Staniel Cay – Exuma

To my handfull of dear reader(s) out there (aka Krystal), please forgive my delay!  All these delayed postings are for the birds I tell ya!

This post will wrap up the long and drawn out honeymoon saga because Staniel Cay was the last place we visited in the Bahamas — aside from Nassau, which I honestly don’t feel is worth my time to post.  Perhaps we just didn’t go to the right places in Nassau?  I don’t know, but I’m going with a thumbs down on Nassau.

However, Staniel Cay was a treat!

You’ll remember from my previous posting many moons ago that Staniel Cay was the place we weren’t able to land earlier in the week due to the strong crosswind.  Luck on our side, we landed smoothly.  Yay for Captain Dirk!

We soon discovered why Staniel Cay is a favorite among private pilots, yacht owners and normal folk like ourselves.  First, a famous part the 1965 James Bond, Thunderball was filmed here.  You know, the grotto scene?  Don’t worry.  I didn’t know it either.  And I think I’m off the hook since the movie was made long before my birth.

The grotto looks like a big rock from afar, but once you swim underneath it you find yourself inside an enchanting cave.  Spectacular snorkeling here!  It was like being in an aquarium!  Too bad the pictures don’t do it justice.

In addition to the grotto, Staniel has an island of iguanas.  You arrive by boat at a beach on a desserted looking island and just before you turn around to leave because you think there’s nothing to see, suddenly these enormous iguanas appear out of nowhere.  And I’m not just talking about one or two lone iguanas, I’m talking about an army of iguanas!

Staniel Cay is also home to swimming pigs!  We had heard that if we went to see the swimming pigs that we should get a bag of scraps from the kitchen because the pigs are hungry.  Sure enough we stopped the boat in the water about 30 feet from the beach and out came the pigs!  They swam right up to the boat oinking, grunting and snorting the whole way.  This was actually a little freaky to me.  I mean, the pigs are cute and all, but it is just so bizarre!  Right?

Dull moments are rare in a place with so many unique spectacles.  Now we understand why so many people suggested Staniel Cay as a must see on our tour through the Bahamas.

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Pittstown Point – Crooked Island

I can come up with several excuses for why it’s taking me so long to update the rest of our Bahamian honeymoon, but I’ll spare you from that and share with you instead!

The wind has been blowing unusually strong the past few days in the Bahamas, and the wind factor usually makes for some interesting and sometimes challenging  flights in a single-engine Cessna 172.  For whatever reason (strong winds, general flying anxiety and not wanting to leave our luxurious accommodations at Grand Isle), I was really nervous about our next hop to Crooked Island.

After a smooth and safe one hour flight, we landed at Pittstown Point.  I wasn’t quite sure how our accommodations were going to work out here.  I imagined we would take a short taxi ride to a hotel, like we’ve done at all the other islands we’ve visited so far.  No, not this one.  We just left the plane parked in the grass along side the runway and walked with our luggage about a hundred yards or so down a dirt road to our clean, quiet, tastefully decorated cottage with the most amazing view we have had in the Bahamas so far.  Twenty paces, door to water!

Not the same kind of luxury we experienced at Grand Isle, but a luxury indeed.  And  the best part about this place……we’re the only guests here!  There’s nothing unusual about the manager on duty giving us the keys to the bar and asking us to just write down any alcohol we consume…..and telling us to help ourselves to whatever’s in the kitchen!

We’ve learned that Crooked Island is a secret hot spot for fishing and diving.  You can see from the photos the reef that outlines the island.  There is a cliff under the water where the ocean floor suddenly drops off.  This underwater spectacle attracts marine biologists from around the world.  Unfortunately, Dirk and I didn’t get to dive.  The general manager of the lodge, who is also a dive master, left the day we arrived and returned the day before we left.  So, diving wasn’t an option — but fishing was!  Our guide, Shakey, took us on a fishing adventure in the island flats where Dirk and I both caught a few bone fish as well as some conch — which we ate for dinner several hours later.

