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St Kitts Trip Report-long

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St Kitts Trip Report

We have been back now for almost a week from our 11 night stay on St. Kitts. It was our first visit to the island. Our initial reaction was mixed but in time the island surely grew on us. It turned out to be one of the most relaxing vacations we have ever had in our 36 years of marriage.

We left home on April 20th and spent the night at Bradley Airport, our local Connecticut airport. We spent the night at an airport hotel that offered free parking with a stay as our flight was before 7 am. We also wanted to get to the airport early in hopes of securing exit seats that we were able to do.

Our American flight was fine and uneventful and direct to San Juan with lots of leg room.. I was glad to have packed a lunch and lots of water as we got up at 4 am! And had no breakfast. We had a short wait in San Juan and took American Eagle to St. Ktts.It is cool seeing the other islands we fly over enroute.

Finally we had arrived! We went through customs easily and went outside to meet our Hertz person. The Hertz office was empty so we waited. After a time we called. Bear in mind we are in Ct clothes and it is hot! (Tip: Maybe making a change of clothes in San Juan layover might be a good idea!)

When she finally arrived it was paperwork time! The phone was ringing off the hook and this Hertz gal worked in slow- no slowest motion. My husband stood outside manning our luggage. I wanted to get a license also and there was in addition to a license fee an extra charge of $40 for the second driver? (In retrospect for the wee bit I did drive this was truly a waste of time and money)

When she did pull up with the car it was the wrong model. We had booked a compact and she showed up with a subcompact that had only ¾ tank of gas. They were clearly not ready for our reservation. I insisted on getting the compact just in case of an accident we would have a wee bit more protection. After now going back to the office and a round of phone calls it was decided we should take this car to their other office in Bassetere and get the correct car. To get off the airport we had to pay $1ec. tax!

Right off the airport you hit your first of many roundabouts and have to adjust quickly to driving on the left side of the road. With a little difficulty we found the Hertz office. At least this girl was more efficient but we still had another round of paperwork to do.

I did mention to this gal that we wanted to get a car on Nevis for a day and wanted to use the exchange program. (I had learned about this free exchange in my research.) She tells me Hertz does NOT offer this program. When I asked why I was told that they used to have a Hertz office on Nevis but due to lack of business it was closed. This was disappointing and just another expense for us. (I was later to learn that Avis does not have an office on Nevis yet offers this deal using an independent company on Nevis called Noels.)

Finally we get our car! We find our way to our lodging for the night-The Ocean Terrace Inn which is actually located in Bassetere. When we checked in (and we are feeling very hot and tired at this point) she offered us a rum punch. What perfect timing!—and we eagerly accepted it.

We had rented a condo for our stay but since it was rented for this night we are staying at OTI. It is a lovely property overlooking Bassetere Bay. The grounds are quite lovely and tropical nestled into the hill. One feels relaxed just being here. Our room was spacious and lovely with a refrigerator and private patio-porch. We are finally ON vacation!!(I got this room for $94 plus tax on Expedia –the honeymoon special)

We spent an hour of so by the pool and relaxed and swam. It was so refreshing. We are getting hungry and it is still early. On Friday nights the OTI offers a West Indian buffet and entertainment EXCEPT it doesn’t begin until seven PM and we are fading fast.

We decided to take a drive and maybe hit Shiggidty Shack early? We got ourselves lost for awhile and then in the distance this monstrous building came into view. I knew immediately what it was—The Marriott- and also knew from my research that the Shiggidty Shack could not be far away. We drove by the Marriott and passed Sea Lofts on the way. We went in and checked out from the outside our unit #46 and were quite pleased with what we saw. You never know when you rent these places cold REALLY what you are going to get. Sea Lofts is located right next to the Marriottt. They are like tree houses (sort of) on three levels with decks on the top two. We could see that our unit was going to have great ocean views. I was particularly pleased as I love to look at the ocean but I can’t take the sun.( I had an ugly (literally) experience with a facial chemotherapy cream this winter that kept me hidden in the house this winter in pain for over a month—too much sun as a kid and Irish skin.)

We were turned around and found TBR and Shiggidy Shack. It was late afternoon so it was mostly populated by people with young children. We saw a glorious sunset and had dinner. I had the spiny lobster and John had the grouper. The lobster (and the only one of my trip there) was quite meaty and rich and delicious. My husband like the grouper but found it to be a rather small portion. I found the sides to be blah so he filled up on those too. Our waitress had sort of a lackadaisical attitude and little personality. It was not what I expected at a popular beach bar. It certainly was far from jumping at 7 pm when we left. In fairness we never made it back to SS so we might had come away with a totally different estimate the next time.

We found our way back to OTI and creased by 7:30. Aren’t we a fun couple so far? H

Lest you have the impression we are truly boring I forgot to mention we also enjoyed a couple of pina coladas before dinner and they were delicious! I am not sure my husband had ever had one before but he was in love! He has a sweet tooth and for these drinks and all the pina coladas to follow on this vacation they went down like KoolAid!

Our bed at OTI was quite comfortable and we slept about 11 hours straight. We woke up to all the birds chirping outside and felt renewed and refreshed and ready to vacation!! We had coffee in the room and some of the remaining snacks from our plane picnic—granola bars in fact.

Now my first order of business is to check out the food shopping on the island. This is where I found out I had been a bit delusional. Since our condo was such a terrific location with the most wonderful views (and as you know we are not night people) I thought we might go out to lunch a few times but mainly I would cook dinner. I envisioned all the wonderful fresh fruit on a tropical island, the fresh beautiful fish straight off the boat and the beautiful fresh vegetables I would get from the Farm market in downtown Bassetere. I knew they had one on Saturdays and this was our first mission.

