Archive for May, 2009

Down to Fla to Go to Where Its’ Better in the Bahamas

May 5, 2009

Well after the stint at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York it was down by auto to Boynton Beach, Fla to go to Fort Lauderdale to fly to Nassau in the Bahamas ( a new country for this blogger Newfoundland).  The stops along the way were very few as to have a couple of days of rest at the wonderful Courtyard Marriot- Marriot Courtyard on Congress avenue (formerly the Catalina Holiday Inn) before jettisoning to the island of New Providence.

The major stops off of I-95 were at “The National Museum of the Marines” in Quantico, Virginia (and its magnificent building made to look like a sword in the stone or a raised blade in salute coming to an apex).  On the way in there was a fully overturned car and a military personage  impromptu directing traffic around the wreck .  Once inside the diorama and history time-line  presentations were great.  This is an excellently produced museum however if one enjoys a presentation that does mean that one necessarily agrees with the view of history it is attempting to progress.

The history of the marine band which has and continues to play for the Commander- and- Chief at the White House was also excellent (including the historic role of John Phillip Sousa who got the president to agree to allow the band to tour and how “Hail to the chief” came into usage).

The next stop was at “South of the Border” to possibly report on the doings at the Osaka Spa again (which my  first post about is by far my most popular entry on “WordPress”) but press forward progression it was to be.  It was sixty dollars for a brief massage so as to get more googling vehicle and truck operators to click on my page so what!  But I bought a gag roll of toilet paper for “cheap asshole”s to wipe theirs’ with- just so I could show it around back at the stew in your own’ juices theater back at the double decker bus tour terminal and jokingly suggest as an application when tourists ask for something to wipe off their seats.

Afterwards in a fast dash and thanks to some coffee we made it (friend Neil and I) to Boynton Beach in a dash in time to the check into the Courtyard by Marriot for an entire day.  We mostly relaxed but in a frenzy of eBay bidding for vintage Versace neckwear and updating the designers’ Wikipedia page and trying to live inside my long ago attempt at a futuristic novel “Speedboats of the Sky’ (which follows the exploits of a group of speedboats of the sky racers {in a vehicles not unlike Annakin Skywalker raced in the second series of Star Wars movies or a more recent parallel perhaps but not exactly being the red bull pilot obstacle course races} as they travel around the world in very colorful highly eroticized corporately sponsored  paradigm where coteries of models, money men , designers, and a million hangers on vibrate.  The initial scenes take place at a beautiful Jade inlaid freestanding nightclub structure called Casa Azul which lays somewhat offshore in the Miami Beach Zone.  There is a character in the work called Gianfranco Baroque whom I attempted to base on the then still alive Gianni Versace.  Here is the opening line from the work….. “it was a world  fresh with the  powerful scent of jet fuel, and of the effects of  expensive items purchased at duty free shops; cartons of cigarettes, bottles of well aged scotch and the complexions of the moguls who partook of the imbibe, of the palisading fluorescence of a vibrant world at play, of hallucinogenic cyber spice, and exquisite women in violet-marine well tanned from long weekends in Curical”……

Meanwhile once in the actual vicinity the large indoor municipal parking lot behind Lincoln Road had been taken down (or so it seemed at the time) and we chose a small side one instead. It was a beautiful evening as was nearly every one on this trip and we dined at a favorite Miami Beach spot of mine Tiramisu on among other plates monkfish salad (with a couple of glasses of  an excellent Chianti to boot).

The next day it was relaxation time and then over to Boca Raton in the evening to check out the Boca Raton Museum of art on open late until 9 PM and pay nothing night (otherwise known as Wednesday). What brought us here was perusing the South Florida museum listings on the internet and finding an exhibition curated by the critic Karen Wilkin (a posthumous Cleve Gray retrospective).  Meanwhile arriving at the large public plaza  mall condo city center Mizner Park the museum was unexpectedly closed however there was a large celebrate Israel music event which provided an adequate backdrop to an outdoor meal at a Mexican restaurant which consisted of a portion of guacamole, a grilled vegetable platter, and for me a passion fruit margarita (which much to my surprise turned out not to be frozen). Later googling again I found that the name of the restaurant is “Uncle Julio”s and had been written about by a food writer with my same first and last calling cards “Lee Klein” (watch out food critic Klein if I eat enough food in the sunshine state I might traipse into that business but watching what I eat which should be the opposite of eating it and until then this might stop this blogger from sampling too many morsels not to mention dollops of monetarial concern– and please note rather now that I am neither the food critic or the reputed organized crime associate who lives in the Boynton beach vicinity),

The next morning it was time to go abroad again on Spirit airlines which is by no means as annoying at the airport as it is on the internet.  We took a cab to the tri-rail (South Floridian inter city rapid transit) to the Ft. Lauderdale Hollywood  airport stop and then to a bus shuttle link.  I was so paranoid about the airline that we arrived about four hours early for the flight and got the exit row (hint only bring carry-ons to escape extraordinary checked baggage charges and also get your seat at the airport for there is a booking fee online as well and the flight to Nassau from South Florida is not even an hour).

