Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Sticker Shock

After exploring the hotel and grounds, we walked about 20 minutes down the street to where we had spotted a Subway during our taxi ride. The prices were reasonable there, no $5 footlongs, but the one we got was on sale for $7 and there's no sales tax. We tried to order two cups of water only to learn that water (not even bottled) was the same price as a Diet Coke. We passed on the water, thinking it was unnecessarily overpriced. Come to find out, this is completely normal around here. Water appears to be like gold and is expensive everywhere we go! Even at McDonald's, a cup of water is the same price as a drink from the soda fountain. Wow, now that is something to get used to! No more free water at restaurants.

After dinner we walked to a local grocery store. The sticker shock came in the first aisle when we saw a regular box of Teddy Grahams for $7.59. Seriously? I knew food was expensive, but this was crazy! We all know that I'm a super frugal shopper, so this was certainly a challenge for me. I quickly became thankful for the trail mix, Chex Mix, and other snacks (all of which I got with coupons for FREE) that I had stashed in my carry on bag for the trip. By the way, I saw Chex Mix for sale for $6.75 a bag. I told Steven I should have brought over my 30 free bags that I have in the pantry and sold those here! As we strolled up and down the aisles we continued to be amazed by the prices. We skipped over the $9.99 bottle of fruit juice and selected a gallon of water and a 6-pack of Diet Coke on sale. It took all I had in me to allow the $8.39 smallest jar of peanut butter into our cart, as pictures of two giant jars from Sam's Club for less than that floated in my head! We passed on the jelly and finally found a box of crackers that was under $5. My favorite sight in the store was a bag of chips with a printed price of 99 cents and a price tag placed over it for $3.19. Talk about a price markup!
$33.74 later, we left with a few carefully selected items to get us through breakfasts and lunches this week!

Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort

Our hotel is located on Cable Beach of New Providence Island, several miles west of downtown Nassau. The hotel is huge and has a nice lobby with multiple levels. There will be pictures and a video of it still to come!

There are three pools at the hotel, but two of them seem like mutiple pools because they have so many sections, wrapping around waterfalls and bridges.

The center pool is heated and has a swim up area to order drinks. You can see from this picture that the beach is right beyond the pool area. There is also a poolside restaurant, a place to get beach towels for the day, a kids area with constant activities, and of course, little tiki huts on the beach.

Welcome to the Bahamas!

You know I had to keep the tradition of giving you a video tour of our room. So here it is, our room at the Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort. We're staying on the third floor, which is actually the lobby level, although not ground level from the back of the hotel. Ours is the first room off of the lobby, which is nice and convenient.

We're Not in Indiana Anymore

Tuesday afternoon Fred and Louise came from Terre Haute and Fred spent the evening helping Steven work on his car (thanks, Fred!), while Louise and I did some last minute shopping for running shorts, tank tops, and sandals for the trip. I was ready to start packing at about 11:00 PM and stayed up until 2:30 AM getting everything ready. Two hours of sleep went by quickly when my alarm went off at 4:30 AM. Steven, typical male, was able to get up and pack the morning of our trip. Prior to packing, I was thinking that Steven and I could share one large suitcase. I should have known better. By the time I was done packing I had filled the entire thing on my own, and surpassed the 50 pound weight limit by 4.5 pounds. We had to do some repacking when we made it to the check-in counter at the airport. We made it to our gate just in time to board with our section. Thanks to Louise who was willing to get up and drive us to the airport at 5:30 in the morning!

