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Guest Post: Turks & Caicos A Trip Report Part 2

Editor’s Note: This guest post is the second in a two part series written by my friend, interior designer and lifestyle guru Brian Toth. Brian recently returned from a trip to the Caribbean island of Turks & Caicos. Not only does his trip report include some great travel tips and excursion ideas, but he even discovered where you can get gluten free pasta in Grace Bay. You can can read the first post here. You can also follow Brian Toth Lifestyle on Instagram and Twitter. All the images in this post are courtesy of Brian Toth- Jen

Day 4 was excursion day, the one day we took a break from being lazy all day on the beach drinking rum, and actually did something active. We scheduled a trip with Provo Ponies, an experience that lets riders go horseback INTO the water, and ride in either groups or private parties. We had originally wanted a 90 minute afternoon ride, but were booked solid, and had a cancellation for a 60 min morning ride. It worked out in our favor. They provide a 9:30 am shuttle pickup, and after a few other pickups, were at the place by 10. by 10:30 you’re on the ride, enjoy the time, and finished by 12, ready to go back to the shuttle. (having to do that by leaving your beach day at 3:30pm would be too difficult, especially with the temperatures and rum drinks.).

Our group was about 10, all with different experiences, from zero to professional riders. The guides pair you up with a horse suited to your comfort level (they get all this info before-hand when you book). The bigger guys in our group got ex- carriage draft horses that were BEAUTIFUL, and all the others got native provo ponies- cute horses all grown up from the island, that were enjoying a semi-retired life. Once you’re comfortable on your horse, the ride begins with leaving down a big open dirt road, until you get to go through some foliage. Once passed, it opens up to this glorious beach, with not a soul in sight, and the horses don’t just get the hooves wet- they get belly deep in the water! (they make sure you’re valuables are safe, and even offer alternative shoe choices in case you come in sandals). The ride was incredible, and everyone had a great time. This is an experience you should have once in your life!

While driving back to the hotel, we noticed an Italian restaurant, Bella Luna Ristorante, and decided we felt like needing comfort food for dinner; a little break from all the fish. Once again, it was just in town, and easy to walk to. That night, With plans to have a pre-dinner sunset cocktail at a nearby hotel, we stopped by the restaurant as they opened, and put our names in for a reservtion an hour half from then. After a 10 min walk, we arrived at the upscale hotel resort, the Grace Bay Club.

Its a beautiful property, where clearly no money was spared. It may be one of the nicest hotels in Grace Bay, with the lobby and grounds, and pool all perfectly brand new, cabanas and linen flowing in the breeze. We read that this place boasted their “Infinity Bar”- a sleek 90 foot long bar facing straight towards the ocean. Although it is just a long bar, serving fun tropical cocktails and light bites, the view and ambiance it provides is spectacular.

We arrived just at sunset, and the colors were breathtaking. This place definitely had more guests and visitors, as their neighboring outside dining experience on the ocean front lawn was packed. Tike torches, linens, lanterns in the trees- very picturesque. More of a polished resort experience, making our resort seem like a cozy hideaway far removed from the world. Drinks were fun, and we ordered coconut shrimp (excellent- I can still taste them)!

Ready for dinner, once arriving to restaurant, it was ready for Italian food. This place is actually 2 levels- the bottom open air patio style is open daily as a pizza place, and upstairs  (through trees- very Swiss Family Robinson) is the Italian dinner side. Service was fine, food was comforting. Not loud, not busy, but booked. Seated on the veranda high up was a nice experience, getting just a bit of the breeze. The best part of this menu was something not offered on it- they actually have gluten free pasta here! This was a big win for for me! They are known for making their own handmade pastas and bread, so I felt a little bad, but not as bad as if I had eaten it! We had a gluten free carbonara which hit the spot, and a meat pizza that was pure Italian. Portions were large enough that we didn’t need dessert.

Things to know: There is a grocery store Graceway Gourmet, that has everything you need to feel like you’re at home. Because our suite had a fridge, we wanted to get some afternoon snacks to enjoy on our balcony. Being active- and gluten free- vacations can be tough, because you may not find things your stomach would like you to eat. Graceway Gourmet had everything your normal grocery store would have- including probiotic drinks, an extensive wine and liquor selection, and of course, a deli, coffee shop, and snacks for the room. It was close enough to walk to, no taxi needed. The pries are quire a bit higher than the states, because everything is imported. a bag of nuts was around $11 dollars, while protein bars were upwards of $5.

The liquor stores are outrageously priced, so get your liquor at the grocery store. A bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue was $266 here, when you can get it for $150 back home. We also noticed certain wines available at Trader J0es for under $20, were going for double the the price! Same goes for any of the hotel sundries shops. My advice: make like a local and shop at the grocery store. You’ll get overcharged anywhere else.

Logistics: Upon leaving this wonderful island, a 15 min ride to the airport was quick and easy. Once you got in the airport- it was back to reality. The lines for customs isn’t the best, but not the worst. The worst is once you get past it, the combination waiting area/lobby/terminal is so small and packed and crowded, we felt like sardines in a can. What wasn’t helping is that certain flights were having 6 hour weather delays. Fortunately we found that there is a “secret” upstairs waiting are, which offers a small makeshift bar, and has music, as well as an open air view of the tarmac. While it may be warm, it is better than being trapped downstairs. There is a bar area in the main room, but it is too busy to deal with- my advice: skip to the roof!  Also, Beware of the bathroom there- it does not feel up to US standards, so don’t expect them. The boarding process was a mess, as there really isn’t a terminal, once you fight your way to the “gate”, you’re free to go outside and board the plane from the stairs on the tarmac (again- remember about any purchases or luggage you might not want to carry up). Once inside- nothing but cool mist, and air-conditioning help ease your way back home.

We took US Airways, (now part of American Airlines), which seems like the really need to update their planes. We usually fly Virgin, so I expect nothing less than personal TVs, ordering service, etc. This plane had no TVs or music or entertainment anywhere, and for a long trip like that, it can be very monotonous. The silver lining is that while we traveled coach- we booked the same seat for every leg of the trip -22d and 23E- they are at the emergency door with more leg room than first class, and only the 2 seats side by side- no stranger is near you. Plus, its not a bulkhead seat, providing you with storage in front of you.

Much thanks to Brian Toth for this guest post.