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Trip Report A couple, a rental car and 10 days

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These are day by day recollection of events from firsttimers on St.Lucia with aim to experience the island outside the predominant AI / cruise ships paths. Arrival January 30th, departure February 8th, 2011. A slightly different perspective of holidaying on St.Lucia.

Arrived this sunny Sunday afternoon with BA, right on schedule. The immigration process was fast, and I went to the Immigratrion and Visa office to get my Int. driving license stamped.
We booked a car from Cool Breze and they have it prepared, a brand new Suzuki SX4. Off we drove, slowly, towards our hotel. Fox Grove Inn is situated above Praslin Bay on the East Coast. It is a small hotel yet there is a restaurant and quite large pool. Our room has a balcony and high ceiling so is airy and cooled by a constant breeze. We had a fish for dinner and it was tasty. Hit the bed early after a long air travel.

First full day on St.Lucia. A lot of driving. Started early up the East Coast towards Castries. There are several spots where part of the road is missing and the traffic is one way but the road generally is in great condition, well paved and quite wide, at least for Caribbean standards. The town of Castries does not impress us, we have to give it a second chance, by foot this time. The West Coast road is another story. Many hairpin bends, ups and downs, and more places where landslides have cut the road away. However driving was never hairraising, it was slow and the scenery is lush and very tropical. On our way down to Soufriere we have stopped at Villa des Pitons Hotel, our accommodation-to-be in the Pitons area. The place is undertaken a heavy renovation job and my personal opinion is that it will not be open for business soon. The views toward Soufriere and Pitons are excellent though. We were showed another property located above Le Haut, a boutique one with three apartment houses, very new. The position is even better, views are gorgeus and my wife likes the interior design. However it was too remote for us. Finally we were able to get a room at The Still Beach House. We walked into the Soufriere. It looks and feels very Caribbean, like Gouyave on Grenada. One main road, a town square, lot of shops and bars, and we could feel and smell the Caribbean we are remembering. We were happy to find Debbie from TA who has a shop just on the corner of the town square. After exchanging some news and impressions we continued alongside the West Coast to Vieux Fort. The road has many turns but there are no more signs of Tomas. Our last task of the day was to meet another TA member on the airport to give him a lift to Rodney Bay. Very interresting persons, him and his girlfriend and the almost 2 hour drive to Rodney Bay was filled with stories. We returned to our hotel well after sunset and driving in the night was O.K. as there are enough streetlamps alongside the road.

Our second day was aimed at the south of the islan driving in clockwise direction. Our first stop was at Point Sable where the winds are strong and in the distance we could watch the ballet of kitesurfers. On Anse de Sable a large shaddy park was kept tiddy and winds were softer yet strong enough for more kitesurfers. The beach itself is long and made of light yellow sand thus the name Sandy Beach. Following the road and keeping left at the roundaboutand then left again we came to Moule aChique lighthouse. First we passed the entrance and came to neighbour peak with nice view over the lighthouse itself. Then we parked our car at the fenced gate and walked up to the place. A wooden terrace with a gazeebo is constructed on the far end of the Cap and it offers excellent views over the island of St.Lucia and toward the St.Vincent.Next we stopped in Laborie. It is a quaint village, very Caribbean, one street, few bars, a shore and a pier. The best place to
park the car is in front of the Catholic Church. For lunch we decided to enter the Big Bamboo bar, it looked nice from the outside. The food, a usual one-platter of rice, noodles, fish and chicken, was too bland. A bottle of Salsa Lizano would make the it much better. On the north side of the village is Rudy John Beach Park. The short apprroach road is steep and there was some constructing taking place so we just observed it from above. It seems a nice place to spent a few hours swimming or sunbathing. The road from Laborieclimbs steadily passing by the exit to Saltibus and arriving at Choiseul then turning back toward Vieux Fort. As we noticed the Sign for Heritage Site we eneterd the open gate. We came to Balembouche Estate and as we were the only visitors mrs.Uta, owner and curator of this magical place, gave us a personalized tour. One can hardly imagine how much love and efforts are needed to keep this place as it is. Well worth to visit. For the afternoon coffee we have stoped at Brown Sugar Cafe at Aunt Debbie's. It was between lunch and dinner time so no other guests but a class of young Looshans preparing for their future in the tourism industry. It was interresting to watch them how focused they were to absorbe as much as possible from their teacher. A quick look at lunch and dinner menu carte showed us that average cost of a lunch main dish is 30-50 EC and dinner main dish is 50-70 EC. We came home in daylight ... already and achievement.

