Sunday, April 29, 2007

Stardate 61324.29 - Vacation Day Eleven

Thursday morning it was pouring rain as we got up and got showered. By the time we had finalized all the packing up, the rain had stopped so we went for our final continental breakfast at the Sunset Cafe. We then checked out, loaded up the car, and started the 30+ minute drive to the airport so we could arrive 3 hours before the flight. The guidebooks said that the Juliana International Airport could be very inefficient and difficult to get through, so we took them at their word and arrived right at 3 hours early, even with the rental car drop-off and van ride to the gate.

We were completely checked in within 10 minutes, and after a quick snack got through security in less than 5 minutes. We then had a lot of time to kill before the flight, which mainly consisted of chasing Loren around the nearly deserted airport.

There was a "beach bar" in the gate area and Loren loved running up the ramp, across the board floor, and down the step - only to repeat, repeat, repeat.

Finally they started to board our flight, which left on time and arrived in NYC at JFK on time.

The customs people sent us to the front of the line since we had a small child, which was great, except that it really didn't matter because it took another 30 minutes for the luggage to arrive. Needless to say, Loren was quite ready to leave by the time we got our bags.

I have a rant regarding our ride from the airport, but I'll save it for a separate post. We got home pretty late in the evening, and by the time we ate some dinner and got Loren to bed it was well after 9 PM.

The best part is that we have all day Friday off, and then the weekend before we have to return to work.


Stardate 61324.26 - Vacation Day Ten

Wednesday morning was beautiful, and I took a few shots out to Creole Rock from the restaurant during breakfast.
Here is the view back to our patio from the small sitting area above the beach.

At first Loren didn't like the hammock, but I think it grew on her a little.

After breakfast we went to Baby Beach for the last time. Loren let us know when she was ready to go by going to the car and saying "bye bye sand". She fell asleep in the car on the way back to the hotel but transferred into her stroller with no problem. While she napped I went out for another kayak trip to see the sailboats.

Cheryl signed up for a snorkling trip, but she was the only person who signed up so the instructor asked if they could go at 1 PM and not 2 PM and that she'd have a private lesson. So after I got back from my kayak trip we had lunch at the Sunset Cafe and we both had the mussels and fries (which were fantastic!).

Loren woke up from her nap so we asked for the high chair so she would be contained during the meal.

Cheryl had a great time snorkeling while Loren and I hung out together. Then we spent the afternoon packing up for our flight out on Thursday. For dinner we took our last trip into Grand Case and ate at Sky's The Limit again, as we had on Sunday. Loren was fine while she was eating, but got extremely tired of sitting and we ended up having to ask for the food to go.

There was a beautiful sunset as we arrived back at our hotel.

Once Loren went to bed we finished packing so that we'd be ready to roll in the morning after breakfast.


Stardate 61324.21 - Vacation Day Nine

As Tuesday arrived we were faced with the unpleasant realization that we only had 2 more full days on St. Martin and that at least one of them would be spent closely monitoring Loren for any signs of illness. I got our breakfast to go from the Sunset Cafe and we ate in the room. We took Loren out to the area in front of our room for her to play in the sand, but we didn't take her into the water and we didn't give her any milk in the morning.

After eating lunch in the room and Loren's nap, we decided she seemed well enough for a car ride so we went to two more beaches, these being on the Dutch side of the island. The first was at Baie Aux Cailles. The travel book said to be very careful as some of these beaches were pretty deserted and to take extra care to leave nothing in the car of value. Where we parked, however, actually had a security vehicle with a person in it monitoring the parking area. I wasn't sure if I should feel good about him being there, or bad because it was necessary for him to be there.

The beach was nice, but the construction cranes and half-finished (half-demolished?) buildings detracted from the experience. Also, the private homes had all build huge walls around their property, right to the beach - another eye sore.

We only stayed a few minutes and then got back into the car and drove to Cupecoy Bay, which was supposed to have a more cliff-like approach to the water.

It sure was a different feel from our beach, but I'm not sure if it was due to the cliffs or the fact that the particular stretch of beach we elected to climb down to turned out to be a full nude gay male beach (not that there is anything wrong with that). But I really didn't have any joy in seeing a bunch of completely naked men standing up to look at the intruding, clothed family entering their space to snap some pictures. Needless to say, I focused our shots on the part of the beach that was empty.

We hit an ATM while we were on the Dutch side to get some more US dollars, and then drove back to the hotel. To continue the low-key day, we just ate dinner in the room. Loren seemed fine all day, so we decided that for Wednesday we could proceed as normal. Her vomit episode Monday night seemed to be a one-off event.


Stardate 61324.16 - Vacation Day Eight

On Monday we had breakfast at the hotel and then went to the Baby Beach again. On our way back for lunch we stopped at Orient Beach, which was pretty crowded with people and shops and beach bars. It did have one advantage our beach did not, however, and that was a long, long stretch of sand suitable for a long beach walk. Monday was really hot, humid, and still however and Loren was getting a little grumpy so we didn't stay too long.

We stopped at a hilltop resturant for lunch, which overlooked Orient Bay and the Baby Beach. The food was really good for a place that seemed a little run-down and where we were the only customers for lunch. The views were also pretty good.

After Loren's nap we went back to the pool for more fun with Loren's boat.

Since it was Monday again it was time for the Manager's reception. We stopped off for rum punch and snacks before heading out to dinner.

