A Travellerspoint blog

December 2012

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Tennessee goes to Manhattan for some holiday cheer.

It's supposed to be "the most wonderful time of the year" but Christmas started with a BANG this year in our household.

Or should I say, with a THUD.

Already frazzled by frenzied holiday shopping, one too many events to organize and keep up with, and what seemed like endless piles of things to be wrapped.....I got an extra kick in the pants from Christmas this year when I spent hours decorating the perfect tree not knowing that the stand was broken and that each ornament or string of lights I added only placed more stress on that little crack......

The end result was a heap of beautifully decorated tree lying in a puddle of dirty water, smashed limbs, pine needles, and broken ornaments on my living room floor.


Home alone, I could do no more than cry pathetically as I tried to push the tree upright (knowing it was pointless since it weighed more than I did), so I could clean the spilled water and broken glass...only to have the darn thing fall over again!

Covered with sticky tree sap and glitter that I'd never be able to scrub out of all the places it got embedded in, I started the Christmas season with a big fat BAH HUMBUG!

Needing a boost of Christmas cheer and needing it FAST, we made a mad dash to NYC. If you can't find a way to be merry in a city filled with twinkling lights, a tree on every corner, 4,000 Santas, ice skating, and air that perpetually smells like roasted chestnuts, well....you can't find a way to be merry.

This trip was so last minute that I didn't have time to do my usual 3 months of internet scouring for every obscure and remarkable thing that I never knew about the place I was about to go, so I was going to have to call in an expert for help.

I sent a desperate plea for help to my virtual friend and favorite travel blogger, Manhattanite TraceyG. If you have never read her blog, Escape From New York, don't even hesitate. Stop reading this RIGHT NOW and click this link:

Escape From New York

You can thank me later.

I needed some help finding great places to go in a city with 12,000 restaurants that considers a $25 plate a bargain meal and where reservations need to be made at least a month in advance, not with 3 days notice. I also wanted some cool New York experiences but did not want to hear the words, "Empire State Building," "Ice Skating at Rockefeller Center," or "Macys." I'd sooner poke my eye out with an "I heart NY" pencil than stand in a queue with 800 other people to do/see/buy anything that didn't immediately grant me eternal youth or give me the ability to turn things into gold.

Tracey needed some parameters so that she could make some quick recommendations. Our conversation went something like this:

Vicki: OMG....HELP ME!
Tracey: What are you looking for?
Vicki: Food. Cocktails. Shiny Things.
Tracey: Price Range?
Vicki: Something better than TGI Fridays Times Square but less than Per Se. I want to be able to dress up, but I don't want to have to pawn my car title to have money to get home.
Tracey: Do you like ethnic food?
Vicki: People from Tennessee don't eat things they can't pronounce.
Tracey: How do you feel about waiting for a table?
Vicki: If Matt has to wait longer for a table than he could hunt his own dinner, kill it, clean it, and cook it.... someone is likely to get hurt.
Tracey: I've seen your blog. I won't even ask about restaurants with small portions.

As I knew she would, Tracey delivered up a glittering, shiny list full of promise and exquisite possibilities.

We were going to New York!

As soon as we arrived, the city threw her best holiday greetings at us. With Santacon in town, there was literally a Santa (or four) on every corner (Santacon is an event where hoards of adults dress up as Santa and go cavorting about town for no reason whatsoever), the buildings were wrapped like sparkling packages, and Frosty was even wearing his special Christmas thong.





We were a little travel weary, having been up since 4:00 a.m. for an early flight, but we only had 2 days so we hit the ground running. Literally. We ran all the way to Dos Caminos for a lunch reservation.


One of the best things about vacation is lunch cocktails. Not just acceptable, but expected. The Cadillac margarita at Dos Caminos might cost $14...but I think they put about $12 worth of tequila in it. Made with el tesoro reposado, fresh lime juice, and a grand marnier float, this drink was the perfect way to start a weekend of fun. I was merry and bright within minutes.

After two of them, I was downright jolly.

A third and I might have been trying to steal a big red suit to join Santacon.

Good thing I stopped at two.

Three of us ended up with a trio of tacos, so we had the brilliant idea of sharing. That's how I ended up with one machacado breakfast taco with beef brisket, scrambled eggs, Vermont cheddar, and salsa a la Mexicana; one mar y tierra taco with grilled marinated skirt steak,
tecate battered rock shrimp, sriracha aioli, and bacon guacamole; and one pollo taco with grilled citrus-marinated chicken, queso fresco,
pinto beans, chicken chicharrón, and salsa suprema.



