Weekend Getaway: Nassau
Now the last time I was in Nassau was in 1990 when we took one of the first Disney Cruises. From what I remember, it was very run down and the main focal point was the purple or maybe blue Merv Griffin hotel/casino. Today, you can walk down the street and buy anything from Fendi to Rolex. The buildings are very colorful, the streets were clean, and there was public transportation. Even though there were several excursions that were offered by the cruise ship, we decided we wanted to do our own thing. If you want to opt out of an excursion it is very easy to get around. The ship docks right by the main streets and there are plenty of taxi cabs, horse drawn carriages, and private services one can hire. It is a lot of chaos but after saying “No Thank You” a hundred times we made it to the main street.
We decided we wanted to hit a few of the jewelry stores to get our lower cost items that our cruise shopping director suggested. I also wanted to get to the Straw Market. In the 90’s it was an open air market, which parts of it still are but most of it is inside a huge building. There are many vendors selling various types of straw products from straw bags to hats to personal organizers. You can watch the ladies making your hat or bag right in front of your eyes or you can purchase a pre-made item. You can also buy shirts, sun dresses, and these crazy walking turtles that some lady thought it may be funny to attack me. She thought my kids might find them amusing as I had bought two Disney Princess bags from her but that is also part of the process when shopping in the Straw Market. HAGGLING! You definitely don’t buy anything at full price so bargaining is encouraged and most of the time they initiate the bargaining process. If you are lucky they will attack you with walking turtles too!
Also tucked inside this among the vast pickings of straw merchandise is a small food vendor where you can purchase authentic Bahamian food. All the straw vendors inside were lined up to get some food so you know the saying “Eat where the locals eat,” it must be really good food. Being Greek, we ate at a recommended Greek restaurant, Athena’s. Really good, authentic Greek food and fresh, lightly breaded fried calamari. Since our ship was docked until 11pm, we also decided to eat dinner at the local Bahamian Lukka Kairi restaurant. It was right on the water where the ships were docked so we got to see several ships leave. They had a big tank with lobsters that you could pick which one you wanted for dinner, not my cup of tea, but many people opted for it. We decided on some tapas and some local beer. Great atmosphere, great food, and amazing views!
Among our tour of the island we experienced the Pirate museum. Now I wasn’t sure if this was going to be a cheesy version of Pirates of the Caribbean and when we first walked into the museum it seemed that way. However, we found it very educational about pirating that occurred in the Caribbean for centuries. We learned that people didn’t walk the plank, pirates didn’t want to kill people but it happened, woman pirates were very well respected, more loot was given to the injured, and that they did like to have parrots as pets. The one thing I did find interesting is if you were actually caught and tried as a pirate you were immediately hung. Needless to say, this happened a lot!
We also walked down to the fort, which really isn’t easy to get to, but the walk was interesting. There are several shacks on the beach where you can have fruity drinks, get some Bahamian chicken, purchase water activities, or get a massage. A lot of the locals were out as it was a public beach. We also came across a BBQ where people where just coming up and getting food. It looked as though one guy brings a huge smoker and while he cooks, people gather and talk and drink. This is why we love just doing our own thing. You never know what or who you will come across when your venture out. I have to say I was very skeptical about what to encounter on Nassau since I didn’t have great memories but I would go back again and check out more of the island.
Nine hours touring around Nassau ourselves was tiring, but we had enough energy to sit in the casino and enjoy the slot machines. My husband has much better luck than myself. He went to the bonus round on several machines while I sat at the same machine for two and never got to the bonus round. Though by day three I think the machine felt bad for me so it kept going to the bonus round.
Onto Coco Cay, Royal Caribbean’s private island. Sunny or Rainy? Read next week to find out.
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