Flying to paradise

Trip Start Jun 16, 2006
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14
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Trip End Sep 05, 2006


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Thursday, August 31, 2006

My four day vacation before school starts. It got off to a rough start. I thought I was ahead of the game by flying standby from LA to Maimi and arriving early but when I borded, a woman with a baby sat behind me, and her husband and 2 year old sat to the right of me. Then just as the plane is getting ready to take off, the mother behind me busts out three face masks and puts them on her husbuand, 2 year old, and herself. Apparently she doesn't believe in a strong immune system. But to my enjoyment, the 2 year old kept the mask on for a grand total of about 8 minutes on the 6 hour flight. (Is it sinister for me to enjoy it when the babies cry when we land because of pressure on their ears? I find some sick justice in their pain for them crying through the whole flight.)Anyway, I was not able to fly standby from Maimi to Nassau, so I ended up being in the Maimi airport for 8 hours waiting. Why do I always end up in airports for long amounts of time? I'm really really glad that I brought my laptop. For an instant I thought about not bringing it, but I changed my mind at the last minute.

Day 1 Aug. 31
So I arrived in the Bahamas at about 6:00 PM and did the whole customs declaration thing. I saw that Taxi rides from the airport to the Hilton would be $28, and since I had to come back to the airport the next day to get Karla and then we both had to go back, I decided that renting a car for the day would be about the same cost as all the taxi fares I would spend. The car that I rented was a Kia that was just a little bit bigger than airplane bathroom and drove on tires about 12" in diameter. I have never driven on the left side of the road before, but I got the hang of it pretty quickly. In Nassau there are a lot of round-about intersections, I resisted the urge to go around them counter-clockwise. I checked into the hotel, very impressed by the quality of the Hilton in Nassau. It's centrally located and easy to walk downtown or over to one of the other activity areas. I took my rented car around the island for a little spin and ended up on Paradise Island, the location of the Atlantis resort hotel and casino. Let me tell you what, It put Las Vegas to shame. The grounds are enormous and totally done top notch. If you're ever looking to go over the top on a Vacation, book a room at the Atlantis. The main hotel cost about 3 Billion dollars?, and by the time the final of the 5 phases are complete it should be somewhere near 8 Billion dollars and it will encompass all of paradise island, and worth every penny. Rooms start at $200 a night for the most modestly priced and quickly jump up into the hundreds of dollars, some of the suites in Phase three will go for $5000 a night, and if you want to go really over the top, you can stay in the skybridge room between the two main towers for a mere $25,000 a night.
I walked around the grounds and chatted with the some guests and hotel staff, I found out that Bahamians are not allowed to gamble at the casino. There are a number of reasons for this but I found it particularly interesting and I wonder who was behind that rule. Talking to one of the Employees I heard that they actually strictly enforce that rule and if a Bahamian is caught on the floor they will pay a large fine or possibly do jail time for repeat offending. I gambled a little at the tables and lost, then won, then lost, you get the picture. I ended up breaking even for the night after paying for my valet parking so I considered myself a big winner. I returned to my hotel and sat in a hammock for the rest of the evening sipping on an orange flavored drink. I needed this Vacation so bad and this was a regrouping session for my thoughts.
Day 2 Sept. 1
I had a super early wake up call the next morning, I wanted to maximize my Bahamian experience. But, when I woke up I realized that they make those orange drinks really strong, and I haven't been keeping up on my alcohol drinking lately, and it was a hangover for the record books. I had some coffee and slowly walked it off, then hopped into my mini car and started the day. My first thing on my itinerary was the ugh... a tour of the Bacardi factory. There are only three in the world, one in the Bahamas, one in Puerto Rico and one located somewhere in Mexico. I arrived early for the tour and a bartender was making some complimentary drinks for people waiting for the tour. Aside from being 11:00am I had grown weary of colorful, fruity tasting drinks. Some tourists from the U.K. gave me no sympathy and a speech about "the hair of the dog that bit me". Before I knew it, I was kicking back something Banana rum flavored. It honestly did help a lot. We toured the packaging plant where they were filling bottles, then they let us walk into one of the aging warehouses. Rum was stacked to the ceilings in wooden barrels and the stench was enough to gag a person, weather they had been drinking the night before or not. The tour guide told us that you could actually get drunk if you stood in the warehouse for too long, they wouldn't even let the kids on the tour walk in there. After seeing the distillery and gift shop the tour ended up back at the bar for more "product testing".
I still had three hours before Karla flew in so I took the opportunity to drive around the island and see some of the less tourist-traveled areas. Most of the houses were nice, but in some state of disrepair. There was an amazing amount of dumping on the island, I saw a lot of refrigerators and couches on the sides of the road. After picking up Karla at the airport we drove back to the hotel, turned in the rental car and then just hung around the hotel, enjoyed the beach, ate dinner at the Senor Froggs next door, and enjoyed each others company for the first time in two months. I'm glad she's moving back to the West coast, this deal of flying 6 hours to see her for a weekend is BS.
