31 July, 2011

True life: We're Married(Island Style)

Well, I promised a honeymoon recap, so here we go! It's a lazy Sunday in the Volheim house, so I thought I would take advantage and get caught up. So I'll give you all the fun details(this is as much for my sake before all the details get hazy!)

Let me just start this post off by saying we are eternally grateful to Stephen's grandparents for this incredible trip! They have a time share in the Bahamas they had been to for a few years in a row, but this year they skipped it and gave it to us as a wedding gift instead! It was incredible and it wouldn't have been possible without them. Thank you thank you thank you!

We got up bright and early on May 22nd to head to the airport for our flight. We packed up, straightened up, took Natty out and then loaded the car with our luggage. Of course we couldn't get away without a guilt trip from our little Natty bug. He hates when the luggage comes out. He's learned what that means since Stephen was gone with training for the last year and I visited him about once a month. I wasn't too worried about him because his Uncle Shawnzy was staying with him, and I'm sure he had fun! :)

We went to my parents' house(they literally live across the street from the airport) for my mom to drop us off so they could keep the car at their house and we could avoid paying ridiculous airport parking fees. We were greeted at the door by an extremely hung over Lindsay still in her bridesmaid dress from the night before, make up and hair still done up, looking a little rough! I wish now that I had my camera at that moment because that's one we would have wanted to laugh about later!
5 minutes later Mom was dropping us off at the airport. Despite the early hour, we were excited! We left Pensacola Regional and flew to Miami International where we had about 2 and a half hour lay over. So we got some pizza and decided to start this vacation with a drink at a little airport bar. (BIG, EXPENSIVE mistake!) We'll chalk it up to it being a special occasion, but we won't drink at airport bars anymore! $25 and two drinks later we left that bar!

A short time later, we boarded out last flight for Freeport, Bahamas!

We arrived at the teeny tiny Freeport International airport and went through customs.
Then we headed out into the Bahamian heat to catch a cab to our resort. We were both born and raised in Florida, so we're used to heat, but MAN it is BRUTAL down there! I don't have any good pictures, but their "cabs" were old 18 passenger vans, and they were a little sketchy. The island is beautiful and tropical, but it's also basically a third world country. Most of the island is like driving around the slums, but I guess because of the laid back island lifestyle, it just doesn't seem dangerous. The people are all incredibly friendly, as you'll see later on in the post.
A short cab ride later we made it to our resort and got all checked in.
This was our building
And this was our room!
The view from our balcony!

We set all our stuff down, read over all the information(a lot of it we already knew, because Stephen's grandparents had given us the run down on the best things to do/not do since they are professionals at this now!) Then we decided to put swim suits on and head to the pool. It was happy hour after all! It's hard to pass up 2 for 1 drinks when you're in paradise with nothing to do! We went to the pool for a bit, and got a drink(Bahama mamas.. YUMMM) then headed down a little further to check out the beach.
Now again, we're Floridians. I'm a total beach baby. But the gorgeous water down there made our beaches look yuck!(Which is very had to do!!) I was in heaven!
Unable to wait any longer we broke out the snorkeling gear and floated around the beach out in front of the resort. It was gorgeous, but there wasn't much to see under the water, but we had fun trying none the less! When we tired of snorkeling we went back to the pool and hot tub to hang out for a bit. Then went up to change and ate dinner at the hotel restaurant that night. (That was the only time we ate there, food was mediocre and service sucked) Every where in the Bahamas tip is automatically included in the bill, so naturally service tends to run on "island time", meaning they get to you when they get to you. We were pretty wiped out from the excitement of the wedding and the long day of traveling so we just called it an early night and caught up on some long over due sleep!

Day 2: Our first full day, we woke up very refreshed and ready to go! We did a little exploring around the resort, and decided to spend the morning by the pool. Because, really, what else did we have to do??
Monday is the day that the resort provides a shuttle to the grocery store. We were warned ahead of time that grocery prices are outrageous. Which makes sense, because if you think about it, they're an island. Everything has to be shipped in and these days gas prices ain't cheap! So we headed off to the store on the shuttle in anticipation of high prices. We were surprised that they actually weren't terrible for what we bought. We just got stuff to make lunch in our room, sandwiches, hot pockets, pasta, spaghetti sauce, macaroni and cheese, and snacks like chips and cookies to hold us over during the day. The most important stop was to the liquor store where we bought two bottles of local rum and a couple local beers to mix drinks in our room. (Probably our smartest purchase on the trip!)
We got back to the resort and put the groceries away then decided to catch the shuttle to Port Lucaya Marketplace to see what was going on down there. Well, being a Monday afternoon, there wasn't much going on, but it was beautiful and we did some exploring!
We had a drink at one of the little bars there, and the bartender told us that Mondays and Tuesdays are pretty quiet down there, but it picks up the rest of the week. So we headed back to the resort and planned to come back a little later in the week. Once we made it back we mixed some drinks and went down by the pool.
That afternoon by the pool, we met another honeymooning couple, Stella and Joey. They had gotten there the day before us so they had already had a chance to explore, and they were letting us in on the secrets they had already figured out. The guys decided to go snorkeling, so I took advantage and took some pictures down by the beach. I tried to get them snorkeling, but they were out pretty far so they just looked like specs.
When they finally tired of that, we headed upstairs to rest and get ready for the night. Stella and Joey told us about these awesome local bars right down the beach from our hotel, that were really cheap!(The resort bar can be a little pricey when it isn't happy hour!) So we met up with them later that evening so they could show us around. We walked down the street to these little bars. It's crazy, because at home we NEVER would have gone into these places. They were just people's houses that they had built a tiny room onto the front of to make a bar. As I mentioned before, the Bahamas aren't the wealthiest country, so it really looked like walking down the street of a bad neighborhood at home. There were stray dogs running around everywhere. I was a little nervous at first, and if it weren't for Stella and Joey we definitley would have turned around. I'm SO glad we didn't because it ended up being one of the best parts of the trip! Everything is cheap! They served food for 1/4 of the price the hotel restaurant did and it was SO much better because it was all local. The staple there is conch. You know those big shells you see on tv and in movies that you can put to your ear and hear the ocean? Those are conch shells. Inside of there is an animal, and that's what they eat in the Bahamas. Fried conch, conch nuggets, conch fritters, conch salad, conch chowder. You get the idea! Conch fritters were my favorite. They're like hushpuppies, but made with conch inside. At the little local bars you could get 4 of them for $1! That's seriously a whole meal! For $3 you could get 4 fritters, and a Sands(the local beer, my favorite!) I was in heaven!
We had an absolute blast that night. Eating, drinking, hanging out with locals, getting the scoop on the best places to go, and getting to know our new friends. We stayed out late then crashed back at the hotel and slept in the next day!