We set out early and easily found the market. It wasn’t at all what I had envisioned—not at all. I was a bit in shock. I checked all the vendors out until I found one I sort of liked. The fruit was not beautiful and limited. What they had seemed very ripe. The fresh vegetables had a stunted look to them and had not been cleaned up at all. One really positive thing I found were wonderful tomatoes. They grow on the island and are very much like our native tomatoes here in late summer. I love them and bought a couple of pounds almost every day we were there. They were a good price too. I bought them anywhere from 2.oo ec a lb to 4.50. The price did vary that much. There is a truck that parks on the main street almost every day and he has the best prices.

I bought quite a bit that day in the farm market-potatoes, sweet potatoes, green peppers, cabbage. Limes, mangoes, bananas, cukes and tomatoes etc etc.

We then checked out the grocery stores. We tried the Rams on Main St and had a bit of a culture shock there. We then went to Horsfords and that was an improvement at least. The grocery shopping is limited to say the least, a bit expensive and different. They had no fresh meat or chicken or fish—all were frozen. (I was to find out from people in the stores that they bring in legally their own meat for their stays on the island. I do wish I knew this as I definitely would have done that!)

With the exception of Canadian bacon I bought no meat while we were there. Instead I bought a lot of tunafish!?—no kidding!

We had time to kill today as we could not get into our condo until after 2:30. We decided to take the drive I had heard so much about to Turtle Beach. It is truly a breathtaking drive! It is a hoot as well with the conventions of goats and cows. Turtle Beach has a website I visited several times before we left and it gives a perfect feel for Turtle Beach. I felt at home as soon as we arrived!

We decided to buy rum earlier—when in Rome etc. We are wine drinkers. We could not find anything in the grocery to mix it with. We enjoyed a couple mango coladas at Turtle Beach before lunch. There was a couple there who had been on our flight in and they were from Ct. Small world she went to the same high school as our kids. Anyway we enjoyed talking with them. We shared conch fritters and coconut shrimp for our lunch. The conch fritters were quite good but I thought the coconut was a bit burned. Of course we saw the monkeys and other pet animals. Anyone visiting St Kitts should definitely take in the Turtle Beach experience. They have a great beach, free chaises, snorkeling, swimming, music and all sorts of animals. The rooster goes all day long. The fat pig never moves—just naps. He is only three but can barely walk as he gets all the leftovers from the restaurant. The drive there is spectacular! There are other great beaches nearby on this point as well.

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    Part Two
    Here is my BIG TIP I got from Turtle Beach. We asked our waitress where they bought their coloda mix. She asked and told us to go the Rams Wholesale and they would sell it to us. It is located behind the big Rams near the bank. We were a bit skeptical but gave it a try. Sure enough we got it. It wasn’t cheap but man was it delicious. We got three frozen quart bottles of the stuff for about $25. I must tell you my husband enjoyed each and every drop!

    Now it was time to check into Sea Lofts Unit 46 and we were anxious to see the inside. I mentioned earlier they made great use of the land by putting three story units on the property. The ground level had a full bath with shower, an extra refrigerator/freezer and a washer/dryer. Then there is a spiral staircase to the second level that has a full kitchen open to a living area and sliders to a large two level deck. There is a bedroom with double bed and a full bath on this level also Up another spiral staircase to a loft bedroom with queen bed and its own deck. The unit was in great condition, fully equipped and colorful and fun. We were very pleased. I rented this directly from the owner and he was great to work with. I won’t quote our rental price as it varies depending on the season year round. If you are interested he can be reached at DALEOWEN@aol.com.

    I should mention if you have trouble with stairs this would not be the condo for you. If not there are views of the water from each and every window. Being on the windward side of the island we were entertained and crooned to sleep by crashing waves 24/7! It was the best part for me.

    Unfortunately on this day there had been a mix up with the cleaning staff and our unit was not cleaned. They came about five to clean it and I must say there were most thorough as two women cleaned until 7:30!! We stayed on the upper deck with some cool beverages during this time. I had food and planned to prepare something but we ended up finishing off our sandwiches made for our plane ride??!! Does this sound gross? Well we kept them cold the entire time and they actually tasted delicious! It most definitely was the last ham we were going to taste for a while.

    Again we hit the hay early about 8 pm on this particular evening. We decided to sleep on the second level with the bathroom nearby. We are of an age where we no longer can sleep through the night without a bathroom visit or two! We have a King size bed at home but we found we managed quite nicely with this double bed. We both so enjoyed the waves all night and slept like babies.

    We were up in time to see the sun rise next morning-what a treat! John had a breakfast of fresh fruit –mangoes and bananas. I had a bagel and coffee. John had taken a run on the beach before breakfast and a long swim.

    We did a quick grocery shop to Rams for a few things. While the water is potable on the island I preferred to drink bottled water to be safe. We bought several 5 liter bottles while we were there. The store manager at Rams stopped us one day to tell us they had a box with three bottles in it somewhere else in the store that was much cheaper than buying them individually. We thought this was quite nice of him.

    On my ventures in these stores I am asking questions of other shoppers who appear to be tourists. I asked about where to buy meat and fish. This is how I heard about the fisheries. My other illusion was about all the fresh fish we were going to enjoy here. Well the fishermen I saw got off their little fishing boats in front of the Farm Market place on Main St. They sort of throw the fish out there sometimes on the sidewalk. The fish had weird names, were weird looking with the eyeballs staring up at me!!! There were no fishmongers to be seen—buy the fish whole and do your own filleting! This was not for me. One thing I cannot tolerate are fish bones!

