We spent the third and last part of our vacation in the Bahamas (check out also part 1: Boca Raton and part 2: Miami), enjoying the tropical weather and exploring the life of the locals. Of course, we also enjoyed some typical tourist attractions such as jet skiing, reading on the beach, and watching movies. Ben and I celebrated New Year’s Eve dancing in the main square of the Grand Bahama Island with an accompaniment of exploding fireworks and popping champagne.
Day 1: When we arrived at Fort Lauderdale International airport our flight to the Bahamas had been delayed. We entertained ourselves by talking, eating, and reading magazines. After four hours of delay, I made a joke that the Bahamas must only own one airplane, and we are waiting while the previous flight comes back to Florida to pick us up. When we finally landed in the Bahamas, we saw just three airplanes in the entire airport. Ben and I couldn’t stop laughing.
Day 2: We were still exhausted from the late flight and decided to take it easy. That day we explored the hotel and nearby attractions and headed to a bonfire party in the evening. There we tried sugary rum-based cocktails, enjoyed surprisingly delicious for beach party food, and observed all the fun activities prepared for us by the event planners. When it got cold, we warmed up near the bonfire; limbo and fire dancers did not entertain us as much as the company of each other.
Day 3: We had a nice breakfast at the hotel and decided to start exploring the island. Thus, we headed to the rental office and booked a jet skiing tour. For an hour and a half, we raced with each other, found some sharks (I was seriously scared!) and dolphins. Over the jet-ski tour, our tour guide jumped off of his jet ski and caught a starfish for us. The starfish is hard and thorny and I couldn’t believe that it was alive. We put the starfish back in the water and it slowly retained enough water to sink to the bottom.
Later in the day, we rented a scooter and headed towards Downtown Freeport to explore a place called the International Bazaar. As it turned out, the Bazaar was almost destroyed during the 2004-2005 hurricanes. In its current condition, it reminded us of deserted slums and we decided not to get off of the scooter there. Instead, we headed to a movie theater described by our local buddy as a “superb quality place.” The movie theater was miniature, about the size of the one in East Hampton, and it has an interior like a Soviet Union summer camp (I’ve been to one of these once, it was not fun at all). The walls of the movie theater were still damaged from water; overall the movie theater looked pretty sad. Surprisingly, the movie selection was totally up-to-date. We watched Exodus: Gods and Kings with Christian Bale, and he was so good in it. I decided to include Bale into my Best Actors Ever list, together with Edward Norton and Cillian Murphy.
Day 4: My muscles were tight after spending most of the day on a jet ski and the back seat of the scooter. Thus, I requested a chill day and we spent most of it at the swimming pool. I was avidly reading Little Failure by Gary Shteyngart, a memoir of a Russian Jew émigré family and writer’s path towards literary recognition. My review of the book is coming up soon, but I have to mention now that it is one of the best books that I’ve read in 2014. In the afternoon, we went out for dinner and then checked out the local casino. I tried my first Margarita ever and surprisingly was able to handle almost the entire drink (if you don’t know yet, I am not a drinker at all; a half a glass of red wine is the most I could handle).
Day 5: We were planning to party the entire night and tried to take it easy during the day. We spent our day at the swimming pool, had lunch at a cute local restaurant, slept, and read a lot. In the evening, we went out to a fancy restaurant called China Beach; I tried a great salmon teriyaki and Ben ordered a lobster. After dinner, we went to the bar where we listened to a very talented singer. Ben and I love Billy Holiday, and our singer demonstrated to us the best practices of the jazz standard. Closer to midnight, we went to the major square of the town, Port Lucaya Marketplace, where a band of local musicians performed popular hits. We counted down to New Year’s under the sprinkles of fireworks. It was so special! After the fireworks were over, we had a drink at a local bar and then danced for a while in the square. It is a Russian tradition to stay up as long as you can on New Year’s Eve, that is why we continued our entertainment at the hotel room where we spent a good two hours watching TV.
Day 6: We slept through breakfast and snacked in the hotel room instead. Every morning the maid brought us fresh fruit and baked goods. We enjoyed our fresh muffins and danishes as well as juicy apples and fancy Nespresso coffee that we also prepared in the room. Slowly and steadily we got ready and took a boat ride to other side of the island where we hoped to enjoy the beach. However, it was too windy and chilly and eventually we returned to the room. That night, we decided to stay in the room and watch movies. We watched Killers with Ashton Kutcher and Katherine Heigl on Netflix (it was funny!) and The Outsiders on DVD (not good at all). It was a lazy but very nice evening!
Day 7: On our last day in the Bahamas, we rented a car to explore the island. We decided to head towards Lucaya National Park and got lost. I mean so lost that Google Maps couldn’t locate where we were. We were driving around trying to find the main road for quite some time and eventually bumped into…a dirty road covered with bullet shells! I got scared and Ben seemed to be excited—what an adventure! Finally, we found our way towards Lucayan National Park where we saw caves and wet our feet in the clearest blue ocean.
Then, we drove to the Gardens of the Groves, a beautiful park full of domesticated ducks and exotic trees. It was such a colorful and memorable experience!
On our way home, we drove to the Downtown Freeport and explored local mini stores and markets. The atmosphere in the stores for locals seemed very depressing: the mall was half open, there were close to no stores and definitely no clothing stores.
In contrast, that evening we went to one of the fanciest Caribbean restaurants, Flying Fish, that had been named the second best restaurant in the Caribbean. We tried three appetizers, an amazing coconut crusted Mahi Mahi and two desserts. The food was decadent and could beat some of the top NYC-based restaurants.
A cute little detail: there was a jar of sugar lavender scrub in the bathroom that smelled so good! As a side note, I think that absolutely all restaurants should incorporate this practice. First, it adds a very human touch to the restaurant. Second, deliciously smelling hand scrub is a must have if the restaurant serves lobster. After dinner, we headed to the movie theater we’d been to before to watch The Interview. No matter what critics are saying, it was hilarious!
Day 8: We had an early flight to Fort Lauderdale that had just a half an hour delay. Luckily, we found coffee at the airport cafeteria and it helped us to go through the day. We spent two more days in Florida with Ben’s family and headed back to New York.
Our trip to the Bahamas was a blast! We spent time next to nature, explored a country that was new to us, and finally unplugged from all electronic devices. It was a truly wonderful and romantic trip and I would definitely recommend it as your next travel destination. I wonder if you headed on vacation during this holiday season? Where did you go and how did you like it? Please share your stories with the #StyleSprinter community.