Bahamas Princess Resort and Casino

Friday, March 9, 2018 1 No tags Permalink

Note: this post is a compilation of previous posts on the Bahamas Princess Resort and Casino. 2018 Update Below.

Bahama Princess

The Bahamas Princess Tower
Freeport, Bahamas

Photo by B.J. (Chris) Lothian
Ernie’s Studio & Camera Center, Ltd., Freeport, Grand Bahama, W.I.

So, here’s the backstory on this one. Mom and Dad went to the Bahama Princess (and stayed in the Country Club) when my sister and I were quite young (pre-1980?). Years later, they took us there on vacation (we stayed at the Tower). The Bahamas Princess Resort and Casino was a phenomenal place, sitting on 1,000 acres with pools and a casino. It was right next to the International Bazaar.

The Princess resort was built sometime in the 1970s and was a pretty big deal. Sometime after our visit in the early 90s, the Princess Towers became Bahamia Royal Oasis Resort, owned by Driftwood Properties (it seems the country club became the Sunspree Holiday Inn around that same time). As late as the year 2000, the Resorts at Bahamia was still in business. But things changed, and several tropical storms/hurricanes hit the Bahamas. The business closed down.

In 2007, the Royal Oasis Resort was purchased by Harcourt Development Group for $33 million. They had plans to transform the site into the Crowne Plaza Golf Resort and Casino at the Royal Oasis. Then the financial meltdown of 2008 happened. The Crowne didn’t open.

Closed and abandoned for so many years,  on September 23, 2010 a fire broke out at the Towers on the 7th floor:

I sent an email to Harcourt Development Group, inquiring as to the status of this lovely resort, but didn’t get a response.

I dug up some family photos from maybe 1991, for your viewing pleasure. I skipped the one where I was having my hair beaded and braided.

Casino view:

bahama princess casino

Princess Tower:

bahama princess tower

View from our room in the Princess Tower:

bahama princess tower view

The International Bazaar:

internationalbazaar

This article in the Freeport News (autumn 2013) discusses the International Bazaar, which is currently up for sale. The location has 85 retail stalls.

As of November 2013, Harcourt Developments was still listing the Royal Oasis like it’s a fully functioning, open business. I again emailed them to see if they can provide an update on the development, and again I did not hear back.

Looking around in January 2014, I found another link for the Royal Oasis Resort Hotel, Casino and Convention Center, this one from AECOM Capital. From their website:

The Royal Oasis is a well-established resort hotel located about 10 minutes from the airport, adjacent to the International Bazaar. While not located on the beach, the hotel complex is renowned for the tropical settings of its pool areas, which offer respite for guests after nights in the casino or out on Grand Bahama Island.

AECOM provided masterplanning and full design services for the existing 300,000 square foot, 400-room hotel, as well as for the 45,000 square foot casino and 55,000 square foot convention facility. In addition, a new 350,000 square foot hotel tower was added that includes 250 rooms as well as a new lobby, spa and fitness center. New residential 1, 2, and 3 bedroom 650 timeshare units were also part of the project scope.

I contacted both the company and one of the principal architects and once again haven’t heard anything at all. The Freeport News notes in this article that the International Bazaar is still for sale.

2018 Update

Apparently The Freeport News likes to steal photos. This article about the West Sunrise Highway reopening uses my photo above, the view from our room in the Princess Tower and they credit themselves with the image. You can see they cropped the photo, but my watermark still partially shows on the top of the ‘b’ on catobear.com. I have the original print, which was scanned in.

Here’s their website:

Here’s my original scanned photo with watermark:

I appreciate the reporting on the Bahama Princess, but I’d like to be credited for my own photos in other articles, and linked back to my website.

Anyhow, on to the update article, which I have linked and included the text as sometimes things disappear on the internet.

This article (link here, text below in case the link eventually fails, by Denise Maycock, Tribune Freeport Report, dmaycock@tribunemedia.net) tells a more recent update of the Bahama Princess after another hurricane and a more uncertain fate:

WHILE the island of Grand Bahama is now in restoration mode post Hurricane Matthew, the old Royal Oasis resort property and the International Bazaar in Freeport have fallen into further disrepair.