The afternoon was spent downtown doing some shopping.


We were going to grab some late afternoon pizza at Lombardi's, but I still had a pretty strong Cadillac buzz even though it was hours later, and I needed a nap if I was going to make it to our 10:00 p.m. dinner reservation.




Despite my disdain for Times Square and any place that involved a line of people waiting for something, I was willing to do the requisite walk through Rockefeller Center and Times Square to see the lights before heading back downtown to find the Hurricane Club.

See...I'm not a total Grinch.





Never ever hand your husband your camera so that he can take a photo of you and your best friend in Times Square, because, while you might end up with a nice snapshot of your special BFF moment like this one:


You might also end up wondering why you have photo of giant boobs on your camera when you get home:


The Hurricane Club was recommended by Tracey as a place to easily fulfill our desire for something trendy and unique. I believe the words I had used with her were, "I'm looking for an 'experience'." As soon as she told me they had flaming coconut drinks and sparklers, my mind was made up.

Who doesn’t love sparklers?


The Hurricane Club was definitely an experience.

It was dark and crowded, with music pumping out from behind billowing white curtains, giving it a nightclub vibe as waiters in white dinner jackets carried trays of drinks poured inside carved out coconuts topped with purple orchids. The place was filled with grand chandeliers and wavy palm fronds. I saw a table of girls in sparkling dresses and fur coats sipping from giant straws that were stuck inside a huge watermelon that sat in the center of the table. The room was loud and full of energy. You had to shout to be heard, but I liked it. The Hurricane club was gorgeous, upscale and oozing with Polynesian cool. It made me feel like I was a million miles from Tennessee.



As I perused a drink menu that contained concoctions like the hibiscus sling, the hurricane mai tai, and the pineapple rum dum, I stopped immediately when I came to the Brazilian. Never mind the colossal drink's $49 price tag. I had to make it mine.


Made for sharing, the Brazilian is a large silver bowl filled with cachaca and lime (you might recall my favorite combination from last December's trip to Brazil.....the caipirhinia....). This caipirhinia was topped with a flaming lime and orchids. With giant straws, we didn't even have to lean forward to drink.


Even the food was dressed to impress. The menu was filled with an assortment of sweet, spicy, sticky, fried, and wok-tossed items that came out looking as wonderful as they tasted. I tried the PB & Guava J to start. I ordered it because the name just gave it an instant fun factor. It turned out to be tiny PB & J sandwiches that had been lightly fried and topped with prosciutto and thai basil. Cute and delicious. I followed that with honey glazed baby back ribs and coconut basmati rice. The ribs were "lick your fingers" fantastic and the rice was too cute to eat, served inside a coconut.





I now believe ALL of my food should be served in a cute little coconut.

The Hurricane club delivered a perfect combination of chic and snazzy for us out-of-towners and the food and drinks were show stoppers. It was perfect.


However, shouting is required and it's too dark to read the menu without using the table candle as a flashlight, so if you need a brightly lit room where you can see your food clearly and need to say more than a quickly shouted “PASS ME A STRAW!” to your party, this place is probably not for you.

Personally, I loved it.


The next morning was cold, wet, and gray. It was raining and absolutely freezing. Perfect NYC winter weather! We had places to go and things to eat, so we grabbed the umbrella and headed out.

My husband will not make a trip to NYC without at least one stop at Carnegie Deli. He loves eating sandwiches so big that they give him the meat sweats. For me, the sandwiches are not the star of the show. I go for the pickles and for the cheesecake.



And so, we consumed a sandwich that could feed the average family of 4 for 6 days.



After lunch, we hopped on the subway and headed back downtown for more shopping. I hadn’t gotten my fix the day before.



We stumbled onto the Union Square holiday market by accident and I couldn’t tear myself away. Yes, it was raining. Yes, it was crowded and people kept bumping into me. Yes, I accidentally popped an umbrella full of water onto an unsuspecting guy that was far too polite to do anything but look at me like, “Seriously???”

In Tennessee, “handmade market” conjures up images of doilies, corncob dolls and crocheted Kleenex box covers and the very thought of them makes me cringe. This was not your grandmother’s market.



