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My Favorite Vacation Spot: Grand Turk

February 19, 2015

Watermarked-I fell in love with Grand Turk from the moment I set eyes on it. My love for it has only grown over the years. It is my favorite vacation spot and probably my favorite place on earth. I first discovered Grand Turk when I lived there for three months volunteering at the Turks and Caicos National Museum in 2009. Since then, I have been back twice on vacation.

Of course, you may be asking yourself, where the heck is it?! What is it?! Grand Turk is part of the Turks and Caicos Islands which is in the same archipelago as the Bahamas. It is a British Overseas Territory. While they are called islands, they are actually cays, which are the tops of coral reefs. The Turks and Caicos are home to the third largest coral reef in the work.Here is a Google map of Grand Turk. It is the tiny thing under the red pin!

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 10.11.19 PMIt isn’t very big and there isn’t tons to do, but that is what I like about it. It is the ultimate do nothing and relax vacation spot. Oh and it’s amazingly beautiful!

Watermarked-872 Watermarked-857 Watermarked-105Of course, you will want to do some things while you are there. First priority is to get yourself to the beach and get a tan! There will be almost no one to see you as most of the beaches are deserted except for the random cow or donkey.  Then do some snorkeling or scuba diving to see the amazing reef. If you need a cultural break, then head over to the Turks and Caicos National Museum to see the oldest shipwreck ever found in the western hemisphere! You can also get one of the dive company’s to take you over to Gibb’s Cay and feed stingrays. This was one of the most amazing things I have ever done. The rays will come take the food out of your hand and they rub up against you. They feel slimy and it is a bit scary, but because you are feeding them they don’t feel threatened and will not sting you.  Gibb’s Cay is uninhabited and is home to thousands of hermit crabs.

The ultimate thing to do is to go humpback whale watching! The area between Grand Turk and Salt Cay is a popular place for humpback whales to come and have their babies because of the shallow water. When I went it took us a while to find them, but once we did, it was breathtaking. They group of four adults and one baby circled the boat and put on a show. Some people swam with them. I got in the water but couldn’t keep up as they swim far in one stroke. This was an experience I will never forget. As we left them after an hour or so, they flapped their fins on the water as if to say goodbye. I almost cried it was so beautiful.

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Once you have worn yourself out swimming and tanning, you need to eat and drink. I highly recommend the Bohio and the Sandbar. Bohio has a weekly international night on Thursdays and it is not too be missed. You should make a reservation, though.  The Sandbar makes the best hamburger on the island and has an amazing view of the water. Both places make an excellent rum punch, which is a must at least once a day on this island.

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Grand Turk is also a cruise ship stop, and it can be fun to head down to the port when the ship is in. Ship days can be busy on Grand Turk, but most of the cruisers barely leave the port area and shouldn’t ruin your tranquil do nothing vacation.

Watermarked--5Where is your favorite vacation spot and why? Leave me a note in the comments!

 

Beach, Ireland, Museums, Travel

Ireland – Waterford, Tramore & Cork

November 30, 2014

Ireland, Waterford, Tramore and Cork

One of my motivations for coming to Ireland was my Irish friend.  I knew he would be there the same time as I was and I was hoping for some inside sightseeing info. Well, I just didn’t get info, I got an invite to come and stay at his and his wife’s “beach” house in Tramore.  As the Irish would say, it sounded grand!  I took the train down to Waterford.  Waterford is the oldest city in Ireland and it was celebrating it’s 1100 anniversary!  This town older than many countries including the one I am from and the country I live in.  If the name Waterford sounds familiar, it is because Waterford crystal used to be manufactured here.

The oldest civic building in Ireland is located in Waterford, Reginald’s Tower. The first tower was built in 914 by the Vikings and was most likely made of wood.  The current tower was built in the 12th century with the top two floors being added in the 15th century. It faces the river and would have been a great look out point from its location.  Standing in such an old building was a bit surreal as you feel as though you have stepped back in time.  I can’t image how dark and cold it must of been at certain times of the year.

Ireland, Waterford, Tramore and Cork

There is lots to see in Waterford. We also went to the Bishop’s Palace and the Medieval Museum. The Medieval Museum was a great place to learn about early Irish history.  The Bishop’s Palace had some excellent examples of Waterford Crystal on display and upstairs was an exhibit on the history of Waterford.  You can still tour the Waterford Crystal factory, but crystal stopped being produced in Waterford in 2009.  I decided I didn’t want to tour it since the factory was no longer in operation and we had two pre-teens in tow.

After that, we headed to Tramore, which is only about a 15-minute drive away.  Waterford a small fishing village until the railroad came in 1853. Although there is no railroad now, the town survives on being a tourist attraction. It has a lovely promenade and many surrounding beaches.  The Irish are a hardy people as I was there in July and the water was way to cold for me to get into.  In fact I had a light sweater on while everyone else went swimming.  I did put my feet in so I could say I had been in the Atlantic from both sides!  While it was cold, it was breathtakingly beautiful.

Ireland, Waterford, Tramore and Cork

This was the view from their house looking down toward the promenade!

Ireland, Waterford, Tramore and Cork Ireland, Waterford, Tramore and Cork Ireland, Waterford, Tramore and Cork

My friend wanted to take me to kiss the Blarney Stone. At first, I agreed, but then his wife was telling me I had to climb a staircase with no handrail and then bend over backward over a hole to kiss the thing! Given my fear of heights and the distance from Cork, I told him to forget it.  I am sure I will regret it later.  My mother told me that even my 80 something grandmother had done it! Yes I am a whimp.  We opted to go see the Cork City Goal. The jail is huge, but only a portion of it has been renovated to allow for visitors to view it safely.  While well-lit today, I am sure it was a depressing place to be in the 1800s.  The corridor’s that weren’t renovated seemed to give a better sense of what it would have been like. Prisoners were given hard labour and very little food.  I highly recommend the audio tour if you decide to take a tour. By the way, the website says you can walk from the center of Cork to the goal, but it was up a hill and my asthma was not happy! Take a taxi up and walk down would be my advice.

Ireland, Waterford, Tramore and Cork

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