The main entrance dual thoroughfare is littered with debris, and some of the tall Royal Palms and decorative lamp posts lining the entry-way were blown down in the storm.“

It is an eyesore within an eyesore, if that’s possible. This area was once the gem of Freeport and it is sad to see it in such poor state,” said one Freeport resident.

The 500-room tower resort, and the 900-room country club and timeshare, was the island’s premier anchor resort property for many years. The casino was the main attraction and visitors flew in from the US to gamble and enjoy Freeport’s nightlife, while staying at the hotel.

Guests would shop at the nearby International Bazaar which housed souvenir shops, retail stores, restaurants and bars.

In 2000, the Princess Resort properties were sold to Driftwood, which changed the hotel’s name to Royal Oasis Resort and Crowne Plaza. The developers closed off West Sunrise Highway, a major road artery that passed through the property.

The Bazaar thrived off the resort, which had high occupancies and employed about 1,500 persons. Hundreds of Bahamians were also employed in the various shops there.

In August 2004, Hurricane Frances struck and the resort was severely damaged. The developers closed the property, leaving thousands of workers jobless. Businesses at the Bazaar were also affected and many merchants were forced to close or relocate to the Port Lucaya Marketplace.

The only remaining merchants are the Asian restaurants and a few straw vendors.

Harcourt Development later purchased the Royal Oasis resort property, but was unable to redevelop and open the hotel and casino property due to lack of sufficient funding. The hotel and Bazaar deteriorated after years of neglect.

When The Tribune visited the property recently, it looked like a jungle of dried up trees and overgrown vegetation and there appears to be no urgency to clean up and remove debris.

Meanwhile in Port Lucaya, restoration work has commenced at the Marketplace and stores are expected to open when power is restored there.

Royal Oasis was bought by Harcourt Development Group in 2007.

If you like international hotels, you might like these:

Hotel Ponce Intercontinental

Bluebeards Castle

La Concha Puerto Rico

Windsor Ontario 2014

Monday, July 7, 2014 0 No tags Permalink

Fourth of July Vacation – Windsor Ontario 2014

Last week was the Fourth of July, and Bob and I got away with a mini-vacation! We started out on Thursday evening, catching a show at Tibbits Opera House. Some of you may know I used to play professional summerstock in the pit orchestra at Tibbits. We haven’t been to a show since the last one I was in seven years ago. In the meanwhile, they’ve completely restored the facade.

tibbits opera house

Tibbits is the second oldest theatre in Michigan (Wiki).  The show we caught was The Look of Love, a revue of Burt Bacharach songs. They did a great job; days later I am still humming a few of the songs.

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Friday morning we got up early and drove to Detroit. Here’s the Gateway Bridge (I-94 over Telegraph).

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Like last year, we took the tunnel, but there was very little traffic so we sailed right through.

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We got to Caesars early, and stowed our luggage with the bell hop before going for a walk along the river.

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Caesars sits directly across from the GM Ren Center.

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The riverwalk park system is amazing. So much to see on the walk…

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including spaceships and sculptures…

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Michigan Central Station

 

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baby ducks…

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and ships.

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It’s about a two mile walk from the casino to the base of the bridge.

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We made it all the way down!

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Now, I had a little incident with my longboard the previous Tuesday. While I managed to hump it the two miles to the bridge with a cane, I got a ride back in a chair with Bob, my knight in shining armor, pushing me through the neighborhoods. Windsor is a beautiful place.

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We got back to the hotel and cleaned up before heading to dinner at Lebanese restaurant Mazaar. The food was excellent. Toward the end of dinner, we realized Brazil must have one their soccer game, as cars started driving up and down the street honking like mad, passengers waving flags and hanging out the windows.

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After dinner we headed down Ouellette Avenue in search of outdoor patios.

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First stop was the City Grill on the corner of Park and Ouellette, where we enjoyed a Mill Street Organic and watched people. The hostess said the Brazilian enthusiasts would stop around 7:30 and she was correct.

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Incidentally, if you’re looking to surprise me with something nice, a case of Mill Street Organic would be most appreciated. All time favorite beer!

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Next we went to Vermouth. We sat outside and enjoyed a beer infused with chipotle peppers. Spicy and strange!

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After Vermouth, we continued on to the Kilt and Fiddle and then on to the Bistro at the River.