    I will be checking out the fisheries for sure!

    We stopped on our way home—it is only about 10 am now-to check out the Marriott. One thing I can say for it is that is sure is big. I thought it to be a monstrosity from the road-an anomaly at this point to St Kitts. (However I fear that will not be the case in the near future as other big and maybe even bigger resorts come to rest on the island)

    The interior of the hotel left me cold. I could have been in any big Marriott anywhere. It somehow had little character. When our children were little we did go to large resorts mainly for all it offered our children. They are all grown now and we avoid them like the plague. (The resorts that is –not the kids)

    Now we are back to our condo and relaxation time is here. We both settle into a good book until lunchtime. Lunch today tuna fish, lettuce and tomato in pita pockets. I make a mean tuna salad. We read some more (I did all afternoon) and John went to play the Marriott golf course. The rates go down after 2 pm to 75. as opposed to 170. earlier. The Marriott did not go into low season rates until May 1st. Then the rates are 130 and 55.

    My husband thought it was a beautiful course and enjoyed it very much. Dinner tonight is tuna stuffed tomatoes with carrot sticks as an hors d’. Early to bed and the crashing waves continue. We are so glad we have longer than a week here. It is Sunday and we have just started to wind down.

    It is now Monday morning and we have seen the sunrise and John has done his jog and swim. We are both sleeping so soundly and feel rested. My husband keeps saying to me “This is so relaxing!”-and it surely is. There is something about the sound of those waves! Of course with no phones or fax ringing and we aren’t even watching TV it just makes such a difference.

    We head into town after breakfast for a few errands. Today we went to Rams Distributors for the pina colada mix—and John enjoyed each and every drop! We checked out the Fisheries that looked fine to me. We will definitely be getting some fish from there. They have cleaned fish fresh and lobsters. They also have frozen filleted fish and conch. There is to be a conch chowder in my future.

    We bought some more water. The water here is potable but I wasn’t taking any chances so we bought bottled water. Having the second refrigerator makes it handy to keep water cold at all times. I brought vials of iced tea mix from home so we always had cold iced tea as well.

    We chilled and read most of the day. Lunch was tuna in pitas. Yes I am going to have to buy more canned tuna! John played golf again this afternoon and while the golf course was pretty empty he did play with some Marriott employees.

    Dinner was BLT’s and carrot sticks-(fresh home grown St Kitts carrots I should mention)

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    Part Three
    Another great night’s sleep and the same routine starts Tuesday. Up before the sun, John’s run and swim and breakfast. We get up so early we have a oouple of hours to read before we can even do errands.

    Today is special though as we are touring the island. We left about 9:30 and decided to go counter clockwise. There are many beautiful sights along the way and we would stop and take pictures from time to time. We had planned to lunch at Ottley’s but we arrived too early to do so. We checked it out and it is a beautiful spot for sure. It is quiet and must be quite relaxing.

    We stopped at Fort Brimstone rented the tape tour and checked it out. It is a very interesting place and has some pretty spectacular views.

    This ride also gives you a different glimpse into the lives of the locals. One thing they do that is a bit annoying is they just stop their cars and chat wherever! There seem to be lots of open air rum bars everywhere you go and they have customers at any and all hours. While we did not see one inebriated person during our entire stay there does appear to be lots of drinking going on. Perhaps rum is to the St Kittians as wine is to the Italians.

    I was pleased to see there was not a lot of smoking on the island. When we were in Turkey a few years back it seemed everyone smoked everywhere! That reminds me. We got a kick out of the name of one of the liquor stores in Bassetere—Smoke and Booze.

    There also appeared to be an inordinate number of men just hanging around. I did not observe this to be the case with the women. They seemed almost the more industrious of the sexes. I observed so many women in downtown Bassetere dressed professionally and heading to work. I am interested in this phenomenon. Am I wrong in this observation? Is this a matriarchal society?

    We also stopped at Batik Caribelle and saw the demonstration. It was quite interesting and the grounds and gardens there quite beautiful.

    We stopped at Serendipidy for a late lunch. Several people had recommended it to us. It is a beautiful setting overlooking Bassetere Harbor. We sat on the porch. We were parched and enjoyed our first Carib here—cold and delicious! I had spring rolls and John had the grouper which he enjoyed (the man is starving!) While it was good enough I cannot rave about this restaurant.

    They served me a small salad with these green things in it that looked like tomatoes. When I asked I was told that since they grow tomatoes on the island she could not import them and she just couldn’t get enough ripe ones. Hello? She could have thrown a stone to several farmers selling beautiful tomatoes on the Harbor! So I was disappointed that a rather upscale restaurant by St Kitts standards would not have ripe tomatoes. Better off not adding tomatoes to the salad at all in my opinion.

    We then stopped at the Fisheries where I bought two packages of Parrot Fish frozen and filleted. I was assured there that this fish was delicious! I also bought a very large package of conch, cleaned and frozen.

    John played a round of golf in the late afternoon-after 3:30($55). Dinner was guess what- tuna stuffed tomatoes and marinated cucumbers. Those tomatoes are sure delicious!

    Today is already Wednesday! We can’t believe it! We have a big day today as we are going on the Catamaran ride with Blue Charters!

    Before I continue I did want to mention that we chatted with a real estate man having lunch at Serendipidy yesterday. He seemed to know about potential developments. He did tell us that the empty lot between Sea Lofts and the Marriott will soon be Marriott Time Share Development. He thinks they will sell quickly and bring in much needed revenue to the Marriott investors.