We can’t get over the beauty of this island and the warmth and hospitality of its locals.  The population on Crooked Island is around 250 people and about half of them are related in some way.   We will definitely return to Crooked Island on our next trip to the Bahamas and we highly reccommend visiting if the following desires apply to you — pure relaxation, mixed with a little adventure, friendly faces, and the most pristine, unspoiled beaches you’ve ever seen in your life!

And if you’re lucky enough to be there when Cynthia and Andy are running the ship, you’ll wake every morning to delicious fresh baked bread and get to chill out on the beach with Andy’s one of kind cocktails and an unexpected playlist!  I have to confess…..Andy’s playlist was the cherry on top of my Crooked Island experience.  Oh, yes, and Andy also does a hysterical (and accurate) impression of the Swiss olympic curling team!

We’re debating about where to go next.  Complete independence requires apt decision making skills!  Cat Island is on our radar, but we also want another chance to visit Staniel Cay — if the crosswind will allow us!

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Livin’ Large in Great Exuma

As previously mentioned, we weren’t able to land in Staniel Cay (Central Exuma) as planned last week, so we diverted further south and landed at Exuma International.

Upon arriving at Exuma International, we met a lovely woman named Deatra at Odyssey Aviation.  She was curious to know what brought us to Great Exuma, and when we told her it was our honeymoon she immediately got on the phone and started making arrangements for our stay on her island.  Deatra wouldn’t tell us where she booked our stay.  She just gave us a bottle of rum and hurried us off to the taxi and told us we could thank her later.

Our stay for the next two nights…?  The luxurious Grand Isle Resort nestled along side of Emerald Bay.  W-O-W!  The private villas are available for ownership and include 18-hole golf course access, spa, marina, beach….and the best part…your very own garage complete with your very own golf cart!

We stayed in a one bedroom villa.  It had a full (beautiful!) kitchen stocked with every KitchenAid appliance you can imagine, washer/dryer, jacuzzi tub and stand up shower, a 60″ flat screen TV in the living area and a 42″ in the bedroom, and of course a balcony with an amazing view of Emerald Bay!

Deatra definitely had to pull some strings to get us into this place on our budget.  We are forever grateful!  Cheers to Deatra!

Next stop…Pittstown Point, Crooked Island.

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Eleuthera

Our 2 night stay in Eleuthera at CocodiMama has been fantastic!  Eleuthera has a lot to offer…everything from high class, corporate luxury to unique, boutique, Mom & Pop comfort and charm  — all served up in an unpretentious atmosphere.  Of the 3 islands we’ve visited so far, this one has been my favorite.

Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to Elvina’s for Lenny’s band on Tuesday night, but the good thing is that we will have another opportunity for it on our way back.  We also weren’t lucky enough to see and swim with the dolphins at Sky Beach.  The wind has been really strong the past couple of days, which is probably why they didn’t come around.  The Sky Beach Club was really nice though.  A must if you’re ever in the area!

We spent half a day on Harbour Island where the only mode of transportation on the island is via golf cart.  That was a blast!  And by the way, have I mentioned that they drive on the opposite side of the road here in the Bahamas?  Believe it or not, it’s pretty easy to get used to.

Ate a lot more conch salad on Harbour Island too.  The locals often encourage the consumption of conch because they say it’s an aphrodisiac.  The saying goes — “It puts strength in your back and it’s an aphrodisiac!”

Our plan was to land in Staniel Cay in the Exumas yesterday, but landing at runway 34 with winds at 20 knots out of 070 degrees prevented us from being able to land there (wind sock standing perpendicular to the runway!).  Dirk made the approach twice, but had to abort and go around.  Yay for safety!  We diverted to Exuma International and little did we know what surprises were in store for us there!  Stay tuned for details on our stay in Great Exuma…

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Honeymooning

Dear Friends,

We have arrived in the Bahamas for our long overdue 2 week honeymoon!  We’re currently in Eleuthera at a charming little resort called Coco di Mama.  Dirk, Dj and Carlo visited this resort exactly 5 years ago on a very similar Bahama adventure.  It is incredible!  The color of the water is like one I have never seen before.  There are only 12 rooms at this resort and it’s currently full.  We’re lucky we were able to get a room.  The staff and other guests are very warm and friendly.