We got he exit row seats but the flight was delayed an hour while people complained that they should have taken JetBlue (while a hefty duo stood around  in anti-swine-flu masks while attempting to drink Starbucks beverages)photo-2.  Once in flight the airline was not so bad at all , the plane was clean, and the flight itself was very brief (though there was a group of intoxicated stockjokers or whatever being loud and drinking from an open bottle of vodka).  Inside customs and passport control were fun with a pirate character welcoming you to the Bahamas , free Bacardi mixed rum drink shots , and even a duo doing Island music next to a colorfully painted semblance of house next to passport control.

Once through all the entry procedures and stops it was time to take a taxicab to the place where we were supposed to be staying on Paradise Island.  We shared a minivan with a Venezuelan couple staying at The Atlantis and got to see New providence and Nassau for the first time on the way over there.  I left my Italian bicycling shorts in the cab and threw a tizzy fit which distracted from the viewing of the marine life in the Atlantis but we did spot Nobu just off of the casino floor which did not open until five thirty for dinner-(eventually I was taken out of my mood by a beautiful sales girl at the Atlantis’ Versace boutique who gave me a hug).

Then we found out the hostel we had been hoping on staying in on Paradise Island was no longer open for business (or just their three phone numbers no longer worked).  So we had to scramble to find other accommodations and after some debate settled on a ride back to New Providence by taxi to the Nassau Palm hotel downtown all the while eventually planning to make our way back by ferry back across to the Sivinanda Yoga Resort on Paradise Island.

So we checked into the Nassau Palm whose winding outdoor corridors seem to be scripted for a role in one of the many past, present, and future James Bond films to have been filmed around here.

Almost immediately I set out upon trying either to find the one day shark dive where no diving certification is required ( this adventure turned out to leave only on selected dates from Freeport on the Island of Grand Bahama) or a one day resort course (taking a prep and go diving the on the same excursion).  I could not get this information out of the ladies at the tourist desk in the lobby so I went down Bay Street to the canary yellow colored Hilton googled it in the business center printed it presented it to them and booked it for the following day with Stuart’s Cove.  Meanwhile we had the rest of the day to whittle away and we walked down to Rawson Square where a nice guard or be he a caretaker in civilian garb gave us a brief tour of the Bahamian version of Congress or British parliament.

Then it was off to Cafe Matisse (a restaurant Neil had found) for a dinner just off the square.  It was a pleasant place if not tipping too much a of a hat to the fauvist favorite of sun worshippers.  For the main course I had duck in blueberry sauce while Neil dined on fresh vegetables and a couple of plates of gnocchi were thrown in.

Afterwards it was to sleep for an early morning wake-up for breakfast in the lobby and than taking my one bag and yoga mat with me to return not to the hotel after diving but to the Mermaid Dock at Bay and Deveaux streets to take the boat launch over to Paradise Island to the Sivinanda Yoga Resort which is inaccessible by road.

The Bus to Stuarts’ Cove was colorfully painted silver and pink was swift in its trajectory and picked up passengers at multiple hotels along the route to the diving and snorkeling hub. Also on the way we passed through Lyford Cay which this blogger mentions on his tours of Manhattan, Nyc that Huntington Hartford the original mega-developer of Paradise Island lived when he passed away in his late nineties not that long ago.

Once there I had to pick up my equipment and join a boat which was leaving fast and the instructors told me that I was on Bahamas time now and to slow down.  The boat departed the cove and though this correspondent thought he was going to get classroom time he  would be instructed on the boat and participate in the second dive.  His instructor was a spirited Aussie gal who said she had been in the Bahamas for three years.

This was the first time I had gone diving since around the time of the start of the  Gulf War having overcome some breathing adversity and though I was a bit nervous and had to come back up a couple of time while demonstrating the skills needed to go down when this blogger finally did he was elated.  The instructor was an excellent communicator and pulled me down when my weight belt was not quite enough. The reef itself seemed a bit barren for the sub tropics though I did see a lobster but no sharks or for that matter the dreaded Lionfish invaders.

So after finishing I got the hotel bus to drop me off at the Mermaid dock (where luckily there was a launch which was just arriving to depart again) .  On the way over the ashram horticulturist was returning with a scented geranium and other plants which this blogger helped carry off and the headed for the check-in kiosk. i had missed the days yoga classes but after getting a temple side cabin went to dinner than the evening prayers, chanting, talks, and music convergence in one of the Ashram’s temples and here a visiting Krishna scholar talked of the divinity who walked among men’ adventures in the Śrīmad Bhāgavatam and had the rapt attention  of his audience with his deft references and wonderous humour (please forgive that I am not a seasoned devotee and am only recapturing events for a travel log and will update as I learn more).