Day 3 Sept. 2
I set another super early wake up call because I was planning on going scuba diving that morning. I woke up 5 min. after I was suppose to be in lobby due to an unplugged telephone resulting in no wake up call. I ran downstairs super fast and made it in time to catch the dive shop van. I was scheduled to dive the mysterious blue hole, but due to the weather that day, it wasn't possible. So instead we dove two different sites closer to the island. The first dive was called "the shipyard" it was a place where they have scuttled four large boats very close to each other in about 80 feet of water. The dive master advised that due to the overcast sky the visibility would be reduced, but when I got to the bottom at 82 feet, I could still see the dive boat on the surface so I was not complaining one bit. The wrecks were cool, and at the time I thought that I saw a lot of cool fish. I would soon find out that I hadn't seen anything yet. The second dive of the day was an area called the "trinity caves" a series of caves about 10-15 feet deep in the side of a coral reef in about 45 feet of water. The plant and fish life was amazing. I have never seen so many fish in one place in my life. I saw lionfish, lobster, an array of colorful parrotfish, rockfish, and about two dozen types of colorful flat fish that I couldn't identify. If I ever come back to the Bahamas, wait, correction,....WHEN I come back to the Bahamas I am definitely going to make my main objective scuba diving.
I returned to the hotel at about 1:00, Karla had gotten a Swedish massage that morning, so we relaxed until mid-afternoon and then walked around the open market down by the cruise ship port and then had lunch at the Hard Rock Café. Karla had to endure me talking about Fender basses and Jerry Garcia for the duration of that meal. If your reading this Karla, thanks for putting up with my musical geekyness, I know it gets boring sometimes.
That night we got all dressed up and went back to Atlantis. Have you ever been in a Taxi cab that ran out of gas? Now I can say that I have. We made it to Atlantis after a short problem on the Paradise Island bridge. The hotel was just as amazing the second time around. I broke even again at the casino but Karla was the big winner that night, she stuck 20 bucks into a nickel slot machine and won $150. Why do the people that usually never gamble always win when they try? Oh well, she bought me dinner so I vicariously won that night too.
Day 4 Sept. 3
We slept in a little and then went out to the private beach in front of the hotel. I rented a snorkel and swam around the swimming area. I was amazed to see a large amount of life just in the swimming area. I saw some lionfish, striped rock shrimp, flounder, needlefish, and again, a large array of flat fish that I couldn't identify. Karla and I enjoyed snorkeling around the swimming area so much that we decided to do a snorkeling cruise that afternoon. A boat took us about 5 miles out to a very shallow reef where there was an amazing amount of fish and coral. It looked like something out of a discovery channel special about reefs. I swam with schools and fed some fish, saw brain coral, fan coral, etc. It was definitely one of the coolest experiences I've had in the water. When I arrived back at the hotel I realized that I forgot to spray suntan lotion on my back soon enough, or perhaps all the saltwater wore it off even though it was "sport" suntan lotion. I had one of the worst sun burns I've ever had. If you read my Mexico Travel log, then you will know that I got burned really bad down there, but that was peanuts compared to this. My swimsuit line is ridiculous (see the pictures). I shudder to think of how I'm going to peel when I get to band camp. We spent the rest of that evening putting aloe on our burns and taking cold showers to get some of the heat out of them. I'm glad I didn't get burned until the last day, because trying to be out in the sun with that kind of burn is almost unbearable.
Day 5 Sept. 4
A solid day of flying for me, I got to the airport at 7:30am EST and wouldn't arrive in Eugene until 11:30pm PST. That's 19 hours for you math majors our there. The one good thing is that my Dad hooked me up big time while booking the tickets and flew me back first class the whole way. Have I talked about the beauty of flying first class? No? well, here we go. Have you ever been cramped in the back of a plane with a baby crying behind you, sipping on your tiny little cup of soda, hungry as hell, wishing there was a better way to get across the country without being deprived of sleep when you arrive. Well, little did you know that less than 100 feet away there are people flying in big cushy leather chairs that recline 45 degrees, eating full meals and sipping free drinks. Instead of a tiny bag of pretzels, they get unlimited jars of heated mixed nuts, cookies and milk, sometimes dessert after dinner and electrical outlets in every seat. Burns you doesn't it? This is the only way to fly when your going to be traveling for longer than 5 hours. Especially if your not paying for it. Thanks Dad.
The Bahamas, another life changing experience for me, and another vacation with Karla on an island in a foreign country. If I can keep this up, I'll be very well traveled or totally broke by the time I'm 25.
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Comments

Mike Koskie on

Nassau, Bahamas....still my favorite destination. Not far from the states and convenient location. Several Islands to choose from. Nassau the Capitol has everything there is to do and explore. The British Colonial Hotel in the heart of downtown. If you are up early in the morning at the Hotel you can hear and watch the cruise ships come in. Several shops and restaurants to choose from and the straw market right down Bay street. And the best scuba diving there is!

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