Tuesday 8th May
The hotel in Miami offered a complimentary continental breakfast, normally in American hotels this would consist of a Danish pastry, a blueberry muffin and coffee. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that this breakfast was a full blown buffet, at a cost of $75 per room for 1 nights stay it was really good value, we also had free internet connection. We took the complimentary shuttle service to the airport and tried to check in at the American Airline 'E' ticket machines, no luck as we were aliens leaving the country. Eventually we got our boarding cards and headed towards the departure gates where we were both subject to even more extra security checks.
Our flight was on a small prop plane (15 rows of 4) and it was a really windy day outside, Linda was glad it was only a 45 minute flight. We landed with quite a bump and then taxied to the terminal, we were soon off the plane and delighted to see that our luggage was almost first off. We then took a 30 minute drive (owing to the congested traffic in Nassau) to Riu Hotel on Paradise Island where we would stay for the next 10 days, we hadn't realised when we booked that we were next to the famous "Atlantis Hotel". As we were staying at an all inclusive hotel we had to have the mandatory bands put around our wrists and off we went to our room on the 10th floor. From the room we could see that the waves were crashing in on the beach and that the lifeguards had put up the red flags to stop people going in the water, not that some people took any notice of this. We were soon into the swing of drinking and eating all day long.
Wednesday 9th May
The buffet breakfast was great, we were even offered Bucks Fizz along with our tea / coffee. Even before 9 a.m. most of the sunbeds had the usual towels draped over them so we didn't have a lot of choice where we sat around the pool. Breakfast runs from 7 a.m. till 11 a.m., lunch from 12.00 till 5 p.m. and dinner from 6.30 p.m. till 9.30 p.m., there is even a snack bar from 10 p.m. till midnight, the bars are open from 10 a.m. until 1 a.m, if you still feel the need for a drink there was a mini bar c/w optics in your room. You could literally eat and drink yourself silly, we tried to be a bit more conservative and only had salad at lunchtime and didn't have any alcohol till after 12.
Ron saw the diving instructor giving free scuba lessons in the pool so went over and arranged his dives for later on in the week. The flags on the beach were red / yellow today so we took a chance and went into the sea, you were all right if you went with the flow of the waves, the water was warm but not as warm as the Gulf beaches. Later on the flags were changed to red as somebody was knocked unconscious by a "freak" wave, we also found out later that a couple of people had fallen awkwardly and broken their arms. Back at the bar we got talking to a couple from Glasgow who had moved to Daytona Beach 11 years ago, their accents were still strong though and the bartenders had a few problems deciphering them.
Thursday 10th May
Sent our Happy Birthday message to Sandy as she is 50 today (just in case anybody didn't know). After breakfast we went to the tour desk to book a trip for later on in the afternoon to Nassau. It was quite overcast this morning and we were pleased to see our little cloud that has followed us around the world. We were picked up by coach at 2 p.m. and were soon on our way to Nassau, the first stop was Fort Fincastle named after the Earl of Moray who was governor general for the early years. The forts were built in order to stop an invasion by the French but as Napoleon was defeated the French never arrived and the cannons that had been set up were never used. WE also stopped at Fort Charlotte and given a tour of the underground barracks, this fort was named after George III's wife, Queen Charlotte. One of the other points of interest was the Queens staircase which had been dug out of limestone rock by the slaves, this was an escape route to the water front if the invasion ever came. Our last stop was at the Ardastra Gardens which included a show by the Marching Flamingos, an unusual experience.
Back at the hotel we were sitting at the bar and met Megan from Toronto, she was here as a guest for a wedding that was to take place the next day at the hotel.. Megan is an independent tour operator in Canada and had arranged the flights and accommodation for all the wedding guests and as a thank you they invited her along as well. Megan introduced us to the liqueur Nassau Royale which tasted quite pleasant (a vanilla taste) but had a powerful kick. We had our evening meal tonight sitting on the veranda looking out over the water watching the sun set (how romantic can we get!!).
