A Travellerspoint blog

Curacao Day 4: Iguana Nibbles

Mike slept in the next day until about noon. I spent the morning reading and enjoying the quiet view. We decided to drive to the other side of the island and check out a dive site called Playa Lagun. However, I decided that I was going to stick with snorkeling, no diving for me today. It took us about 30-40 minutes to drive to Playa Lagun, a small beach where locals like to hang out and barbecue. Condos, dive shops, and restaurants sit atop the tall cliffs that frame all sides of the bay.

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Before getting in the water, we decided to grab some lunch and a drink at the Bahia Grill overlooking the bay. I had a salmon salad sandwich and Mike had a ham and cheese tosti. During lunch, we were bombarded by iguanas. These guys were obviously fed by the bar because they had no fear of humans at all. As a matter of fact, one of them kept nibbling on my toes! My toenails were painted yellow and I believe he thought they were mangoes.

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After lunch, we went back to the car and Mike suited up in the parking lot. He had a problem with the o-ring on his tank but was able to fix the problem fairly quickly. Then we headed into the water.
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I stayed behind to snorkel while Mike took the camera diving.
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Anemone
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Crab
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Trunkfish
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Brain coral
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Ocean surgeonfish
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Various corals
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Tube sponge
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Blackbar soldierfish
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Blue tang
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Stoplight parrotfish initial phase
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Various types of parrotfish
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The usual reef tire
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Anemone
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Barrel sponge
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Spotted moray eel
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On my snorkel, I started along the left side of the bay and followed it around the corner, outside of the bay, along the rocks. I then came back across the bay to the right side and circled back to the beach. It was a fairly shallow snorkel with lots of fishlife and coral. I saw squid, trumpetfish, an eel, drumfish, and much more. It was the best place I snorkeled in Curacao.

We drove back home and then headed out to dinner to Mundo Bizarro, a colorful, Cuban-style restaurant across the bridge from Willemstad.
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Mike continued his sampling of the island's carpaccio by having the smoked ribeye carpaccio.
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I had a pork tenderloin stuffed with goat cheese and spinach with hand-cut fries.
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Both dishes were outstanding and the atmosphere of the restaurant was relaxing. After dinner, we went back to our house and downloaded all our photos we'd taken so far then called it a night.

Posted by deniseandmike 20:44 Archived in Netherlands Antilles Tagged curacao Comments (0)

Curacao Day 3: Diving at the Casa

Mike was in one of his moods and stayed up most of the previous night. He went snorkeling in the dark to check out the dive site right off the house. He then decided to do an early morning solo dive from the house. He went to about 70 feet. I was awake and sitting on the back porch when he got back. Since we were feeling kind of lazy, we decided to dive from home. But we were hungry so we wanted to get a bite of lunch first. We drove over to Pirate Bay, a beachfront restaurant at Piscadera Bay, just a few miles from the house. We came up with our dive plan while Mike had some French onion soup and I had chicken fettucine alfredo.

When we arrived back at the house, we carried our dive gear down the long flight of stairs to the sea. Mike had to first bring up his tank from the morning dive. It's a long haul up those stairs with a tank on your back.
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To get into the water from the bottom of the stairs, you must either put all of your gear on and go down the ladder or go down the ladder and put your gear on in the water. Either way was difficult for me, especially with my new, integrated weight BCD. I struggled. Mike struggled to help me. Again, it was not a good situation. Mike got frustrated. I got frustrated. So in the end, he again went solo diving and I decided just to snorkel. I was a little nervous about snorkeling in this area because the boat traffic was pretty heavy. I did have to constantly pull my head up to look around and make sure I didn't get smacked. The reef was a good ways down from the surface but I managed to see some decent fishlife including squid and a huge pufferfish. Mike went down to 143 feet but this time took the camera.

Yellowtail snapper
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Tube sponge
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Blackbar soldierfish
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Foureye butterflyfish
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Blackbar soldierfish with barrel sponge
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After the dive, Mike made us some pina coladas.
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View through the kitchen window
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Curacao bird (looks like a big-eyed dove)
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Tonight's dinner was a long drive to the north/western side of the island to a restaurant called Trio Penotti. It's located just across the road from Mt. Christoffel, the tallest point in Curacao. We were so tired we didn't take any dinner pictures which was unfortunate because we were entertained throughout our meal by several kittens running around the patio. Dinner was again tasty and I had a sirloin steak with potatoes while Mike had primavera soup and garlic shrimp with polenta. We crashed after the long drive back home.