Today we were at the far north of St.Lucia. driving anticlockwise on the East Coast highway is already familiar. It seems that in Castries is always a rush hour but with 3 cruise ships in harbor ... Parked our car near the entrance to Pigeon Island. The Pigeon Island Park has few trails so one cannot be lost. We went to Fort Rodney first and then to Battery Ridge where we sat on the bench in the shade for quite a while while enjoying the cool breeze and views over to Martinique on one side and Rodney Bay and Castries on other. For lunch we stopped at Jambe de Bois and fish was excellent not to mentione that it was accompanied with 2 different spicy salsa. If not for food one should stop there for the ambient. For coffee we went to Captain Cellar another cool spot inside the Pigeon Island Park. There are two nice beaches with beach chairs to rent and several restrooms with showers. A lot for entry fee of 5 US$. On return we stopped in Rodney Bay but again the vibe was missing so we just leave it to others. We came back just a shy before sunset.

Not much to report today since it was lady (shopping) day. Up north again and to Mourne. We stopped at Eudovic Art Studio. We saw some nice wood statue and been lucky to have few minutes between the cruise ship folks to exchange a few words with the man itself and with some of his family. Next stop was Caribelle Batik. Excellent views over Castries. After some more shops we are back for an early afternoon reading seansa on our balcony.

So today we wake up for the last time (this trip) on the East Coast. Since Mamiku Gardens are close to our hotel we walked there. Not like gardens in Europe but very natural settings. We walked around for 2 hours and absorb the tranquility of the place. To be the only visitors added to the positive impression. We drove to Soufriere via Vieux Fort stopping near the airport at the Beach Bar&Restaurant for lunch. This one was good and tasty and costs 36 EC for the 2 of us including drinks. There was a big sailboat anchored in fornt of Soufriere which was perfect for several postcard perfects photos. I liked the town immediatelly. This is what I recon a Caribbean village at its best. Stunning surroundings, colorful old houses, lot of people on the narrow streets, some perfectly positioned local restaurants on the shore ... yep I am positive that we will enjoy our days here. I have made a quick walkaround and it feels safe.

ur first full day in Soufriere area started with several showers so we left hotel quite late. We stopped at Diamond Botanical Gardens. A guide named Tomas approaced us and after negotiating the fee (10 US$) we accepted his services and never regreted. He was full of info and very cool. The gardens are excellent, very lush and in case that there are too many visitors a repet visit is a must. One can deep himself into 3 pools filled with therapeutic water and pretend that he is a French soldier from mid of 16th century. Also the waterfall is very scenic with different colors that might change over a week or two. We continued our tour inland past the New Jerusalem waterfall and bath (nobody at the gate so we skipped it) and arriving at a small community where several men were busy removing the debries. We were told that the scenic water cascading over a steep rocky cliff is named Spike waterfall. This waterfall is very scenic but approach is difficult due to debries left after Tomas. We donated a small amount and continued our way through and up the valley. Higher we dove better the views. Several strong but short downpours cleaned the air and when sun was on the smells were strong and very "junglelike". Steep slopes were densly covered with deep greenery ... then we saw what a force of nature can do. On the opposite slope was a big scar that finished among a small clutter of houses. We cannot even imagine the feelings of people during the huricane. We have made some wrong turns but have backtracked fast and have reached the West Coast highway some 5 miles before Fond Doux. This ecolodge and working estate also offers guided tours but the tour was pricey at 10 US$ p.p. and redundant after Botanical Gardens. We have a lunch there and it was very tasty meal in nice enviroment (88 EC$ for two). Next we drove to Piton waterfall located on Jalousie Road. Since the sun was already behind Petit Piton we continued toward Jalousie, parked our car on designated visitor's parking lot and walked down to the beach. We stopped frequently taking pictures of Petit Piton. It took us 20 min to the bottom where we found a nice bay located between the two Pitons. White sand beach make a picture perfect place (not a coral sand but crushed calcite apparently imported from Trinidad). However the setting is faboulous. A visitor can rent a shaded place with cushioned wooden beachchair for 25US$ per day or use several plastic bechchairs for free. The snorkeling area is protected by a line of buoys and is located on the righthand side, behind the pier. We have decided to enjoy the scenery for a while and ordered a pina colada and a Piton (50 Ec$$) and sip it slowly while watching the sun goes down. Pricey but location, location, location ... On our way back to the car we used resort shuttle and at the exit we gave a lift to two local boys that have just finished their working day at the resort. We learned some last minute news and returned to our hotel just before dark. As the final act of this long day we went for a cup of coffee at Wine&Coffee Shop, a small yellow house a hundered meteres away from Hummingbird resort entrance.

