April 30, 2018

Sights to See: Fort Fincastle and Queen's Staircase; Nassau, Bahamas


Bennet's Hill 
     It is easiest to start at the top of Bennet's Hill--at the fort--and then walk one block downhill to the staircase.

Fort Fincastle  At top of the hill.  Daily 8am-4pm.  $3, $2 kids (don’t need to tip guide if payment is taken, otherwise $1 tip).  Shaped like a paddle-steamer, this fort was built circa 1793.  It overlooks Nassau and Paradise Island and the eastern approach to New Providence.  Cannons here include two 24 pounders, two 32 pounders, two 12 pounders, and one howitzer.  The fort served as a lighthouse until 1817, when it was replaced by the lighthouse on Hog Island (now Paradise Island).  It then became a signal station.

Fort Fincastle in Nassau, Bahamas
Fort Fincastle in Nassau, Bahamas


entrance to Fort Fincastle in Nassau, Bahamas
entrance to Fort Fincastle in Nassau, Bahamas

The Water Tower  Behind Fort Fincastle.  This tower was erected in 1928 to maintain water pressure on the island.  At 126 feet, it is the tallest structure on the island and provides a marvelous panoramic view of town.  It has a narrow, winding staircase with 216 steps, however currently the tower is closed and there is no public access.  Eventually it will reopen as part of the fort.

The Water Tower, behind Fort Fincastle in Nassau, Bahamas
The Water Tower, behind Fort Fincastle in Nassau, Bahamas

Souvenir vendors line the street leading down from the fort to the Queen’s Staircase.

souvenir stands by Fort Fincastle in Nassau, Bahamas
souvenir stands by Fort Fincastle in Nassau, Bahamas

Queen's Staircase  Elizabeth Ave. South.  Free.  Commonly referred to as “the 66 steps,” this major landmark was carved out of solid limestone rock by slaves between 1793 and 1794.  It provided a direct route from Fort Fincastle to downtown.  The steps were later named in honor of Queen Victoria, who reigned in Britain for 64 years from 1837 to 1901.  Because the pathway that leads to the steps was paved and the bottom step is buried under the asphalt, only 65 steps are visible.  Today, its cool limestone walls, waterfall, and foliage make it feel like an oasis.

top of Queen's Staircase in Nassau, Bahamas
top of Queen's Staircase in Nassau, Bahamas


waterfall at Queen's Staircase in Nassau, Bahamas
waterfall at Queen's Staircase in Nassau, Bahamas


bottom of Queen's Staircase in Nassau, Bahamas
bottom of Queen's Staircase in Nassau, Bahamas

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images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

April 27, 2018

Sights to See: Adrasta Gardens, Zoo & Conservation Centre; Nassau, Bahamas


Adrasta Gardens, Zoo & Conservation Centre  Off W. Bay St., 1 mi. W of downtown, 323-5806.  Daily 9am-5pm.  Flamingo show at 10:30am, 2:15pm, & 4pm; hand-feed lory parrots at 11am, 1:30pm, & 3:30pm.  US$18, children $9.  Originally a botanical garden, this modest facility is the first and only zoo in the Bahamas.  Its past is apparent in more than 4 acres of lush tropical gardens, and its present shows in an impressive display of animal species, including the national bird of the Bahamas--the Caribbean flamingo.  Additionally, many migratory birds fly in for the winter.  A tranquil spot that permits close encounters with a small but wonderful collection of animals, this facility includes a petting zoo, a secret garden, and a show arena where you can be entertained by a flamboyance of flamingos.  Visitors meet colorful macaws in the entrance area, and elsewhere they can hand-feed apple slices to brilliantly colored lory parrots in a walk-in aviary.  But the piece de resistance is watching the world-famous marching flamingos take center stage.  They march in a line, and on command from a “drill sergeant” perform an about face, do a forward march, and even perform 180-degree turns--all while an emcee  passes along interesting background information about flamingos.

The gardens feature a brilliant array of blooms, including bromeliads, orchids, bougainvillea, and hibiscus.  They include a sheltering canopy of mangos, sapodillas, and breadfruit, and winding trails are draped with vines and lined with tropical trees such as coconut palms.

Near the entrance, the Parrot Pit Stop snack bar offers simple items–hot dogs, pizza, chicken nuggets, popcorn, potato chips, water, sodas, juices, local beer, and popsicles made with local fruit.

