Nassau is the capital of The Bahamas and is found on the island of New Providence.
Today, April 25th 2014 there were five large cruise ships in the harbour and the main shopping thoroughfare, Bay Street, was packed with passengers looking for bargains in the various duty free shops on this street. Once you moved from the main shopping street there was hardly anyone around. I wonder what these cruise passengers see on their journeys other than air-conditioned interiors of duty-free shops?
The Straw Market, now in a permanent building again, was full of people looking for souvenirs of their visit. The main purchases appeared to be bags, t-shirts, and objets d’art such as carved statues and gaudy paintings. Some straw items are still sold such as hats and shopping bags, but now The Straw Market is a general market that sells souvenirs. It’s also a good place to shelter should there be a tropical downpour for a few minutes.
Other sights worth visiting include Fort Charlotte – 15 minutes walk due west of the British Colonial Hilton hotel – with its guns pointing menacingly towards the cricket pitch and the cruise ship terminal. The entrance fee is 1 dollar and the information provided gives an accurate appraisal of the history of the fort. From the ramparts you can see the beach cabins on Arawak Cay, where everyone should eat at least one meal during their stay. Try the gin and coconut milk combination called a ‘Sky Juice’ while you are there.
The most amazing sight is the Queen’s staircase, which is in a gorge that was hollowed out of the ground by 6,000 slaves using six-inch long chisels, just to provide a potential escape route for the governor in case of surprise attack. This is the story that the local guides will tell you at least; whether it’s true is another matter.
Nassau became a city in 1684 when Christ Church Cathedral was built. This is the fourth incarnation of the building, the previous three having been destroyed by fire, Spaniards, and termites. Services are still held here.
The public buildings in and around Parliament Square are all a delicate shade of pink. There are posters in the area in front of the Parliament building outlining the important roles played by various politicians such as Sir Lynden Pindling and Sir Randol Fawkes. Round here are two places to eat. One is the breakfast and lunch place T’s Bistro, which has its own wi-fi and the other is the Cafe Matisse, an Italian restaurant (with non-Italian waiters) where romantic dinners can be had in the open courtyard.