Here we are, on our last full day of our cruise. Today was also spent in Nassau, Bahamas. This was the only day of the trip where it rained, and, BOY, DID IT RAIN!!
Our plan with all the inclement weather was to forego the beaches to walk the city. Figuring we could slip back to enjoy the pool and such on board the ship if things got out of hand along our adventure.
The weather outside our room, early in the morning, was superb. It was warm and the sun was shining through the spotty layer of clouds. As my time enjoying the weather moved along, the clouds shifted, and the sun eventually disappeared. I think you can see a good progression in my morning pictures below. Even with the cloudy skies, the views were beautiful. I even caught a glimpse of that massive MSC cruise line that had been popping up along a few of our port stops. That is when the cloud coverage, and grayness started to settle in.
Since our ship would be docking in Bahamas before noontime, we planned to start our day off with a late breakfast and hang out watching the boat approach port from somewhere fun. We grabbed breakfast on the fly out on the back deck of the Oceanview Cafe and discussed where we would like to go to watch the ship dock. One thing was for certain, our youngest daughter wanted to attend the cupcake decorating class that was starting at 4:30PM. Our oldest also chimed in that she wanted to go. Since the weather wasn’t awesome, no beach on our horizon or long distances, we decided that it would be a good time to get ourselves back on board, and even maybe take in some alone time while they were up there!
So, we ran right upstairs to kids club to sign them up for that.
Since we were already at the kids club for the class sign up, the girls decided to stay behind to play games. My husband and I decided to grab a coffee at the cafe. downstairs Luckily, the woman who ran coffee knew us from our coffee runs, she waved us over to a table by the window. It was just perfect. 🙂
After coffee, the girls met up with us back in our room. We hung out to watch the rest of the ship docking from our balcony; also, so we could grab our things to go quickly. Well, we got to the port, and it was beautiful, but as soon as our ship started to make its way into the slip, the rain started.
From the balcony, we went from, “oh hey, I feel a sprinkle on my hand”, to, “Holy s**t, I can’t see the city from here!” in a matter of minutes. Luckily, we packed rain ponchos but, going out into a deluge of rain is never fun for a long time. But, this is what we had in store.
We got off the boat to rain coming down as if it was being thrown from buckets above. The walk to the security point, along St. George Wharf, was a tad difficult with all the large puddles, but we had fun splashing over them and running to get under some coverings along the way. The rain was trying to put a damper on our start.
Beyond the checkpoint was the port’s shopping village, there were vendors and hair braiding stations and such, but their places were covered over till the rain gave way. We got solicited a lot, still, but everyone was funny and lighthearted. One woman even followed us with claims that she could braid my husband’s hair! She was funny. Her name was Miss Josephine!
We crossed into the city, starting along the rows of souvenir shops towards the right hand side. The rain was starting to let up, so we took off our ponchos which were like walking plastic saunas in the Caribbean humidity. This area then spilled out into their high end shopping neighborhood, with all the brand name jewelers and clothing stores. We walked around a while, swooping in and out of shops until we hit the Straw Market. I had researched a few places that I wanted to check out, one was the Nassau Straw Market. This place was CRAZY! Wall to wall vendors selling handmade straw bags(which is what they’re known for), wood or naturally derived items. And when I say wall to wall, I mean it! There are at least a hundred vendors set up in this one floor building. The tiny amount of space for you to walk through between the vendors is enough for you alone. Then on the outskirts of the building, across an alley, there are wood carvers set up the whole way down. It was pretty insane, the amount of people selling their crafts. We bought a few shell necklaces for the girls and a few pairs of wooden earrings for me. I love jewelry souvenirs!
We walked out of the market to check out the wood carvers. We reminisced with the girls while we were walking, telling them about our honeymoon in Jamaica. We had stayed at an all-inclusive resort back then, where the beach was private however, the water was public. If that makes sense. So, daily a few vendors would come on surfboards selling their handmade carvings. The same guys every day. Sometimes they’d sell weed, too. Because Jamaica. Well. One of these days, we bought off of a guy named Johnny B. Goode. This guy was hilarious, and every day we would see him paddle his way around the bend of the beach selling his goods to all the resort patrons. He had the most personality of the guys out there. We said hi to him a few times till we decided to buy something small to reflect our honeymoon. Well. We weren’t looking to buy a three foot carved giraffe (in an African art style), is what I should have said, but after a few minutes of talking to him, and my husband’s lust for bartering, we got a wooden giraffe statue for a few bucks and a glass of Coca Cola from the resort. Yup! We still have the carving but it snapped in half when we moved to our house in 2004.
