St. John Last-Minute Weekend

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Aug 31st, 2006, 07:30 PM
  #1
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St. John Last-Minute Weekend

We had a last minute trip to StJ this past weekend because we heard from our contractors on our house in Coral Bay that there were some issues that we needed to deal with in person. I have to say that I have had excellent experiences with www.travel.aol.com and their last-minute trips. The drawback is that they are offered only a couple of weeks to 5 hours beforehand, and the packages are strictly "packages" and not flexible in terms of changes. But you really can't beat the price for the reduced airfare plus hotel and/or car. These packages are 2 to 6 days in duration, but the packages for each duration are limited. We would have liked to go from Saturday to Wednesday, but I could only get the Saturday to Tuesday package (officially, I'll explain later). On Saturday morning, we flew from Hartford to San Juan and were on St. Thomas by 1:45. We picked the airfare/car deal and picked up our Hertz car at the airport. We were sitting on our porch in StJ by 4:00. When we flew in, the skies were grey with a light drizzle but this couldn't diminish our thrill of being in the islands. Darn it... we'd happily swim in that weather. Saturday night turned out to be perfectly lovely. We went to dinner at Sweet Plaintains in Coral Bay. The owner, Prince was charming as always. We never get past the wonderful appetizer menu. We made a wonderful meal of ceviche, tostinos (sp), grilled shrimp, the most delectable salt fish cakes, and jerk chicken drumsticks. A bit pricey, but hey, you don't eat like this everyday. Sunday was as perfect a day as any. We worked with our contractors in the morning and in the afternoon we went to Francis Bay. No major snorkeling sitings, but there were some very large queen and parrot fish. The coral is still struggling from last year's bleaching. But the water overall was gorgeous. Our only problem was to forget the Cinderella rule... we stayed too late and the sand fleas/no-see-ums made a mad feast of us. Monday was also gorgeous. Everyday, the weather channel reported a 30% chance of rain but we experienced no rain during our stay. Monday night, we finally tried Aqua Bistro and were very impressed by their deft rendering of grilled seafood and penne in a sublime rose sause. Good size portions and nice presentation unexpected for what appears to be a casual outdoors environment. Tuesday was also beautiful and were happily surprised that our flight home via Miami was canceled due to anticipation of Tropical Storm Ernesto. As it turned out, we went home on Wednesday as we had originally desired. Tuesday night, after a fantastic day on the water, we sated ourselves with conch fritters and specially grilled mahi-mahi at Shipwreck Landing. By the way, they are closed during September and October for renovations. The water was as clear as I have ever seen it. There were no crowds to speak of, but it definitely was not deserted as one would expect during the height of hurricane season. I think we'd take a chance again at this time of year, especially with the value of the last-minute offerings. It was such a wonderful and unexpected treat. In case of dangerous weather, the airlines are quite accomodating with rescheduling. The biggest risk is the possibility of non life-threatening rain which would spoil some sun time. But IMO, there are plenty of reasons to be here beside a sunny day. I downed many a libation in honor of my fellow Fodorites.
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Sep 1st, 2006, 05:09 AM
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what a treat to wake up to your last minute trip report this morning. how fortunate you and dh are to be fulfilling the dream of sooo many fodorites. (and jeez, if one must have contractor issues wouldn't it be great if they were all on st. john)
nice of ernesto to help out with your trip plans instead of ruining them.
p.s. - i believe i speak for most fodorites when i say thanks for enjoying those libations for us...
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Sep 1st, 2006, 12:19 PM
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heh--I almost skipped over this post because I thought it was someone who was asking for info about a last minute trip to St. John. To my delight, it was a trip report from you!

Did you get your contractor issues squared away? how is the house coming? Do you have a deadline?

