November 9, 2010

Tuesday’s Travel Tips – Nassau, Bahamas

This week’s Tuesday’s Travel Tips takes us to Nassau, Bahamas! Nassau is unique because of its history, eclectic hodgepodge culture, and its geographic and demographic makeup. The Bahamas is composed of 700 separate islands, one of the smallest of which – though the most populated by far – is Nassau. Once ruled by the United Kingdom, The Bahamas is an independent Commonwealth and has been since 1973. Though the U.K. no longer controls any aspect of government – nor does it contribute economic support any longer – there are plenty of artifacts from its influence that have staying power. The courts, for instance, are still modeled after the old British justice system; lawyers still have to wear traditional British outfits, including powdered wigs! There are prominent statues of Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth in downtown Nassau and cars drive on the left side of the road. Unlike elsewhere, though, more and more Bahamians are purchasing cars from Japan and so, a little disorienting, you’ll see both cars with steering wheels on the left side interspersed with cars that have steering on the right side. The educational system and much of the architecture is leftover from colonial rule.

And then there’s the American influence. The United States offers Customs Preclearance at NAS. Once you step through Customs, in fact, you’re considered to be in the U.S. NAS Crewmembers regularly joke, “I’m going to America for five minutes; be right back,” when they travel from the counter to the gate. The U.S. also has a submarine testing ground on one of the Bahamian islands and keeps tight reins on the comings and goings of people there.

This mix of British and American influence with Bahamian very much plays out in the culture and in the day-to-day operations at NAS. As demonstrated by a large cruise ship poking out from above the old colonial architecture in downtown Nassau, you’ll find a rich culture mixed with a long history, and a ton of tourists!

Airport Operations Crewmember, Eve relays that upon arrival to Nassau visitors are greeted by the sounds of a live Bahamian Band and the beat of Junkanoo music. Visitors can take the Go Fast glass-bottomed boat to the Island of Exuma which costs about $100 for an all-day exclusive trip,  or get a day pass from the world-famous Atlantis Resort on nearby Paradise Island. With restaurants and gambling and beautiful beaches, there’s no shortage of activities to do.

Local fare is a must, of course. Eve recommends The Fish Fry, where you can lots of Bahamian food and music.  She suggests you try anything conch; conch salad, conch fritters, conch soup – it’s all delicious!

Compass Point and Travelers’ Rest are two additional restaurants where you can find some of the best Bahamian dishes, and they also serve as important landmarks. Eve also suggests you check out Fort Charlotte for a slice of Bahamian history. For nightlife (and not necessarily for dinner), Eve recommends you hit up Senor Frogs or the Hard Rock Cafe in Downtown Nassau, or Club Aura at Atlantis Paradise Island. Of course, there are lots of smaller, local joints in the downtown area of Nassau, depending on what type of entertainment suits you.

Communications Manager Sebastian recommends you try Thai Lotus, for “more-than-passable food on a quiet back alley”, and late nights at Cafe Europa and Flamingo Cigars taking in the tasty local brew, Kalik.

Of the hundreds of island and cays that make up the Bahamas, only 31 of them are inhabited. Each island has something unique to offer. Just to name a few, Elethera is famous for its sumptuous pineapples, Andros for crabs, Inagua for its salt and goats, and Bimini for the world-famous Fountain of Youth and The Healing Hole.

In addition to sharing your Nassau travel tips below, you can also tweet them using the hashtag #TTNAS. And don’t forget to give and get some great travel tips from other travelers at our TrueBlue Community!

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