Archive for Travel

3 Nights, 3 Countries

Did you miss me? Perhaps you thought I got into ‘island time’? (Actually I did, lol).

I think the title of this post sounds a lot more exciting than what actually happened. Ian had to go to Grand Cayman on business, and of course, I hitched a ride. So we spent the night in Barbados, got up, flew to Miami, (United States), spent the night, and then flew to Grand Cayman.  Did I mention a bit of shopping while we were in the States? A lovely green Coach bag made its way home with me.  I certainly felt I deserved a designer bag to keep up with the  jet set image, lol.

Although Grand Cayman is still a territory of the United Kingdon, it felt very American to me. Barbados is an independent country, and has been for 46 years, but I get more of a British vibe there.  

Cayman’s beaches are certainly beautiful, at least the only one I got to see,

‘Seven Mile Beach’, gorgeous sand, soft like talcum powder.  We only had 1 1/2 days there, so while Ian was out making the money, I visited Camana Bay,

a gorgeous shopping/residence complex very near the hotel where we were staying.

I must admit, I started drooling, there was an amazing book store there, oh, how I miss spending hours in book stores. I find the selection on Barbados very limited. Too bad books are so heavy, I decided not to buy any, but took note of a titles for purchasing when I am home in the spring.

I won’t bore would with the time I spent in the grocery stores, or the envy that came over me when I found strawberries for $3,  in Barbados they can cost 5 times that  much.  Needless to say, they didn’t go into my suitcase either.

The next day, we had some time before we had to head to the airport and walked into Georgetown, the capital city of the Cayman Islands.  There were 3 cruise ships in port, or rather docked in the ocean.

Passengers had to take small boats to the dock, unlike other islands that have built deep water docks.  Georgetown was hopping and we had fun walking around, seeing the sights.  But, after a spot of lunch, it was time to head to the airport, and begin our journey home.

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Two Gardens, Two Countrys, One Gardener

Not that I really have two gardens, although I do have a terrace, and a balcony, and lots of pots, that counts as a garden, doesn’t it? And I am certainly in two countries, and do not have any help in the garden, (except the lawn cutting, and I only do that as I know the bylaw officer would be around if I didn’t).

Sometimes I feel stretched very thin, it would be a lot easier if my large garden was where I was most of the year, and my smaller pot garden put up with me for the other 12 weeks, but it is not to be.

Instead I come home to this,

Yikes, hard to see all my freshly applied gravel

twice a year, and spend 4-6 weeks on my hands and knees weeding. It certainly looks great when I go back to this,

where I lounge around by the pool, tee hee, and then come back to this,

again.

Now, I have even more pots as I have added a lot of herbs.

I am tired just thinking about it.

How about you? Any other two garden gardeners out there? Any gardening in two different countries like me?

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Home again, Home again…

Jiggety jig.

So what does that mean anyway? I know it is a Mother Goose nursery rhyme, funny how they stick in your head all these years, too bad more important stuff doesn’t.

But for the really important stuff, I am going home again, yay! I can’t wait to see how my garden is, did I miss all the new bulbs I planted last September flowering? What about the paint job we had in the front hall, how does that look? Oh, and of course, my family and friends, lol.

Again, since I have no internet, not sure how often I will be able to post, or read your blogs, but I will be thinking of you.

And back to Barbados in June!

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All At Sea

We had a whole day to spend ‘at sea’ while we were travelling back to Barbados. There is certainly a lot to do on the ship, from the casino, (walked through that), to variety shows (did some of that) to eating and drinking (did lots of that). There were pools, and a gym, spa, outdoor movies.

Here are just a few photos that I took during our time on board. ( meant to take way more photos, but the eating and drinking, did I mention the eating and drinking, got in the way, lol.)

Lets start outside,

my fav, the Serenity Club, no children, so it was one of the few quiet areas on the ship, great place to read a book.

The Lido Deck, this was the main area on the ship, they had movies at night, here,

 also lots of spaces to sit in the sun.

 Just off  to the side, tables for your breakfast or lunch.

This shows our journey, red on the way out, green returning (of course for everyone else, it was the opposite).

The casino was always very busy after we left the port.

Now I am feeling the need for some turquoise foo dogs.

The way to get a latte in the morning, a very familiar route.

There was a bar where you could sit and watch the elevators go up and down, very pretty at night with all the lights on.

The Caribbean Lounge was where all the big variety shows took place.

And I thought you would like to see this.