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The weather was just perfect for sitting outside at each place, people-watching and talking.

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The next morning, we got up and headed back to Ouellette Avenue for breakfast.

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I absolutely think we could happily live in Windsor.

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After breakfast we took the bridge heading home to enjoy a quiet rest of the weekend.

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It was the best time! I could not have asked for a better trip and am already looking forward to our next time in Windsor.

Kunstlerhaus Restaurant – The Grill Munich

Saturday, May 24, 2014 0 No tags Permalink

Vintage Postcard – Kunstlerhaus Restaurant – Cafe Munchen

kunstlerhaus
Kunstlerhaus Restaurant – Cafe, Munchen
Innenhof mit Pergola

CONWA Grossovertrieb G.m.b.H. Munchen
Aufnahme Foto L. Ammon, Berchtesgaden-Schonau

This vintage card was mailed back to the US. The stamp has been removed and the addressee scribbled out. It reads:

5/13/60 Hi everybody this is where we stayed last nite it is a real nice place don’t look like much outside but is nice inside. Will have a lot to tell you when we get back. We are going to Austria today at 8:30 also thru the black forest & the German Alps. Should be real nice. We rec. your letter O.K. it was nice hearing from you. Love Mom & Dad

Looks like this place is still open for business! Check out The GRILL Munich.

More international cards here:

Georgian Towers Vancouver

La Concha Puerto Rico 

Bahama Princess Resort & Casino

Georgian Towers Motor Hotel – Vancouver

Monday, April 7, 2014 0 No tags Permalink

Vintage Postcard – Georgian Towers Motor Hotel

georgian towers

Georgian Towers Motor Hotel
1450 W. Georgia St., Downtown Vancouver, B.C.
Located on Vancouver’s “Miracle Mile” – the fabulous Georgia St., the gateway to the world famous “Stanley Park”.
Every suite consists of a sitting room and either one or two bedrooms and all have beautiful G.E. kitchenettes in pastel colors. Free parking within the building. Superb food from our Restaurant! The city at your feet from the fabulous “Top of the Towers” on the starlit roof.

Traveltime Product, Made in Vancouver, Canada by Grant-Mann Lithographers LTD.
C-688

This lovely vintage card is postally unused. My sister Kirsten sent me this card. The internet notes the Georgian was built 1955-58 and was converted to apartments in 1970. It is 22 stories tall. This Flikr image has some history with it. I’d like someone to explain to me why we can’t have wonderfully colored cars any more. This parking lot is just bursting with turquoise, pink, yellow and green automobiles. Everything today is so drab.

Here it is today, courtesy Google Street View:

georgiatowersnow

More international motels here:

Bluebeards Castle

Hotel Ponce Intercontinental

Vintage home photos of the Bahama Princess

Sheraton Carlton Motor Hotel – Winnipeg

Monday, March 24, 2014 0 No tags Permalink

Vintage Postcard – Sheraton – Carlton Motor Hotel

sheraton carlton

Sheraton – Carlton Motor Hotel
Carlton St. and St. Mary Ave.
Winnipeg 1, Manitoba.
“In the heart of downtown Winnipeg” Completely Air-conditioned. Television, direct dial telephones. Swimming pool during summer months. Coffee Shop and Polynesian Dining Room.

Published by Alex Wilson Publications Limited – Dryden, Ontario
Prismaflex Color Wilson, Dryden, Ont.
Lithographed in Canada
5844R

This card is postally unused. My fabulous sister Kirsten sent me this card. I’d love to see a view inside the Beachcomber Polynesian Restaurant…bet it was fan-tiki-tabulous.

Here is another view of this lovely motel, via Flikr. The hotel still exists as the Carlton Inn Hotel and is still open for business. Here it is today:

SheratonCarltonnow

More international motels here:

Gem Motel Montreal

Bahama Princess

La Concha Puerto Rico

Gem Motel Montreal

Monday, January 6, 2014 0 No tags Permalink

Vintage Postcard – Gem Motel Montreal

Gem Motel

In Montreal, the Gem Motel Dining Room & Cocktail Lounge. 6914 Upper Lachine Rd., HU 1-4374, HU 1-5835. on Routes, 2-4-9 C-17. 10 minutes to heart of city. Open all year. 34 units, individual room controlled hot water heat, t.v., tiled baths, carpeted wall to wall. French cuisine. Open 22 hours daily.

