Land ho! We woke up after two days at sea docked at the port of Nassau – home of Graycliff Chocolatier. I’ve wanted to visit Nassau for a long time; ever since seeing its beauty in several ‘Bond, James Bond’ movies. We were all anxious to get ashore (the whole family and my friend Pam). I think Brian (son-in-law) was the most happy; he had a little motion sickness yesterday. I suppose that’s why he did a complete 360 barrel roll out of the hammock and hit the deck. I tried not to laugh because who among us has not done that? (Actually, my own barrel roll was out of an inner tube on the Guadalupe River a few years ago. Casey, my son, and Pam were there to see it and will never let me forget it.)
We caught a bus tour of the island, and the first thing we noticed was that we were driving on the ‘other’ side of the street. That and the colonial architecture were reminders of the Bahamas’ English heritage. I was glad to see they have lots of roundabouts instead of stop signs; those right-hand turns from the left lane made me nervous.
I was so excited because our first stop was the Graycliff Chocolatier retail shop and factory. I knew about Graycliff and their practices of using local and regional beans and promoting fair trade and organic farming in their process of turning “bean to bar.” I really admire them for that.
I loved the entrance, which appeared to have been carved out of gray stone. I wondered if that’s where their name came from but was never able to confirm it. After we climbed a few stone stairs and entered the shop, it was all shiny and modern. The aroma was heavenly and a smiling face offered us samples from behind the counter. That was Melissa; she was really cute and helpful; she smiled broadly when I told her I was going to write about her. Love you, Melissa! From my home in Dallas, I had communicated with Alisha, but she was working in the factory and our tour bus didn’t allow us time to take the factory tour. We’ll catch you next time, Alisha!
There was plenty to look at in the shop. A beckoning glass case was full of individual artisan chocolates, and shelves on the exterior walls overflowed with a scrumptious-looking variety of things. There were molded chocolate lipsticks, high heels, sand dollars, sea shells, cigars, and Scottie dogs, along with chocolate bars, barks, and cocoa. I fell madly in love with their chocolate-dipped strawberries. Just look at the picture – I’ve never seen chocolate-dipped strawberries rolled in so many nuts and chocolate chips, but I liked it – a lot.
I chatted with Melissa and maneuvered around the other customers to make my selections. I bought boxed bonbons and several molded chocolates. Back on the bus, we dug into everything and shared with the others in our tour group. There were lots of oohs and aahs; everyone agreed the chocolate was amazing. The bonbons were beautiful and definitely belonged in the high-end, gourmet category. The flavors were exquisite with just the right intensity. Some I had not heard of before, such as sea grape (flowering plant in the tropics) and genip/Spanish lime (fruit-bearing tree in the tropics) but they were delicious. There were also mango, coconut, the party-in-your-mouth sweet tomato-basil and bacon, and the ubiquitous rum flavor. We were all happy and a little sugar high by the time the bus made its next stop.
We shopped at the Straw Market near the Queen’s Steps leading up to the Old Fort of Nassau. Casey became quite popular while buying us all Nassau Christmas ornaments. We then climbed the stairs to the top of the fort, and the view of the island and harbor was spectacular.
Back on the bus our driver floored it so we would have time to visit the Atlantis Hotel and Resort. It was absolutely fabulous. I spotted Graycliff’s chocolate cigars in a lovely wooden box in the window of one of the very upscale shops. I’ll probably order those for Father’s Day next year.
We made it back to the Carnival ship loaded with chocolates and lots of shopping bags. I sat on the deck to watch the sun set and get a last look at Nassau as we embarked. I took out my little opera glasses and scoured the shoreline, imagining I might see Bond, James Bond. No such luck, so nothing else to do but go to the bar and have a martini – shaken not stirred.
Next stop: Freeport, Bahamas
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