The Retirees in the South East USA – Key Biscayne et al

Although we only had 3 days in Fort Lauderdale we still managed to drive down to Key Biscayne (Key Largo and the drive to Key West was just that little bit too far) on our way to Miami. We had hoped to see the launch of the SpacEx rocket from Cape Canaveral, but this proved too hopeful. We stopped at somewhere for coffee and cake and found a beach (with meter maid charging for entry to the beach), a pier with café (there was a charge to walk on the pier and the café was unable to serve us any of the items we ordered from their menu) but we did get some great photos of what should have been a delightful beach side stopover.

We reached Key Biscayne drove over the bridge stopped for a restroom break and lunch finishing up the supplies we had carried from Orlando sitting in the car in the carpark by the beach. However, as we continued to drive into Biscayne we found a fabulous park by the ocean from where we hoped to see the launch. Here was a carpark for thousands of cars with access to partly open grassy areas leading to the beach – only $5 to enter. The beach was littered with thick layers of seaweed washed ashore from the beds just 25 metres off the beach. Kerry braved the crossing to stand in the water to view the launch that we were never going to see from so far away. But it really is a beautiful park and in summer I guess it will be standing room only. We headed for home to pack to move down to Miami as we had to be at the airport by 4.00am. Then onto New Orleans Tennessee.

The Retirees in south east USA – Its a “Grand Celebration”

Our trip to Daytona was but only a few days long before we drove down to Fort Lauderdale and boarded the “SS Grand Celebration” bound for the Bahamas. After finding the wharf we took a photo of the car and it rego plate(so we could find it when we get back) and left it in the hands of some rather rough looking locals passing off as parking attendants.

Leaving the port of Fort Lauderdale, the presence of the coast guard could be seen in the harbour side houses, amongst the mangroves, and in the water ways. Grand Celebration is a full size cruise ship making the voyage on an almost daily basis from Fort Lauderdale to Freeport in the Bahamas.

We sailed over night to be greeted by the Pilot boat and a curious entry into the harbour – the vessel parked (docked) like a car reversing into it’s spot. We had risen early to view the docking. As with all cruise ships food was available even at 5.00 am so we grabbed two croissants and two cups of coffee and headed for the observation deck.  Before we could reach the rail one of the local gulls had swooped and stolen a croissant. I got a mug shot for the wanted poster.

Arriving at Freeport we were rather disappointed. The available tours took us to resorts on the Island or you could catch a local taxi to the commercial centre. The resorts were of no interest and the local taxis proved difficult. We could not get a firm price from any of the taxi drivers to take us to Freeport. As a result we stepped ashore at the dock and visited the few vendors by the dock and then returned to the boat – the Bahamas are still recovering from Hurricane Larry. One of the likely original things at the port was the hut selling drinks – they chopped the top off a coconut put a straw in and you were done.

So we spent most of our time on the ship which was enjoyable of course until it came time to return and disembark. The Bahamas are independent and part of the British Commonwealth of Nations. So there is a full on custom clearance to be undertaken. I don’t know how long it took but we left the ship straight after breakfast and by the time we were back in the car it was almost lunch time and we had to find our car then our accommodation. This proved to be quite easy with the vehicle being brought to us (they were in a hurry to empty the parking lot for the next cruise) and the gps finding our apartment – a lovely apartment with pools games and lots of things.