Posted by deniseandmike 21:40 Archived in Netherlands Antilles Tagged curacao Comments (0)

Curacao Day 2: Iguana Love

After finally getting a good night's sleep, we woke up about 9:30 the next morning. We sat on the back porch for a while, enjoying the sea view and the wildlife and planning our day. We were on island time.
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Suddenly there was a commotion to our left. Two iguanas were rolling around next to the porch. We thought they were fighting at first but then...
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We got our dive gear together and drove over to Blue Bay, a condo development not far from our house. Diveversity dive shop is located there on a nice beach from which you can shore dive. We got registered with the dive shop and they gave us a tour of the facilities.
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We decided to grab some lunch at the on-site restaurant, Azzuro, before heading into the water. Mike had some more beef carpaccio (this would become an island staple for him) and I had fish and chips.
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After lunch, we suited up and headed into the water together; however, it soon became apparent that we needed to dive separately. I was having multiple problems with leg cramps, ear clearing, and mask flooding. Not to mention my panic was setting in. I was going to stay shallow. Mike set off for the depths. He went to 127 feet, seeing lots of lionfish. He left the camera at home for this dive. I stayed in the 25-foot range and unfortunately, didn't see much of anything. It was not a good first dive for me. So afterwards, we sat at the beach bar and had pina coladas.

We went home and got cleaned up for dinner. We had reservations at a restaurant called Kome in the Pietermaai district of Curacao. This area is across the bridge from Willemstad. It's an older part of the island currently being revitalized with hotels, restaurants, and bars.
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Kome is a tapas restaurant so we started with a couple of small plates of yellowfin tuna tartare with yucca chips and shrimp and funchi which included tasso ham and a poached egg in a Cajun cream sauce.
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The tuna was good but the shrimp and funchi was outstanding! It was so good, in fact, that Mike ordered another plate. I went with the octopus a la plancha--octopus with chorizo, romesco, baby potato, and salsa verde.
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The octopus was also outstanding! Even though it was our first full day on Curacao, this meal was our favorite of the week.
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After dinner, we drove back to the casino to gamble a bit. Mike played some roulette and I stuck with the slots. The woman on the machine NEXT TO ME won a $1K slot! I couldn't believe it. I lost $10.

Afterwards, we went back to the house and relaxed on our porch.

Posted by deniseandmike 20:40 Archived in Netherlands Antilles Tagged curacao Comments (0)

Curacao Day 1: Another Red Eye to Another ABC Island

Three years ago, we went to Bonaire and loved it. Since that time, we wanted to visit its sister island, Curacao, to see how it compared. Both islands are in the southern Caribbean, not far from the coast of Venezuela. Both islands have great shore diving and are part of the Dutch Netherlands Antilles. Bonaire has rocky beaches. Curacao has sandy beaches. Bonaire's dive sites are much more condensed and side-by-side. Curacao's dive sites require some driving about. Bonaire rolls up the streets by 10p. Curacao has more of a nightlife. On Scubaboard, they say that "Bonaire is where divers go to vacation and Curacao is where vacationers go to dive."

Our flight was leaving at an incredibly early 5:45a and I arranged for a car to take us to the airport at 3a. We decided it would be easier to just stay up all night and try to sleep on the plane. The excitement pretty much kept us awake and then a shower around 1:30a helped. We arrived at the airport to find that security wouldn't be open until 4:30a and there were no places open to get food or drinks. Our flight was on time and we set off for Miami. Unfortunately, the plan to sleep on the plane didn't go well. We arrived in Miami with a couple of hours to kill so we got some brunch at Island Time. I had a tasty, grilled mahi mahi sandwich and Mike had some ribs. We both had bloody marys. We left Miami on time but still arrived a little late in Curacao. We were the last in the immigration line because just as we got off the plane, Mike realized he left his brand new sunglasses on the plane. Of course, they wouldn't let him back on to get them nor would they go to his seat and find them for him. I guess some airport personnel is the lucky owner of a brand new pair of polarized glasses. After the usual to-dos upon entry, we met Robert from Just Drive who took us to his rental car company down the road to pick up our Toyota RAV4 with GPS. They had already set up our rental house in the GPS so all we had to do was hop in the car and go.