So we were at the ashram for two nights and the part of three days and with its close proximity to the Atlantis it also allowed for one more visit over there.  I took three yoga classes and finally got going on doing some other form of the ancient practice besides “Bikram” as people have been telling me to do all along). What struck this writer here among many other things was the textural interface between the Sivinanda campus and peace and quiet and the large party boats which moved through the harbor ( one time the visiting scholar said as a loud vessel invaded the sound space during the evening gathering in the temple “I am reminded that George Harrison once said “All things must pass”), the cruise ships with large attractions built onto their decks (such as a water slide or a climbing wall) , the behemoth Atlantis rising as if out of the sea, the islanders and the strange vibe of Nassau.

At the Ashram we met a Taiwanese American artist named Charmin, a couple of expatriated Brits working in corporate disaster relief, and some nice women from all over the place.  Upon leaving we went back to Nassau and this time strayed at a very reasonably priced Quality Inn.  I went up and saw the exterior of Fort Charlotte.  Then came back briefly lost my passport and then found it by the pool (lucky).  Then Neil and I went back to the fort and then for a brief dinner a touristy spot which was quite good.

After watching some television  (a National Geographic special on the preserved Woolly mammoth infant found in the Siberian Tundra and a canine reality a show where dogs were voted out of a house by a family and then taken for a walk)  it was time for sleep .

The next morning we set out for The Marley’s families resort where we had breakfast and watched a great documentary on the clan’s patriarch Bob (finally getting down the political milieu in which he wrote and lived in Jamaica at the height of his fame in the nineteen seventies and early eighties)

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then we got back on local transport which brought us there and got off at a cave which was supposedly used by indigenous people before transplanted Europeans and Africans arrived.  After this I convinced Neil to walk tot the airport as it was only about a mile along. Then we came along a strip mall with a lovely tea shop and decided to have banana and also pineapple rum brews.  Meanwhile stretch limousines brought gaggles of tourists to a the duty free liquor store which was next door to buy spirits to  take home on the plane.

Finally after asking directions we found the entry road to the terminal and finally this blogger learned the correct spelling of aufwiederzehn from and airport sign.

So we checked and went through customs and and then making small talk met a couple who turned out to be mediums .  So we set down for an impromptu reading at the gate ( first I got them a bag of popcorn) and the lady was correct about almost everything and without giving away the bulk of here reading this blogger is following much her direction today (as much as practically possible such as not flying Aeroflot to Dubai with a stopover in Moscow).

Upon returning we had a straining stretch waiting for the shuttle link to the tri-rail to walk back to the hotel and missed the final food call at the Pei-Wei Asian diner which is a spinoff from P.F Changs.  So instead we had a meal at one of the Asian Fusion places and then it was off to work out(or so I remember).  The next day featured at turn at the slot machines at the Hard Rock cafe casino (my second visit) which was featuring a free slot play and food giveaway).   The next day after that featured a voyage over to Palm Beach to walk along the famous Worth avenue where among other worthwhile sights was a great painting by Gerome in art gallery of youths and goddesses and swans. The Ralph Lauren Polo store here is almost as if a museum and their painting collection excellent including marvelous portraits by Leon Kroll.  Then we made tracks back to Boca Raton to finally catch the free night at the museum which features a stunning collection. The retrospective of Cleve Gray (whose work before I was unfamiliar with) was not my cup or not my cup of tea usually it had some very pleasing designs and as usual the firm Ms. Wilkin who curated it staked out her ground well.  This is quite a pleasing museum and one could spend hours marveling at the small gems by so many of the famous names of the recent and far recent past from a self portrait by Jose Clement Orozco, to a large Larry Rivers, to a humongous Sandro Chia work in the sculpture garden called “la offeretta”.

So then finally it was time depart the sunshine state and so we did all while listening to the audio version of the John Grisham novel ‘”The Broker”.  The first stop was in Flagler Beach for lunch once again at the Fisherman’s Net where Neil ordered fried Alligator Tail bites which he than decided not to eat.  Getting back int he auto we then stopped to watch the dolphins both adult and babies frolic at Marineland.  Then we made our way up the coastal highway into St. Augustine itself with stops at the nations’ oldest pharmacy founded before Florida was part of the United States) , The Casa Monica , and a few other spots.  Neil was not as keen on St. Augustine as I have been and so it was off finally stopping for the night in a motel in Santee South Carolina.

No stops of any major importance occurred again until Vienna, Virgina where I picked up my microphone at the home of a friend in whose car I had left it.  Than it was back and back to work in quick succession I think the next day.