Like all zoos around the world, this one has very high operational costs.  However, unlike many other zoos, it does not receive any public funding, subsidies, or grants.  Admissions are the main source of income.  They are used to care for and maintain the animals as well as to fund their wildlife rehabilitation and rescue program and their conservation efforts.









entrance sign to Adrasta Gardens, Zoo & Conservation Centre in Nassau, Bahamas
entrance sign to Adrasta Gardens, Zoo & Conservation Centre in Nassau, Bahamas


gardens at Adrasta Gardens, Zoo & Conservation Centre in Nassau, Bahamas
gardens at Adrasta Gardens, Zoo & Conservation Centre in Nassau, Bahamas


Bahama Parrot at Adrasta Gardens, Zoo & Conservation Centre in Nassau, Bahamas
Bahama Parrot at Adrasta Gardens, Zoo & Conservation Centre in Nassau, Bahamas


caiman at Adrasta Gardens, Zoo & Conservation Centre in Nassau, Bahamas
caiman at Adrasta Gardens, Zoo & Conservation Centre in Nassau, Bahamas


hawk plus guide Bonnie at Adrasta Gardens, Zoo & Conservation Centre in Nassau, Bahamas
hawk plus guide Bonnie at Adrasta Gardens, Zoo & Conservation Centre in Nassau, Bahamas


colorful lorry plus keeper Bonnie at Adrasta Gardens, Zoo & Conservation Centre in Nassau, Bahamas
colorful lorry plus keeper Bonnie at Adrasta Gardens, Zoo & Conservation Centre in Nassau, Bahamas


flamingos before the show at Adrasta Gardens, Zoo & Conservation Centre in Nassau, Bahamas
flamingos before the show at Adrasta Gardens, Zoo & Conservation Centre in Nassau, Bahamas


visitor interaction with flamingos during the show at Adrasta Gardens, Zoo & Conservation Centre in Nassau, Bahamas
visitor interaction with flamingos during the show at Adrasta Gardens, Zoo & Conservation Centre in Nassau, Bahamas


More things to do in Nassau.

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images and videos ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

April 24, 2018

Things to Do: John Watling's Distillery; Nassau, Bahamas


John Watling's Distillery  17 Delancy St., downtown, in historic Charles Towne area.  Daily 10am-6pm, F to 9pm.  Free tour & tasting.  A tour of this historic rum distillery and the beautifully restored and Buena Vista mansion is a delight.  Founded in 1789, it will appeal to anyone who enjoys rum mixed with a little history.  Set on more than two acres of lush tropical gardens and named after a pirate, the distillery also offers tastings of their handcrafted small-batch rums.  Premium rums include a pale herbal version, a vanilla-nutty amber, a smooth single-barrel, and the rich, fruity Buena Vista.  Allow time to enjoy a leisurely cocktail (available for purchase) in the Red Turtle Tavern or outside on the verandah.

exterior of Buena Vista mansion at John Watling's Distillery in Nassau, Bahamas
exterior of Buena Vista mansion at John Watling's Distillery in Nassau, Bahamas


fat chickens at John Watling's Distillery in Nassau, Bahamas
fat chickens at John Watling's Distillery in Nassau, Bahamas


welcome tasting at John Watling's Distillery in Nassau, Bahamas
welcome tasting at John Watling's Distillery in Nassau, Bahamas


colorful buildings at John Watling's Distillery in Nassau, Bahamas
colorful buildings at John Watling's Distillery in Nassau, Bahamas


rum barrel sniffing at John Watling's Distillery in Nassau, Bahamas
rum barrel sniffing at John Watling's Distillery in Nassau, Bahamas


gift shop at John Watling's Distillery in Nassau, Bahamas
gift shop at John Watling's Distillery in Nassau, Bahamas


Red Turtle Tavern at John Watling's Distillery in Nassau, Bahamas
Red Turtle Tavern at John Watling's Distillery in Nassau, Bahamas

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images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

April 19, 2018

Things to Do: Half Moon Cay, Bahamas


HALF MOON CAY
Located about 100 miles from Nassau, and about 18 miles from Eleuthera.

I wasn’t much impressed by the fact that most Caribbean cruise lines have their own private island until I experienced it first-hand on my Holland American Line mini cruise aboard the Nieuw Amsterdam.

Half Moon Cay, Bahamas, in the foreground, Holland America Line's Nieuw Amsterdam ship in the background
Half Moon Cay, Bahamas, in the foreground, Holland America Line's Nieuw Amsterdam ship in the background

On the December day my ship went to Half Moon Cay--the island HAL shares with its Carnival sister ships--Black Santa was on board the spacious tender that delivered us to the island.  He got lots of attention and provided quite a contrast with the brilliant turquoise Caribbean waters but still found a few minutes to check his e-mail.  The ship anchored scenically off shore while the tenders continued transporting guests to and fro all day.