    Okay so now on to the BIG DAY!! We had our usual early morning routine so we had hours before our trip started. I have read about five books by this point. My husband who generally reads technical stuff has read almost three books of fiction—mysteries. Now I have told you I am avoiding the sun for good reason so I am a bit nervous about this boat trip. I have been told there will be plenty of shade for me but I still wonder. I can’t quite picture it. I have also become a “Hat Person” on this trip as curling my hair is a futile effort!

    So we leave book in hand, water, towels, hats etc. The boat can handle 80 people and only 52 have signed on for today. This was a good size group with lots of choices for seating. Liz Pereira made these reservations for us. It was 75. US each. We paid in good old American cash as I was told if you charge there will be a $5. each surcharge. The boat looked new and immaculate and was I relieved to see that there was indeed an open but covered area on the boat. I settled right in –in the shade and told my husband to go up front and enjoy the sun.

    It is a fun trip. The crew set the fun tone from the outset and the bar opens at 9:30 am!!!-and has lots of customers right away! (All drinks are free and plentiful all day! People even left the ship taking one for the road!)

    I didn’t get much reading done. People were friendly and the views along the trip are just gorgeous! I was just about the only person not to snorkel at the beautiful little inlet they chose. I was very comfortable though and enjoying the trip very much.

    Regarding my lack of snorkeling aside from my sun sensitivities—I do not swim very well at all and have had disastrous experiences in the past when I tried to snorkel. Would you believe this from a woman whose three kids were on swim teams their entire lives and even swan on the college Division I teams?? My older son was even nationally ranked and here I sit a pathetic doggie paddler!

    I loved the people watching aspect of this trip as well. I guess my sociology and social work background make me an observer of human nature? It was amazing the transformation of some people with the combination of calypso music, sun, fun and rum!!!

    One older couple in particular comes to mind. My initial impression of them particularly the wife was prudish, quiet and frankly sort of out of place on this trip. By the return trip they had transformed themselves into this loose as a goose hip couple dancing all over the boat! There was a Jamaican gal (a girlfriend of one of the crew) who could really move her booty and she was giving anyone interested dancing lessons! Lots of fun to watch. We had a great group of people on board who became friendly very fast. It was just a fun experience.

    I was not sure about the beach lunch regarding the sun etc. One tip I missed that I want to emphasize is to pack an extra pair of sandals in your bag when you go. They take your shoes before you get on the boat. The sand is VERY HOT on the beach at Nevis and you do need sandals or something when you go for lunch. Many people like to go down the beach and check out Sunshine’s and sample a Killer Bee. Having a pair of sandals with you will make this experience much more enjoyable—believe me!

    Now regarding lunch---They announced before we left the boat that there were no bathrooms on the beach so go before you leave the boat or it will be like 21/2 hours before we return to the boat. This concerned me greatly as at my age I rarely have 21/2 hours between bathroom visits. They had a good barbeque buffet but I was afraid to eat for the obvious reasons. I did make myself a big plate that my husband devoured. Te boy has been having rum punches for a while now and needed to fortify his empty stomach. (And now you and I both know just how empty the boy’s stomach really is!?)
    I just had a couple of bites of a hot dog and a taste of a couple of the sides. Nothing really tasted very good to me but I think I have a psychological aversion to St Kitts food since my first visit to that downtown Rams!

    In the past few days when I would ask the locals how they cook say pumpkin for example. They would tell me to steam it and they don’t use seasonings. That was my one big complaint with the food I was trying that it wasn’t seasoned. The food was sort of blah tasting to me! Man-I really season my tuna salad!!

    So the drinks flowed during lunch as well. The picnic was in the shade so I was comfortable. Some people went swimming, some people snorkeled, some just relaxed and a hearty crew headed to Sunshine’s!

    The group that relaxed became better acquainted. One darling young woman was asked what year of college she was in. She did look young. It turned she was in her second year of pediatric residency! She was traveling with her Mom who was quite proud of her lovely daughter. They were staying at the Marriott on an all inclusive plan. Her mother in trying to get the most bang for her buck was into multi course dining etc.. Her daughter said she barely has time to eat as a resident and just couldn’t handle these meals. (I should have sent my husband over to eat with her mother and she and I would have enjoyed the tuna-eh?)

    Another couple had gone fishing the day previous. Her husband caught a small albacore tuna (which is as you know the operative word of this trip for us). They brought it to Marshall’s for dinner the night before and they cooked it up for him. This couple had opted not to rent a car so were taking taxis everywhere they went from the Marriott. Taxis are not cheap on the island. For example they were planning to go to Spratnet that evening and said the taxi was to cost $20 US each way. Renting a car was expensive and we didn’t use it much some days but it was good just to have wheels ready and waiting. It also gave us much more of an opportunity to get to know the island. I know people are skittish about driving on the left. If I can do it anyone can. Soon to come I will have my first driving experience!

    We met another nice young couple on their honeymoon—Sean and Monica. They were both outgoing and friendly and winding down from their wedding. Remember Sean and Monica’s name as we will hear from them again.

    The trip back was much more lively but just as beautiful. I tried a few tasty beverages as well. I had this one called Ant’s Pants or some such. I am not sure what it was exactly but something with coconut rum?

    All in all it was a fun day and we both enjoyed. I would recommend it to everyone any age although I do not think it appropriate for children.

    We headed back home to more tuna, coladas, reading and rest. Real food is coming in the very near future for us so stay tuned!

