During our recent trip to Grand Cayman, Brian and I celebrated our 12th year of marriage. This was a last minute, impromptu getaway that turned into a very relaxing and quite magical trip. We stayed at one of our favorite places, The Westin on seven mile beach in Georgetown, smack dab in the middle of it all yet very quiet and relaxing at the same time.
Our history with the island is vast, Brian took me here for the first time in 2001 and introduced me to scuba diving, I was certified for open water diving on the East End of Grand Cayman. The years that followed saw two to three visits a year for dive trips with friends from Michigan, and close to 300 dives logged on the deep Cayman trench. We were chased off the island during a stay at Rum Point by tropical storm Isabella, and we watched in horror from afar as Ivan engulfed the island and destroyed nearly everything. We visited six months post Ivan for a group dive trip hoping some of the money we spent there would help in the recovery. Each visit now feels like coming home, even though things have changed so much in 13 years, there is still that distinct Caymanian feel that sets it apart from all other Caribbean islands.
The temperatures and humidity in August in Cayman tend to keep the crowds at bay, which is just the way we like it. The traffic in Georgetown is low, tables at restaurants are plentiful, and there is always a chair and umbrella available on the beach. I did not dive on this trip, but I gladly stayed back while Brian walked up the beach to catch the boat each morning. This was only after he had schlepped the paddle board we had rented for the week down four flights of stairs.............yes........everyday, morning and night, you see it didn't fit in the elevator and we couldn't just leave it on the beach ! My hero, he is beyond kind to me and really made sure that this trip was filled with fun activities. Oh and by the way, The Waterman surf shop in Georgetown, http://www.waterman.ky/#!theteam/cq4e , great place to rent a board, sign up for SUP yoga or Paddlefit, learn Kiteboarding or wake boarding, or buy a great swim suit. Our aussie friend Damian was beyond helpful with our latest rental, delivering the board to the hotel and picking it up when we were finished.
An anniversary wouldn't be complete without a romantic dinner together, its one of our favorite ways to celebrate. There are many wonderful places available on Grand Cayman for fine dining, a couple of years ago we enjoyed Eric Ripperts restaurant, Blue at the Ritz Carlton. The food was memorable but the atmosphere for us was a bit cold. I did a bit of research before this trip and I remembered a restaurant that we couldn't get a reservation at the last time we were on Cayman. The Grand Old House is located in the original structure of a stately home built in 1908 for a prominent Boston business man. A restaurant since 1960, the establishment is now owned by a group of caymanians and has one of the best wine cellars on the entire island. The most intriguing aspect of the wine list for us was the amazing collection of Castarede Bas armagnac. Castarede is one of the oldest armagnac trading houses in the world, established in 1832 and located in the Bas Armagnac region of France, it has cellars over 100 years old. The Grand Old House has bottles of armagnac dating all the way back to 1881. The price for a shot is by request, but for a mere 230.00 CDI you could try the 1893 vintage. We had discussed which year we would try for a couple of weeks before our trip. I had thought 1912 would be fun, the year the Titanic sank, you know a toast to those lost at sea, or perhaps 1953 the year of Elizabeth II coronation, maybe 1929 the year my Dad was born ? It really was fun to try to come up with a year that would be the most interesting for us both.
We enjoyed wonderful service during dinner from our northern italian/german/french waiter Nino. Very interesting life story he shared, translator Mom, country to country, speaking four languages himself. Oh the life of a 24 year old............one can only dream. Nino was kind enough to give us some tips regarding our pending trip to Vienna, he even went so far as to prepare some "Gluwein" (pronounced glue-vine) for us. This is something that we should seek out in the cool October temperatures on the streets of Vienna, a mulled wine that will appear with the fall season. Thanks Nino !
Now for the magic. During our meal a harp player came into our dining room, he played a tune at the next table and then came over to play for us. We were asked if there was anything we would like to hear, how about something classical ? Well three notes into the piece it is obvious that he is playing Pachebels Canon in D, the song I walked down the aisle to. Brian denies prior planning or bribery, it is just a simple case of kismet, one of those moments in time that you have to grasp and hold tight to before it evaporates, and then thank the universe for the love. Once I stopped sobbing and could see my husband through my tears I realized he was misting up too.
The only thing left was dessert and armagnac, but which year ????? Well the decision was made, I wanted something to drink that was bottled before I was born and Brian would like to celebrate the year of his birth. Smooth, sweet, a hint of smoke, vapors that clear the head, 1960 was a good year.