Category Archives: Bahamas

Finishing up 3 months of travel in Nassau Bahamas

Our 3 months of travel came to a close in beautiful Nassau Bahamas.  For our remaining days, we decided to visit an all-inclusive resort in Nassau called Breezes.   No more hunting for restaurants or things to do — Breezes has all you can eat, drink and do — all day, every day.

Looking back, we’ve had an incredible trip.  We ate lobster in Bar Harbor, Maine, visited the maritime provinces of Canada, enjoying Prince Edwards Island the most.  Then we headed to Ecuador, visited the Galapagos Islands, and spent almost 4 weeks studying Spanish in Cuenca, Ecuador.  Jetting off to Peru, we experienced one of the 7 wonders of the world, Machu Picchu.

We finished this whirlwind excursion in the Bahamas, visiting Exuma, Long Island and Nassau.  Here are few pictures of Breezes, our last destination in the Bahamas.

Breezes Resort in Nassau Bahamas

Breezes Resort in Nassau Bahamas

Breezes Resort in Nassau Bahamas

Ping Pong, Pool and TV in the Bahamas

Staying fit during our travels

During our travels, we really tried to stay in shape.  Almost every day, we walked for many miles because we did not have a car for most of the time.  No matter where you are, there are always excellent places to walk.  In Nassau, I found a nice walking trail that goes along a pond:

Pond in the Bahamas

To prevent totally losing my strength, I purchased workout bands from Bodylastics and used those several times per week. They come in different weight levels, but I just brought one and used it to work out my back and arms.  A single band fits easily in the backpack. I did push ups for chest and crunches and sit ups for abs. I did lunges for legs.

Workout bands by Bodylastics

Other things we learned

During our first long-term vacation, we learned a few things.   We were really happy that we purchased a PacSafe before hand.  Using a PacSafe, you can wrap your backpack (containing your valuables like computers, iPads, etc) in the PacSafe and lock it to the toilet or sink.  This came in really handy because we did not want to leave our valuables unprotected in the hostels and hotels we stayed.  Here is what the PacSafe looks like, you simply wrap it around your backpack to lock and secure your stuff:

PacSafe locking system

As far as luggage, we each took a 65 liter backpack and a computer backpack.   In hind site, we probably took too many clothes and the 65 liter backpack could probably be replaced with a more friendly travel backpack by Rick Steves.  Some other travel friends of ours (Bob and Robin Charlton – http://www.wherewebe.com) showed us their Rick Steves backpacks that open up like a suitcase but has the convenience of a backpack.  I am sure we will be checking into that before our next big trip.  We were glad we packed a flashlight, medicine, duct tape, lots of Q-tips, and other sundries — they all came in handy.

We probably took too many electronics (I brought a laptop, iPad and iPhone and Lynn brought an iPad and iPhone).  It did come in handy (laptop for blogging, iPad for reading CNN and the Daily e-zine, and the iPhone for texting).  Not sure how we will change this for our next big trip but it did weigh us down.  I also brought my Nikon 5150 camera and an underwater camera.  In hindsight, I think the underwater camera would have been enough because the Nikon takes up a lot of room. But I love my Nikon!

Bob and Robin Charlton

Things we were surprised by

Having never traveled for 3 months before, we were surprised by a couple of things.  You get home sick in the first few weeks –  that fades after a couple of weeks as you start enjoying your new surroundings.  Towards the end of the trip, you get homesick again.  We missed our dog (Katie), our bed, American food, friends and just waking up and watching the Today show.   When traveling (especially in developing nations), you don’t always have reliable WiFi and rarely do you have American TV stations.  It is surprising how much we value our TV time — the Today show, nightly news, and some of our favorite prime time shows.

I also missed watching my beloved Dallas Cowboys and Alabama Crimson tide — but I did keep up with them via the internet.  I was planning to stream the Cowboys game via NFL network but I was surprised to find out that they only allow streaming if you are in the USA, they block it from foreign IP addresses.  Same goes for HULU — they do not allow streaming of TV shows and movies outside of the USA.

Since we were visiting mostly Spanish-speaking countries, I was surprised how well we were able to use our limited amount of Spanish to communicate, but really missed our ability to be expressive, funny and well-spoken when converting our thoughts from English to Spanish.  I like to make quips and jokes and it was much harder to convert that to Spanish than I had expected.  Learning fluent Spanish is also is harder than I expected.  I figured with 50 hours of Spanish in almost 4 weeks,  I would be somewhat fluent.  Not really.  I think it would take (at least for me) about a year of living there to become fluent.

Tortuga Bay, Galapagos Islands

One of the cool things we noticed is that overall, people are really nice and want to get to know you.  People would go out of their way to say hello to you and to learn more about where you are from and how you like visiting their country.  They really appreciated our (sometimes feeble) attempts at communicating with them in their native language and were patient as we got the words out.  We also made them laugh. One time I was explaining something to our Spanish teacher and she just burst our laughing  (I guess I had mistakenly called someone a prostitute with my new-found Spanish).