We flew to Orlando and had a layover for just a few hours. I explored the airport and rode the tram back and forth between terminals a few times in search of food. Chick-fil-a nuggets in hand and it was time to board our next flight. As we neared our destination, the view from the plane window was beautiful. You can see lots of little islands and the cool blue/green shade of the ocean.The flight from Orlando, FL to Nassau, Bahamas was a quick 55 minutes. We sat on the plane for another 30 minutes once we landed, waiting for a gate to become available. They don't assign gates to incoming planes, I guess it works on a first come first serve basis. The wait didn't bother me since I just took another nap!
Once we arrived to the Bahamas Airport, we learned that nobody is in a hurry to do anything here! We waited in a room full of hundreds of other people to get through the lines at Immigration. During the wait Steven and I decided we would do well to move here and teach them a few things to improve their efficiency. They checked our passports, took our immigration cards (for visitors) that we filled out on the plane, then allowed us through to collect our checked luggage. After we found our luggage (thankfully still there since it had been just sitting for probably 2 hours), they checked our passports once again (not sure why) and we were allowed to exit the airport. We took a cab ride from the airport to our hotel. The cabs are all old beat up vans and the drivers, as in other cities, like to honk often. It was quite an experience to drive down the leftside of the road and go left at a round-a-bout instead of right! Some cars even have the driverseat on the rightside. It's strange to have to stop and think about which way to look for traffic when crossing the street. We arrived at our hotel and were pleased to see that it looked really nice. As we waited in line to get checked into our hotel room, we we reminded again that unlike the US, nobody was in much of a hurry at their jobs! I guess we could learn a thing or two about slowing down and being patient!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Passports Arrive!

Our passports arrived on Monday, March 22nd. We had applied for them a few weeks earlier to prepare for a trip we would like to take this summer. For the past several weeks we had been trying to decide what to do for Spring Break. We wanted to go somewhere, but hadn't decided where. I had looked up flights to Florida, South Carolina, Arizona, California, and anywhere else I could think of that sounded appealing! Going on a cruise was a possibility too, especially since neither of us had ever been on one before. We found great deals on cruises, but all of the port cities were farther than we wanted to drive. Since we planned to travel during the popular time of Spring Break, flights to all of these locations seemed to be way overpriced. Time was running out and there were just a few short days until our departure to what was still an unknown location. When our passports arrived, that opened up a world of possibilities for our trip, literally! During my research of cruises, I noticed that lots of them went to the Bahamas. That looked like a great place to me, so I checked out a few websites and found a good price on a flight. The only issue was the best deal would be to depart Wednesday of Spring Break and return the following Tuesday, meaning Steven would have to miss two days of school. Anyone who knows Steven knows that missing school is a big deal to him, especially so close to ISTEP testing time for his students. He just recently missed his first day of school in three years when he had to stay home sick. We were up in the air about out plans for several days...roadtrip, fly somewhere warm, go on a cruise....all sounded like good options, but nothing stood out. Friday rolled around and we were running out of time if we were going to depart the next day. It was a crazy busy day at work as I was wrapping things up in anticipation of being gone for a week. It was my senior accountant's last day of work and my temporary accounting staff member's first day. Steven called me around noon that day and said, "Do what you have to do to get me to the Bahamas!" That's all I needed to hear and I was ready! I was driving back to work from the chiropractor when I got the call and I was supposed to take two ladies from work out to lunch when I returned. I told them to give me 15 minutes, I went and back to my office and booked our flight. Done, decided...Bahamas it is! Friday night I checked out travel sites looking for the best deal for a hotel. I found the one where I wanted to stay, but I couldn't find a great price on it. I considered using, where you know the price of the hotel and the amenities, but the name of the hotel isn't revealed until after you make your purchase. There was a decent deal, but I noticed it was not a beachfront hotel. That option was out because if we were going to the Bahamas, we definitely wanted to stay right on the beach. I considered using and naming my own price, but was nervous about the hotel we would get. It's one thing if it were just for a night somewhere, but for an entire week I wanted to make sure we stayed in the place we wanted. A bit of research on the web and I found a website that posted recent Priceline bid results. It seemed that if I bid a certain hotel rating the results all yielded the hotel that I had selected. Now there's always a chance this wouldn't be my result, but it made me a bit more confident. Placing my bid and closing my eyes, I waited to see what the results would yield. Sure enough, my first bid was accepted and the hotel chosen for us was the one that I wanted! Sheraton Nassau Beach Resort for 55% of the listed price on Score! With that, plans were finalized and we were leaving in just a few days. The schedule worked out really well because it gave us a couple more days to finish things at work and prepare for our trip. Three more days....then Bahamas here we come!