our restaurant, but it's the brown wooden one in the center of the block with the second story balcony.

Here's a photo of Jenn and myself at the Fish Fry, taken by our very friendly waitress.

More cowbell! Here is a picture of my very delicious Bahamian Kalik beer.

For our dinners, Jenn had red snapper cooked with peppers and other vegetables in a foil pouch, and I had grilled shrimp. The food was delicious, and very reasonably priced, and the atmosphere of the restaurant was exactly what I wanted. We ate with a view of cruise ships sailing away into the night (cruise ships usually travel at night). I was very glad to see that about half of the restaurant's patrons were Bahamian, which meant the place wasn't a complete tourist trap. It seemed pretty authentic, all things considered. Bravo, Fish Fry!

We went back to the room and went to sleep early, owing to my illness, which wasn't very bad, I just needed a good night's sleep.

We woke up early the next morning, at around 7:00 a.m. As we were to fly back to New York later in the afternoon, Jenn and I decided to take one last walk along the beach. Here's a photo Jenn took during that last beach walk that I call Kafka on the Beach with Bed Head.

And here's a much cuter picture of Jenn.

I also like this picture of Jenn. And I can put it up here because this is my blog.

After we finished our walk we went back to the room, checked out, and headed to the airport, so I'll conclude this entry with a photo of a Bahamian palm tree.


Blogger Jenn said...

Ahhh. Just looking at the pictures makes me wish we were there. Too bad the story didn't last longer than a long weekend. But we'll have Part II soon enough.

11:57 AM  
Blogger Ted Madsen said...

Yah Mon... the next time you head out there make sure you rent some mopeds and take a ride around the island... about a half day trip and some very cool sites... the opposite side of the island is not very developed and you are driving down jungle roads and along the beach with nary a car or building in site. Sounds like you had a great time... I too took a break from blogging as I moved from my 3 bedroom town home to a 2500 sq ft 4 bedroom and office home... with a huge kitchen!!! I can cook in style!

12:23 PM  
Blogger allison said...


10:48 PM  
Anonymous Bahamas Cruise said...

Very nice pictures. I traveled to the Bahamas in Cruise line via easy click travel last year, there are many beautiful views there. But from the plane it looks much more wonderful.

7:55 PM  

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