Day 3: Tuesday was our first day with nothing to do all day. Monday was broken up with our midday grocery store run, but Tuesday was wide open. We did a lot of hanging by the pool.

Then we decided to give Port Lucaya another try. We headed down there to have a late lunch at Zorba's the local Greek place(oxymoron?) that Stella and Joey had recommended and to do some shopping. The back side of the marketplace is a lot like a flea market. It's just an open air market where vendors have different stalls. Beware though! They will get you to be SOMEthing whether you want it or not! The cool thing is that you get to bargain, they just want your money, so if there's something you want they're willing to make a deal to keep you from getting it from the vendor next door.
After our adventure in Port Lucaya we headed back to the resort and the pool for happy hour. (Noticing a trend?) Then we ventured back down the street to the bars that evening. That week was the NBA semi-finals. The Miami Heat were playing the Lakers, and the entire island seemed to be Heat fans so everyone was fascinated with the games. This was good for me, because I like the Heat. I'm a big Lebron fan, but the husband, not so much. We went exploring on the coral down the beach that night, and then went out to the bars with Joey.(Stella was wiped out from the week so she stayed in)
Did I mention that in the Bahamas all drugs are apparently legal? I had more people offer me weed and coccaine than I have in my entire life! That's what this guy that's with us in the picture above was doing. He offered us whatever we wanted in the bar, but I told him no because my husband was military and we can't(we wouldn't anyway, neither of us were ever into drugs), but some of the people we met were interested in what he was selling. Because I said "no", he refused to sell anything to anyone in the bar. It was pretty funny!

Day 4:  Wednesday was our big day. With Stephen's grandparents' time share they had use of the private yacht the resort owned for one full day for up to 8 people. Unfortunately, they weren't able to use it on previous trips, so we got to use it. We tried to fill the boat up, but everyone we met seemed to already have plans. So that morning, Stephen and I met up with Stella and Joey, and the four of us got to feel like royalty for the day on our own private yacht. It was all we could eat and drink. It was amazing. For some reason everything we ate and drank tasted better at sea! We stopped at a little private island and went snorkeling and exploring for a couple hours. The things we saw were so cool! I wished we had bought an underwater camera to be able to show the cool stuff we saw snorkeling, but we didn't. When we stopped to eat lunch, the captain even took out his guitar and serenaded us. It was absolutely incredible! The whole day was something we'll never forget!

That night was the big fish fry that we had heard so much about. The entire island goes out to this beach and there are a few restaurants and all of them are frying fish and conch and everyone eats and drinks and just hangs out on the beach. When the sun goes down the drinking really gets going and so does the dancing. It was so much fun!
Day 5: Thursday we hung out around the hotel and pool, then went on our second excursion. We did some parasailing! It was a blast. We've gone in Pensacola before, but it was different over the crystal clear waters in the Bahamas. It was very rough the day we went so the boat ride was a little rocky, but we don't get sea sick so it made for an adventure!

That night we went out with some other friends we had met from Wisconsin. They hadn't found the local bars yet, so we took them out and showed them.

Day 6: The last day it rained. We can't complain because it was gorgeous the rest of the trip, so a little thunderstorm was fine by us. It was actually pretty to watch the rain roll in on the island. With the rain, it changed our plans a bit, but we went on a glass bottom boat ride and saw some incredible reefs and tons of fish. After the boat ride, we went in to Port Lucaya for dinner, drinks, and to play a little at the casino. (This was probably Stephen's favorite part of the trip!)

By the last day we were exhausted! Relaxed, but exhausted. We had a long travel day ahead and were very ready to be home with our baby dog. After about 12 hours of flying we finally made it home. I probably forgot some details, but you get the idea! Lots of rum, sun, and time to relax! It was amazing and we're so blessed to have been able to take this awesome honeymoon!

So now, we're all caught up! All I have left to fulfill my promises is to post all the pictures of the new house, which I will do, as soon as we finish getting it all together! Maybe one day I'll get Stephen to guest blog for me and give you his perspective on the wedding day and honeymoon... but we'll see! Hope you all enjoy the rest of your weekend! I know we are!