On Friday morning we arrived in Freeport, Bahamas, which is located on Grand Bahama Island. This was a relatively short stay, with arrival around 8:00 a.m. and departure around 1:30 p.m. Rather than trying to figure out how to fill that time on our own, we made a ‘spur of the moment’ decision the night before to go on a ‘gardens and city tour’ excursion.
Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t cooperating. When we went ashore for the excursion, it was raining. It continued to rain through the bus ride to the Garden of the Groves, and through the first thirty or forty minutes of our tour there. We got pretty wet, but had a good time anyway.
Garden of the Groves
Wallace and Georgette Groves were the founders of Freeport, Bahamas, and they have left an indelible mark on the community there. The Garden of the Groves is a lovely garden and retreat dedicated to their memory. It has a lot of native plants, some imported plants, a small chapel (which is a replica of the one that the Groves had built for their workers), and all kinds of animals—ducks, turtles, herons, and more.
The Groves were also [apparently] Catholics, and came from Virginia. They were buried at the Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Church in Freeport.
As I mentioned, it rained for the first thirty or forty minutes of our two-hour tour of the gardens. We got a bit drenched, but I still managed to get a bunch of good photos. Soon enough the rain stopped, and I got some even-better photos.
The highlight for me was some great, close-up photos of a number of birds at the gardens, as well as a nice close-up of a turtle. In addition there was a lot of great, Catholic symbolism, including a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary and a contemplative labyrinth.
Lucaya Market and Conch
After finishing up at the gardens, we took a fifteen minute bus ride to the Lucaya Market. This was a somewhat typical cruise-port market, with diamond stores, restaurants, clothes stores, and more. The only unusual thing about it was that it was located some distance away from the cruise terminal, whereas these stores are usually right off the gangway.
Our tour guide at the Gardens had recommended a restaurant for lunch (but I can’t remember the name). Since we Catholics are required to abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent, Melissa and I both opted for conch dishes. We had a conch fritter appetizer on Paradise Island, which was good, but most of what we tasted was the breading and spices. Here, I opted for a conch patty (burger) and Melissa opted for a fried conch dish. Both were very good.
Conch tastes like something half-way between calamari and clam, but it’s a bit sweeter. We both liked it. It’s about darn time I started getting a taste for conch, considering that I was born in the Conch Republic (also known as Key West, Florida).
Anyway, after having our conch lunches, we boarded the bus to take us back to the ship. Upon our return we went back to our cabin and had a relaxing afternoon of photo processing and idle chit-chat before dressing for our second formal night. We had some more photos taken, and went to dinner in the dining room.