Black Santa on Holland America Line's Nieuw Amsterdam ship tender
Black Santa on Holland America Line's Nieuw Amsterdam ship tender

In 2017, Holland America Line celebrated 20 years of sailing to Half Moon Cay.  And also that year, Porthole Magazine’s readers voted the island the best cruise private island--again, as they have done for 17 years in a row.  Formerly known as Little San Salvador Island, it was renamed Half Moon Cay in a nod to its gorgeous 2.5-mile-long, crescent-shaped beach. 

Half Moon Cay beach in Bahamas
Half Moon Cay beach in Bahamas

We started our visit with a Calypso Island Tram Tour through the island’s palm tree-lined back road.  It took us from one end to the other, past a natural 700-acre lagoon, and with visits to the horse stables and the manta ray lagoon where some of our shipmates were in the water busy petting the flapping creatures.




Half Moon Cay in Bahamas
Half Moon Cay in Bahamas

Activities available here at additional cost include a glass-bottom boat ride, several bike tours, and horseback riding in the ocean.  Rentals are available for every kind of water sports equipment, including sailboats, catamarans, paddle boards, water bikes, kayaks, snorkeling gear, and wave runners.  It is even possible to rent a private villa with beach boy butler service.  Private clamshells can be rented, too, but plenty of free lounge chairs line the beach making it easy to just sit back and relax and do some wading in the warm, clear, gorgeous water.

water activities on Half Moon Cay in Bahamas, Holland America Line's Niew Amsterdam in background
water activities on Half Moon Cay in Bahamas, Holland America Line's Niew Amsterdam in background

On board beverage packages don’t apply here, which probably helps keep some people from drinking excessively.  But there is nothing quite like a frozen pina colada or a nice cold beer to put a chill on the heat, and Captain Morgan’s Bar inside a faux shipwreck is just the place to go for that.  Back in from the beach, a complimentary barbecue buffet lunch includes burgers, potato salad, desserts, and non-alcoholic beverages.  However, many passengers opt to pay an additional fee and head to the ocean-front, open-air Lobster Shack for delicious fresh grilled lobster with Caribbean beans n' rice.

Carole Terwilliger Meyers sips a pina colada on Half Moon Cay, Bahamas
Carole Terwilliger Meyers sips a pina colada on Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

Captain Morgan's Bar on Half Moon Cay, Bahamas
Captain Morgan's Bar on Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

lobster plates at Lobster Shack on Half Moon Cay, Bahamas
lobster plates at Lobster Shack on Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

Passengers return to the beckoning ship whenever they are ready, which, if the ship didn't have such wonderful amenities, might be never.


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images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

April 17, 2018

Things to Do: 9 Fine Things about cruising that float my boat


9 Fine Things about cruising that float my boat

I have only taken a few cruises.  Most recently, I boarded Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam in Fort Lauderdale and cruised through the Bahamas for four nights.  It was just right.  In fact, I think I’m ready now for a more traditional week-long cruise.

●You only have to unpack and repack once.

●If you pay a little more for a cabin with a bathtub and verandah, you can leave your door open to the lapping of the sea.
sunset view in the Bahamas from cabin verandah of Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam
sunset view in the Bahamas from cabin verandah of Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam

●A ship is like Disneyland for adults, pay one price and then play and dine until your dear heart is content.
soup service aboard Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam
soup service aboard Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam

eggs Benedict aboard Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam
eggs Benedict aboard Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam

●You can listen to interesting port lectures by experts, either in a theater or in the comfort of your cabin on closed-circuit TV.

●The up-to-date technology of cabin TVs allows checking the daily dining menus in your room.  And now many cruise lines provide complimentary use of their own app.  You can check on your account balance, the day’s special activities, the daily menus, and the ship map, and even make dinner reservations.

●I love a special dessert in one of the specialty coffee shops.  But the cappuccinos and lattes do cost additional.
dessert aboard Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam
dessert aboard Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam

●I also loved coming back to the room in the evening to find a sweet towel animal on my bed--or hanging on the curtain!
towel monkey in cabin aboard Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam
towel monkey in cabin aboard Holland America Line’s Nieuw Amsterdam

●There’s no need to go to the gym.  You can exercise by taking the steps instead of the elevators.  That means you don’t have to feel guilty about that special dessert in the coffee shop.

●Sometimes you can get a really good deal on a last-minute cruise.



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images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 

April 12, 2018

Things to Do: Portland Farmers Market and Portland Saturday Market; Portland, Oregon


Though these markets are both held on Saturday and they are both festive and fun, they are not to be confused and their merchandise doesn't overlap.