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    Part Four
    Today is Day Camp day for John. It is already Thursday! How can it be? You thought we were adults and what is this Day Camp thing all about anyway.

    By now you may have figured out that John has more energy that I do—a LOT more energy! At home sometimes when he gets particularly antsy I find busy work for him. Here on St Kitts the same thing applies even though he has been relaxing pretty well.

    He is at heart even more of a tourist that I am. When the kids were little and on vacation I could send them out with him to explore. For example one time we had a stay in the Everglades all he wanted to do was go out and look for alligators and snakes and the kids came in handy to send as his companion.

    Now that we are older and the kids don’t vacation with us all the time it is just me?? And that was not going to work on the eco all day tour with Greg’s Safaris!! You have to climb a mountain for goodness sakes! So we called it his Day Camp and he was doing this adventure on his own.

    We got up early and did our usual routine. But by 7:30 he was all dressed and ready for his adventure! He didn’t have to meet the group at Timothy Beach Resort until 8:30. I told him I couldn’t make the clock move any faster. I packed him up some water and snacks plus a shirt change as directed.

    He sat there I swear like a ten year old going to camp—so cute and so excited! By the way I used Liz Pereira’s name and received a 25% discount which is considerable as the cost is now $85.

    When we got to TBR we saw that couple again from our plane ride we met at Turtle Beach. They are now very tanned and enjoying themselves. They told us they had been to Caio twice and really liked it. They liked their meal at Rock Lobster as well. Another couple who had been on the catamaran were joining John on his Eco adventure. The group consisted of six people which is the minimum.

    They serve them a nutritious breakfast, good lunch at the top and a good bye cocktail at the end.

    When he came home at the end of the day –he was a sight! His knees and legs were all dirty and he was sweaty. The shirt he wore initially was a total mess. He liked his “adventure” but found it hard (and he is in pretty good shape!) He thought it was interesting but although the tour guide was nice he didn’t think he was that knowledgeable. There was one gal on the hike(who has since emailed John to thank him) that found the hike a bit difficult. My husband is a good man with a great heart and he carried her backpack and helped her on some of the more difficult spots. This hike is definitely not for the faint of heart!

    Now I had myself a busy day. It was my first chance of driving. My husband was not sure about this and was blessing himself all over the place. I did just fine. I went slow and did my grocery shopping errands etc with no problems.

    First I went back to Sea Loft office and emailed the kids which I had done a couple of times. They have a computer in the office free for use of guests and owners. I also checked out a recipe for conch chowder. No tuna for us today!

    I drove myself down to Rams etc. They did not have a couple of ingredients I needed but I was able to manage. A soup person I am and I love to make them. I wanted to make it like a red clam chowder. In honesty I could have used my husband’s helpful hand on this day as I was up to my ears in peeling and chopping. This was a lot more work than tuna!!

    I had never used conch before and found them to be HUGE!! I tried chopping them up in the blender and that worked perfectly. I made a huge pot of it so we could have more than one meal. It sure looked good.

    I spent the rest of the day reading and staring out at the ocean—even took a nice nap. John came home a happy but tired camper. He took a long swim in the ocean to refresh and actually clean up his dirty bod.

    We both really enjoyed the conch chowder for dinner. It really tasted good and as is with most homemade soups it just got better the next day.

    Now it is Friday and we plan to take it easy. One of us at least has been going strong for two days now. We did our early morning routine and then headed out. We wanted to check out some of the beaches we have yet to see.

    We headed out towards Turtle Beach. I could do that drive every day it is so beautiful. We were stopped by a convention of goats at least two hundred i n the middle of the road. It was a great photo-op experience. There are quite a few signs along this road for impending (I use that word) developments. I hope they don’t come too soon.

    We went to Cockleshell, Shipwreck and Friars Bay beaches all quite pretty—undeveloped and unspoiled. We even found a couple of hidden coves that were special.
    We spent a couple of quiet hours on Turtle Beach. I mentioned before they have free chaises and shade for me. The restaurant doesn’t open until 11 and things don’t seem to get going until noon or so. It felt like we had the beach to ourselves. We enjoyed all the sights and sounds of the pet animals. The pig is a stitch –he is so fat and sleeps all the time comfortable in a big hole he made in the sand. The rooster goes at it. The pet goats nudge you. It is an experience for sure and a wonderful one.

    Just before we left a young couple we had met on the Cat ride from Manhattan arrived at the beach. They were staying at the Marriott and liked the Turtle Beach atmosphere.

    We were told that all the goats and cows you see on the way in (other than the pet ones) will ultimately be slaughtered. The let the goats have a couple of litters first. My husband seems to think (and let me know if this is true) but the ribs you eat on the island are in fact goat ribs.

    We planned to go out to lunch on this day but found out the both Rock Lobster and Ciao are only open for dinner. We were disappointed but we went “home” and I made us a big salad.

    John played golf again this afternoon. I had my usual routine except I made parrotfish for dinner. I wrapped in foil pockets seasoning it well (I only could find fresh thyme) and added garlic (from China?), green peppers. Onions and tomatoes, some white wine and lime juice too. It takes no time to prepare. I also was roasting sweet potatoes from the island. The fish turned out to be quite good actually and the sweet potatoes had a different texture and taste from ours but were quite good. See a real meal folks!—you all knew I had it in me now didn’t you?

    Yikes it already Saturday! When you start out on a 13 day adventure all told it seems like a long time but the days just fly by! We are both relaxed and have been enjoying ourselves immensely. My husband is brown as a berry and I am white as a sheet with my straight hair covered with a hat at all times! I am actually a mess. I am not really vain but it is nice not to curl the hair each and every day and fuss at all in the way you look.

