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Trip Report ejcrowe's Virgin Gorda trip report

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Well, let me start this trip report by saying two things: I managed to bring my camera home with me this time around, and right now I feel absolutely drained, both emotionally and physically, from staying up all night to finish the final Harry Potter book. As a means of dealing with my still-reeling feelings, I will write up my trip report to Virgin Gorda.

My companions this trip were my husband and our 15 year old granddaughter, and we stayed at the Adagio Villa in Mahoe Bay for 5 wonderful nights. The main objective for the two women on this trip was to snorkel to our hearts’ desire, and I declare that on the days we spent in the water we must have swum close to a mile each day. Our departure day was Thursday, 12 July, and all travel on American & Amer. Eagle went quite smoothly. We had a wait of close to two hours in Trellis Bay for the North Sound Express, which we spent exploring Aragorn’s art studio and drinking Ting at the internet café. After a 30-minute crossing, both the villa rep and the Mahogany car rental rep met us at the dock and got us squared away. I had arranged with a catering company to have some provisions left in the villa, so we quickly unpacked, fixed some drinks, and proceeded to explore the villa and its grounds. The villa was airy and gracious, comfortable without being fancy, and the view out to the Dog Islands was just lovely. After watching the sunset we freshened up and decided to do the easy thing and eat at nearby Giorgio’s. Which is as good a segue way as any to talk about food in general…


Giorgio’s Table – Our first meal happened to be our most expensive meal of the trip, which we were expecting. It really was astonishingly expensive, with appetizers ranging $16-25! But the setting was beautiful, serene, and tasteful, and Patrick, our server, was a joy. We ordered a selection of appetizers: pear & manchego ravioli (2), lobster ravioli, house salad, and lobster bisque. Four cocktails, the chocolate demi-souffle, and a tip brought our total to US $250. With the exception of the lobster bisque, the food was exquisite and well balanced and we all enjoyed our first meal on VG very much.

Leverick Bay – David, one of the staff members at Mahoe Bay, rather strongly suggested that we spend our Friday night up at Leverick Bay, eating dinner and watching the Mocko Jumby show. I hadn’t really planned to do it, but he was pretty adamant, so I called ahead to find out what time the show started. Well, the best part of the evening was seeing the views along the North Sound road. The buffet was $25 per person and quite ample in its offerings, but quite mediocre in all other aspects. They offered a selection of veggies, salads including a three-bean and a crab, and meats, including a whole pig. Dessert consisted of two large sheet cakes and fruit salad. The food was disappointing, the live band was obscenely loud (even at the farthest point away from it that we could get), the service for drinks was glacial (we were there for over two hours, repeatedly asked for water refills that never came, and eventually just got up and went to the bar ourselves for them) and the evening dragged on, as the Mocko Jumbies started more than an hour after I was told they would. In my opinion it was a complete waste of evening. We could have had a much better dinner elsewhere on the island and only shown up for the show. We stayed for about 30 minutes of the show, which was fairly interesting. My husband has a new digital SLR camera and got some very nice shots, but I’m not sure it was worth the colossal waste of our time to get those shots.

Flying Iguana – This was probably my favorite restaurant that we experienced. Set smack next to the airport, this ultra-casual spot affords great view of both the sea and airplanes in their flight patterns. Our first meal here was for lunch, where we ordered the blackened chicken, the grilled fish sandwich, and the Iguana burger. Six sodas, one fantastic Painkiller with a generous float of dark rum on top, and a tip brought the total to US $66. We watched three planes arrive and take off during our break there, and Puck (the owner) entertained us with his two birds, Chester and Big Boy. Our successful lunch resolved us to return the next day for a late breakfast, where we ordered the Mahoe Bay Special, banana pancakes, and Bushwacked French toast. All of them were excellent in their way—the Mahoe Bay special was nice & savory with a perfect balance of flavors, the banana pancakes looked like a mess but were actually very rich and cake-like, and the Bushwacked French toast packed quite the wallop! Two mimosas and two Blood Marys plus tip brought our total to US $60. Incidentally, our bar tab was higher than our food tab, and we remarked that you either had to be in New Orleans or the Caribbean to spend more money on food than alcohol at breakfast! (NB: I had a few Bushwackers on this trip, as they were as much fun to order as they were to drink. But the spelling always eliminated the “h” in whack. I’m not sure why.)

