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brenandg Dec 9th, 2008 08:08 AM

Little St John Report
Just returned from our 6th trip. I'll try to keep this short. First, we still love that tiny, beautiful island. It suits us to a "T".

We stayed at Gallow's Point again. Our unit had a fresh coat of paint (11C) and also GP had new towels, bed linens, and nicer beach chairs. They also now have free wi-fi. Wish I would have brought my laptop. More on that later. For poss, who is always wondering about renovated units, they are completely gutting 15A (lower oceanview) and 11A, lower harbor. There may be more, but those are the ones I know about. We were painfully aware of it because for the first few days, the tile saw was driving us nuts when we were at our unit during the daytime hours. Continous, annoying, and right underneath us :(. Since it turned out to only be a couple of days, I never said anything. We ate at Cafe Roma the first night which is under new ownership and recently reopened. The food was just as delicious, if not better and the new owner, John, is a really nice guy. I had the meat lasagna and Gary had Spaghetti with Italian Sausage which were both very good. The owner then comped us a piece of cheesecake with mango sauce which we shared. Delicious.

We picked up our rental the next day which was on empty. We then went to get gas and the E&C Station was closed. Hmmmm, not enough gas to get to Coral Bay. We went back to Cool Breeze and they gave us another car with 1/2 tank. We were happy with Cool Breeze and it was $62 per day for a Suzuki SX4 with the insurance included. We liked that vehicle. It was roomy with fromt and back seats and a nice sized area in the back for chairs and beach supplies. It also drove like a little mountain goat. So, we got off to a late start and were hungry by this time, so we hit Skinny Leg's for a burger. We still think they are the best burgers on the island. We then hit one of our favorite beaches, Maho. After that, some provisioning at Starfish Market and Starfish Gourmet. I could really drop some money in that store. So many yummy things. This day sure went by quick, but now we are ready for the week.

Next day, we ended up at Hawksnest and Cinnamon. After that, lunch at Woody's which is adequate enough. We then went to The Beach Bar for a Sunday Jazz Gathering with some friends from another forum. Not too big of a turnout this time, but still fun meeting new people. We met some folks from DC who we became fast friends with and went to Rhumblines for dinner. This is one of my new favorite places! I was a little deterred because I heard the food was very spicy, but it was delicious! I loved the Pu Pu Platter and all of the unique dipping sauces. Lots of different selections too. We all enjoyed our food.

Time for a little shopping at St John Spice this morning. This is a great little store and I highly recommend making some purchases there One of my favorite places for a breakfast sandwich is no longer. Paradise cafe in Wharfside Landing is now going to be callled The Surly Cantina and serves decent Mexican food at reasonable prices. So many restaurant changes on St John, I can hardly keep up with them.

Our friends from dinner yesterday came to visit at Gallow's Point for the afternoon and we enjoyed some drinks, snacks from the gourmet market, and a lovely sunset out on the pool deck. Not to mention great, humerous, conversation.

Next day, we were off to Trunk Bay. My that is a beautiful beach. We went to Shipwreck landing for lunch. It was good, but a little pricey for lunch. I had a Greek Salad with blackened shrimp and it was about $20. Yikes. We really wished we would have gotten the fish and chips they are known for. They looked really good. I am now catching a cold, so we went to Chelsea Drugs for some meds and pretty much just relaxed. Tried to get a pizza delivered from Ronnie's, but their car was "broken down". We ended up just fending for leftovers.

Not too much too report today. Gary's snorkel mask broke so we went shopping for a new one. We then went over to STT to have dinner with some friends we met last year who moved to STT in January. It was our best meal of the vacation. I had Caribbean Lobster and the others had Wahoo and Tuna. All were delicious!! My dinner came with desert, so we all got a fork and dug into the Key Lime Pie. We really enjoyed seeing our friends again and talking about their life on the island. After dinner, they graciously drove us back to Red Hook to catch the 9pm ferry.