    Today we have decided to go over to Nevis for the day. I called Noel’s the car rental place that Avis uses. I made a deal with him for a compact car for $40. This was an expense we should not have incurred. (I have written a letter of complaint to AAA about this) and we shall see how it gets resolved.

    My husband was out of fruit for his breakfasts so before getting on the ferry I wanted to get him some. It is market day again on St. Kitts. We were taking the 8 am ferry so we were down there shortly after 7 to shop. He dropped me off at the Veggies Market and went to park. I found nice papaya, guava and mangoes this day and also bought a nice piece of watermelon from the truck and of course more tomatoes. I love watermelon.

    John comes into the market laughing! What’s up? My “blessing himself” husband about my driving has just driven the car too far to the left and it landed in one of those ditches on the main street. Hello? Four guys came along and lifted the car out of the ditch. Fortunately there was no damage to the car.

    We caught the 8 am ferry. Besides the ticket you must pay $1. EC as a tax before boarding each way!!! They sure like their taxes there.

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    Part Five
    We appeared to be the only non locals on board and it was full. There was some 7th Day Adventist meeting on Nevis. Boarding appeared to be a survival of the fitness scenario. People just pushed and walked in front of you. It is just the way these ferries are boarded here as we noticed the same thing on the return. The ferry zips along and you are there in 45 minutes or less.

    The approach to Nevis offers a more charming port town that Bassetere. The island is much smaller on 15,000 to about 40,000 on St Kitts. The car rental agency was a bit late picking us up but after a call showed up quickly.

    We again approached this island counterclockwise. Our first stop was Montpelier Plantation. We parked and decided to walk around it a bit. What a gorgeous peaceful place this is! All of a sudden we hear “Helen, John”—and who do we see having breakfast outside but Monica and Sean. Remember them from the Catamaran ride? They were spending the last couple of nights of their honeymoon on Nevis at Montpelier. They had been at the Marriott on St Kitts. Small world isn’t it?

    We sat with them for a bit while they had the most beautiful breakfast I have ever seen. They were quite impressed with Montpelier and told us of the wonderful five star five course dinner they had enjoyed there the night before. I had a glass of water and we wished them well. And they will do well. You know sometimes you can just tell that on meeting a couple. Anyway the Montpelier sure looked like a great place to stay to us! If you are reading this Monica and Sean—again all our best wishes—happiness and good health!

    Our next stop was the Heritage exhibit. We paid a small fee and were given a quick but interesting tour of the little village they have there.

    The roads on this side of Nevis are pretty bad—no they are terrible. There are some very pretty sights though.

    Our next stop was Nesbit Plantation. It was nice but I can’t rave about it. It had a beautiful white sand beach beautifully maintained. We stopped into the beach bar there and ordered two Caribs. In my research you guys all told me what a great deal Caribs were on the island. Oh yah??? I expected they would cost 5EC’s or maybe a little more on the resort. Two Caribs cost us 26.50 EC!!! Hello? I took a picture of us in this pricey bar where we were clearly ripped off!!

    The resort itself did not look very busy at this time of year. I saw mostly elderly women when we were there. This would not be a resort I would ever select or recommend. There was just something about it that left me cold. Am I becoming an afficianado of resorts here or what? ..

    Our next stop was the Four Seasons. The golf course as you enter looked beat up. The grass wasn’t green anymore. There didn’t seem to be a lot of people playing here either. Of course it was a very hot day and approaching noon. We went in and checked it out. It had more of a look and feel of a tropical resort that I would expect. It definitely had more appeal to me than the St K Marriott. However it is still too big and impersonal. Again I will repeat I would feel different about it if I had young children with me. There is so much there for them to do.

    We walked down the beach to Sunshine’s and had a Killer Bee each. I have a thing for Bees and actually collect them so I HAD to have one of these. Basically they are rum punches with a sprinkle of nutmeg on top. A nice gal from Calypso’s next door had offered us a free drink when we got to the island but we didn’t get there. Thanks anyway for the offer. That looks like a nice beach bar as well to hang out.

    We headed into the port town to find a place for lunch. I stopped at a liquor store and inquired about a nice lunch spot. She sent us back out past Four Season to a new restaurant she had just tried called Mingles. It was cute and if successful could turn into a happening spot. They are on the beach as well and will be having concerts on a newly set up stage. They are also building an outdoor bar as well. I will be interested to hear how they make out.

    They had a good selection on the menu. My husband got the fish plate that had several sides. He said he didn’t realize how hungry he was and gobbled it up. My poor starving baby! I ordered the conch fritters that I thought were “just okay.” For some reason (and I hope they smarten up to this) they had a radio program on where little kids were calling in spelling words. It gave me a headache. We could hardly wait for the program to end.

    We have just about had it with our visit to Nevis except I think I might like to see the horse track. It was a LONG drive off the road and is probably one of the most picturesque horse tracks in the world being situated on the water. Nothing was going on the day we were there. They use it about nine or ten times a year and I guess it is a big deal on Nevis on race day!

    We are both tired now and ready to leave. We made the 4 pm ferry back.

    Did we think it was worth it to spend the day on Nevis? Yes and No. It is impossible to get a true feel for a place with only a few hours driving around. We are glad we saw it but wouldn’t have felt we missed much had we not. We like to see new and different places all the time so it is unlikely we will be returning to St Kitts so this was our one and only shot at Nevis.

    Fortunately our conch chowder dinner is ready and waiting for us. It truly tastes even better today. John continues to enjoy his coladas but he is running dry. We think we don’t have enough days left to warrant buying another batch so from Sunday on it will be rum punches instead!