Happy red and white tents were filled with an abundance of bright and shiny things….skillfully crafted jewelry and handmade leather belts…Italian leather gloves and handmade paper….chunky knit scarves and blown glass…..macarons in rainbow colors, hand dipped chocolates, hot pretzels, and meatballs….this was heaven on earth.




We wound our way through the maze of colorful baubles and awesome eats…nibbling and buying along the way. We did some downtown power shopping after and I decided it was time to return to the hotel when I could no longer lift my bags.

We had tickets to a 7:00 show, so we decided to grab a quick pasta dinner before the show. I had settled on Gallo Nero because of its proximity to the theater and was pleasantly surprised when we walked into a warm little eatery that reminded me of a small restaurant that we stumbled into in Ercolano, Italy called Viva Lo Re.



It was small and warm, with only a few rustic tables and wine bottles lining the walls. With a cozy atmosphere like this, the food could be as bland as Aunt Betty’s low sodium chicken and rice and I would still like it.

But the food was savory and delicious. We sampled the meatballs as an appetizer. Big, hearty meatballs in a marinara sauce went just right with a bottle of red wine. I followed the meatballs with the gnocchi. To my palate, gnocchi are little soft pillows of happiness. We wrapped up dinner with glasses of chilled Limoncello.




Alla Salute!

It was a short walk to the Gerald Schoenfeld Theater, my favorite when visiting NYC. Matt and I prefer plays to musicals and we like the intimate size and amazing quality shows that we find at the Schoenfeld Theater. Seating just over 1,000 – this theater is so small that there isn’t a bad seat in the house. What a perfect place to watch Al Pacino in Glengarry Glen Ross.


Always Be Closing.

What a great show.

After the show, we headed downtown to find Beauty & Essex…hoping for another “experience.” We found one.





From the sidewalk, Beauty & Essex looks like an old pawn shop. Inside, we found an oasis of cool. Downstairs was a club-like restaurant with dramatic decor, inventive cocktails, beautiful people, and tasty small plates. Upstairs, via a sweeping spiral staircase that swirls deliciously around a giant chandelier was an ultra-hip lounge.




This is a place right out of any girl’s dreams. It was glamorous and decadent, a hidden wonderland of beaded curtains, a pearl draped chandelier, and jeweled lamps. This place wasn’t in party mode, but instead displayed a controlled cool to the beat of the day’s hottest tunes.

I thought I had seen it all, and then I went to the loo.

There was a pink bar loaded with free champagne in the ladies room.



This might be my favorite place on earth.


After that, the guys kept wondering why we had to return to the restroom every 15 minutes.

In addition to free pink champagne, Beauty & Essex had great cocktails, so I had to try a couple. I started off with the O.D.B., Old Dirty Bramble, which had Don Julio Reposado tequila, smoked blackberries, honey, ginger juice, and lemon. It was good, but I much preferred my second cocktail, the Emerald Gimlet, with Grey Goose, basil, lemon nectar, and fresh lime.


Our waitress gave us a complimentary amuse bouche. As soon as she said the word “beet,” I zoned out. There are only about 5 foods in this world that I won’t eat. I pretty much eat anything that doesn’t run away first. However, beets just don’t do it for me. To me, they taste like dirt no matter what you do to them.

However, I was in New York and New York wanted me to eat beets….so eat beets I did.

Delicious. Everything tastes better in New York.


I have no idea what they did to those beets…frankly, it was so dark in there I am not entirely convinced they WERE beets….but that little bite was positively scrumptious.

Made me thirsty, though, so I had to go back to the powder room.


We sampled some small plates: the lobster mac n’ cheese, lobster tacos, and the chicken fried oysters.



Everything was quite tasty, but the dessert menu was where we found the magic.

Unable to settle on just one dessert, we decided to share three. Why have one when you can have 3, I always say? Dessert is best en masse.
We tried the Peanut Butter & Jelly Crème Brulee, the Devil’s Food Layer Cake with mascarpone filling and milk ice cream, and the Box of Doughnuts (vanilla beignets with chocolate hazelnut crème & raspberry jam).



Oh my.


Really. I can’t talk right now because my mouth is full of doughnuts.

We woke to another cold, gray morning. We had to leave that afternoon, so we wanted to make the most of the time we had. Out into the cold, gray morning we went.


Having been to NYC several times during the Christmas season, I had never been ice skating. We’ve all seen the movies that provide us with the romantic notion of ice skating in New York City.

