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Trip Report Turks & Caicos ~ Birthday trip report ~ June 4 - 8 (with photos)

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Returned on Monday from a fabulous trip to Provo. This was a trip for my Mom's 60th birthday and my good friend went along also, so it was a long girl's weekend. I have been to the island twice before..once in 2006 with my husband and then one year old daughter and then last October for a hurricane/bad tenant damage control trip with my friend and destination expect, Ramona.

We live in Maryland but flew out of Philly since it was $300 per ticket cheaper than flying out of BWI. Our flight was at 6:30 AM and I would later learn that the airport was locked down at 8 AM because someone tried to smuggle a gun through security. We got out just in time.

We rented a Corolla for the 4 days through Grace Bay Car Rentals. Great company and would highly recommend. This was my first time driving on the left and I was a little nervous. But I got the hang of it pretty quickly and actually enjoyed it. I found my way around pretty easily thanks to all the touring we did on the last trip.

I debated about staying at Royal West Indies again as we did in 2006 or trying out the Alexandra. We chose the Alexandra for this trip. The resort didn't quite meet my expectations overall but several aspects were great. The entrance and reception area are non-existent so to speak. And there is construction going on next door and we woke to the sounds of dump trucks etc each morning. We booked a one bedroom unit and panned to make use of the soda bed. Our room was a ground floor unit in the older, Prima Donna building. The units are relatively small. I think our studio at RWI was almost as big as this one bedroom. We had many issues this day with things not working such as the safe, ceiling fans etc. And there was an unpleasant odor in the room. The sofa bed was supposed to have been made up but was not. I was assured it would be ready by evening but after we returned from dinner later than night it still wasn't made up and at this point housekeeping was closed. By 11 PM, someone finally brought us a mattress pad which served as our blanket.

The pool area was nice but in need of sandblasting. The area by the swim up bar always seemed a bit dirty. The grounds looked a little unkempt..in need of weeding and mowing etc. The sunset deck was never open. They had it roped off during our entire stay.

But most important is the beach and for this, the Alexandra excels. They have a great stretch of beach front. Nice and wide and flat. And another very important amenity in my opinion is the type of beach chair. Alexandra has the good ones. I was hoping they did not have those awful strappy ones where your leg or butt can fall through at any given time.

After checking in an unpacking we went straight to the beach. And I finally got to see Grace Bay calm as as opposed to crashing waves. Just gorgeous. Standing in Grace Bay with sun on my shoulders and breeze in my hair, I was in my happy place. My Mom seemed so happy and relaxed as well. And off course I started happily snapping away with my camera.

Weather was really good. Only had a sprinkle one evening. It was a bit windy but we actually welcomed that as it would have been sweltering with no breeze. Most mornings it was cloudy but by beach time, it had cleared up and the sun was out for the rest of the day.

After some beach time, we headed to the new IGA to stock the room with drinks, snacks and breakfast food. Super nice store! Though if I were staying for a week and cooking most meals in, I would have headed to the big IGA for more selection. But this worked well for us.

That night was dinner at Hemingway's. I didn't have reservations this evening and was told we wouldn't need them but turns out we did. It would have been a super long wait for a table on the deck but they did have one right next to the singer that no one apparently wanted so we took that. So glad we did! Quentin was great. We really enjoyed his music during dinner and it wasn't too loud at all. Highlight of this meal were the conch fritters. Very good. I never get anything but seafood when in the Caribbean but this trip I tried two non seafood dishes (at different restaurants) and while they good, meat was quite dry in both cases.

The next morning I called to speak with someone about our room issues and was eventually offered a comparable room in the Marilyn building. Was told it would be 3rd floor but we ended up on the 5th floor with a great view. The decor was much nicer and the room smelled a lot better (though it did appear again though not as bad as in the first room). I was much happier here..though it was a pain to re-pack and lug all our stuff and groceries over. Thankfully we had a bellman who helped. The balcony was just great. Very large..another plus for the Alexandra. After settling in again, we hit the beach. Both my Mom and Allison got burned on this day. Thankfully I already had a decent tan. We lounged on the beach, read, swam, floated on our blow up raft and basically just relaxed. I also took my Mom and Allison on a tour of the Somerset and Palms. Later in the day we walked to Coral gardens for snorkeling. Longer walk than I thought but still fine. We saw fish but no turtles :( On the walk back, a couple who was there at the same time said they did see two turtles. Beaches is quite the eyesore. The new Italian tower/building though is very nice, very "un-beaches like."

Tonight we were packing a lot in...Nadine and Daniel at O'Soleil, dinner at Coco Bistro and then check out the Infiniti Bar. Got a good seat in the Zen Garden but NaDa started late and then kept having to stop because someone was giving a speech in the restaurant. They are very talented but of the 7 or so songs we heard, I only recognized a couple. Most were sung in Spanish and French. I think we probably would have enjoyed it more at a livelier venue like Da Conch Shack. Coco Bistro...LOVED this place. the setting is wonderful and the food was outstanding. Highlight of this meal was the warm chocolate banana bread pudding. mmmmmm. Then we hit the Infiniti Bar for a bit. When we got home, guess what? Sofa bed still not made and once again we got a mattress pad. Other issues in this room were non-working fans, a clogged sink and parts of the fridge and dryer just fell off. The next day I made sure to request a blanket early in the day.