    Sunday was to be another day of R&R. We had our usual morning routine and by this point have knocked off a couple more books each. I read eight books in all—but I had more time to devote to reading without hikes and day camp in my schedule.

    After relaxing all morning we debated about going out to lunch. I had read and heard about the Gold Lemon Resort and wanted to give it a try. In the end we decided against it and John finished up the conch chowder for lunch. He played golf again.

    This was a particularly hot day so I opted for those tuna stuffed tomatoes again over a hot parrotfish dinner. It was a good choice.

    Yet another relaxing evening with some tasty cold beverages and a cold supper.

    It is now Monday and our last full day! We are rested and relaxed. We also feel we have seen a good bit of the island and have a feel for it at least. We have done pretty much all we had hoped to do.

    We went downtown after our early morning routine and all seemed quiet. The usual vegetable truck was nowhere to be seen. Very few were working the veggie market. It seemed like a deserted town. I got a couple of things I needed (not sure what at this point). We were to find out later it was Labour Day on the island and a big holiday for them.

    We relaxed and read all morning and headed out to Golden Lemon for lunch. It is a lovely spot on a black beach—a former sugar factory I believe. This was to be the best lunch/meal we had on the island. It is charming and relaxing and the food was pretty good. John had their specialty a rum beef stew that he enjoyed. It came with some nice sides. The breadbasket was good and Mr.Diet indulged as he was so hungry. I ordered the tomato soup with mint served cold. It sounded good and with the delicious native tomatoes I thought I was in for a treat. However in all honesty it tasted like Campbell’s tomato soup with mint chopped in it. I was disappointed and didn’t eat it but my starving husband took care of that in short order. I also ordered the steak burger that was served on a whole wheat roll with fries and baked beans baked with bananas and cheese. There was also a little salad. This was a good lunch and John loved the baked beans. We had a leisurely time there and walked around a bit. We spoke with a nice couple from DC who were to be the only guests there that week.

    They were on the all inclusive plan and were quite pleased with it. All their meals and drinks were included and they found the food to be quite good. They found the staff gracious and eager to please.

    They told us the Prime Minister of St Kitts had been there to lunch the day before and they had been introduced to him.

    The owner of Golden Lemon is quite famous on the island and has been here for a very long time. He was the one with the vision to transform the Sugar Factory and it is a beautiful property. He was having lunch when we left and we introduced ourselves. It was a nice way to wind down our trip and I am glad we stopped by the Golden Lemon.

    Hark and Hear Ye!! It is the last night of our trip and my husband doesn’t have us all packed up and ready to go. Believe me this is a first of ALL time!! I say not a word! We enjoy our last meal and would you believe we are out of tuna fish? We went through eight cans!

    It is the Parrotfish in foil with sweet potato again and is quite good. Our last relaxing night and we make the most of it. How I will ever sleep again without the crashing waves I do not know. Yes I have a clock radio with the wave sounds but it just doesn’t compare.

    We do not have to check out of our condo until noon on this day and we continue our routine and read and relax most of the morning. Packing is a simple deal. With the washer dryer I have kept up on the dirty clothes so there is a minimum to wash on our return.

    We left lots of food in the refrigerator like mayo, milk, veggies, fruit etc that I hope the maid could put to good use.

    We went over to the airport at 11:30 in hopes we could secure exit seats again and we were able to. We checked our bags with no problems. They did go through our suitcases but with courtesy and none of the attitude we had heard about. Then we left to go and have some lunch off the airport. We chose Bopsy’s.

    John chose the St Kitts plate with Marlin. For whatever reason I did the same (and you know I know I don’t like St Kitts food) and I got mine with stewed lamb. The stewed lamb was fine but the rest of the plate-yuck! The pumpkin fritters were pumpkin dollar size pancakes. The macaroni and cheese was straight out of a Krafts box and it was dried out to boot. The vegetables looked great—eggplant and carrots etc but had no seasonings and were blah. I left almost a full plate while my boyfriend devoured his. Will someone remind me not to order Kittian food again?

    Despite the food we truly came to love St Ktts. It is a beautiful slow moving island with its own special charm. We are so glad we came at this time before it will inevitably become “Americanized” and the monstrous Marriott resort will merely be one of many. This will be sad to see.

    I am hopeful the people of St Kitts will have time and knowledge to absorb the changes that will happen to their beautiful island. It is inevitable with more and more expensive resorts and construction the disparity between the haves and havenots will be more apparent. I am hopeful this will not lead to a social decline and greater incidence of crime. I pray they keep their integrity and culture while we invade.

    It was a great vacation for us and we came home renewed and refreshed. We want to thank all of you on this board who have been so patient and generous with your hints and suggestions. I am hopeful our experience will be helpful to those coming to St Kitts in the future.
    Our flights home were fine and not a problem. The hotel where we parked the car took over an hour to pick us up. Then once on the highway we had a flat tire on the most dangerous strip of I-91! AAA took over an hour to come! We arrived home at 2 am instead of 10 pm—but ignoring our problems once on the ground here in Ct and just relaxed and remembering forever our St Kitts experience! Helen and John

    Any questions ? Fire away. H
    .


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    Thanks for the report, Reeder. Sounds like you had a great trip.

    I've never been grocery shopping on St. Kitts, but it sounds like their stores are pretty much like ours. Very limited in fresh items and any fresh meat or poultry is totally out of the question. The reason is because those items come in frozen from the US. I don't filet fish, either, so that outs us on the fresh fish at the market here, too. Interestingly enough, a boatload of Kittitians arrive on my island every Sunday to grocery shop and haul it all back, only because the taxes are so much higher there than here (I'm on St. Eustatius, just across from Brimstone Hill Fortress).