The illusion of ice skating in New York City is beautiful. You glide out onto the ice that is magically free of people in your perfect winter outfit, enjoying the nip of the crisp winter air, listening to the music, and gazing at the incomparable surroundings as skyscrapers glitter in the winter sunlight above you. You fingers tingle as your breath comes in little puffs of cold as you skate gracefully beneath a perfect Christmas tree, adorned with lights and twinkling as the first few flakes of snow begin to fall.

The reality of skating in New York City is not quite the same. You can wait in a queue with hundreds of frozen bodies, like meat hanging in a freezer, for hours just for the privilege of paying $30+ to walk across a crowded locker room in wet socks to don a pair of beat up rental skates so that you can attempt to skate on a crowded rink with 150 other people all vying for their tiny piece of the ice and their magical NYC moment.

THIS would explain why I have never been ice skating in NYC.

But this was about to change.

TraceyG….NYC travel wizard extraordinaire had told me about Bryant Park…a magical place where crowds were small and skating was free.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

We had waited until Monday, assuming that would be less crowded, and we were right. We strolled up to Bryant Park’s skating rink and there were less than 10 people skating. Admission was free! We did have to pay to rent our skates, but that was only $14 and it was worth every penny for the peace and quiet we found on the rink. We forked over the required $14 and headed out for our magic moment on the ice.


It looked so much better in my head. In my head, I was like an Olympic figure skater in one of those awesome sparkly skirts, gliding like a swan……


In reality, I looked like a baby giraffe that was trying to stand up for the first time.

But I was in New York and I was skating beside a sparkling Christmas tree with no crowds…… and had Matt been able to release his death grip on the sidewall of the rink, we just may have been able to skate around the ice rink together holding hands.


Maybe some things are better left in our heads.

Or the movies.



Having survived Ice Skating 101, we stopped into the New York Library to warm up and to visit the incredibly beautiful reading room upstairs.

Have you ever noticed the giant sign inside the library that says, “NO CELL PHONES. NO PHOTOS?" I couldn’t help but laugh as I looked around me at no fewer than 30 people wandering around snapping photos with their cell phones.





We ended the day with a cruise down 5th Avenue for the beautiful store windows, the over-the-top displays of Christmas decorations, and for a little something special at Tiffany & Co. Merry Christmas to me!



We stopped in for lunch at Bill’s Bar and Burger.


Tracey said they had good burgers, cupcakes, and boozy milkshakes.

She had me at boozy milkshakes.


Since it was my last meal of the day that wouldn’t include airport food, I ate up….a cheeseburger, chili cheese fries, and a milkshake (heavy on the boozy).




Do you really need to ask if I ate all that?


Oh ye of little faith.

Oh yeah...and there were cupcakes!


Our 48 hours were up and our trip to NYC was a lot like that hamburger……gone, but we’d made the most of it and had packed a lot into 2 short days.

It was time to head home, but it had been a great weekend. I was filled with Christmas cheer and had bags of shiny new toys. It was time to load them up in the sleigh and fly away home.

Here’s wishing you a new year filled with good food, good friends, good times, and pink champagne in every bathroom!


Posted by vicki_h 19:30 Archived in USA Tagged new_york nyc Comments (2)

It's better in the Bahamas...but it's gooder in Guana.

It may be better in the Bahamas, but it’s gooder in Guana.

We just can’t seem to quit Guana Cay. We all want to find paradise don’t we?

I have found my paradise. It is a perfect streak of white and green amidst the bluest of sea. It’s got sand in all the right places, a beach bar exactly when and where I need it, and it’s alluringly empty. It’s balmy and sun glazed, soft to the touch and rich with impossible color and flavor.

Let’s go to Guana, why don’t we?

Shuffle through the sand with me and for a moment, forget your office chair and scoop up a handful of sea shells, feel the peace, and smell the sunshine above the hectic buzzing of your day.


We arrived before 10:00 a.m. and in no time had our toes buried in that soft Guana sand.


The flight to Marsh Harbor takes about 4.5 hours from where we live. It’s a quick and easy trip and when I see that water appear, my heart does a little backflip.


We had 4 newbies with us this time – my aunt and uncle and friends of ours from Canada that flew down to join us. We had a great little house, Seaside, that sat right on the water with a nice dock and a huge boat. We were also on the island for a full week this time….something we rarely do. AND we were finally here during lobster season, something we usually miss.


We were greeted at Grabbers, a great beachside bar and grill, by Sunny, the coconut toting wonder dog.


