Archive for May, 2012

Turks and Caicos Trip Report

As I mentioned in my last post, I have had the good fortune of vacationing in the Turks and Caicos Islands on a few different occasions. In the past I have visited close to the Christmas holiday with my family (see this post). This time, Ben and I planned a quick post tax season getaway. We left for Turks on Saturday April 21st and returned to Pittsburgh on April 25th.

(image from www.wherewhenhow.com)

We didn’t organize too much ahead of time. We rented a car through Grace Bay Car Rental and made a reservation at Coco Bistro for one night’s dinner. We also made a trip to Trader Joe’s, planning to cram some dried goods and snacks into our bags as grocery prices are high in the islands.  Our flight down was super easy, with a quick stop in Charlotte. By the evening of the 21st we were sitting on Grace Bay beach sipping rum punch.

We were staying at The Tuscany (c/o Uncle Dame – thank you!), on the island of Providenciales. Provo is one of  the most populated islands  of  TCI and contains most of the hotels and resorts.  We had fish tacos at the Ocean Club on the first night, watching the sun set over the ocean. Sigh.

The rest of our trip was extremely relaxing. Every morning involved a long beach walk. I was usually snapping photos and Ben was usually examining the local wildlife.

Here is Ben closely examining a conch shell. In TCI, conch is king. Or something like that. I think after this walk we wiki-ed conch to learn even more about it’s conch-ness. Did you know TCI is home to the only conch farm in the world? They are very proud of this fact. Ben and I actually spontaneously tried to visit the conch farm on one of our exploratory drives around the island but it was closing down for the day. And also looked super sketchy. Maybe next time Conch World.

Usually after our walk we would eat breakfast at our place and then lounge on the beach.  This is perhaps  my favorite beach activity.  (Books read on vacation: The Descendants: Dysfunctional but engaging, enjoyed it and have since seen the movie; Fifty Shades of Grey: Whyyyyy did I read this, horrible garbage writing, will not be continuing the trilogy; The Art of Racing in the Rain: Really beautiful and unique, very smartly written).

In the afternoons, we would grab a quick lunchtime sandwich, gather up our gear, and head out to explore the island.

This picture was taken while driving around Chalk Sound. Chalk Sound is located in the Southwest corner of the Provo island and is known for its turquoise waters. Beautiful.

(from www.turks-and-caicos-beach-vacation.com)

We ended up renting a tandem kayak from Las Brisas hotel/restaurant near Sappodilla Bay area of the sound and padelled around for an hour or two. We ran into no other boaters or kayakers on the sound. It was amazingly quiet and calm and relaxing.

The day we kayaked, we also hit up Da Conch Shack for dinner. This is a fun and super casual spot right on the beach in the Blue Hills area of Provo. We had fried conch (calamari-like) and conch curry. As some readers may know, my dad has a colorful history with his conch consumption and I hoped that I had not inherited his conch-hatin’ genes/stomach. No major issues to report although I’m not sure conch is something I will be craving anytime soon. A little too chewy for me.

On another day, we set out to find Smith’s Reef, supposedly the best ‘walk in’ snorkeling on the island. Smith’s Reef was somewhat near Turtle Cove (see map above). We used Tripadvisor directions and the help of a friendly security guard near a Turtle Cove residential area to navigate to some roadside greenery that apparently marked the spot of the reef. To our (my) relief, there was a pretty well worn path through the brush down to the beach and a few other snorkelers were in the water when we arrived. I have no pictures of this adventure but I saw lots of cool fish and a turtle. The turtle being the most awesome of course.  I had previously snorkeled off a boat while in TCI and this experience was a bit different. The waters at Smith’s Reef were not as clear or calm (also could have been the weather) and it can be a little disorienting to be 100 yards off shore swimming around by yourself. Also the reef was much closer to the surface than it had been while snorkeling from the boat. I did have one minor freakout as the coral got closer and closer and I couldn’t figure out what direction to swim in or where Ben was. He claims he was behind me during this ordeal and just saw a ton of bubbles and flailing limbs in my general vicinity. Fortunately, I lived to tell the tale and did not ram myself into any coral.

On our final afternoon in Turks, Ben provided entertainment for Grace Bay beach by setting up his slackline.

slacklinin’ all over the world

I provided encouragement and a cold Turks Head lager to this crazy/nimble man. I still can only walk on this thing by having Ben walk beside me  on the ground and allow me to claw at his shoulder/hair for balance. 

After slacklining commenced, it was time for our final night out in Turks. We had casual dinners or ate in most of the other evenings so decided to go to Coco Bistro on our last night. I devoured a lobster tail and Ben crushed some mahi mahi. We then joined forces and demolished fried bananas with ice cream for dessert. So good. I could eat lobster and fried bananas every day for dinner and be a very happy lady.

 We had a few remaining glorious hours on the beach on the morning of the 25th before catching our flight home. We walked and lounged and soaked in as much sunlight as possible. Until next time Turks… 

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April has been busy. And fun. And lovely.

Here is what I have been up to:

-One night, my nearest and dearest friends converged on my apartment and drank lots of wine. Then this happened:

-Myself, Ben, his parents, and my parents went to dinner at Root 174. I really like this place. We had fried brussel sprouts and mussels and artichokes and housemade kimchi and pork and sauerkraut and apple and green tomato cobbler. Yes, apple and green tomato cobbler. I was rolled home shortly thereafter. Although we BYOed when we went, I am hearing via Twitter that Root174 now has a liquor license and is also serving brunch. Fun stuff.

Root 174 on Urbanspoon

-With Ben’s parents in town, we also made a visit to Cafe at the Frick.  We sat outside on the unseasonably warm spring day and the setting was pretty much perfection. I ordered an iced tea and the mushroom flatbread and thoroughluy enjoyed all of it. I  have now also developed a slight ice tea obsession. Service was great. I can’t believe I have never been here, particularly considering I live about a half of a mile away.

cafe at the frick

Café at the Frick on Urbanspoon

-One random night, I made a pretty Cobb salad. Or my loose interpretation of a Cobb salad. Cooking has been low on the priority list recently.

-I went vacationing in the Turks and Caicos islands. I’ve now had the absolutely insane luck to have vacationed here multiple times and I still think its the most beautifully perfect beach I have ever been to. We stayed at the Tuscany on Grace Bay beach (c/o of the generosity of my uncle – thank youuuuu!) and enjoyed days filled with reading, snorkeling, kayaking, eating, and taking naps. The good life.

-I attended a most amazing family wedding at the Omni William Penn. My little cousin Emily was married to her high school sweetheart Eryk and I had the pleasure of being in her bridal party. The wedding weekend was a dream and filled with love and family and lots of dancing. I hope to blog about this one in more detail as it was just incredible!

And that was my April. Sweet for certain.

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