The major city is Georgetown. Georgetown has a lot of shopping to offer, but the hours are more catered to the cruise ship traffic. Some shops even have different hours of operation depending if there is a cruise ship in port on that day
or not! A lot of the shops and restaurants in Georgetown close up early in the day. Most of your shops and restaurants along Seven Mile Beach will be open later to a more normal business operating day.
One of the more interesting towns in Grand Cayman is literally called Hell
. Hell is a very small town on the northern part of the western side of Grand Cayman. It was named Hell because of the short, black limestone formations
. It looks jagged and unusual due to biokarst. Biokarst is when algae, bacteria, and fungi “eat” away at the limestone to give it this other worldly look. There is the world famous Hell gift shop here, along with some smaller shops by the local post office where you can send back postcards from Hell!
There are a lot of dining options on the island. There is a rising food truck scene on the island! We happened to come across Smokin Bros on a drive back from the beach. Their sandwiches and meats are to die for!
The sauce is amazing too! There are two restaurants owned by the same family that are awesome. Chicken Chicken is one of them, a quick serve joint with wood cooked chicken
and a lot of different sides to choose from. They also own Cimboco, a sit down Caribbean restaurant. I had the jerk shrimp pasta
there and it was a fantastic meal! If you are looking for more fine dining, Lobster Pot will be up your alley. It is located in Georgetown and has a variety of seafood. I had the snapper, Cayman style
. It was different, but appetizing!
One of the most amazing things I have ever done was on this trip. That is taking a boat out to Stingray City
and getting kissed by a Stingray! I ended up booking a tour thru Captain Marvin’s
. The representative on the phone was very helpful and discouraged us from booking the two-stop tour (“That’s more for cruise passengers and I have 120 booked for that tomorrow.”) to a three-stop tour (“There’s only 19 people booked and you’ll have the whole sandbar to yourself.”) I was very happy in the end for listening to her advice! It costs $45 per person for the three-stop tour. We took the 10AM tour, which I thought would be in the middle of cruise traffic. Once we checked in, drove out to the boat, and got settled; we took off right for Stingray City. Stingray City came to be because the local fisherman would clean out their daily catch at that sandbar, which attracted Stingrays, and they have been coming back ever since! The phone representative was right! There was only us and one other small catamaran out on the sandbar. It was awesome to have all the stingrays swimming around you and right up to you. The legend is that if you get kissed by a stingray, you’ll get seven years of good luck! Of course, we partaken in this!
The other two stops were snorkeling stops with a lot of fish to see! The surprising part was the boat ride back, we saw literally a fleet of boats after boats loaded with people heading to Stingray City! I could only imagine what it’s like to be there with that many people, so I highly recommend you take the earlier tour times!
Grand Cayman is an amazing island to check out! I wished I had more time to just relax on the beach, but until then, I will have to long for returning to that tropical paradise!
Once we got into Rome, we took one of the local Trenitalia train lines to get to our hotel. The one-way fare was only 8 euro for the hour and 20-minute ride with a transfer. We stayed at the Courtyard Marriott Central Park, which is located conveniently near a local bus and train stop. I ended up getting a room with an amazing view of St. Peter’s Basilica. I didn’t have time to admire the view, as we had to rush over to the Colosseum for our tour reservations! We took an Uber right to the Colosseum for about 35 euros.
The entrance and tour package allows you to skip the line, which was a huge help. The third ring tour was 12 euros, plus a 2-euro reservation fee. You still must buy a ticket to get in the Colosseum, which was 9 euros. The total package was 23 euros. Once you pass security, you must stop by a ticket booth to collect a physical ticket and get a sticker for the tour. The third ring/underground tour was amazing. They let you out onto the arena floor where the gladiators fought. The tour also lets you down into the underground tunnels, as well as the top tier of the Colosseum. Hang on to your ticket into the Colosseum, as that is good the Roman Forum and Palatine area close by! You could attempt to walk it all in one day, or break it out over 2 days; but the ticket only allows one entrance into each landmark.
We decided on doing the Roman Forum the same day as the Colosseum. It is A LOT of walking around the old ruins of the Forum and Palatine hills, but it’s a sight to see one of the oldest city centers in the world. After a few hours of walking around the ruins, we walked up to another famous landmark, Trevi fountain. Trevi fountain is the largest Braque fountain in Rome. It was built in 1762 to supply Rome with water via the Acqua Vergine. Lots of tourists throw coins into the fountain. The proper way according to the 1954 movie Three Coins in the Fountain is for the coin to be thrown using the right hand over the left shoulder. It is said in the movie that if you make a wish to return to Rome once you throw the coin, you will.
Once I made my wishes at the fountain, we headed back to the hotel via subway to freshen up and meet up with a big travel group at Tonnarello. Tonnarello is an excellent Italian restaurant near the Tiber river. I had the cheese and pepper pasta, a traditional Roman dish. The pasta was good for the 8.50 euros it cost!