Ok, back to Bahamas.
One thing I want to point out, the city of Nassau, it is congested like a toned down version of New York City. Lots of shops and alleyways. Lots of people on the sidewalks. Vendors harassing you as you walk around. And it seemed to be dirty, like I felt like I was in New York City circa 1990. Drop something? Well, now the city owns it because I am not picking that up! The people were fantastic. The shopping, if you don’t have that kind of shopping at home, was great. But there was just something that didn’t feel special or unique. Nor Caribbean. Maybe if we made our way to the beaches to check out other parts of the island we may have felt differently, but I don’t know.
We walked around checking out all of the touristy shops, we had a very loose idea of where we wanted to go. We had learned that Bahamas had great rum cake, and there were two companies that made it well, the Bahamas Rum Cake Co and the Tortuga Rum Cake Co. We happened to find the Tortuga store first. We got to sample a few different varieties of cake. Man, it was absolutely delicious. We decided right then that these cakes would be the perfect souvenir to bring back for family and friends…and ourselves. Ha. While we were in the store we asked the staff about the best location to buy cigars. They had given us quick directions of where to go, the Graycliff. It did not sound like it was so far away, and with the skies clearing up a touch, we decided to go for the walk.
Now I haven’t really talked about how humid it was on this day. There was something about the rain not relieving that humidity, it made it exponentially worse. Walking in that kind of humidity is really tough but we ducked into a few air-conditioned places like the main liquor store to cool off. The Graycliff was not far, a good ten minute walk then a trek up a very steep hill. We got up over the hill to find a historical neighborhood that was created around the Graycliff. It started off with the hotel. Then, a few doors down there was a chocolate factory and a cigar factory. Everything was named after this family around this neighborhood. We walked into the hotel because we had actually seen it through our research of Nassau. It is a vintage historical mansion that they turned into a hotel. The hotel seems almost stuck in time, that is how much they did not touch this place. You enter into a different era, 1800s. All the rooms were authentically dressed and lit to the time period. It was amazing. While walking through we witnessed a bride and groom who just got married waiting to go up to their reception; she was beautiful and he was statuesque all in white. It was such a great experience to walk in there.
We were able to walk along the grounds outside. It really was magnificent how untouched the grounds of this mansion appeared. They had used hand painted tiles for their patio. We saw so much art along the paths. My favorite were a triplet set of wooden carved, life-sized, lions. They were carved to look ferocious but in real life they were so fragile. One was so damaged it was set off to the side, under a tree along the grass, wired up to keep it together, but it wasn’t helping. Back on the patio I noticed there were tables set up with substantial heavy chairs. These chairs were the original ones of the manor, all wrought iron with monogramming of the family name. Just beautiful.
The pool area was to die for. It looked like a European tiled spa. Flanked around it were these gorgeous tiled benches. I wish we stayed in this place! Even for a day … to sit in that pool like a goddess!
The cigar company was just a few doors down, so we made our way back through the hotel to the main road again. Along the walk, we noticed the streets were decorated with colorful lanterns strewn across the top; it was so beautiful. Once we got to the cigar rolling place, we realized that we were in the area of the grounds of the mansion at the back where we were just walking. We could see the pool. There was a pathway over to this house! We walked into the cigar house, and immediately got smacked in the face with cigar smoke. You are greeted by a hallway table set up with photos of the last living Graycliff family members. The cigar house was impressive. They were set up in a colonial styled home, fashioned for cigar rolling. They had everything open so you could see all the people in the back rolling cigars through glass, as well as in the front, you could enjoy the lounge area to smoke and hang out. There were a few people inside smoking, thus the clouds of smoke we walked into at the entrance. My kids are anti-smoking of any kind, so they got antsy real quick to get out of there.