For dinner we went to Hibiscus, a very nice restaurant run by a couple of Italians. It had probably the best food of any place we ate at, and that is really saying something because we never had a bad meal the entire time we were on the island. We highly, highly, highly recommend this place if you are ever on St. Martin.

Unfortunately, we really didn't get to enjoy dinner. Before the appetiser even arrive, Loren threw up all over the floor and the wheels on her stroller (we had been using the stroller for her as there was no high chair), and she also managed to hit Cheryl's skirt (dry clean only). For the entire meal Cheryl and I took turns pushing her up and down the street in the fresh air while the other one of us ate (the resturant had no carry-out containers and the meal was not cheap so we were not willing to pay for food we couldn't eat and immediately leave).

Once Cheryl was done with the main course she took Loren back to the hotel while I ate my meal. The chef's wife (who was the waitress for the evening) was very understanding and even offered to have her babysitter (who was watching their daughter for the night while they ran the restaurant) look after Loren so we could eat, but we didn't know if Loren's vomiting was a prelude to additional vomiting or if she was going to get even sicker.

Luckily, Loren did not throw up again and as I'll mention in the next post we just took it easy on Tuesday and she recovered very quickly.

So if you are in St. Martin, please eat at Hibiscus but leave your young children with a babysitter.


Stardate 61324.11 - Vacation Day Seven

On Sunday (the 22nd) we awoke to a very overcast morning, and since we were going through laundry a bit quicker than expected (especially for Loren) we did a load of laundry at the hotel ($6) in the morning, along with some pool and beach time (after breakfast, of course). We then had lunch in the room, and as the sun came out we decided to do a little driving to check out some other beaches. We first went to Friar's Bay. It was pretty crowded, parking was not fun, and it made us glad we had the small, but semi-private beach at our resort.

We then drove up to Pic Paradise where we were greeted by an expansive parking area...

and detailed informational/directional signage...

The view was nice, but it was still not a terribly clear day so the pictures are not that great.

After Loren's nap we went to another Lolo place, Sky's the Limit, which was even better than the first Lolo we went to Tuesday night. We liked it so much that we returned on our last evening (Wednesday) to eat there again.


Stardate 61324.08 - Vacation Day Six

On Saturday we realized that if we were only staying a week we'd be getting ready to pack up for our return to the States, but since we decided to make the trip an 11-day adventure, we still had a significant amount of time remaining.

After breakfast at the hotel we went into Marigot, the capitol of St. Martin, and hiked up to Ft. Louis (or at least what is left of Ft. Louis). The views from the top of the hill were impressive - my photos don't do them justice, especially with the overcast day.

We were tired and thirst after the steep climb up to the top, so we walked around the marina for a while and stopped at a small cafe to have some ice cream and cold drinks.

On the way back to the hotel we stopped at Match again to stock up on more groceries since we had been eating lunch almost every day in the hotel room (which was a nice prelude to Loren's nap each day). After a nice lunch of fresh bread and cheese (and a Carib or two), we just hung out in the room as the afternoon proceeded to get more and more cloudy and rain looked imminent.

Since the threat of rain seemed pretty real (although it never actually rained) we ate dinner at the Sunset Cafe attached to the hotel. While lunch was pretty good on Monday, we felt it was overpriced for the food. Dinner, however, was fantastic. I had mussels and fries and they were go good we both had them for lunch the following Wednesday.

Since Loren was showing less and less interest in sitting still during dinners (once she was done eating), we finally asked if they had a high chair and to our surprise they said "yes". It made us wish we'd been asking for one at breakfast all this time (although it seemed to be so much trouble for them to drag it out that we only asked for it once more, for lunch on Wednesday).


Saturday, April 28, 2007

Stardate 61322.12 - Vacation Day Five

On Friday we once again ate the breakfast at the hotel. While we were out in Grand Case on Thursday night we purchased Loren a little surprise for her to use at the Baby Beach - an inflatable boat!

She loved the boat!

She loved the boat so much, she wanted to use it inside the room!

Speaking of the room, I took a few shots of our room to share. The main door opened into the kitchen, dining room, living room combo which had a door out to a patio and the beach. There was also a full bath just off the entrance.

The bedroom was a separate room, also with a sliding glass door off to the patio and the beach, and it also had a full bath.

Here is the view from our living room patio door.

And if you just step outside onto the patio this is the view.

We had our doubts about being on the ground floor when we checked in, but it really turned out to be the best thing with Loren. And it was so hot, even at night, that we kept the A/C on all the time in the room.

So on Thursday we did the Baby Beach in the morning, followed by lunch in our room. During Loren's nap I took a kayak out for 40 minutes and paddled around all the sailboats anchored near the hotel. After her nap we went to the pool with her boat, and for dinner we went to Spiga.

Spiga was really good, but Loren had a bit of a meltdown in the restaurant (which does not have high chairs) and we had to strap her into her stroller just so we could finish our meals - which we had to do in a hurry. We had to skip dessert to get her back to the hotel before she made even more of a spectacle of herself than she already had done. I felt like I was chugging my wine to finish as quickly as possible.

This night was really the beginning of the end of Loren's tolerance for going out to dinner - made even more annoying by the lack of high-chairs at almost every place we ate at for the rest of the vacation. But more on that in subsequent posts...