Nothing starts a vacation better than throwing a slobber coated coconut to a sand covered dog, while perusing a menu filled with fried things.

One of the things I love about the Bahamas is that they see nothing wrong with frying lobster. The only thing that makes lobster better is frying it. Well…..or maybe putting some bacon on it.



One lobster in da bag and 2 frozen grabbers later, we spent the afternoon doing nothing more exciting than unpacking our bags, watching the hermit crabs crawl across the deck, and grabbing some lobster bites at Grabbers for dinner.



There is no sight more beautiful than the beach on Guana on your first morning on the island.




It was Sunday. Anyone who has read my blog before knows what Sunday is on Guana Cay.


Sunday is Party Day at Nippers. There are frozen drinks, loud music, bad dancing, and an island buffet filled with BBQ pork and Bahamian mac n’ cheese.

As we made our way toward that rainbow fence leading to all things fun and hilarious, I only hoped it didn’t end like the last trip where I found myself at day’s end sitting in a too warm swimming pool filled with what appeared to be puke and floaties of cole slaw, too nippered to even think about moving, but instead, just shooing the cole slaw away with one limp hand, wondering who puked in the pool, and hoping it wasn't me.




The key to the frozen Nipper is to count. Keep up with how many you have had. Once you lose count, well, it’s pretty much over for you.

We enjoyed the beautiful day, the sparkling pool (which appeared to be puke and cole slaw free this time), the fabulous food…and then somewhere in the afternoon….. I lost count.

Darn it.

Those frozen Nippers get me every time.


It was a fun day, no one got hurt, no one got thrown out, and we all managed to make it back home with all of our limbs and teeth intact.


I think I slept through dinner.

We’ll call that a good day.


This was our day to get familiar with the 26’ Hydrasport that we were going to be using for the rest of the trip. This was bigger than the boats we were used to and it had a few mechanical glitches that we needed to get figured out before there was going to be any smooth sailing.


For that reason, we thought sticking close to home was a prudent choice.

We decided not to go any farther than Man-O-War cay.


We ran into our first problem when we entered on the shallow side, like we are used to doing in our smaller boats. We noticed a man on the shore waving at us.

“These people sure are friendly,” we thought as we all smiled and waved back.

In reality, he wasn’t giving us a “Hey, how you doing?” wave, he was giving us his best “What the hell are you doing????? Get on the other side you idiots, before you run aground!” wave.

We figured that out when we found ourselves on the sandbar.

Can you believe that nice man jumped in his little boat and towed us back off?


I got the impression he’d done this before.


The boat was on empty and there was no gas on Guana, so we headed to the marina to fill up. After getting gas, the boat wouldn’t start.

Wouldn’t even turn over.

Well, this was just ducky.


Forty-five minutes of cleaning battery connections, checking wires, and finally buying a brand new $235 marine battery later, we were in business!

We headed into the Dock and Dine on Man-O-War for what might, quite literally, be the best burger in the universe. It was good enough to make us forget all about that $235 battery.


As we walked the streets of the quite little island, we realized it actually has several very nice shops.




We found some hand printed fabric in one and of course, we had to visit the Albury Sail Shop where the ladies still turn out canvas bags sewn on old fashioned sewing machines.



Despite it’s ….challenges….the boat was a super nice boat and was equipped with a GPS marked with all the local lobster houses. The boat’s owner had shown us how to find them.

What is a lobster house, you ask? Bahamians build habitats to attract lobsters. There are lots of them, but you’ll likely pass right over them without ever noticing them if you don’t know where they are. A lobster house might be a car hood, a piece of corrugated roof tin, or a storm shutter set in place and attached to a cinder block.

Essentially an artificial miniature reef, these types of structures are illegal in the U.S. but in the Bahamas, they are part of the regular program. Lobster season runs from August 1 through March 31 and you are allowed to have up to 10 lobsters on one boat.

Don’t dare have live caught lobsters and dive gear on the same boat, though. It’s not legal to catch lobsters using dive gear in the Bahamas. Only free diving is allowed.

We were about to go buggin’ in the Bahamas.


Sooooo.........Our first lobstering experience was not exactly a success. It was getting too dark, the water was too rough, and we had no idea what exactly we were looking for. We must have gone back and forth along the shore for an hour without seeing the first lobster house.

We finally got frustrated, called it a day, and went to Grabbers for a lobster dinner.


Bon Appetit!