The main town of Curacao is Willemstad which is on the southern or eastern portion of the island. Many of the beaches and diving areas are on the northern or western portion of the island. I tried to choose lodging somewhere in the middle because I knew we would want to be in one area for beaches/diving during the day and in town for dinner at night. I found the perfect home, right on the water, mid-island, in a fishing village called St. Michiel.
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Master bedroom
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Master bathroom
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Second bedroom
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Second bathroom, with outside door
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View from livingroom window to front yard
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We met with the property manager, Nathaly, and got things settled in then drove down to the corner store to get some beer, Cokes, and snacks. We had 8:00p dinner reservations at a restaurant on the water so we went into Willemstad early to look around. Mike was excited to check out the casino so we drove to the Renaissance where there is free parking in the garage. The Renaissance casino is the biggest in Curacao and has roulette, blackjack, and slots. We just had time for a couple of slots then walked through Riff Fort and down the waterway to our dinner locale, Governeur de Rouville.
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Governeur is a beautiful, local restaurant with a balcony view of the downtown waterway and the Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge.
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We started with some tropical drinks and beef carpaccio. Mike ordered a pina colada and I ordered a prosecco with blue curacao.
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For dinner, I had shrimp in garlic sauce with gratin potatoes and vegetables and Mike had spare ribs (for the second time today).
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While we were finishing up dinner, a huge cargo ship came through the canal. It was so gigantic that everyone stopped what they were doing to watch it. It seemed like it might not even fit through the waterway.
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The Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge is a pedestrian bridge across the waterway in downtown Willemstad. It was built in 1888 and opens and closes when necessary for oceangoing vessels to pass through the waterway. When it's open, ferries are used to take pedestrians across to each side.
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After dinner, we went back to the casino and played roulette for a while then relaxed on the back porch, heading to bed about 12:30a.

Posted by deniseandmike 11:01 Archived in Netherlands Antilles Tagged curacao Comments (0)

England Day 10: Come Together

Our last full day in England began with a phone call from Mike's friend we visited in Wivenhoe, Debs. She was trying to find someone to pick up her daughter from school so that she could come into London and meet us on our last day. Our phone minutes were just about out so Mike ran down to the corner store to top them off so we could make and receive calls from her the remainder of the day. In case she made it into the city, we rearranged our plans for the day and decided to head north to Abbey Road. But first we stopped off at Borough Market because Mike wanted some more truffle oil. Unfortunately, the truffle oil booth was closed so we ended up buying some other goodies for friends back home instead. We hopped back on the tube and made the ride to Abbey Road for the obligatory zebra crossing pictures.
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And then there was Abbey Road Studios itself, the studio where the Beatles had their last recording sessions all together before releasing the album Abbey Road in 1969,
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While walking back to the tube station from there, we got a call from Debs so we sat on a cement wall for a few minutes. This flirty little car was parked on the street where we sat.
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Debs was still unsure about her situation so we took the tube back to Westminster and grabbed some fish and chips at the Story Wine Bar in Parliament Square. The plan was to visit Westminster Abbey but by the time we made it back, ate lunch, and dealt with a few more phone calls we ran out of time. And Debs was unable to make it anyway. I was pretty upset about missing Westminster Abbey but maybe one day we'll be back either on another trip or a long layover on our way somewhere else.

We went back to the apartment and began packing and cleaning up in anticipation of leaving the following day. We wanted to get all of that done so we didn't have to do it after dinner later. Mike wanted to have dinner on the Butler's Wharf riverfront and had previously picked out Brown's by reading menus when we passed by. We still had some time before our reservation so we decided to go back to The Vault for some tasty mulled wine.
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After warming up with mulled wine, we braved the cold once again and walked the short way back to Brown's. If it had been warm enough to sit outside, the view would have been spectacular.
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Unfortunately, it was freezing so we sat inside. We tried to start out with some martinis but they were out of olives. Surprisingly, this is a common problem for us. Maybe we should start traveling with our own. So we switched to our standard rum and Coke and gin and tonic. We shared a crab and avocado stack as an appetizer.
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For our main dish, we both ordered the lobster tagliatelle.
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Both dishes were good. We were exhausted after dinner so we went back to the apartment and went to bed, very glad that we had already packed and were ready to leave in the morning.

We awoke the next morning to a foggy, drizzly kind of day.
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We said goodbye to our home for the last six days and a private car took us to Heathrow. Our direct flight to Dallas was on time and we arrived home safe and sound. This trip had been a different kind of trip for us, more planned activities and more of a schedule than we were used to. Mike really enjoyed spending time with his friends in Wivenhoe and all of the Beatles's sights in Liverpool. I was blown away by the "historicalness" of it all. We enjoyed being on our own, taking the tube, and having our little oasis to return home to each evening. We ate some great food and since returning home have perfected our own mulled wine recipe. I'm sorry that we missed some of the major sights but we did visit all of the sights that were most important to us.

Posted by deniseandmike 15:53 Archived in England Tagged london england Comments (0)

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