Pu. by Sterling Photos, Box 314, Cornwall, Ont., Canada.
24999-B

This vintage postcard has the Diner’s Club and AAA logos. It is postally unused. I spared your vision…the type on the card back is all in caps. I have no idea what all the codes are on it. Phone numbers? Streets? Silly Canadians! I am assuming it is the dining room that is open 22 hours daily and not the hotel. Which two hours do you suppose they are closed?

The October 3, 1970 Montreal Gazette has an ad listing for the Gem Motel and a ski trip:

Get away from it all, see Montreal by day, Ski up north by night and avoid the crowd. Special 2 day rates, any day of the week. $28 double occupancy including transportation to slopes. Please phone for reservations: 481-0331, 6950 St. James West.

Otherwise, I can’t find anything on this old gem. And that is truly a shame.

More international awesomeness:

Bahama Princess Resort & Casino

Bluebeards Castle

La Concha Puerto Rico

Friday, December 13, 2013 0 No tags Permalink

Vintage Postcard – La Concha, Puerto Rico

La Concha Puerto Rico

La Concha
Hotel, Beach & Cabana Club
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico at its most enchanting…in the sophisticated world of the magnificently modern, completely air-conditioned new LA CONCHA – overlooking San Juan, the ocean, the mountains! Vast stretch of beach; unique cabana club and huge pool; several amusing cocktail lounges; gourmet cuisine in all dining rooms; and top shows in the spectacular Club la Concha…a tremendous shell set at the ocean’s edge!

Litos In U.S. A.

This lovely vintage postcard was mailed from San Juan April 29 1963 using both a green 1 cent Washington stamp and a 5 cent Jefferson stamp. It was mailed to Miss Catherine Robbins, 231 Washington St, Riverside, N.J. It reads:

Hi!
Having a ball! This sure is the “vacation spot.”

Chuckie & Vince

Oh, my. I could spend a winter’s day in an amusing cocktail lounge. Not sure what exactly would make a cocktail lounge amusing, aside from the antics of drunken tourists. I’ll take my drink with one of those little umbrellas, thanks.

Guess what? The La Concha is still open for business. It gets pretty good reviews on Yelp! although one reviewer was disappointed that the provided hair dryer didn’t have a ‘cold’ setting on it. Also, there seemed to be some issues with the elevators not working, or trapping people inside. A Trip Advisor review says it is a “hip, Miami-style hotel’ and T.A. lists it with a 2013 Certificate of Excellence.

Like international resorts? Check out these cards:

Hotel Ponce Intercontinental

Bahama Princess Resort & Casino

Bahama Princess Resort & Casino – Home Photos!

Sunday, November 24, 2013 0 No tags Permalink

Bahama Princess Resort & Casino

Some time ago, I posted a lovely vintage postcard featuring the Bahama Princess Resort & Casino (click here to see original post). My family vacationed there; I recently dug up some photos from maybe 1991.

Casino view:

bahama princess casino

Princess Tower:

bahama princess tower

View from our room in the Princess Tower:

bahama princess tower view

The International Bazaar:

internationalbazaar

This article in the Freeport News (autumn 2013) discusses the International Bazaar, which is currently up for sale. The location has 85 retail stalls.

As of this morning, Harcourt Developments is still listing the Royal Oasis like it’s a fully functioning, open business. I have again emailed them to see if they can provide an update on the development, as there is no news as of January 2013. I will update as information is available.

Like international travel? Check out these postcards!

Hotel Ponce Intercontinental 

Bluebeards Castle

Bluebeards Castle

Friday, November 22, 2013 0 No tags Permalink

Vintage Postcard – Bluebeards Castle Hotel

Bluebeards Castle Hotel

View from poolside
BLUEBEARDS CASTLE HOTEL
St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

(c) Hannau-Robinson Color Productions, Inc., 605 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach, Fla.