Most people think of Quito Ecuador as a scary city — crowded and lots of crime.  We were certainly careful (we traveled with very little cash, no flashy jewelry, and we stayed in at night or took cabs if we decided to venture out), but I will say that I was surprised by something that happened in the Quito airport.  Lynn and I ate at the airport and I had (foolishly) put my wallet on the table.  Then I remembered I needed to go back out of the terminal for a few minutes to check on something. In my haste, I must have left the wallet on the table.   About 10 minutes later, a policeman found me (by using the picture on my driver’s license inside the wallet). Someone had turned my wallet in and had me check it.  All the cash and credit cards were there.  He then introduced me to the nice Ecuadorian that found it — very cool.

Cuenca Ecuador

The final thing we were surprised by was our travel style.  We decided to make our travel plans as we went with no big plans.  So to do this, we did not do much research ahead of time, we figured we would let the trip dictate where we went and how our itinerary would unfold.  This works but is more stressful that you might imagine.  Having to find hotels at a moments notice, restaurants to eat in and things to do takes more time and effort than you might think.  In the future we will take a more analytical approach to it, research things ahead of time and have a better planned itinerary.  I also think 3 months may be too long for our travel style.  I am not sure of the exact duration that will work best for us but I guess we will figure this out over time.   Finally, airfare was lots more expensive than we expected, next time we will try to arrange our trip with less airline trips to reduce our costs.  We went through 21 airports during our 3 months of travel – whew!

But I can’t emphasize how amazing this trip was.  We really had a great time and spending this time with Lynn was incredible.  She is awesome, my best friend and the best travel partner you can imagine.

Machu Picchu

So this ends our first big travel excursion since retirement.  I hope you enjoyed receiving our weekly updates during our travel.  This will probably be the last one for a while — until we have something interesting to say or some news on our next travel plans.  Please let us know (via comments) if you like the blog and if you want to see more of it in our future travels.  Also, feel free to let us know where you think we should go next.

We will now enjoy Thanksgiving with our boys, enjoy our home in Florida, and begin planning our next big trip.   Happy Thanksgiving!

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Swift Breezes in Long Island Bahamas

I think we found the most laid back place in the world — Long Island Bahamas.  If you are into snorkeling, fishing, laying on the beach, and feeling swift breezes flowing through screened windows of a beach side cottage — you will love it here. If you are looking for WiFi, Cable TV, tours and planned out days — you are in the wrong place.

For a slide show of Long Island, click here.

Let’s start with the cottage.  We stayed in a one bedroom cottage with 2 decks that sits ocean front.  The windows have 6 inch layers of rotating glass that open all the way up so that breezes come through the house as if you were camping under the open sky.  Delightful sleeping at night, feeling the breezes and hearing the ocean crash onto the rocks outside of the cabin.

Our cabin on the ocean

Wind swept bedroom

Great views

Whistling Duck Cottage

View from the front deck

We had no internet and no cable TV — just DVDs of older movies which made every night “Movie Night”.  There are not many restaurants here either, only a few.  We ended up eating at 2 different restaurants almost every day, but that also gave us a chance to connect to WiFi to catch up on current events (like the election results).  Our favorite restaurant was next to a marina where we could see large boats as well as the small fishing boats come in for a break.

The marina

Our favorite eatery

Lynn enjoying lunch

One day we were hanging out at that restaurant and we saw a fishing boat pull up with a huge catch of lobster.  They harvest lobsters the old fashion way — they dive down and hook or spear them!

We met some other vacationers from Vancouver, Canada that happened to be staying in a cabin next to us.  Together, we went down and asked the fishermen if they would sell us some lobster — we bought 8 lobsters for $35!  That night we grilled shared lobster with our new friends at their cottage.

Lobster fishermen

Catch of the day!

The ocean and beaches are spectacular here, check out these beaches we stumbled on.

Incredible beaches

Incredible beaches

Incredible beaches

Incredible beaches

Incredible beaches

One of the big attractions is Dean’s Blue Hole.  It is the deepest blue hole in the world — over 600 feet deep.  Free divers from all over the globe come here to dive it.  We saw several of them here and talked with them about how they do it.  They train like any other sport and most can hold their breath for 6 to 7 minutes underwater.  They do this diving with no tanks, it is incredible to imagine holding your breath that long.  I snorkeled the blue hole and the fish were coming right up to me — blue and silver fish that were probably 3 to 4 pounds each.

Free Diving at Deans Blue hole

Deans Blue hole

One day we drove to the most northern tip of the island.  Many years ago, they erected a monument to Christopher Columbus for laying claim to the island on 17-Oct-1492.  He said these were some of the most beautiful and shallow water islands he had ever seen.  To get to the monument, we drove until it was un-driveable (due to washed out roads), then we hiked another 30 minutes to the monument. It sits at the top of a hill that you can climb, but the views are righteous.