Hartford is our airport, too. Were you able to earn FF miles on your American flights through the travel.aol.com site?

thanks for the post, especially for the food details and for imbibing your potent potables in our honor!
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Sep 1st, 2006, 01:36 PM
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I'M SO JEALOUS!
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Sep 2nd, 2006, 10:47 AM
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Virginia: Sometimes I feel funny about writing STJ trip reports as I am one of the lucky ones that get to go at least twice a year. But then I think of the nearly-obsessive yearning that folks on this board (myself most definitely included) that lap up any trip report about just any place in the Caribbean with vicarious relish...then I think, maybe I was born to entertain. Maybe I can express my gratitude to the overarching whatever by sharing... but then again, am I just feeding the habit of addicts like myself? Aiiyyhh... the moral questions? Actually, I think it's a bit of all of that, but mostly, I receive countless moments of entertainment and food for thought from the wide array of Fodors posters. I LOL to think of some of the funny, challenging things from very special, quirky folks like JAGirl, Caribbeansoul, MarionCK, and ejcrowe, just to name a few.

ejcrowe: I remember that we're "neighbors." And yes, you fo get AA miles. DH just hit their Gold status. I guess he'll be up in first class while the kid and I are in steerage from now on. The house is moving along on "island time" but probably as much due to our own crazy schedule as much as due to the contractors. It's a very different industry down there. We're involved in development and construction up here and I don't think it makes it any easier. Yes, we did get our general contractor back on line, but it looks like the situation will take more close monitoring. Ooops, might have to check in on them again soon, if you know what I mean. Anyway, the plan is to have the roof on our two-story home by January, 2007. After that, we'll have just the interior and some landscaping to do. Gee, it makes me think maybe I should put out an "RFP" to Fodorites who might like a working vacation. I can see the virtual signs "Will Work For Play." Sort of an Amish barn-raising where people can earn vacation credits? Hey, I'm in the business of thinking outside the box!
Trish: How are you with a paint-brush? How about tiling? I can see Christiegr ready to pack her hubby's tool kit.
I'll have to let that idea sit and gel for awhile.
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Sep 2nd, 2006, 02:23 PM
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Tuxedocat, Trish is tactful. I was gonna write "I HATE YOU!" hoping you'd not take it literally.

I saw my dream-of-a litfetime property on a hill waaaayy high above Coral Bay, during our trip in July. My sister's wonderful realtor drove us up in his very-necessary SUV to the most stunning islands/ ocean view I've ever seen, anwhere in the world (no exaggeration).
No paved road yet, lots of scrub brush, two one-acre each plots just crying out for me and my sister and our familes to enjoy. IF i win the lottery, maybe we'll be neighbors T'cat? Sigh....
Anyway, thanks for your report of your great last minute trip.
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Sep 7th, 2006, 06:12 AM
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Mae,

Hi!Glad that you got to have a last minute trip to paradise!

and YES!!!.....my husband and I will work for play!

Now I know why a contractor was basically begging my husband to move to St John...construction takes forever down there.He also said that it is hard to find an Electrician who KNOWS what they are doing.

Maybe when the kids are older..we will move somewhere in paradise and work for play!...maybe St John if it has anywhere left that does not cost "an arm and a leg".

Christie

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Sep 7th, 2006, 03:10 PM
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Tux...just let us know when. DH and I are extremely handy with home improvement projects. Actually, I am an Interior Designer (with a college degree in this area of study)too.

Residential work only for family, close friends and those with the best bribes (like villas in STJ).

Will there be a quick study workshop on concrete pouring?

Have you been following the Bongo Bongo blog? We had drinks with one of the contractors at Aqua Grill one night, he has a little bit different take on things.
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Sep 10th, 2006, 05:38 PM
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Trish: Yes, I've been tuning into the Bongo/Bongo blog every so often, and it's pretty funny. I have run into many of the same issues they ran into. Would love to know who the contractor at Aqua Bistro was. If you describe him, I might figure out who it is. Anyway, you may just come in very handy... I'm thinking something British Colonial as is common in the islands. We are perplexed by the strange construction habits on STJ, but as we have always done, if we don't like the way they do things, we do it our own way. The STJ contractors are constantly telling us what we can't do. They are only beginning to realize how eerrhh "focused" we can be in getting something done. I've been bull-headed on three continents, why should I stop? We run construction up here in CT and I can sheetrock with the best of them. Men... they think they're the only ones who can swing a hammer. More than one way to skin a skunk. Okay, enough venting about the "fairer" sex. I wish I remembered that smirk symbol. Anyways, on a lighter note, when do you think you guys might be headed back down?
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