Still not 100% sure how confident we were that we’d gotten all of the boat’s issues worked out, we still didn’t want to venture too far. We thought we’d just head to the north end of Guana Cay and visit Spoil Bank Cay, aka Shell Island.




Because Shell Island is located very close to Baker’s Bay…we decided to wander in.


There are many who were not supportive of the Baker’s Bay development or of what it did to Guana Cay and the potential lasting effects of that development on the reef. This is not a vote for or against Baker’s Bay and all that it stands for. We just decided to have lunch there.

And dang it, we enjoyed it.


Baker’s Bay is a beautiful and exclusive development that land locked the most beautiful beaches on Guana Cay. You can still visit them, you just have to do so by boat. We also found that, despite its exclusivity, Baker’s Bay was very welcoming when we pulled up to their docks for lunch.

They have a very nice Market Restaurant, but it was a beautiful and breezy day, so we opted to eat down by the water at the Conch Shack. They made us some delicious rum punches and I had a lobster salad sandwich. Prices are higher than most places around Guana (about $15 for lunch), but we decided it was a nice option when visiting north Guana.




After lunch, we headed toward Shell Island.


Shell Island is a small uninhabited cay just off the shore of Guana. Formed as the result of undersea dredging to make a cruise ship channel, it now provides an excellent place to find an absurd number of shells. It’s a beautiful spot and you can literally spend hours here, just prowling through piles of shells or relaxing in the clear water just off the beach.






I have been to Shell Island many, many times, but have never done anything more than prowl the beach near the boat. I decided to walk all the way around. This would, in fact, make me feel like a superhero or triathlon caliber athlete. Yes, I walked around an entire island.

I am going to pretend that you are impressed.

The far side was eerie. What must be the product of several hurricanes, it’s just a pile of sunbleached, leafless trees, piled in a twisted heap along the shore. I had to walk out into the water just a bit to get around, and as I stepped on what I thought was some rock, my foot sunk deeply into squishy clay.



It made a huge sucking sound as I pulled my foot out and literally danced the remaining 40 feet across the clay lined shore, screaming, “Yuck! Yuck! Yuck! Yuck!” the whole way.

I made my way back around to the boat and no one was there. Apparently, they had all followed me around and were now, no doubt, knee deep in that squishy clay.

Is it wrong that I thought that was funny?

As the others came around the bend, I could see that Syd had something big in her hand. I squinted and peered. What was that? Did she find a big conch shell? A coconut?


She walked up to me with a 6 lb. mass of clay.

That she wanted us to rub all over our bodies.

Right that moment.

While Sydney was thinking, “Oh my goodness, it’s like a free spa treatment. Do you know how much a sea mud treatment costs? It will leave our skin all smooth and amazing…” I was thinking, “What the hell is in that? What if there are microscopic parasites? How do we even know what that shit is? It could contain some 30 year old toxic cruise ship waste. What if we break out all over? I don't want to end up on one of those Discovery Channel shows where they find thousands of spiders inside someone's elbow.”

But Syd had carried that giant ball of clay for 30 minutes, so I did what any good friend would do….I grabbed a handful and smeared it fearlessly ….all….over….my….body.




Now, I realize that this probably doesn’t sound very smart, but I should point out that no one has accused me of being very smart.


Friends at home: We are not trained professionals. These photos were taken of idiots who unwittingly smeared a mysterious clay-like substance all over their bodies without thought of the consequences. We do not recommend trying this at home.

It actually felt great. This was awesome. What a fantastic idea! It was silky soft and felt good on my skin. It didn’t have any smell and was cool and luxurious. I was just starting to think this was an AMAZING idea….when I started to itch. All over my body. I looked at Sydney and Susan.



“Are you guys itching?” I asked.

“OH MY GOD, YES!” they screamed as we all plunged into the water and started scrubbing ourselves furiously with sand.

The good news is that we emerged with super soft skin and no one broke out. The bad news is that we’ll never really know what the hell we rubbed all over our bodies.

Ignorance is bliss, I always say.


We decided to eat in that night and grilled steaks, baked potatoes, and tossed a salad. I found some apple crisp mix and canned apples leftover in the pantry and whipped us up a dessert.



The sky put on quite a dinner show as we ate.



I did not wake up with blisters and welts on my skins. No hives. No rash.

Praise the lord. We had survived the great beach mud adventure. Now it was time to decide what to do for the day.