Now for the really fun day. Boat Day!! We shared a charter with the friends we had met at The Beach Bar. They asked if we were interested in sharing the cost and we were. We chartered with Captain John Brandi of PalmTree Charters. What a great guy, we had a really fun day. I highly recommend his boat. We went past Smuggler's Beach on Tortola, but it looked dead. None of had been to Cane Garden Bay, so we stopped there and had a beach drink. It was nice to check out Tortola, but not one of our favorite spots. We then went to Jost, stopping by Sandy Cay and Spit for pictures. Had lunch at Foxy's Taboo. It was good, but the last place I would expect to find Mediterranean inspired food. Captain John thought The Bubbly Pool might be working, but we were running out of time and wanted to head to White Bay. We hit the usual spots, Seddy's and Soggy Dollar. One of our boatmates had brought his guitar and we had a hoot singing some island tunes. Think "Five O'Clock Somewhere", What would Captain Brandi do?? Not to mention some other humerous improvisations!

After that fun day, we went to visit our friends villa at The Westin. Very nice and huge with I think four bedrooms total and private pool and hot tub. We picked up a Pizza from The new Cruz Bay Pizza Shop which was OK in a pinch and called it a night.

Last day, sooooo sad. Met our friends at Maho and hung out for the afternoon. My husband was so thrilled this trip because I don't snorkel and he met some folks who love to snorkel. He was in heaven. On a sad note, our Olympus 770 took on some water the last day and we lost all of our pictures:(. I didn't have my laptop, so hadn't downloaded any of them. Live and learn. It will be coming with us next time, especially since GP has wi-fi now. We went to Skinny's for one last burger and picked up sandwiches from Deli Grotto for dinner. Our friends camera took on some water too, just poured out of the housing. Luckily she had her pics downloaded. Double jinx for us!

Long day of travel the next day and US Air lost our bag, but thankfully, we got it back the next day. Guess we have to mourn our losses with the pictures and take more next time. All in all, another great trip. Oh, and I guess I can't write a short trip report!

ejcrowe Dec 9th, 2008 09:36 AM

Great trip report, Brenda! But, boy, am I ever sorry to hear that you lost your photographs. That's awful, and I know just how it feels because it happened to me two summers ago. I still feel that wrenching in the gut when I think about it. There *may* be some good news, but I don't want to get your hopes up. I have the same camera and after my trip to Hawai'i this year it went dead--I assume because some water got where it wasn't supposed to go. I thought I had lost all of the pics that I hadn't downloaded because the camera didn't respond when I tried to turn it on, even after several fresh battery changes. Two weeks ago I tried to turn the camera on just for kicks to see if anything happened and it worked. Maybe just give it a long time to dry out and try it again--if it happened to mine it could happen for yours, too.

brenandg Dec 9th, 2008 10:30 AM

Thanks for the input on the camera. The problem is, not only is the camera dead, the picture card appears to be corroded and wouldn't let us download after we got home :(. The card was left in the camera and we didn't realize it was wet. I think the salt water did it in. Maybe the camera can still be salvaged, who knows. Even our friends who had a housing for their camera weren't immune.

Just wanted to mention, the restaurant on STT where we had our best meal was called Hook, Line and Sinker in Frenchtown. We had an appetizer (excellent mussels, large portion), four dinners, one dessert and about three drinks each (yes, three, we were there for a good while ) for $187. Not what I would call fancy, high end, just wonderfully good and casual.

KVR Dec 9th, 2008 03:51 PM

Glad you had a good trip. Sucks about your pictures. I love my waterproof digital and we just upgraded to a newer model with more features. I don't think we'll ever buy any other type of camera again.

brenandg Dec 9th, 2008 05:03 PM

Thanks, Kelly. Ours is (ummmm, was) a waterproof digital camera. What kind do you have? DH is soooooo bummed about losing all of his snorkel pics. If only I had my laptop to download :(.

