Monday, June 18, 2012

"The Cayman Islands" Post. Aka: "When it Rains it Pours."

(The trip we hoped for. Minus the clouds.)

(Yes, this is several weeks late.) (Don't judge me for not proofreading!)

We're back on the mainland, after a wonderful week in (on) Grand Cayman, in the Cayman Islands. This is our second Adults Only Vacation since we started having children, and I can certainly say that it is refreshing for the soul and for the soulmates to be blessed with time away from the children, work, and household duties.

Sunday: We arrived to clouds and drizzle. Our first cab driver said it was "very unusual for this time of year" and that that it would certainly pass the next day.  We ate a delicious dinner in the Westin's casual restaurant, Ferdinand's.

Monday: Exactly the opposite of the cab driver's description, we experienced drenching rain the entire day. Like, from 8AM to 8PM. The best discovery of the day was the all you can eat brunch served daily at Ferdinand's. And eat we did. Because when it rains on a tropical island, what else do you have to do? Later, we took a cab to Camana Bay, an outdoor, upscale mall...which was closed, save for threes stores, due to an island holiday of some sort. (And, yes, we did check with our concierge first, and, yes, she did say it would be open.) Hubby bought me a lovely silver ring as an early birthday gift. We saw "The Five Year Engagement" at the mall movie theatre. After the movie, we got soaked walking to find a cab, which we were finally able to do from a gas station. We dined at the nicest Westin restaurant that evening--Casa Havana.

Tuesday: We discovered the "bus" that picks up directly across from our hotel. Or, really, anywhere you want. The "bus" is actually a 10 passenger van with a sticker on the front. The drivers honk their horns at passersby, and if you flag them down, they'll stop for you wherever you like. And it's mostly a $2.50 US ride per person. A much better deal than the VERY expensive cab rides. We did a little shopping browsing in George Town and found ourselves with a few hours to kill before dinner. We asked the locals where we should grab a cocktail and were directed to a lovely bar on the water. Several rum-laced cocktails later, we moseyed back uptown to find some dinner. Since it was (still) raining, the streets were pretty empty. After several attempts to find a restaurant still open (did I mention it was only 5pm?), we grabbed the bus, asked the bus driver for a recommendation, and ended up at Champion House. Our braves selves tried delicious braised oxtail and curried goat for dinner. Oxtail = A-. Curried goat = C-.

Wednesday: We headed to the Turtle Farm, where we were able to "hug" some giant sea turtles and commune with the birds. We were hiking along a little rainforest-y trail when the heavens opened. We found ourselves under a tiny shelter and tried to wait out the storm. Ha. Instead, we darted from shelter to shelter through the pounding rain until we reached the front of the building. A short walk later, we reached our dinner destination (an hour early): The Cracked Conch. Outside the main restaurant is the home of our now favorite Cayman bar, the Macabuca Oceanside Tiki Bar. There, we sampled the second best rum drink on the island and were served by a George Clooney look-alike bartender. The highlights of our dinner were the conch ceviche and braised short ribs. And those were just the appetizers! After our best dinner on the island, we were forced to take a VERY expensive cab ride back to our hotel, since the busses stop running to the West Bay area after dark. Who knew? During our cab ride, our very sweet, Jamaican driver suggested we hire her to tour us around the island the following day....for the bargain price of $50. Per hour. Um, no.

Thursday: For about $50 (for 24 hours), we rented a car from our hotel and spent the day touring many of the major tourist destinations (in between rain showers, of course) by car--driving on the left, of course. Brad was a pro, having lost a hubcap practiced in New Zealand several years prior. We started at Pedro's Castle (locals pronounce it, "PEE-dro"), which really isn't a castle at all, but a replica of an old plantation house with significant island history. The original stone staircase and foundation are still intact. We departed the "castle" for the Queen Elizabeth Botanic Park, where we saw some of the most amazing plant life I've ever experienced. It was a lovely hike through the rainforest, culminating in a rendezvous with a couple of blue iguanas. We headed north and west to Rum Point and Kaibo. Lunch at the Kaibo Beach Bar and Grill included THE BEST rum drink on the island--just as our flight attendant said it would be. We sat through a storm and made our way to Rum Point where (SURPRISE!) the sun graced us with its presence for two hours before sunset, during which time we snorkeled a tiny bit and read our books in the hammocks. After a lovely afternoon, and feeling like we had seen so much of what the beautiful island has to offer, we headed back to our hotel to freshen up and drove back to the West Bay area for dinner at the Calypso Grill, in Morgan's Harbour. The highlight of my Official Birthday Dinner was the sticky toffee pudding, served just a few blocks from Sticky Toffee Road. Yum.

Friday: On Friday, fresh out of ideas, we made our way back to George Town for more shopping browsing. Just before I was about to try to convince my husband to purchase some out-of-our-price-range jewelry, he told me he had just discovered there were two seats left on the Atlantis Submarine trip, which we had attempted to ride earlier that week (foiled by the weather, of course). While we found the experience incredibly overpriced, it was pretty neat to do a "dive" without getting wet or SCUBA certified. We did see a shark, some tiger fish, and various other sea creatures. At this point, the weather seemed like it might actually stay clear for a while, so we returned to the Westin and rented some snorkel gear--and we're oh so glad we did. The reef off the Westin's beach is incredibly satisfying. Snorkelers used to feed the fish there, as the story goes, so the fish are quite friendly and plentiful. And they greet you as soon as you enter the reef. By swimming within inches of your nose. In a giant school. (Gulp.) We saw angel fish, a puffer fish (!), and a whole bunch of other fish whose names we don't know. Next to the Great Barrier Reef, it was the best snorkeling I've seen.

Saturday: FINALLY, we had a nice--if not completely sunny--day. We spent seven consecutive hours on the beach, reading, drinking fruity cocktails, snorkeling, and getting sunburned...somehow. I was treated to a birthday serenade by the local musicians at our hotel, and we were able to be flies on the wall (er, sand) at two different beach wedding receptions. Our last Cayman meal echoed our first. I ordered the coconut shrimp that Brad had so enjoyed during that first meal at Ferdinand's.

Our very early return on Sunday morning was peaceful and uneventful. We were so grateful to return to happy and well cared for children (thanks to Mimi), and even enjoyed a charming double birthday celebration with Papa, complete with dinner, dessert, and decorations.

(The trip we got. Clouds included.)
We agreed that we would definitely return to the Caymans one day, and it is a great tropical destination for families.

Photos here:

1 comment:

ahope said...

I loved reading this, and that photo of you and the hubs is so nice. Didn't look as gloomy as I pictured in my mind.