Mine Shaft – This placed provided a fantastic vantage point for watching the sunset, and the food was also quite good. We arrived early and got the choice table out on the deck and began snapping photos right away. It turned out to be the only really spectacular sunset we saw for the whole trip. Four cocktails, coconut curry shrimp, mango chicken, jerk chicken wrap, an extra order of fried plantains, Key Lime pie and a tip brought our total to US $120. With the exception of the pie, which was mediocre, the rest of our food was fresh and tasty, and we discussed whether or not our experience at Giorgio’s was twice as good as our time at Mineshaft. Certainly the surroundings were much less posh, and the food was much simpler, but the evening wasn’t any less satisfying. We all agreed that it was pleasant to be able to experience both ends of the spectrum.

Rock Café – We called ahead to make a reservation for an outside table next to the waterfall, but when we arrived, they were only seating inside because of the storm that had just passed through. Disappointed, we went to a table where we were informed that the live music would be starting in about 30 minutes. My husband has a hard time hearing already, and with live music he would have no chance of hearing any conversation and enjoying his dinner. The music at Leverick Bay had been bad enough, but music in the same room would have been untenable and I didn’t want to put him through that, so with profuse apologies and an explanation to our hostess we got up to leave and made reservations for the following night instead. We were out the door when a server stopped us and said if we didn’t mind waiting for a few minutes we could indeed have the table outside that I’d made the reservation for. Our granddaughter was mortified, but my husband and I were thrilled that it worked out that way for us. We very clearly were happy to come back the next night, but the restaurant just as clearly was reluctant to lose our custom that night. We ended up with the private deck with only table on it in an enchanting setting. Three decks were tucked among the boulders and our table was in a sheltered alcove that was very romantic. We ordered a pasta dish and two fish specials, one caprese salad, and one house salad to share, and all were excellent. In fact, my fish dish was one of the best I’ve ever had. Six cocktails and a huge tip for their graciousness in accommodating us brought our total to US $160.

Chez Bamboo – Our last night we chose to eat here, but in retrospect I wish we had either tried someplace new or returned to a restaurant we really enjoyed. The garden setting was lovely and the service was friendly, even solicitous when I confessed my belly was aching a little. A few dashes of bitters in my way did the trick and before long I was able to order a cocktail that earlier I hadn’t felt up to imbibing. We shared a huge house salad among the three of us but still didn’t finish it, due in part to the yummy hummus that accompanied our table bread. Granddaughter didn’t care at all for her hamburger, my pasta was abysmal, and husband’s curry lobster was interesting and overall pretty good, but not at all worth $40 on its own. We shared a banana butter crust tart that was served warm and which slightly redeemed the meal, but overall we were indeed disappointed. Our total was US $150, including four cocktails and a tip.

With the exception of our meal at the Flying Iguana, all of our breakfasts were taken at the villa. Most days we just did the fruit, toast, & cereal thing, but our last day my husband cooked us up a lavish breakfast. I found myself enjoying starting our days with a light breakfast, much to my surprise. Not only was it a good way to cut down on costs, but also it felt good not to be eating a heavy breakfast every morning, which is what we usually do when staying in a hotel.

So let’s see…in summary, I would give food raves to Flying Iguana, Mine Shaft, and Rock Café and add that I found them all to be an excellent value. I would give a rave to Giorgio’s Table, but with the caveat that you’re paying out the nose for every imported morsel and the elegant teak ambience. I would go so far as to warn people away from the Leverick Bay buffet and I would probably not return to Chez Bamboo. There were three places we wished we’d been able to try: Anything Goes, a small takeaway place on the road to the Baths whose name we didn’t get, and a little ice cream place called something like Jerry’s and Grandma’s Kitchen. We stopped three times on two different days and it was closed each time.

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