Portland Farmers Market  At Portland State University, South Park between SW College & Montgomery, (503) 241-0032.  Saturdays; Apr-Oct 8am-2:00pm;
Nov-Mar 9am-2 pm.  Spread over about 2 square blocks, through a park several blocks long, this grassy open area allows plenty of space for this usually crowded market.  Produce varies depending on the season.  In the spring, I saw incredible displays of wild mushrooms, multi-colored carrots, and fiddlehead ferns.  In the fall there were gorgeous crispy apples (the Crimson Crisp and pink-fleshed Mountain Rose apples are particularly noteworthy) as well as the last of the fresh strawberries and the first of the holiday wreaths.  Freshly made prepared food is also available.   I even picked up a lovely felted ball for my sweet kitty.

sign at Portland Farmers Market in Portland, Oregon
sign at Portland Farmers Market in Portland, Oregon


bok choy and mushrooms at Portland Farmers Market in Portland, Oregon
bok choy and mushrooms at Portland Farmers Market in Portland, Oregon


Crimson Crisp apples at Portland Farmers Market in Portland, Oregon
Crimson Crisp apples at Portland Farmers Market in Portland, Oregon


organic veggies at Portland Farmers Market in Portland, Oregon
organic veggies at Portland Farmers Market in Portland, Oregon


happy shopper with season's last strawberries at Portland Farmers Market in Portland, Oregon
happy shopper with season's last strawberries at Portland Farmers Market in Portland, Oregon


seasonal wreath at Portland Farmers Market in Portland, Oregon
seasonal wreath at Portland Farmers Market in Portland, Oregon


soups and sauces at Portland Farmers Market in Portland, Oregon
soups and sauces at Portland Farmers Market in Portland, Oregon


strawberry tart at Portland Farmers Market in Portland, Oregon
strawberry tart at Portland Farmers Market in Portland, Oregon


colorful felted balls at Portland Farmers Market in Portland, Oregon
colorful felted balls at Portland Farmers Market in Portland, Oregon


Portland Saturday Market  2 SW Naito Parkway, bordering the Willamette River, (503) 222-6072.  Sat 10am-5pm & Sun 11am-4:30pm, March-Dec. 24.  Free.  Held since 1974, all items sold at this busy arts & crafts market are required to be handmade by the person selling them.  The artist-vendors are chosen via a juried selection process.  The week before Christmas it operates daily with its holiday "Festival of the Last Minute" market.  

entrance sign at Portland Saturday Market in Portland, Oregon
entrance sign at Portland Saturday Market in Portland, Oregon


shoppers at Portland Saturday Market in Portland, Oregon
shoppers at Portland Saturday Market in Portland, Oregon


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Portland Farmers Market images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 
Portland Saturday Market images courtesy of venue


April 10, 2018

Good Eats: Mediterranean Exploration Company; Portland, Oregon


Mediterranean Exploration Company  333 NW 13th Ave., (503) 222-0906.  D daily.  No reservations.  Diners line up to feast on the innovative eastern Mediterranean cuisine served family-style here.  The small-plates menu offers dishes from Israel and surrounding areas in a vibrant setting.  Decor is industrial, with a variety of seating, including some high round tables and a bar that works well for solo diners.  Cocktails are fun--I enjoyed a Peach Panther featuring gin and crushed ice that went well with the food--and draft beers and wine and plenty more are also available.  Menu highlights include the house pita with s’hug sauces, lamb meatballs with honey and saffron, and Lebanese baked eggplant with ground lamb and feta, and many people come especially for the dramatic grilled octopus tentacle.  More items from the extensive menu that are on my list for a return visit are the shalosh sauces, the labneh fried cauliflower, the Moroccan Brick Chicken, and the Nazareth kebabs.

interior at Mediterranean Exploration Company in Portland, Oregon
interior at Mediterranean Exploration Company in Portland, Oregon


interior at Mediterranean Exploration Company in Portland, Oregon
interior at Mediterranean Exploration Company in Portland, Oregon


bar at Mediterranean Exploration Company in Portland, Oregon
bar at Mediterranean Exploration Company in Portland, Oregon


Peach Panther cocktail at Mediterranean Exploration Company in Portland, Oregon
Peach Panther cocktail at Mediterranean Exploration Company in Portland, Oregon


Lebanese eggplant at Mediterranean Exploration Company in Portland, Oregon
Lebanese eggplant at Mediterranean Exploration Company in Portland, Oregon


octopus tentacle at Mediterranean Exploration Company in Portland, Oregon
octopus tentacle at Mediterranean Exploration Company in Portland, Oregon


salad at Mediterranean Exploration Company in Portland, Oregon
salad at Mediterranean Exploration Company in Portland, Oregon


scallops at Mediterranean Exploration Company in Portland, Oregon
scallops at Mediterranean Exploration Company in Portland, Oregon
Mediterranean Exploration Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


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images ©2018 Carole Terwilliger Meyers