KVR Dec 10th, 2008 05:11 AM

I have a Pentax Optio. I bought it in Feb. 2006. I really love that camera, but I've dropped it many times and the auto focus started messing up. I looked into buying the new Olympus Stylus on-line. I really liked the features, but the cost was kinda high. I finally went to Best Buy to look at it and decided it was way too small. The buttons on the back were so tiny, it was hard not to hit more than one at a time. I really love my Optio, so I just bought the new upgraded one that have out - the WP60. It really has about the same features at the Stylus and the cost was about $100 cheaper. I just ordered it last week on-line, so I haven't received it yet. Can't wait to play with it and test it out.

Tuxedocat Dec 10th, 2008 11:49 AM

brenandg: Oh, Thank you thank you thank you for the STJ fix. Too bad about your camera! I bought an Olympus 770 too and it worked great in the water and then about a month later, it started to act funny and finally shut down. You have to be very careful regarding making sure the openings are all tightly shut, and then you have to make sure you follow their after water cleaning procedure. I'm sending mine out to be fixed. Hopefully, I'll get it back in time for the next trip. Hopefully, January!

ScottB Dec 10th, 2008 02:32 PM

Thanks for the report. Sounds like they are slowly but surely updating more & more unit at Gallows. We stayed in 9A in 06, and it needed a some TLC for sure.

Trying a villa for the first time this year...can't wait. Thanks again for the STJ fix....and sorry to hear about your camera. Did you attend the USVI forum gathering at the beach bar?

brenandg Dec 10th, 2008 04:43 PM

Sounds like maybe I shouldn't give up on that camera yet! We haven't even looked at it since we got home. It's just that the picture card looks to be corroded. Is there any way of getting around that? I might have to re-explore that this weekend and try downloading again.

Scott, We did go to the Beach Bar Gathering but it was a small turnout. Happily, we did meet DC Photo (Sandy and Mel) and spent a good deal of time with them. I'm convinced our husbands were separated at birth :) We had such fun! She will be doing a TR with pics on the other forum, so stay tuned...

KVR Dec 11th, 2008 03:12 AM

Tuxedocat, I'm glad now that I didn't buy the Olympus 770. That was the camera I orginally wanted to get. I've never had any issues with my Optio except my own cluminess.

Brenda, you may want to take your camera and card to a professional camera shop and see if they can retrieve your pictures.

caribtraveler Dec 12th, 2008 11:49 AM

Oh look at you with your 6th trip to St. John! Nice!! Sorry to hear about your pictures. I also recommend you try a camera shop. You never know. :-)

brenandg Dec 12th, 2008 06:26 PM

Hey, guess what? The camera did come back to life!! I tried it tonight for the heck of it and was able to download all of my pictures :).

Tuxedocat Dec 12th, 2008 07:53 PM

Holy turtle! That is great! I'm still crossing my fingers for my 770. If they can figure it out, it would be a great thing as it is so convenient.

ejcrowe Dec 13th, 2008 04:56 AM

*doing my happy dance* Yay! I am so pleased for you!

DebitNM Dec 15th, 2008 09:37 AM

Brenda - Did you have lunch at Miss Lucy's or did the goats turn you off totally [lunch in March 2006] LOL!!

Our friends who live in Coral Bay were here visiting us in Colorado in September. I had to pull up your pictures of us and our pictures of you to show them. That was indeed a lunch to remember - unfortunately you didn't care too much for either your food or the goats!

We are headed back to St John in March 2009 where we will spend 12 days in Coral Bay with them and a few nights in other locals.

Thanks for updates, will make notes.


brenandg Dec 15th, 2008 06:53 PM

Hi Deb!
Really, the goats don't much bother us, not do any of the critters on STJ. We simply didn't like our food that day and haven't bothered to go back. The setting however is beautiful. We are shamefully hooked on the simple burgers at Skinny's. We have tried Island Blues and Shipwreck landing and still have a gravitational pull to Skinny Leg's. One of these days, I will have to give Miss Lucy's another chance.

By the way, have you ever heard about the sheep vs goat question? I always thought there were a gazillion goats on the road in Coral Bay. Although they look very similar at a glance, the goats tails point up and the sheep tails point down. Never thought I would be checking out goat/sheep butts to figure it out, LOL.

Have fun on your March trip!!


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