One happy resident of Nassau
Bahamas - our choice in the Caribbean
As we wrote in our previous entry on the blog our Easter holiday was divided between New York City and the Caribbean. The Caribbean is large so for obvious reasons we had to limit ourselves to visit only the Bahamas and there we had time only to visit two islands, Providence Island and Harbor Island.
We started our visit in Nassau, the capitol of the Bahamas. Nassau sees a large influx of tourists, mostly from North America, and the city therefore feels a bit like a tourist resort. This is for better and for worse. On the good side, it is easy to get tourist information, to rent cars, buy tickets for tours and to buy good coffee. On the downside, you get the feeling that this is a Disney-esque version of the Caribbean and not the real thing. Well, the main purpose for our visit in the Caribbean was to relax, take it easy and spend some time on the beach. For that the Bahamas is a great place to go to.
In Nassau there are a few historical buildings that are somewhat interesting. There are two old forts from
Guy on a boat
Well, most of life in the Bahamas revolves around the sea. It beaches, sunbathing and various water sports such as riding a speedboat
when the Bahamas was a British colony, Fort Charlotte and Fort Fincastle. They are not very spectacular but we still found them worth to visit since when we happened to walk by.
Near Fort Fincastle there is a site known as the Queen's staircase. It's a natural gorge where a staircase has been cut in the rock to create an access point to Fort Fincastle. Today this staircase is obsolete, because there is a road wide enough for cars leading to the castle, and only serves as a tourist attraction. No, that was not true. It's a tourist trap
and nothing else.
To be honest, when it comes to typical tourist attractions Nassau hardly has anything to offer. But that doesn't make it a boring place or anything. We liked it in Nassau. One place we liked a lot was an octagonal house near the city centre. This was once the local prison. Today the local library is housed in the building and the books are in the former prison cells.
Near the city centre is the parliament house. It's a rather large building facing a square. A few blocks away is the government house. That is
Fort Charlotte is an old fort from when the Bahamas was a British colony
a more anonymous building that we probably would not have noticed if it had not been just across the street from our hotel.
Across the bay from Nassau city centre is Paradise Island which is heavily dominated by Atlantis Resort. We went to Paradise Island one day to have a look at the place. We didn't bother to go into the actual resort. Since we were not paying guests we thought they would not have liked us to skulk around where we didn't belong. But around the resort is a small supporting town with shops, restaurants and bars. This was an area open for everybody so there we walked around for a while. It was a surreal experience to be there because the entire place felt so artificial. It was fun to visit the place for a few hours but staying there is not something we would have enjoyed.
When we were happy with the resort we went across the island to a beach and stayed there for a few hours before we returned to the hotel.
On one of the days we were in Bahamas we rented a scooter and went for trip to some other
Queen's staircase is in a natural gorge and has been cut in the rock to create an access point to Fort Fincastle.
places outside of Nassau but still in New Providence Island. One of the first places we stopped at was an abandoned horse race arena. The actual horse track was nowhere to be seen. It was either so overgrown that it wasn't possible to make it out or had been removed. But the old grandstand that used to be part of the arena was still there. When we stopped there Ake talked to a young man, who was working nearby, and asked him about the former stadium. He explained that it had played an important role in the early days of the Bahamian tourist industry. People came all the way from the US to see horses race each other and jockeys had come ever from Europe to compete. He also told us that his grandparents had spent a lot of time at the stadium watching the races. Also his parents had been there when they were young. So he had heard many stories from when the horse races drew thousands of people to the Bahamas. He himself had never been there though because there hadn't been any races there for the last 30 years or so. Today the grandstand is deteriorating
Prison turned library
One place we liked a lot the octagonal former prison turned library
and according to a note in the local newspaper it will soon be dismantled to give space for an expansion of a nearby hotel.
Walking around this old abandoned stadium was an interesting experience. We can both see beauty in buildings, like this one, that has been abandoned and where nature has been allowed to take over. Walking around on the grandstand reminded us a little about what it was like to walk around in Prypiat in Ukraine
. Probably it would have been something similar to walk on the High Line
in New York City before
it was turned into a park and opened to the public.
After we left the horse stadium we went to a place called Clifton Heritage Park. Where the park is today there used to be a plantation. The owners of plantation had slaves working the fields. The heritage park was established partly to protect the remains of the houses where the slaves used to live. Also the ruins after the house where the owners of the farm used to live is inside the park.
Near the park there is staircase leading down to the shore. This staircase has been cut into the rock and was used to make it easier
The Bahamian Parliament
Near the city centre was the parliament house...
to get down to boats arriving at this place. Products produced at the farm could easily be shipped out this way and things needed at the farm that had to be brought in from the outside was also brought in here. This harbour is at a very remote spot on the island. Therefore it is believed that it was also used for smuggling.
After we left Clifton Heritage Park we went to a beach nearby and enjoyed the sunny weather and the warm water. There are lots of tourists in the Bahamas but since they usually don't venture far from the hotels it is easy to find a beach that you can have for yourself.
In the evening we came back to Nassau again. We went back to the harbour where we rented the scooter and returned it to the rental company. This company is situated in the harbour right where the cruise ships moor. Nassau is a popular destination for cruise lines so every day there are several cruise ships moored in the harbour. This day there was a particularly large one sitting there. It is called MSC Poesia
and we were surprised over how big she was.
The Government House
...and a few blocks away from there was the government house
She was simply gigantic. Well at least that's what we thought until we had a look at one of the other ships in the harbour. Just a little bit further out from MSC Poesia was Oasis of the Seas
, the largest cruise ship on the planet, moored. The funny thing was that in between these two ridiculously large cruise ships there was yet another cruise ship moored. That one was pretty large too but in comparison with these two giants it was dwarfed.
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