Hubby Tony and I had decided not to sign up for any shore excursions in Grand Cayman. We'd been there previously, had seen many of the attractions, and had no desire to go again. Son Brian and DIL Nicole wanted to spend the day on the beach. I did not, so we agreed we'd go our separate ways for the day. Since we didn't have to be anywhere at a specific time we slept in, then had a leisurely breakfast.
There are no berthing facilities for cruise ships at George Town. Instead, they anchor offshore and use tenders to ferry passengers ashore. In order to keep everyone from rushing off the ship at the same time they issued tickets, then called out the numbers of the tenders as it was time to board. By time we got around to getting a ticket they were giving out number 11, which meant we wouldn't be leaving for more than an hour. I got my book and went to the Solarium to read. The next time I looked up, Brian was walking by!
He and Nicole had gotten four tickets for the tender before ours, and Tony and I were happy to change our plans and go with them. When they called the tender number we made our way down to the exit, went through the security area, and over the gangplank to the boat. The trip took about 5 minutes, during which we were able to see ships large and small bobbing in the smooth water. When we docked there was a bit of a traffic jam, as everyone tried to get off the tender at once.
When we'd passed the gauntlet of food and souvenir booths at the port, Nicole and Brian went one way and Tony and I went the other. The first thing we saw outside the port area were stores. Shopping is big in Grand Cayman. It's a duty free port, so there are a lot of places selling things like watches, perfume, and jewelry. Cheap souvenir shops and restaurants catering to tourists were mixed in with the upscale stores. I knew I'd be browsing in the stores before we went back to the ship, but it was NOT the main thing I wanted to do.
Fortunately the tourist shopping area is only several square blocks. It didn't take us long to get away from it. The "real" George Town was a very nice and clean city. Grand Cayman is a British Overseas Territory, and cars drive on the left side of the road. I'm not used to that, and it made it a little tricky to cross the street until I got used to it. All of the historical buildings are close together. We stopped at the Clock Tower which included the 1919 Peace Memorial, a King George statue, the Public Library and the Post Office, and walked past Heroes Square where the Legislative Assembly met. The Cayman Islands are a major international financial center. George Town is the nation's capital, and has over 500 banks. Every time we turned a corner we saw another one!
Before long we got hungry. I wanted a local place, so we asked a clerk in one of the stores for a recommendation. She suggested Corita's Copper Kettle, which was just a couple of blocks away. Without the tip we would have walked right past the small building, but we entered and took a seat at one of the tables. The short menu was printed on a single piece of paper. I chose a red snapper meal, which included fish in a tasty red sauce, rice and beans, cole slaw, and fried plantain. Tony had fish and chips. For a minute I thought about not eating the cole slaw, since I was in a foreign country, but decided to chance it. No problems.
I stopped into one of the jewelry stores that was advertising a free gemstone necklace, which turned out to be a small but nice-looking garnet on a silver chain. They tried to interest me in the matching earrings, but I explained that garnet is my birthstone and I already have a lot of garnet earrings. However, at another store I did take advantage of the promotional earrings. I got a nice-looking pair of smoky topaz for only ten dollars. This time the sales pitch went in reverse-did I want to buy the matching necklace? The clerk didn't look like his heart was in it, though, and didn't argue with my "no". We stopped in a couple of souvenir shops but didn't see anything that interested us and decided to go back to the ship.
As we were waiting for the tender the skies got dark and the wind picked up. We'd just docked at the ship when it started raining. Fortunately we were able to stay dry. Brian and Nicole, who we found out were on the tender just behind us, weren't. They'd been sitting on the top of the boat and got drenched.