Friday 11th May
We woke up to a really hot day today and settled down by the pool for a few hours watching the first of two weddings to take place on the beach. After lunch we walked round to the Atlantis Hotel and Marina where all the huge expensive yachts are moored up, the Atlantis Hotel also has its own marina where "superstar" guests can enter the hotel privately. This weekend is the grand opening of a new tower at the Atlantis and the main attraction is a small concert by Janet Jackson and Stevie Wonder. After the show the hotel put on a fabulous firework display which we watched from our balcony, the whole building and skyline was ablaze with colour.
Saturday 12th May
Sat on the balcony at 7 a.m. this morning and watched 4 different cruise liners rounding the headland before entering the docks, as we were going into Nassau later on it would mean a busy day ahead. After breakfast we took a taxi into Nassau and the first shop we saw was the Hard Rock Cafe, naturally we went and spent some dollars. All you could see along the main shopping street was jewellery, cigar, souvenir shops & off shore banking (Bahamas is a tax free haven for people wanting to invest their money). There was also the local straw market selling souvenirs which was housed in a "temporary" building as the original was burnt down over 5 years ago. After spending our hard earned cash we decided to take the water taxi back, this was quite an experience as you are packed in like sardines , we were sitting next to the "captain" and a dozen noisy Cubans who never stopped talking for the 15 minute trip. The rest of the afternoon was spent avoiding the hot sun by swimming in the sea, which was now like a millpond, or the hotel pool.
Sunday 13th May
Early start again as Ron was being picked up at 8.30 for his first of 2 days diving experience. Linda strolled down to the shopping parade on Paradise Island for a good look at the shops without Ron looking over her shoulder. The diving site was about 1 mile off-shore from the Atlantis Hotel, both dives today where on wrecks that had been there for many years. We had our evening meal at the Steakhouse Restaurant at the hotel which is one of 3 gourmet dinner experiences that can be booked.
Monday 14th May
Lazy morning spent round the pool and then took a walk along the beach to Snorkellers Cove (at the far end of Paradise Island) and then onto Smugglers Beach. We noticed that the wind was getting up a bit and by late afternoon the weather had really changed and the red flags were up again. During our walk we saw that there was a lot of very small brown jellyfish in the water but as people were still swimming we presume that they were harmless. There was another wedding late on in the afternoon but it could not be held on the beach as it was just too gusty.
Tuesday 15th May
A real storm is brewing this morning and we could see lightening in the distance, and after breakfast the storm hit us with lashings of rain, wind, thunder and lightening, all the people who like to "reserve" their sunbeds with personal items soon found them either blown away or soaking wet. Everywhere seems real crowded in the hotel as you just cannot go outside, felt sorry for the people who just arrived today. The storm persisted most of the day so the activities moved indoors and the noise became deafening.After our evening meal we sat next to a couple who came from Iowa and spent the next few hours chatting like long lost friends.
Wednesday 16th May
The rain has stopped but the sea is still really rough, Ron had booked to go diving again but the event was cancelled, unfortunately he can't go tomorrow as we are travelling home on Friday. We decided to walk a bit further inland and found lots of huge villas to gawp at! When we got back to the hotel there wasn't a space spare around the pool or even on the beach as everybody was wanting to catch up with their sunbathing that they had missed the previous day. At our usual afternoon session at the bar we started chatting to a young couple with really broad southern U.S. accents, they were on their honeymoon and came from Tennessee. We have only just discovered today that if you go the Atlantis Hotel after 6 p.m. you can walk around the underground Aquarium (free of charge), so off we went after dinner and we saw the biggest Giant Ray we had ever seen plus hundreds and hundreds of other types of fish. As we were at the Atlantis we just had to go and lose our last $5 at the casino (well we might have won enough to do another 6 month trip!).
Thursday 17th May
The penultimate day of our adventure, where have the last 6 months gone? We got up early so that we could choose a decent sunbed today as we just needed to top up our suntans and finish reading our books and solving our puzzles. In fact that is all we done all day until it was time to go back to our room and type up the journal. Bye from the Bahamas, we are travelling back to Miami tomorrow with a few hours stopover before we take our flight back to the UK. Statistics of our trip will follow on our return.