va-cay date: October 14, 2019

Food(s) …. GLORIOUS food(s)

One thing I always tell people about going a-shore. GO HUNGRY. Don’t load up on the breakfast buffet before leaving ship because the only thing you are going to end up seeing is the bathrooms (which really aren’t all that abundant, or handy). You’re going some place different filled with all kinds of new customs, scenery and of course FOODS. I always find it amazing (actually, SAD is a better word) when I’m walking past this tropical cafe and see someone eating a Hamburg. SERIOUSLY? Yes, I understand comfort zones, but “adventurous comfort” is what travelling is all about.

Within comfort zones with Tropical Chicken Wings but cooked in a tangy yet sweet local sauce .. with Rice and Beans, and a side of Rigatoni. DELICIOUS!

… shopping!

Block after block of public flea-markets for some unique items …
… and of course the mass-produced tourist traps

It’s far and few between ports where there is NOT a “welcome bazaar” of shops offering everything from last minute (third party — more on that below under shore excursions) tours, souvenirs, and of course diamonds and gold. This last point, I cannot stress “CAVEAT EMPTOR” enough. On the lighter side of this situation, I should have heeded my own teachings. I bought a hat/t-shirt combo. The elastic holding them together said XL. When I got back to the ship I unwrapped to look at the shirt and the collar was imprinted as XXX. Holding the shirt up … (to make a long story short) … it’s probably a MED.

Keep in mind, when buying clothing WHERE the garments are made. My shirt said “made in Indonesia” … so yes our XL may be their XXX — but it’s still not even close. Oh well, at least I got a decent hat!

Now .. on the opposite side of the “CAVEAT EMPTOR” … there are people who buy jewellery abroad, only to learn when they get home that it is NOT what they purchased. The easiest way to prevent this — don’t buy it. But if you absolutely MUST then make sure to do so from a globally accepted and reputable jeweller. Make sure you get a certificate with each piece you buy, and if possible — ONLY BUY JEWELLERY THAT IS LASER IMPRINTED and make sure the numbers match on the certificate.

Shore excursions

Prior to Hurricane Maria, you could not see any homes on this mountainside. Today you can still see bare trees.

Now I know this is a little morbid, but one of the reasons I wanted to goon this cruise was to see the effects of Hurricane Maria. Evidence of her presence still marks the land on St Thomas (and I am sure the other islands of the Lesser Antilles Chain). While most of the island has recovered, there are still patches of homes that were destroyed, roofs torn off with blue tarps STILL providing protection from the sun and rains. While you would think it simple to just rebuild … these islands have strict building codes, and any home that is destroyed must be rebuilt in the same facade so not to disrupt the historical appearance of the country. Improvements may be made inside. Outsides must look as the original building.

The second reason I wanted to go on this trip was to visit the volcano on Montserrat and the destroyed capita city of Plymouth. UNFORTUNATELY, the recent bands of storms that have once again struck the area … Tropical (at that time) Storm Dorian destroyed the airport on Antigua, so our helicopter tour was cancelled.

Plantation Crown & Hawke Botanical Gardens
Plantation Crown & Hawke mountainside look-out

Our excursion to the Plantation Crown & Hawke was a pleasant way to spend 4 hours, starting with a winding tour up the mountain driving on the LEFT side of the road, as originally laid out when governed by the British before the island was sold to the Danish. At times, the hair-pins turns along the mount side were a little tense. It was much like riding a Wild Mouse Roller-coaster. Up, up, around, down and repeat. Of course, once we reached the welcome Center of the plantation there was more climbing up before the tour started. Jackie was our tour guide who had owned the property for 15 years and a delight to listen to as we walked still further up the mountain and through mazes on stone and lumber steps, edged with a bamboo railing. She eagerly pointed out medicinal plants, some beautiful foliage, and plants that have been on the property for centuries.

The second part of our tour, included another climb to the highest peak on the island where we were given the opportunity to admire from the look-out the beauty of the Atlantic Ocean versus the Caribbean on the opposite side of the island where our ship was docked.

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