Nassau & FL Dec 1 - 9, 2006
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We originally booked a cruise, so we had one set of tickets that was from Appleton - Chicago - Tampa and then returned home that way. We decided to axe the cruise, so we still kept those portions of the tickets so we didn't lose that money and booked another set of tickets to Nassau. We were supposed to get into Tampa early evening Fri and then fly out to Nassau first thing Sat morning. There was supposed to be a huge storm to hit O'Hare, so our plan was to get to our airport for the first flight out and then wait it out in O'Hare so if something happened we'd at least be at a big airport. We get to our airport at 4:30am. We were flying on United, so they only fly Appleton to Chicago. When we checked in they were telling everyone to go home as they wouldn't be flying that day. We needed to get to FL that night, since our second set of tix were not in the same booking and we'd lose those, plus the hotel was past the cancelation point. We went over to wait for the Northwest counter to open and try to get to FL through Minneapolis. For whatever reason the United lady then rebooked us on Midwest Express and we were going to fly into Milwaukee and then into Tampa. They said Milwaukee was starting to get snow, but they thought they'd be able to get us into Milwaukee and out before they shut down the airport there. Our flight to Milwaukee was supposed to leave at 6am and then leave Milwaukee at 7:00am. It's only a 1/2 hr flight from our place to Milwaukee. The plane was delayed leaving Appleton and they called us to the counter and told us we'd miss our plane to Tampa and gave us new boarding passes for the afternoon flight. So around 7:15 our plane finally leaves to Milwaukee. Due to all the snow we didn't get to the gate until 8am. We ran across the airport to hope the flight to Tampa was delayed. The gates were already closed, but the lady let us onto the plane and even said they'd hold the plane while our luggage was transferred. By us doing that, we probably ruined almost the whole plane's passengers first day of vacation. We watched our luggage get loaded in, listened to the final flight attendant talks and then they announced, "everyone off the plane, the airport is shutting down". Darn it! If we weren't so concerned about our bags, that flight would've been off the ground!! Get off the plane and the gate people tell us the aiport is going to update in another hour at 9:30am on the status of reopening. At 9:30am they said the airport was going to be shutdown until at least noon and that flight was cancelled and there was no room left on the afternoon flight nor could then even confirm if would fly and everyone would need to try again tomorrow. We still had our boarding passes from earlier in the day for a 2:45pm flight, so we had to sit there and wait. Around noon, planes started flying again. At 3pm, they still hadn't even boarded. They announce the airport is shutting back down. It opens back up later in the evening and we finally get out. So that is the end of our exciting day of flying. We spent 18 hours at the airport and on the plane before finally landing in Tampe. In Tampa we just went out our hotel and then back to the airport a few hours later for the flight to Nassau. We connected through Ft Lauderdale and each plane only had like 9 seats, no F/A's and no curtain between us and the pilots. It was cool, since we were seated right behind then and could watch the landing out their window.
We arrived in Nassau around noon on Saturday and we stayed there until Thursday morning. We stayed at the Atlantis. That place is so huge and amazing. A great beach and a ton of watery type stuff (lazy rivers, pools and water slides). That was our first time in the Bahamas. All my friends told me what great shopping was there. What a joke. Nothing but knockoffs. Then for the real brands, purses and watches were a whole $10 cheaper then in the states (but you did save the sales tax). On Sunday, everplace is closed in Nassau (except the stores/restaurants in our resort). Also every day at 5pm, everyplace closes down - but at least the restaurants were opened at night then.
We did alot of snorkeling. Some mornings, we'd get up at 6am and go right in the ocean at the resort. We also took a few boat snorkeling trips. We went diving at a wreck site (sunken airplane), to just a regular reef, to a site where there are a lot of sharks (like 6' long reef sharks and the guides estimated we were in the water w/ 50-60 of them) and then to a site with about 30 stingrays. We did a swim with dolphins. They did the dance, kiss and the foot push with us. That dolphin almost got me standing up straight on the foot push. We also did a tour of the city. It took us to some old Forts and also to a zoo. The zoo is known for all these flamingos that roam free, so that was pretty cool. Then on our own we ate at the traditional "safe around the world places" such as Senor Frogs and Hard Rock Cafe. And ate a couple local places for seafood. We also went to a pirate musem. That was about it for the Bahamas. It was cool, but we probably won't go back to the Atlantis for quite some time. Other then Vegas, I like to see new stuff, so hopefully the next place will either be Belize or the Caymans.We left Nassau on Thursday morning and flew into Orlando. Got to Orlando around 11am. From there we headed to the Kennedy Space Center, as the shuttle was supposed to launch that night. That place was such a madhouse all day Thursday. We sat around freezing (ok it was only like 55, but you still needed gloves and a jacket :) waiting for the shuttle to launch. Earlier during the day NASA thought it'd be cancelled since the clouds were too low in FL, but then later in the day it cleared up so it was all go. There was a 5 minute window the shuttle could launch in. They counted down to the start of the 5min window and just waited. Finally they counted down from the 30second remaining time to zero and were like "OK we are scrubbing the launch for tonight". The clouds were back. The next day, Mike wanted to go to Daytona USA which is like some track tour and museumy type thing in Daytona Beach. Boring for me. After that we went to Chic-Fil-A. For 4 years, I have wanted to go to a Chic-Fil-A, but everytime I am around one it happens to be a Sunday and they are closed. It was good, but the buns were kinda blah. After that we went back to Kennedy to take a launch pad tour (as that was closed the day before). So at least we saw the shuttle sitting on the pad. Later in the evening we headed down to Cocoa Beach to hit Ron Jon's. What a place that is. It's like a whole city block and open 24x7. Mike has this whole tiki bar theme he's working on, so we got some great stuff for the tiki bar. Saturday we needed to head back to Tampa for our flight back to WI. We arrived in Tampa early morning and went to Hard Rock Casino. I heard it wasn't like a real casino, but we ended up spending qutie a few hours there. After that we bummed around Tampa to see the city and then finally home.