Saturday, April 25, 2015

A Night with the Colonels - Athens, Georgia

For my dad's first visit to the South, I had wanted to share a bit of the "antebellum experience" with him.  The Colonels definitely made that experience burgeon in a multitude of ways!  After making the drive from Atlanta, the four imposing Doric columns welcomed us to the country manor in the mid afternoon.   The house dates back to 1860 making it a true Antebellum - barely!  The furnishings that compliment the many rooms of the manor range from various periods of European antiquity, but my favorite pieces are the pieces of equestrian artwork throughout the manor.  The beautiful artwork and tasteful furniture gives the bed and breakfast a warm sensation to us visitors, but the true charisma and euphoria came from Colonel Marc!  Always with a full and cheerful smile about him, Marc happily answered any question about the estate and gladly gave us a comprehensive tour of the place with a full commentary about each and every unique piece!  Outside the manor, Lady Colonel Beth took us about the grounds and stable to see the steeds.  When not tending to the horses, she makes a mean batch of pancakes and a breakfast feast worthy of the kings!   

If you find yourself bound for Athens, Georgia, I cannot encourage enough about making your stay with the Colonels in their treasured manor in the shade of the magnolias and pecan trees.  Visit their page here!

SkyView from a bird's eye - Atlanta, Georgia

Rising out of the breadth of Centennial Park about twenty stories high is the SkyView ferris wheel as the high-rises of Georgian capital city.  I have yet to take one of the gondolas for a spin on the wheel, but the bright lights of the spokes made for a fantastic focal point as time passed during a spring day in these shots of Downtown Atlanta.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Snorkeling at Dead Man's Reef - Freeport, Bahamas

Walking into the pristine waters of Paradise Cove from the white sand beach, my dad and I entered a mystical underwater world with fellow snorkelers.  From the moment my head was subsurface, there were creatures swimming about!  One of my favorite sights to behold were the rays floating effortlessly about the shallows between the beach and the reefs.  These photographs do not give the reefs the justice they deserve, that and I was too busy being distracted by all the sea life and scouting for large conch shells to dive down for before anyone else spotted them! I was amazed by all the bright colors and odd shapes of the marine critters I encountered within these reefs compared to those of the day before at Nassau.  We all could not have asked for a more perfect day for snorkeling these waters for the wind was at a minimum, the water was not too warm for the fish and the sun sent rays of light through the waves above.  With all that said, even the fish made the experience all the more since they were just as curious about us as we were about them!  I had a few of the ones pictured in the center below come up to me and check me out!  As the shelf dropped, the coral diversified at the same rate as the species of fish did as well as a bright hues and strange shapes, which led me to being out in the water longer than I probably should have been due to my sun block application running thin.  However, I was in the heart of a wild aquarium and enjoying every second of the spellbinding snorkeling quest!

Paradise Cove - Freeport, Bahamas

After pulling into the second port at Freeport on Grand Bahama, we were "blessed" with sapphire blue skies and sunshine.  I will explain my reasoning behind the quotation marks surrounding the word blessed as the story unfolds.  After departing from the confines of the ship, we found the meeting area for the shuttle to Paradise Cove.  After snorkeling the day before, I wanted to get an underwater disposable camera for this round, so I ran off to one of the nearby tourist huts to acquire one!  Once the shuttle arrived, we drove across the open flats of the island for a few clicks until we made our way down a small road to a slice of paradise.  The gentlemen of Paradise Cove gave all us sea-faring snorkelers our run-down on the equipment and how-to's, we were free to grab an adult beverage at the Red Bar or lounge about until everyone was ready.  At this critical moment, we all were advised to put on sun block before entering the water.  Applying teamwork to this task, my dad and I donned sun block and were ready to hit the crystal clear waters for exploring the underwater treasures of Deadman's Reef!

In case you all were wondering, sun block has a shortened lifespan when one plays about in the water.  I was having such a great time among the Deadman's Reef with all the sea creatures from stingrays to barracudas and dozens of bright fish I lost track of time.  After I had my share of snorkeling, I took to the sandy beach with a Bahamian beer and thought I should even my prospective tan out on the front side of my body.  Once we returned to the ship, I found out that my application of sun block expired much before my snorkeling session and with direct sunshine in the clear waters of Paradise Cove, I was a vibrant shade of red.

Navigating Nassau - Nassau, Bahamas

Our first port visit after disembarking from Charleston and a day on the open ocean, my dad and I made our way about the streets of Nassau.  This marked the my first visit to an international capital city!  After maneuvering the pier through all the scooter rental and city tour offers, we made our way south on Parliament Street.  There we came upon  Parliament Square lined with beautiful with palm trees and exotic flowers that led up to the Nassau Public Library and Museum.  The structure is one of the oldest on the island, constructed in 1797 as a jail.  In 1873, the cells made a transition from housing fore-lorn prisoners to books and municipal records.  Today, the library is the largest of Nassau and also contains numerous artifacts of the native peoples, colonial pieces, and what I found quite interesting, the bones of famous and infamous individuals also known as Pirates.  Continuing up the hill until we came to Hill Street, aptly named due to the hike up the steep grade in every direction, we made a right until we came to the Government House.  Sadly, we were not able to tour the building being the Governor-General was hosting foreign dignitaries and by the flagged cars, Argentina and Panama we visiting Nassau as well!  Heading back down Mount Fitzwilliam from the pink stucco Colonial Georgian Government House, I convinced my dad we needed to stop in a few of the old churches along the way before we stepped into the maze of the Straw Market.  Stepping through the doors under the simple Gothic tower of the Christ Church Cathedral, I found myself looking upon some of the most beautiful stained glass I have seen in the Western Hemisphere.