This postcard was mailed (stamp removed) to Miss Catherine Robbins, 231 Washington St, Riverside, N.J. It reads:

3/10/67

Dear Catherine,
Survived my plane trip. Hope it is as good going home. Still like the good old Atlantic ocean. See you soon.
Love, Dorothy

Dorothy, I completely understand. The worst part about travel (aside from the fear of bed bugs) is the plane trip. I hate to fly. And it is So. Less. Glamorous. Travel in 1967 had to be better than the security and mess of today’s modern flight. Mind you, I have no objections to appropriate screening. I hate the lines and the delays and the people stacked up behind you while you desperately try to gather your belongings from the gray bins and put on your shoes while standing. Horrid stuff.

But back to the topic at hand…Bluebeards Castle Hotel (no apostrophe, thank you very much). It is still in business (and today likes to use the apostrophe, Bluebeard’s). It gets good reviews. If you scroll through the traveler photos on Trip Advisor, you’ll see some matches with the pool, although I think it looked a little more glamorous in my card. If I could teleport myself back in time to the exact location, and out of Michigan’s cold November, I would in a heartbeat. I’ll take one of those drinks with the little umbrella in it, thanks.

Windsor Ontario Adventure!

Monday, July 8, 2013 0 No tags Permalink

I was off work all last week on vacation. It was awesome. Got up Thursday morning (the 4th of July). Bob asked if I was up for an adventure. He told me to pack an overnight bag and get my passport. And we were off!

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If you don’t live in Michigan, perhaps you don’t realize how quickly you can vacate this country and be in Canada. It is quite literally two hours from where we live to the border. Now, I’ve traveled through Windsor a couple of times, but never visited the city itself. It is absolutely a fantastic getaway.

GM Ren Cen

Look, it’s the General Motors RenCen!

Old Mariner's Church

And the Old Mariner’s Church. You know the one. From the Gordon Lightfoot song (“In a musty old hall in Detroit, they prayed in the Maritime Sailors’ Cathedral. The church bell chimed ’til it rang 29 times for each man on the Edmund Fitzgerald“).

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There are two ways to get to Windsor. You can take the tunnel (formally dedicated on Saturday, November 1, 1930. As you travel almost a mile, 75 feet below the surface of the Detroit River, you’re surrounded by 574 lights, 80,000 cubic yards of concrete, and 750 tons of reinforced steel) or the Ambassador Bridge (more on that, later).

Detroit Windsor Tunnel

I am generally not a fan of tunnels (or caves, thanks to this movie). But we got through in pretty good time, and got through customs.

Canada - Customs
Bob had booked us a room at Caesars Windsor Hotel and Casino. It’s a lovely hotel. Also, the floor of the casino and restaurants are smoke-free.

Caesars Palace Windsor

Bob selected the room for it’s fantastic view. It was also very clean and comfortable.

Caesars Palace Windsor

Our view from the room. That’s right, it’s the river-side of the RenCen.

view from hotel room

Windsor has a fantastic walking/biking path along the whole river front. It’s really a series of parks and gardens, going all the way down to the Ambassador Bridge.

Caesars Palace Windsor

The riverwalk park is clean and busy…so many people out enjoying the day!

Windsor river front park

There are many sculptures along the path, including this great UFO.

Windsor river front park

We made our way along towards the Ambassador Bridge.

Windsor river front park

Yolanda Vandergaast’s Penguins on a Waterfall(2000) in Windsor Sculpture Park

Windsor sculpture garden

Michigan Central Railroad Depot

Michigan Central Railroad Station
We made it all the way down to the bridge.

Ambassador Bridge
On the way back, we decided to cut into the town a bit to look around at some of the residential areas. The University of Windsor is right down by the bridge, along with a lot of student housing.

Windsor
Windsor has a low violent crime rate and one of the lowest murder rates in Canada. For real. Here’s an article discussing the difference between the two cities on opposite sides of the river.

Windsor park bench

In all of the parks, there are plenty of benches to stop and catch your breath. I particularly enjoyed the sentiment on this one.

Detroit River

It was pretty hot out by the time we got back to Caesars. We stopped to re-hydrate and cool off before heading out to dinner. Bob had read reviews for The Cook’s Shop Restaurant. It was about a 20 minute walk.

Cook's Shop Restaurant

The Cook’s Shop gets good reviews on Yelp! And the reviewers are spot-on. We each had pasta with the complementary caesar salad and garlic bread. Fantastic.