Saturday we slept in then hit the beach for about an hour but opted for shopping in the afternoon in light of everyone's sunburns. I had made fun of my Mom for bringing SPF 70 sunscreen but they used it and still got color! We went to Hemingway's for lunch and had the fish tacos and Cuban sandwich. Both very good. Then we hit Saltmills and Ports of Call to shop. Interdecor is such a great shop. So many things I wish I could have bought but no way to them get home.

This evening was our horseback ride though it can hardly be called a ride, more of an adventure. We did not go with Provo Ponies only because they don't offer weekend rides (at least not until later in the summer). So I chose Caicos Corral. It all started with Fred picking us up at the hotel in his ancient pick-up with his Potcake, Shadow in the back. We stopped at an intersection and his truck died. Then he started cursing at the truck and all the people who rode by without stopping to help. He told us to get out and start pushing. So we all hopped out and pushed his truck down the road to a spot where he could pull it over. What a sight that must have been. We walked the rest of the way to his "stable" We are all beginners...none of us having ridden since we were 10. And even then just your standard pony ride. He must have forgotten that fact though and told me he through we all had experience. We were dressed completely wrong too. My horse was Freckles, the world's worst horse. Allison had Chiquita who looked like a donkey and my Mom had JP. It must have taken us 30 minutes just to move from the stable area. My mom and her horse did well. My horse and Allison's would not move or listen. W finally made it to the beach but instead of turning right toward the hotels, he said we needed to go left. I guess because we were having such a hard time with our horses. My horse just sat there no matter how much I made the kissy sound and kicked him. I made the mistake of telling Fred I didn't want to hurt Freckles. I got a long, mean lecture. I have to say he yelled at us quite a bit. And cursed. Once the horse decided to finally move he also ate everything in sight despite my constant yanking on the reins to get his head up. at one point he had a whole bush hanging from his mouth. And every time he ate, Fred yelled. And as an added bonus, a big thunderstorm was raging not too far away. I had visions of us getting thrown from the horses if this storm passed over us but thankfully it did not. We couldn't even finish the ride because my horse stopped again and would not move no matter what. So we turned back after Fred pulled out the whip. Don't get me wrong, we did have a nice ride at times when everyone was in motion but it was quite stressful..too stressful for vacation. My mom had a grand time though as she and her horse got on well. She was even trotting down the beach for a while. Allison's donkey horse was almost as bad as mine but not quite. We finally made it back and Fred ordered us to stay on the horses while he went to try to get his truck working. He finally made it back but he had to add water but as luck would have it, his water supply at the "house" stopped working. Eventually we made it home and just as we got out, he apologized for yelling. Fred is quite the character. He had his nice moments but overall he was a crotchety old man with zero patience. I would not recommend him for beginners.

Dinner this night was carryout sushi from Yoshi and a bottle of wine on our balcony. Oh and ready to bake chocolate chip brownies from IGA. A perfect evening. Then we all crowded in the soda bed to watch TV as we did most nights.

Sunday was another beach day in the morning..I saw a baby stingray off the beach but never was able to get close enough for it to look like anything but a dark blob moving across the bottom. We also took the kayaks out which was fun. After lunch on the balcony, we drove over to Chalk Sound. We oohed and aahed at the beautiful turquoise water. Found Taylor Bay and stopped at Sapodilla..which was surprisingly packed. Was also the full moon low tide so basically a very big marshy beach. Then I wanted to check out Aquamarine Beach Houses for a future trip. I was very impressed. They are much nicer than they appear on the website (though we only saw them from the outside). Would definitely stay here. Then we grabbed a pina colada from the bar and sat by the pool for a bit. My mom is not a drinker but she will have an occasional pina colada.

Dinner on Sunday was at Mango Reef. We had a very nice leisurely meal. Highlight was the tuna roll appetizer. Do not miss this. The Crème Brulee was also very good. I did some comparisons between the two resorts and would have to say that I like RWI better. I think Alex has nicer/bigger balconies and a nicer stretch of beach, but the mature grounds, bigger rooms and better restaurant onsite give RWI the edge. Plus I did not experience any issues with our room at RWI.

Just a comment about crime and safely...I actually forgot all about the recent events for a while because we felt totally safe. There was one instance though when we pulled up to the entrance of the hotel one evening around 7...there was a group of about 12 surly looking teenagers loitering and calling out things which I couldn't understand. But security was out there dealing with it and by the time we headed back out about 30 - 45 minutes later, the group was almost broken up. I did see security guards just about everywhere we went which was good.

Monday morning we went to the beach for a bit and saw a 7 week old Potcake that was up for adoption. His name was Little Bug. Sooo sweeet. A little black and white cutie pie. One day I will get one but we have enough pets as it is right now. Then on the way to the airport we hit a couple of shops that were closed on Saturday. All in all a great trip. Thanks to everyone for the advice and recommendations over the past few months. Now to combat the post vacations blues, I need to start planning next year's trip...

Below are two online photo albums. The first is a condensed Facebook album (don't need to be on Facebook to view) and the second is the fill Shutterfly album.

www.facebook.com/album.php…

share.shutterfly.com/action/welcome…

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