We were having breakfast while we were docking in St. Thomas. Another cruise ship sailed in after us.

 That is a great parking job!

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Cruisin’ to St. Thomas

By now we were exhausted, (as I am sure you are just reading all these posts). I was quite curious about St Thomas, as Denmark had owned it until 1917, when it was the Danish West Indies. Many of the town names and also street signs (ie: Gada is Danish for street), are in Danish so there is that international feel.

St. Thomas was our last stop on our cruise, and we had tickets for the St Thomas Skyride.

 Ian wanted to do this as soon as we got off the ship, it was almost directly across and it would be a great way to get an overview of Charlotte Amalie, the capital of St. Thomas. Aerial gondolas take you 700 feet in the air to Paradise Point.  There is a little amusement park at the top, with a ferris wheel, shops and a mini zoo.

You could even see the cruise ships docked.

We found some friends there.

Charlotte Amalie has a huge number of historic sites all within walking distance of the downtown, it was known as Tap Haus or Beer Hall during its pirate days, and we might see a bit more evidence of pirates a little later.

There is a wonderful, very well landscaped walk from the harbour to Charlotte Amalie, (and a lot of duty free shops on the way). The first building as we arrived into town was Fort Christian.

 Now there are a lot of photos with the famous clock tower, but I thought I would give you a look from a different angle, a bit ‘grittier’.  It is undergoing renovations, and during its lifetime (since 1680), it has not only been a fort, duh, but also a jail, church and now a museum. 

 Across the street is the Legislature Building, this is where ownership of St Thomas passed from Denmark to the United States. It was originally built as barracks for the Danish soldiers.

Walking long the waterfront street, known either Veterans Drive or Waterfront Highway, depending on which map you use), are a multitude of shops. Running parallel to this road is the Dronningens Gade or Main Street, (filled with jewellery shops) and in between the two,

 alleys filled with more shops, and lets throw in a few bars and restaurants.

This was the doorway into one of them, magical.

We certainly checked out a few, had a drink here, there and (it seemed) everywhere, before we got back on track with our walking tour.

Charlotte Amalie is built on the side of a hill, and ‘step-streets’ were built to make getting around easier.

 99 Steps is the most famous (apparently there is 103, but I couldn’t concentrate on counting as I was concentrating on breathing). 

Still walking up!

These steps were built of bricks that were used as ballast in the Danish trade ships back in the 1700’s. 

Hey, thatis our ship!

At the top was an amazing view, we could see the harbour with our ship in it.

Also at the top was the other pirate connection I told you about earlier, Blackbeards castle. Built in 1679 as a Danish watchtower, legends claim that Edward Teach, known more colourfully as Blackbeard, had his stronghold here. Now a hotel surrounds the ruins.

Just in front of it is the Three Queens statue. This commemorates the women who led the labour revolt in St Croix in 1878.  “Set in bronze, Queen Mary, Queen Agnes and Queen Josiah – who on Oct. 1, 1878,   led laborers in setting fire to half of Frederiksted on St. Croix in a successful  demand for better wages and working conditions. ” The sculpture, made by famed Richard Hallier, shows the women standing with arms raised, holding a machete, jug of oil and flambeaux as water from a fountain made out of the island’s blue bit stone cascades over their backs.”      This sculpture commissioned by the St. Thomas Historical Trust in partnership with Circa 1675 and Virgin Islands Inns.” Quote courtesy of the Blackbeard’s Castle website.

Walking around up on top of this hill is a gorgeous  historic district called Kongens (King’s) Quarter, which is the ‘Williamsburg’ of the Caribbean.

  Everywhere we looked gorgeous homes, and even more gorgeous view, a wonderful area to live.

Yay, down!

Walking back down the 99 Steps,

 we turned left for a view of Government House, which was built for the Danish Colonial Council in 1867. Now it is used as the governor’s headquarters with the first two floors open to the public.

Down (still more steps) towards the harbour is the Frederick Lutheran Church which was established in St Thomas in 1666, but rebuilt in 1826. This church has silver equipment, still in use, that is more than 200 years old.

Walking back to the ship, we (almost) wish we had taken a cab, aren’t they cool looking!

Next stop… Barbados

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Cruisin’ to San Juan

I hate to give it away, before I have finished taking you on the cruise with me, but San Juan was my favourite. Is it because I have become a big city girl, after all, I have spent most of my adult life living in Toronto, Canada’s largest city, with a bit of time in London, England as well, and we all know how large that city is. To be fair, I only visited the old walled city, so charming, how could one not love it.