Uphill hike to Columbus Memorial

Columbus Memorial

Speaking of righteous, there are beautiful churches on the island with an architecture you might not expect.  Here, see what I mean:

Interesting church architecture

Notice this one’s roof was blown away by Irene

Notice the graves in front of the church — this is common

Churches of Long Island

Long Island sports one of the smallest airports we’ve ever seen.  Barely more than a room big and it has a rental car company on site.  To get to it, you have to cross the airstrip!  Too funny.

Watch for planes!

Not exactly the Atlanta International airport!

For a slide show of Long Island, click here.

I’ll leave you with one more photo that I caught at the end of day of fishing.   Nice, eh?

Rewarding end of the day!

Swimming with the Pigs in Exuma Bahamas

On the way to the Bahamas, we got stuck in Miami for 3 nights due to Hurricane Sandy. Not a bad place to be stuck, we took advantage of the time to eat all our favorite American dishes that we had missed in the past 2 months of traveling to South America. We also took in 2 movies (Argo and 7 Psychopaths) — first movies we have been to during our travels. Miami had small amounts of rain and wind. We stayed in South Beach, so we were able to stroll the beaches each day. Nice!

Once we arrived in Exuma Bahamas, we had another surprise awaiting us at the airport. The caretaker of the house we rented said the power was off at the house due to the storm. No worries, we rented a beach front hotel with really great views.

For a slide show of Exuma, click here.

Great view from our hotel

Chillin’ at the pool

That hotel was fully booked the second day, so we rented another hotel with even better views.

Captivating views at our hotel

Bahamas beaches are incredible

After 2 days, our caretaker agreed to give us refund us for the house with no power, so we rented a cool little beach cottage a few minutes from the beach, snagged a car, and settled in. The Bahamas were once British owned, so people drive on the left side of the road here. This allowed Lynn and I to check off one of our bucket list items — drive on the left side of the road.

Checking one off the bucket list

At first, it was really strange. I kept mumbling to myself “stay of the left, stay on the left.” Driving to roundabouts were also different — you take the left way around the roundabout instead of the right. But interesting enough, after about 2 days of doing it, it felt absolutely normal.

The biggest challenge is that the blinkers are on the right of the steering wheel — I kept hitting the wipers ever time I tried to put on the blinkers.  The radio volume is also on the right instead of the left, so we changed the radio station instead of the volume.

Since we are staying the in the Bahamas for several weeks, I wonder how it will feel to drive on the right side when we return home!

Exuma is about 50 miles from one end to the other. We drove around the island and discovered new beaches — all with impeccable white sand and blue waters. These are probably the most beautiful beaches we have ever seen (sorry Florida). In the capital (Georgetown), we hopped a water taxi to Stocking Island. This is a small island with great views and a cool little restaurant called Chat and Chill.

Chat and Chill

Chat and Chill

The owner of this place is a 63-year-old ex-banker with a degree from the University of Chicago. He was very successful but decided to pitch it all, return to the Bahamas and open up a restaurant where he could enjoy the company of travelers and just chill. The Chat and Chill restaurant is aptly named. The owner is a well-read guy that will talk your ear off about current events, his extensive travels, and his 5 children. It was fun getting to know him. Here are some of the incredible views from his place:

Great views from Chat and Chill

Signpost gives far away distances

He also has a little place that makes fresh conch salads beach-side. They pull the conch out of the water, extracts it from the shell, slices it up mixing it with lime juice, diced tomatoes, onions and other ingredients. Then they feed the stingrays with the left over parts of the conch. Notice the huge stingray that came up to me, I petted it as it swam by.

Conch salad bar

Steve spots a stingray

No visit to Exuma is complete until you swim with the pigs. Didn’t know pigs could swim? Neither did I! We had a full day boat tour of many of the surrounding cays and when we arrived at one of the cays, pigs saw the boat and swam out to see us. We jumped in the water and began feeding and swimming with them. I’ve never seen anything like it, very cool!

Swimming pigs

They come right up to the boat for slices of bread

Steve feeds a pig

During the excursion, we saw many islands that were privately owned by the wealthy (Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, AT&T executives, Nicholas Cage, etc.). Tim McGraw’s house was incredible, huge 10,000 square foot mansion on the water.

Lynn at a sandbar

We also snorkeled into a cave where they filmed the ending of James Bond’s Thunderball.

Cave they shot the final scene of 007 Thunderball in

On our way back to the dock, we stopped by a small cay filled with land iguanas. We fed the iguanas — they were not afraid of us, they came right up.

Feeding the iguanas

What you looking at?

Our next stop is to a different Caribbean Island – Long Island Bahamas. We will stay there for a few weeks before returning back to Florida. Hasta Luego!

For a slide show of Exuma, click here.