Cook's Shop Restaurant

After dinner, we walked down Ouellette Avenue and stopped at a few pubs for a nice drink. Bob had done research and found some fantastic places for us to visit (he planned every detail of our adventure perfectly!). First on the list was the Manchester. Nice environment, good service. We sat inside (there was a brief bit of rain while we were enjoying our beer – I had the Walkerville).

Manchester Pub Windsor

I made sure I took a photo of this sign for Mill Street Brewery. They make an original organic lager which is absolutely the most delicious beer I’ve ever had. Ever. It is so. Awesome. And I don’t think it’s available anywhere in Michigan.

Mill Street Beer Sign

Next, we continued to walk through town. Got a shot of this lovely neon sign.

Lazares Furs Windsor

We stopped at a lovely little place called Vermouth. It was much too warm to sit inside, but we both said we could imagine retreating to the warmth and darkness of the interior on cold days. Vermouth reminded me of something familiar and vaguely smelled like my grandparents’ home on Burgess Street in Detroit. It almost felt like I had been there before.

Vermouth Windsor

However, the night was so lovely, we stayed a long time on their outside patio, watching people go by. It was one of those perfect evenings where your body is the exact right temperature and there’s a nice breeze. I can’t find a website for Vermouth, but here’s their information on Yelp!

outside vermouth

After Vermouth, we stopped by the Kilt & Fiddle Irish Pub. It’s a lovely little place. Again, we sat outside to enjoy the weather, but the interior was very nice as well. The music was perfect, and added to the atmosphere.

Kilt & Fiddle Windsor

Really, every minute was bliss. It’s nice to be able to relax and enjoy a nice drink, and feel safe when it’s time to walk back to the hotel.

Windsor china shop

We took some photos along the way, and retreated back down to the riverfront to watch some fireworks on the Detroit side of the river.

GM Ren Center

If you haven’t been to Windsor, and you’re looking for a little adventure, I can’t recommend it enough. We absolutely had the best time.

Detroit Skyline

Like nearly every place we’ve visited, we could imagine ourselves really living in Windsor. It would be a great place to live and work.

Ambassador Bridge night

It is surprising how many people were still enjoying the riverfront in the evening and when it became dark. There were still people running and biking while we were watching the fireworks.

Detroit skyline at night

The RenCen is lovely at night.

Caesars Palace Windsor

The next morning, we got up to find a bit of rain. We had timed our trip perfectly!

Detroit Skyline

Bob had selected a place to go for breakfast, so we headed out (this time in the truck).

Windsor

The Taloola Cafe.

Taloola Cafe

It’s a quiet little place, with good food. It seems that most of the customers are regulars.

Taloola Cafe

It’s the sort of place where you can relax and enjoy a nice cup of coffee and a healthy snack. That’s exactly what we did.

Taloola Cafe

I had the spicy coffee and a toasty sandwich (peanut butter, banana and honey) and Bob had a regular coffee and the breakfast burrito (white bean hash, honey, shredded carrots and raisins – it was both sweet and savory). We swapped meals halfway through.

Ambassador Bridge

After breakfast, it was time to head back home. After all, the cats were waiting for us. We decided to go back via the Ambassador Bridge.

Ambassador Bridge

If you’re looking for some unbiased information on the bridge and what’s to come, probably Wikipedia is your best bet.

Ambassador Bridge

If you don’t live in Michigan, you might not know that we had a ballot initiative and a bunch of campaigning and posturing ahead of the vote as well. Here’s a bit if you want to learn more. Also, Matty Moroun also owns the Michigan Central Railroad Station, pictured above.

Detroit Customs

Made it through customs and headed on our way back down I-94.

Uniroyal Tire I-94

It was such a fun trip. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute. Even better, when we got home, we still had a few days of the long weekend to go! So many people enjoy life when they go on vacation, but aren’t happy with their daily activity. They miss out, because it’s the daily stuff that makes life good. Vacations are just the extra adventure of seeing something different.

downtown Battle Creek

See? Even Battle Creek has a lovely river front area. Our own state motto decrees it: Si Quæris Peninsulam Amœnam Circumspice, “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.”

Hope you also had an enjoyable 4th of July!