A trip to Elbow Cay is a must on every trip to Guana. Not only is Hopetown a great destination all in its own right, but you can combine the trip with a stop at Lubbers Quarters and a visit to Tahiti Beach. It simply makes for a phenomenal day.





We did Hopetown and all that it entails: a visit to Vernon’s, a cruise through all the shops, and a final stop at Hopetown Harbor Lodge’s Reef Bar.











There aren’t many bars in the world with a view like this one.


I wanted to eat lunch somewhere new, and we knew that Lubbers Landing over on Lubbers Quarters was open. We were headed to Tahiti Beach anyway, so it seemed like a great idea.


It was a great idea…..except that they had no refrigerator since the hurricane and couldn’t make us anything but drinks.

Never mind the lack of food….this place was AMAZING. I have no idea how I have missed it up until now. If you are a regular visitor to Abaco and you have not been to Lubbers Landing yet, do yourself a favor.


Go now.



It had the most perfect décor ….open and airy, with a chic, tropical bohemian vibe. Classy, but earthy. I am not sure how they pulled it off, but it was just right.





We grabbed bags of chips off the boat and sampled their saltwater margarita. If everything else is as good as that margarita, I can’t wait to try this place again.


They also had a pole. While your first thought might be, “Drunk girls dancing,” let me assure you, it’s not that kind of place. Okay, at least the day we were there.

The pole is a unique twist on the hook and ring game. You throw the ring around the pole and as it unwinds, it may or may not ring the hook, depending on how good you are. If you are good enough, you get a free shot of Patron.


We were not good enough, but they did let me parade around in this dazzling hardhat, one of several that are required of spectators.


Any beach bar with a fabulous margarita and a hard hat that I can wear is tops in my book.




We ate enough chips to put off lunch for a while longer, so we motored on over to Tahiti Beach.

It was right at low tide and the sandbars were doing that thing they do so well.





Everyone wandered around looking for sand dollars and sea biscuits, while I embarked on a margarita-fueled, one-woman endeavor to save every beached starfish that was stuck on the sandbar that day.













They probably all died anyway, but Greenpeace would have been proud. I think I’ll tell them about it the next time I see them downtown. Maybe they’ll make me an honorary member and give me one of those cool jackets or something.

All that starfish saving made me hungry, so we stopped back in Hopetown to have a late lunch at Captain Jacks.


This coconut fried lobster with a side of macaroni and cheese might have been my favorite meal of the trip.


We spent the evening at the house, as Syd made her legendary taco salad. I had learned to love this dish on our first sailing trip with Sydney and her husband, Keith, in the BVI. Nothing tastes better than this taco salad after a day in the sun.

Well, except maybe bacon.

Or lobster with bacon on it.


With a side of macaroni and cheese.

I’m going to stop now.






It had been a windy week, which doesn’t make for the greatest boating, and we’d been waiting for a semi-calm day so that we could try to boat over to Treasure Cay.

Windy weather is tough when you want to go boating. In the Abacos, it can be brutal. With sea swells that turn a pleasant boating experience into an exercise in survival, I feel like calling up Mother Nature and telling her to fire Wind. Who gives a crap about Jack Frost or Father Time? Dammit, give a promotion to Sunshine or Beach Weather.

By Thursday, with only 2 days left, we figured out that we weren’t going to get a wind free day. She was going to blow and we were going to like it or go cry in our cocktail, it was our choice.

We chose to like it.

The passage from Guana to Treasure is a bit tricky, because it gets very shallow. The sea was choppy and we were in a much larger boat then we were used to, but we had a good GPS, our handy Dodge Guide, and an excellent description of the passage provided by Dr. Ralph (http://www.drralph.net/DontRockPassage.html) so we felt good to go.

The passage was no problem and the views of the water were spectacular.





The problem came when we got there.

The water was just too rough. We couldn’t anchor the boat properly and there was no way to get ashore without getting totally soaked. I know because I tried. And I got totally soaked.

After the 5th wave struck me as I tried, unsuccessfully, to climb the ladder to get back on the boat, and I began to envision something like the scene in A Perfect Storm where the boat capsizes under a wall of watery doom, I looked at Matt and screamed, “Abort mission! Abort mission! Operation Get Ashore is not a go. I repeat – NOT A GO.”

We jumped back on the boat and motored around to the Treasure Cay marina, which is what we should have done in the first place. It’s literally across the street from the Coco Beach bar, so we were able to leave the boat tied to the dock and walk across.