The flying has been…..relatively good.  I can’t lie though, it freaks me out every time.  I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to it.  We met an older couple here (LaVerne and Bill) and they have their own airplane and have been flying around like this for the past 17 years.  They live in New Mexico and this is their first time to the Bahamas.  We will likely run into them again in the Exumas (Staniel Cay). They are an inspiration to Dirk…..and should also be an inspiration to me!

We heard there is a surf spot on the Atlantic side of the island, so we must find it today.  We’ve also been given some great tips on where to get an awesome burger.   There is an OTT (over-the-top) resort called Sky Beach located 10 minutes down the road from where we’re staying.  Apparently this resort has a beautiful infinity pool that you can use if you dine there, and the beach is supposed to be spectacular. You can swim with the dolphins in the wild there!

We also learned of a cool little dive bar where we can hear live Bahamian music…..Lenny Kravitz’s band!  Lenny owns a home here and his recording studio is also here.  Apparently his band plays every Tuesday night at this place called Elvina’s.

We’re planning to head to the Exumas either Wednesday or Thursday, weather dependent.

For now, feast your eyes on these.  Most of these pics were taken in Treasure Cay (Abaco) and Freeport (Grand Bahama)!

PS – The fresh lobster salad was to die for!!!

Will try to update as we go!

Lots of love,

jenn and dirk

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My Favorite Aries

In my efforts to NOT be a lame blogger, and in honor of Dirk’s birthday, I spent a lot of time in kitchen doing one of the things I enjoy most — preparing a delicious meal.

Dirk loves to eat and I love to cook.  It’s a win-win situation.  Now, if I could just get my act together on this blogging business, this page would be a feast for your eyes!

Though I don’t quite have enough cookbooks to call them a collection per se, I do have a few.  Dirk picked a recipe called Chicken Patty Pockets with Minted Yogurt Sauce out of an Emeril Lagasse cookbook .  I admit, Emeril is not my favorite chef, but he does have some great recipes and this happened to be one of them.

Since the recipe Dirk picked had a bit of a Greek theme, I decided to add a few items to our menu such as hummus, dolmas and spanikopita.  As usual, I ended up making way too much food.  They made great leftovers!

Let’s not forget dessert…my to-die-for brownies!  I’m convinced that these brownies only taste this good when they’re made with Swiss ingredients (namely the chocolate!).

Since the recent installation of our gi-normous projector screen where we can watch BIG (literally) movies and play video games, I thought the perfect gift for Dirk’s birthday was the video game Rock Band, complete with drum set, guitar and microphone. But, what really sealed the deal on this gift was the game itself.  It’s a game/disc of songs by Dirk’s favorite band, Metallica.

Happy Birthday, Dirk, my favorite Aries of all time!

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Easter Sunday Brunch

Brunch…aka my most favorite meal time, the one that usually puts me in a food coma and the one that I have missed terribly since I left the states.   I know there are places in Switzerland where you can have a nice brunch.  In fact, I thoroughly enjoy the brunches hosted by the local farms where everything on the menu is fresh, homemade, homegrown, yumminess.  A locavores delight!

However, after this past Easter Sunday, I’m adding a new favorite to my list of brunch spots in Switzerland.  The home of Marisa and Mike (by invitation only)!

We were welcomed to an assortment of charcuterie and cheese, croissants, scrambled eggs, steak, bacon, balsamic marinated cherry tomatoes, mushrooms sauteed in white wine, home fries and baked beans and fresh baked rolls and Zopf and jellies and jams and yogurt and and and…everything was delicious!

Did I wind up in a food coma?  Not this time.  I had to contain myself around new company for fear of embarrassing not only myself, but Dirk as well.

We rounded out our terrific brunch with Marisa’s homemade vanilla cupcakes with lemon frosting.  As many of you know, I’m partial to all-things-edible in miniature, single-serving form and cupcakes are at the top of that list.  Score!

Cheers to a great host and hostess, great food/drink, and great company.  Mixing and mingling at its finest!

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