unday is in town. The morning again starts with many showers so we take it easy. Late breakfast, a book on the balcony, I even went swimming. No need to shower as rain is off an on. After twelve we finally collected ourselves together and went to explore some more. First we returned to Piton waterfall and baths. The man at the entrance remembered us and escorted us down the path. This is a local community place, very basic but nice nonetheless. At the bottom of the track there are 2 sources and 2 baths. One is with warmer water brought there by a mean of simple acquaduct. Second bath is bigger and water is less warm and originated from a small stream that cascades over a steep cliff. The entrance is 7,5 EC$ pp very reasonable. Thyen we drove into the volcano. Yep we visited Sulphur Springs. Entrance fee is 20 EC$ pp for a tour which includes also a guide. Our guide was a young lady and we have a ton of laughter about the place and about other things in St.Lucia. We drove also to see the mud baths. Might be good for skin but surely looks muddy. As today is my wife B=day I was planning to stop at Ladera for a cocktail. But we missed lunch and on exit we have been told that a new restaurant is open on Hotel Chocolate premises. We were late but they were kind enough to let us have a lunch there. What a discovery! The open air restaurant is superbly designed, all the staff is extremly friendly and the food ... well I am not a foodie but have enjoyed everything they brought us. We were only patrons, have the place to ourselves. View toward Petit Piton, soft music, my wife's sparkling eyes ... yes, life sometimes is beautiful. We have had also a lenghty and very informative discussion with manager Phil who explained us about cocoa they produce and hotel they are finishing and ... Two hours later we says hello after paying 110 US$ for starter, main dish, desert and a glass of wine for 2 persons. Although I am not much impressed by upper level (and expensive) restaurants I strongly advice everyone that is looking for a classy yet relaxed place for a dinner to give Boucan Restaurant a try. Our return to Soufriere was fast and then we went to village for some quality photo opportunities. Whoever is in serious photography already knows that great pictures are done before breakfast and at the sunset. The only task fot today is to persuade my wife that Superbowl is a "must".

The pace of the Caribbean has finally slowed us down. And frequent showers. Lazy morning then slow walk around Soufriere. For lunch we decided to go to Martha's Tables. Bingo! This is the plave that we likes. Restaurant at home. Seven tables, small bar, a waitress (daughter) with a broad smile. And food. If yesterday we have had a lesson about haut cuisine classy style today was a lesson of haut cuisine home style. The food was excelent, even presentation was much above average. The setting, well anywhere Pitons is great. We went full distance with pumpkin soup, special of the day and desert. The cost was 110 EC$ for two. No need to hurry so we sat there and have a nice chat with mrs.Martha. Also this one is not to be missed. For those readers that have been to Grenada this is Boots. Not willing to go straight back we drove to small fishermen village Choiseul. There is a large protected area where colorful fishing boats are tied. The catch of the day were on sale. Many photos later we returned to Soufriere. Our last full day in St.Lucia. We could stay much longer in Soufriere.

Our days were full and fun, we have seen a slice of what St.Lucia is offering and there is always a next time. It is our last day today. A lazy late breakfast and some souvenirs shopping at Debbie's store. Postcards have been written and dropped into the post office 'pull the shoe lace" box. One more lunch, one more drive on the West Coast road and it is over. And we will have to wait another twelve months till our next visit to beautful Caribbean islands.

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