    I am also glad to hear that Golden Lemon still has good food since I haven't eaten there in a few years. Did Arthur Leaman tell you how all the locals told him he bought a "lemon" when he purchased the place to renovate it? Hence, the name "Golden Lemon." :)

    Thanks again for the detailed trip report. It was enjoyable to read.



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    Really great trip report!

    You got such a good sense of the island in a short time.

    Thanks for taking the time to post such detailed info - I am sure it will be very helpful to people considering a visit to St Kitts.

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    Lovethecape!
    I met my husband at the Cape many years back and we go every Sept for aabout two weeks each and every year.

    By the way for those of you who read my rather long report I forgot to add something. My husband did not gain an ounce on the trip and in fact dropped two pounds. I think I have invented a new Carribean diet and I am calling it "Tunafish Colada!" h

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    Jim_
    My husband played six times on the Marriott course during our stay and he did love it. He thought is was quite beautiful, challenging and meticulously maintained. H

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    Reeder,
    We live in CT and know that 6:55 flight to San Juan from Bradley. It's painful for us. We are not morning people but have made it two years in a row for a Caribbean getaway.

    I'm hoping to use Marriott points to help make our stay on St. Kitts more reasonable. I was starting to look at other options but your report has put St. Kitts as #1 again. I would like to see it before it becomes too developed. It also seems very safe which is important to me when bringing the children.

    September is my favorite time on the Cape although we can only get away for one weekend that month. We spend several weeks in Harwich each summer but visit all over the Cape. A favorite spot is the Beachcomber at Cahoon Hollow in Wellfleet.

    Thanks again for the report.

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    We ARE morning people but I thought that 6:55 flight was a dream. It was much shorter than I expected. We were on St. Kitts about 1 pm which was good.
    We met so many people who were staying at the Marriott on their points and liked it. I am glad my report swayed you in the St Kitts direction and I hope you have a wonderful time. H

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    I also enjoyed your trip report and especially appreciated your attention to detail. I'm also very familiar with the 6:55 am AA flight out of Bradley--we've been on it for every trip to the Caribbean except one--and we also love the Bradley International Inn for sleeping over the night before. Now that it's an Econo Lodge, somehow the cinder blocks feel that much grungier. Is that where you stayed over, too?

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    We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express. Te hotel was fine and the price was right HOWEVER it took them so long to pick us up at trip's end we both thought it wasn't worth it. It is our fantasy someday to return from a trip and have a nice man holding a sign with our name on it and whisk us home!! With our luck the guy would forget to show up as well. (You did read I assume how we also got a flat tire on I-91 at midnight?) h

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    Helen,
    Thanks for such a great trip report! We stayed at the Four Seasons on Nevis three months ago and found it highly suitable for us. We did visit St. Kitts but were glad that we chose to stay on Nevis. It was the quality vacation we had been looking for. It is so important that we find time to relax in our lives, isn't it?

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    Reeder, I just skimmed your report again (no easy task--heh!) and didn't see what you thought had caused your flat tire. Do you think it had something to do with the hotel?

    Would you mind sharing how much a night at the HI Express was, and how many days of parking you get with one night's stay?

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    I am not sure exactly what we paid but it was somewhere between 90-100 and that was the most reasonable we found. I think you could park there for up to two weeks which was also good. Another perk was they had a happy hour with catered food. It was enough for us to call it a night after since we were getting up at 4ish! They also had hot coffee and ready when we left that early in the am. I think they had a website but in any event I did call them directly to reserve and confirm park and fly. (Regarding the flat tire--I don't really think it was the hotel. It was the first flat we had had with the car. We should have checked the tires carefully before we left the hotel and didn't--something I would recommend. We were just so tired. Live and learn) h

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    I had to laugh at your mention of Bradley and one of the hotels there.We also know those early flights out of Bradley. Our next trip is to Curacao, new for us, and we leave around 6AM and the return is around 11:30PM...this will be a killer! I have stayed at the cinder block hotel, where even the alarm clock was chained to the wall!!! But lately we just make the 40 minute drive that morning and leave our car with Picollo. It is hard getting up at 2 to leave by about 3, (husband always allows an hour for a 40 minute drive, and wants to be at the airport 2 hours early even though no one is there at the check-in place!)but it's nice to get to our destination early. I enjoyed your trip report and we will definitely consider St. Kitts. I prefer not to cook or shop for food however, but I admire your ability to get the real flavor of the island. But I still prefer being served my little umbrella drinks, rather than making my own!!!

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    Toppy:
    Since we were going to park our car for over 12 days it was so clse to the same price as Piccolo that we decided to try Holiday Inn Express. I would recommend i to you as well giving you maybe another 90 minutes of sleep with no worries about flat tires etc enroute to the airport in the middle of the night.
    I hear what you are saying about liking to dine out and have drinks served. We just don't like to do al of our meals out. If we are lucky enough to have a great view where we are staying we like to take advantage of that too. However when on vacation whatever works is the way to go! Hope you enjoy Curacao!h

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    Hello Reeder,

    Loved your trip report!!!

    You are one funny lady. I laughed several times while reading your report.

    Sounds like you really got a feel for the island and had a great time.

    Sorry the food didn't impress you. I love to try different island food and usual find it great.

    Thanks for the report since I have been doing some research on St. Kitts and Nevis for a future trip.

    Next stop St Maarten.....

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