We arrived just as the sun was coming up, were quickly off the ship, and spent the whole day walking around the city, (hopefully I burned off some of the weight I am sure I gained while on board).  I have a bit of a thing for old, old house, old books, old clothes, etc. and San Juan is old.  Centuries old Spanish fortresses (there are two, San Felipe del Morro and San Cristobal)  and the thickest wall imaginable surround the ‘old’ city. Full of charm,

it has narrow, cobbled streets,

brightly coloured houses,

 amazing filigreed iron balconies, and

 hidden plazas and cafes/restaurants everywhere.

I was taken with the colour of these bricks that pave the streets. They are adoquines, have a bluish glaze and were brought to San Juan as ballast in the ships.  They certainly set off all the wonderful painted houses.

This is del Morro, one of the two forts that guard the old city of San Juan. It is the largest green space in the walled city, and while we were there, (on a Sunday), locals and tourists alike were taking advantage of the lovely weather and congregating here. Kites were flying, people were picnicking, and everyone seemed to  have a dog with them.

Just beside del Morro, is the Cementerio de San Juan,

 the pink domed building is the chapel of  Santa Maria Magdalena Del Pazzis.

The little sentry boxes are scattered all around the walls

 we actually purchased a watercolour of one of these as a souvenir of our time here.

The other fortress that protected San Juan is San Cristobel Castle. built on 27 acres, this is the largest ever built by the Spanish in the New World.

One of the main streets ends with this beautiful gated Capilla del Cristo, a small stone chapel that commemorates a local miracle. In the legend, a horse and rider fell off this cliff during a race in the 1700’s but prayers saved the riders life

Another sentry box!

 

 There are wonderful views of the harbour from the wall beside it.

We really should have had a plan, there are numerous walking tours available, either on-line or through the tourist bureau, but we were happy just to wander around, and see what we discovered.

 Like this totem at Plaza del Quinto Centenario.  The totem, named Totem Telurico, was sculpted by Jamie Suarez  out of black granite and ceramic replicas of archeological artifacts, rising 40 feet in the air. It is a tribute to the 500th anniversary of Columbus arriving in the New World

 Just past the totem are two metal sculptures of lambs, representing the Lamb of God. 

 Another acknowledgement of Columbus’ discovery lies at the Plaza de Colon, (Columbus Square), where a statue of the explorer was placed on a stone pillar,

 high above a fountain. This was erected in 1893, marking the 400th anniversary of his discovery of Puerto Rico.

Next stop, St. Thomas…

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Cruisin’ to St. Maarten

I was really looking forward to visiting St. Maarten, as it was the only the one island on the cruise that was not either a U.S. or U.K. affiliate. St. Maarten/St. Martin is the smallest territory in the world that is shared by two countries, St. Maarten by the Netherlands, and St. Martin by France. The cruise ship docked in Philipsburg, the capital of St. Maarten. Philipsburg is on a sandbar, located between the Great Bay to the south and the Great Salt Pond to the north. You can see it is a popular port,

look at this sailing ship, it was certainly giving Ian ideas.


And then another cruise ship was docking as we were heading into town.

By now, we were a bit tired,

 and decided just to spend the day in Philisburg. I am sure that down the road I will regret not making an effort to see St. Martin while we were there, but it was a holiday, so some relaxing was in order. And as a duty free port, Ian felt it was his duty to partake in a bit of retail therapy.

Just off the wharf is another ‘village’ of shops for those passengers who do not feel like heading into town, but we were made of sterner stuff, and scoffing at the idea of taking a taxi, we started walking. 

 Passed this cannon on the way, seems every island has them.

A boardwalk runs along the beach of Great Bay,

The Boardwalk

The beach on the other side of the boardwalk!

 and a multitude of alleyways or

 steegjes  run between it, and Front Street, which is the main shopping street in Philipsburg. 

 Front Street is lovely cobblestones and certainly has a lot of expensive stores,

 hard to keep Ian out of them!

 Such wonderful buildings, very well maintained.

There was a bit of excitement while we were walking around and a parade went past,

 by the time I got my camera in gear, they were already gone, no idea what the reason was,

 but it was all children, so cute.

Obviously, we needed a rest and the worlds smallest bar beckoned us to have a pint or two.

Next stop, San Juan, Puerto Rico…

 

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