From this neighborhood, we walked down the neighborhood till we reached a hill going down towards the main drag, port area. This was a more residential. Lots of homes and churches. My gosh, so many churches along one small street. It was almost time to head back to the ship so the girls could take their class. When I looked at my steps we had already walked about 16,000 steps, that is how much we walked in such a short amount of time. We made our way down through their government district beyond the shopping area. It looked like Boston’s Faneuil Hall. In front of their main government building we saw all these stands and decorations up for Bahamas Independence Day. Which explains why we saw so many decorations around. As soon as we walked away from this area, which was about a five minute walk to the port, the skies opened up to rain sheets of water. So we made a beeline back to the ship. From the thigh down we got utterly soaked… even in our ponchos!
The rain was whipping around so no one was making it back dry!
The girls changed as soon as we got back on the boat and shot right up to their class. Escorted by my husband. He met me afterwards down in front of the adults only pool area, The Solarium. Yee!!! I was dying to hang out in this space the whole trip! It is labeled 16+, and my kids aren’t that mature to pull of acting 16 years old quite yet! Haha
The place was amazing. Quiet. Warm. Beautifully put together. In the middle is the main pool flanked by two large hot tubs. To one side were cocoon multi person loungers and a bar, then the other side had perfect teak loungers dressed in orange cushions. It smelled good in there, too! My husband showed up with a prosecco in one hand and a rum drink in the other.
Finally, our time.
We hung out in a cocoon lounger. It had a top to it, so we felt like we were the only people in the space. Aside from seeing our feet, we were virtual invisible. We grabbed our drinks then jumped into the hot tub. We had such a fun time talking with each other and some people that joined in the hot tub. It is refreshing to hang out together without the girls. We try to often but most times it’s us talking work or about the girls. This moment in time, we just talked about ourselves with all the great adventures we have been on together. We always have a great time, and I am by no means complaining about the girls. They are great kids and travel seamlessly with us. But. You know. At least all the parents reading know. Sometimes you need to have time alone.
The girls’ class was over before we knew it, so my husband went up to get them as I went to the regular pool to find chairs. I was able to snag lounge seating set up by a window overlooking the wharf. When everyone got back we decided to grab burgers, and, fries with mayonnaise. I’m Italian, we eat fries with mayonnaise. It is the best combination. Also, as my girls say, ‘I can’t trust anyone who doesn’t eat fries with mayonnaise’. Me either, girls, me either.
After an hour, our cruise ship was taking off! From the lounge seating we could watch the Wharf go by. There were large windows, that we learned could open. Which was super cool. As we were looking out the window we looked down to see a school of white stingrays swimming by! It was amazing!
When we got back to our rooms to get ready for the night, we had to pack up for departure the next morning. BU MM ER!! I, fortunately, did a lot of pre-packing before we got off the ship in preparation for this moment. I placed clothes for the next day and our handheld bags on the side, and packed most of the room up! Yes, I am that good. ;)~
We packed up all the items we wore this day, and set our bags outside for pick up as we headed down to dinner. This night we grabbed a table late, around 9PM. Since it was our last night on the ship, it meant it was also our last night with table 502, and all the wonderful people who we got to know. All of us treated this night with a somber tone and it actually flew by. We ordered our dinner, then spent the rest of our night talking to each person individually. Asking them what their future plans were, after knowing most of them were taking their contract breaks soon. It is heartbreaking to learn that most of these kids have families they are supporting in their home countries, some are as far away as India and Philippines. They have children they only see through Skype and only get to hug for two months out of a year! Ugh, my heart.
We closed out the restaurant like we had almost every night. We were able to give our best wishes and goodbyes to everyone. We also gave them all tips on top of the tips they’d normally receive from our cruise tips that we get charged. We also got to grab a picture of everyone before we left for the night. It is a pretty cute picture if I do say so.
We got back to our rooms and basically collapsed, exhausted from a long day of fighting buckets of rain, the crazy humidity and walking around a ton. We never changed into pajamas as quickly as this night. We, of course, turned on some HGTV and made our way into the land of nod.
Next up is day 10 of our overall 10 day trip-we go through disembarkation and a small road trip over to Miami and up to Palm Beach!