It was a beautiful day at Treasure Cay and we celebrated it with a round of their sky high frozen drinks.

These might be the weakest drinks in all of Abaco, but they are also the most delicious.


Coco Beach bar will let you use their beach chairs and umbrellas if you are eating and drinking with them. I like this because it’s one of the only places on our vacations to Abaco where I can lay in a beach chair like a civilized human and not end up with a bucket full of sand up my wahoo by the end of the day.






We left early enough that the boys could try their hand at lobster fishing again while there was still some good light. Now that we had figured out the GPS “direct to” function, it was easy. Find a lobster house on the GPS, tell it “direct to,” and go.

When we spotted our first lobster house, you’d have thought we just saw the real Santa Claus or found a suitcase full of money.

“There!” Matt shouted as he looked at the underwater camera screen, which gave us a perfect view of what was directly underneath the boat. Immediately, the boat was in neutral and the guys were grabbing masks and fins and plunging into the water.

Bill surfaced with a big grin. Thumbs up. They found the lobster house.

Matt grabbed the spear, the gloves and the lobster bag and down they went.


We sat nervously…waiting….seeing nothing but bubbles come to the surface.

That’s when they both popped up with lobsters in hand! Yee-Haw!!!!! We had bugs!



Once they got the hang of it, it got easier. They kept going until we had 6 lobsters, one per person. Or three for me and three for everyone else to split. Whatever everyone felt was fair.




Lobster. It’s what’s for dinner.

I told the guys that if they would boil them, I’d grill them after. I felt bad enough stealing the little fellas from their homes while they watched Spongebob with their families, there was no way I was shoving them in that pot of boiling water.

Yes, I understand the obvious irony of my starfish saving frenzy the day before in light of my new found penchant for crustacean murder. I won’t try to explain that it’s totally different when it’s lobster, because that will make me sound like the hypocrite that I am. And Greenpeace might take away my cool new jacket.



While the guys did lobster-killing duty, the girls fixed pasta and salad. It was a feast fit for a king.



The sun set on another perfect Guana Day.



What’s better than eating six fresh lobsters that you caught yourself for dinner?

Why, eating a lobster and bacon sandwich for breakfast.


I told you the only thing better than lobster was lobster with bacon.

It was our last day and I had not yet been to my favorite place on Guana Cay…the north end beaches.

Yes, those coveted beaches that have been so needlessly cut off from us riff-raff by Bakers Bay. But I had a boat, and that beach was going to be mine.

We usually motor all the way around the northern tip, to the ocean side, before pulling up to the shore. There is a beautiful and deserted slice of perfect beach there that has become one of my favorite places in the world.

However, Mother Nature had not yet fired Wind. He was still doing his best to huff and puff and blow my house down, so the ocean side didn’t seem like such a good idea.

That’s when we saw this stretch of perfection.


It had my name written all over it.

You know the only thing better than a beautiful deserted beach? A jar of homemade Tennessee mango moonshine to go with it.


In a word….it was PERFECTION.

It was my perfect beach moment.












It was a beautiful day, so we decided to return to nearby Shell Island, this time for shells, not mud.


As we motored over, we were joined by a pretty large pod of dolphins. We counted about 6 of them. I am not an action photographer. I am painfully slow and I am not good at shooting moving subjects. Like dolphins. I usually end up with a photo that has some obscure black blob in it that I have to insist is a real live dolphin, feeling like the guy that took that grainy shot of the Loch Ness Monster or that blurry Big Foot photo.


No, really. That’s a really live dolphin. Really. It is.

We stayed on the boat until the sun was low in the sky. We were loath to go in because it was our last day. It’s hard to let go of all of that sunshine and impossible beauty and head back home.






We ended the day with a sunset at Grabbers and more fried lobster goodness at Nippers.




Goodbye Sunshine. Goodbye Beach Weather. Goodbye fried lobster and sea mud. I will miss you all.

Goodbye Wind. I won’t miss you. You suck, really, and your super nature powers should be removed...or at least severely limited.

Thanks for going to Guana with me. I’m sorry the moment is over, but I appreciate you sharing it with me.

Now go shake the sand off of your feet, dig the swimsuit out of your butt crack, step back into your office, and get back to work.

I’ll see you next time.


Posted by vicki_h 11:33 Archived in Bahamas Tagged beach island tropical bahamas abaco guana_cay Comments (0)

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