Sunday 19 June 2016

Nassau - The republic of Pirates

As to compensate that we didn't get our spring vacation while we went to study in Florida, we went on a cruise in the end of the stay. It was a 5 days cruise, 4 night from Miami Beach to Nassau (The capital city of Bahamas), Cococay and Key West.

We went with Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas which is a 268m long beautiful ship with a friendly crew and awesome food. Read more about the whole cruise experience here (coming soon).

As the history geek i am i started to do some research as soon i knew which islands of Bahamas we were going to visit. It is a good idea to start the resarch at home and bring it with you, because the internet on board is crazy expensive and the roaming deal you can get is often only in the US which do NOT include Bahamas, even though some think that Bahamas is a part of US.

The capital city of Bahamas is known for pirates. Lots of them! Popular movies like Pirates of the Caribbean actually takes place in Nassau at some point  because the area was once called the Republic of Pirates between 1709 to 1718 before the brits came and claimed it back. Lot's of famous pirates have been living there! And just to mention one that everyone knows; Blackbeard was one of the pirate captains to live in Nassau.
I found a lot of stuff to see but sadly we didn't have enough time to see much of it. I wanted to see Blackbeards Tower but it was simply too fare away from the port so we went to see The Queens Staircase instead. It was kind of hard to find because they don't have any sign that says "This way!" and when we passed a hospital we were sure that we were going the wrong way. Then suddently there was a guy in front of us. He was a voluntary guide and told as a long story about the place and how it was made my hand of slaves. He was really sweet and funny and we gave him a few dollars for the guiding.

When you reach the top of the stairs you end up near the water tower and Fort Fincastle that was build in 1793, same year as the Queens Staircase and build by the same bastard. As far as i remembered was the staircase build by slaves so that they could flee from the Fort faster when you got attacked, but they never got attacked! So it was kind of a waste of the slaves lives. The british queen freed the slaves and that's why they call it The Queens Staircase today. Simply to honor the queen. If you are going to visit the place one day, i hope there will be a guide that was as interesting as the one we had. He also told us about the best photo spots and showed us where you could see where the slaves used picks to make the huge gab into the rocky hill.
The one thing that annoyed me about the place was the market stalls when you get up the stairs. Some of the locals was selling god knows what and everyone was yell at you to come buy stuff. I'm the kind of person that just get scared of that kind of them and runs past them all, not even looking at their stalls. At least they didn't grab you like they do in some other countries.
Our guide at Queen's Staircase

Fort Fincastle
Nassau is the place where every cruise ship in Bahamas ends up and that does show in the kind of stores that are in the "main street" Bay Street right at the port. When you get past all the crazyness of people that want to sell you all kinds of souvenirs as soon you leave the ship, you get to a lot of shops only with jewelry, handbags and shoes. Even though it was cheaper than in the US - and everywhere else i guess - it is still not something that i could afford.
But at Bay Street you can find a huge old building called Straw Market which is kind of like Camden Market in London. It's a huge hall with small stalls that sells pretty much everything and the sellers are sitting in front of their stalls and calls people over. I think i got called Sweetheart a dozen times in there because they are not overrunning you like at some markets but they do want your attention.

A thing i want to add is that you can actually use your American Dollars in Bahamas but when they give you money back it is often Bahamas Dollars which you can't use i the US. They are really pretty though so if you collect coins it's worth just buying a small thing to get your hand on them!

Straw Market and Bahams cents

A fun little nerdy detail!
If you (like me) like to play video games, you may have run across the Assassin's Creed games. The fourth game called Assassin's Creed: Black Flag is about a pirate called Edward Kenway. The whole game is about the area and the Republic of Pirates. In the game you meet Blackbeard and he becomes your companion in the battle against the spanish and brits that want to take over Bahamas again. In the game you are running around Nassau and even though The Queens Staircase wasen't made at the time of the Republic of Pirates, the game developers placed it in the game anyway because it is such a big part of Bahamas history. Many of those who live there today are related to the slaves that was freed back then.
The Pirate King aka Henry Every that is now known from the game Unchanted 4, did also come across Nassau in 1696. He kind of made it a safe place for pirates to trade goods already back then.
My own picture vs my screenshot from Assassin's Creed: Black Flag

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