The road trip continues to the Caribbean (no, our car can’t travel on water) – pt. 2

Day 22

Our side trip to visit my aunt in St. Thomas continues. Rita works as a ship agent between the US Virgin Islands and the cruise ships and she arranged with her work for us to join one of the cruise trip land excursions. We took a catamaran over to Buck Island for a bit of snorkeling. We saw tons of turtles, sting rays, and tropical fish. The rays are my favorite! They look like photo 31they are flying through the water and their underside are silky smooth!

The catamaran also stopped at Honeymoon Bay on Water island where we enjoyed the beach, water, and free pain killer drinks.

Dinner was at a Dominican Republic restaurant where I enjoyed a fish filet cooked in coconut milk. Yum!

Day 23

During the high season, St. Thomas will host up to 20 cruise ships a week. This morning, Rita surprised us with a tour of the cruise ships at port that day. We were excited to board Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas as day guests and enjoy all of the cruise ship amenities. We ate at the buffet and swam in the pools. The Oasis has a beautiful central courtyard called Central Park which has plant and tree lined paths with little cafes. So cute!

photo 51photo 41photoAs we left the Oasis, Rita told us we were also allowed to board the Carnival Sunshine, so off we went! Mom and Rita rode the waterslides while I soaked up some sun and caught up on some reading while watching the final minutes of the USA vs. Belgium soccer game. 1-2. Oh well, now that USA is out I’ll root for Germany!

photo 1This was such a neat day. We got to talk with many of the employees and see some of the behind the scenes workings of the cruise ships. Mom thought it was very surreal to be on a cruise, but not really.

photoDay 24

Another cruise ship excursion we had the opportunity to join in on was a tour of Blackbeard’s Castle, the stone tower overlooking Charlotte Amalie harbor. Our guide gave a very energetic tale of Blackbeard’s life as he terrorized the Caribbean with his many pistols and burning beard. He also had a gruesome demise after a battle with the British Royal Navy. Yarrr!

We did a bit of shopping at Charlotte Amalie’s old warehouse district. Once used to store things for trade, they have been converted into neat shops. Lunch was at one of our favorite restaurants: Gladys’. This restaurant is known for their local Caribbean cuisine. I enjoyed jerk chicken with sweet potato, plantains, and rice. This was so good!

photo 2photo 3In the afternoon, we went to the villa. Rita’s good friend is the grounds keeper at a villa on St. Thomas’ Skyline drive. When the owners or any vacation renters are not using the villa, we get to enjoy the beautiful infinity pool. It has a view of Charlotte Amalie and Megan’s Bay.photo 4

Day 25

The last day. We packed the suitcase and headed off for one more beach. Coki beach is photo 5just a few minutes from Rita’s and is one of the best free beaches. No rocks, calm water, and the fish swim circles around you. We enjoyed some local patties, chicken and beef in a deep fried puff pastry. I had the best smoothie. The fruit was so sweet and fresh it tasted like candy.

As the afternoon came we had to leave paradise. I hate leaving family. I always cry. I hope it won’t be so long until we visit again.

Flight Miles (back to the continent): 1108

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The road trip continues to the Caribbean (no, our car can’t travel on water) – pt. 1

photo 12Day 19

We are taking a slight detour from the road trip…

Flight Miles: 1108

Up very early this morning to fly to one of America’s beautiful tropical islands in the Caribbean: the U.S. Virgin Islands. We flew with Spirit air, America’s only budget airline. No snacks, no water, just the flight, but that’s okay because we were going to the Caribbean!

The U.S Virgin Islands are located 40 miles east of Puerto Rico and consist of three islands: St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix. These rocky islands were discovered by Christopher Columbus and are covered with lush vegetation and trees with beautiful red flowers. These islands are known for some of the most beautiful, sandy beaches in the world. The roads are narrow, winding, and steep and every car has some sort of body damage. Plus, everyone drives on the left side of the road because the Virgin Islands were once Spanish, then British, then Dutch colonies.

The flight took us from Orlando to Ft. Lauderdale and over Key West. The water changed from deep blue to a clear turquoise as it touched the islands. My Tante (aunt) Rita picked

Rita and Mom

Mom and Rita

us up from the airport. She moved to the Virgin Islands about six years ago. Leaving her life in San Francisco, she was in search of a low stress lifestyle in a warm climate, and I believe she found it. She now works as a shipping agent and liaison between the islands and the many cruise ships that dock there. She is really enjoying this job because she gets to meet and work with many interesting people along with reaping the benefits of some cruise ship amenities. Her job includes helping customs agents bring in new crew members for the ships, transporting crew members to appointments they might have on the island, and assisting stranded passengers. She even gets to eat lunch in the crew dining room!

our friend Iggy

our friend Iggy

We enjoyed some appetizers and drinks at Blackbeard’s Castle and swam in the pool there. I enjoyed the island’s drink, a pain killer: rum with pineapple, orange, and coconut cream. Blackbeard’s Castle is one of two stone towers, over looking the capital of Charlotte Amalie, that acted as lookouts for potential threats. They say that Blackbeard the pirate, himself, used this tower while escaping the British!

For dinner, we drove through the winding streets to the north side of the island and ate grilled cat fish at Fish Tales, a restaurant in Red Hook that over looks the marina and has a view of St. John.

Then, off to Rita’s cute apartment with a killer view of St. John! The weather is warm, but the sea breeze helps you sleep.

Day 20

photo 32In the morning, we went to the grocery store for provisions and made tacos for lunch. In the afternoon, we visited the Ritz Carton Hotel’s property, to explore the beautiful hotel and also use their public beach. Beautiful white sand in a quiet cove. The water was warm and calm. Paradise.

Dinner was at the other tower overlooking Charlotte Amalie. Bluebeard’s Castle served wonderful happy hour tapa plates and drinks!

Day 21

In the morning, we took the car ferry over to St. John. The drive around the island took us past Trunk Bay. The view is astounding! So many shades of blue water.photo 52

Our stop was at Cinnamon Bay, just one beach over and free to use. A tree lined beach with a few waves. Across the street from Cinnamon Bay are the ruins of a sugar cane photo 11plantation. It is always interesting to wander among the ruins and watch how time and the weather have transformed them. They are now covered in greenery but you can still see the original smoke stack and boilers. Some of the stones used for the walls are actually huge pieces of brain coral and you can see the unique patterns created by cutting through the petrified coral.

We also visited the very calm Maho Bay. The water was so flat and warm, I felt like I was in a bath tub!

photo 21On the way to the ferry, we did a bit of shopping at Mongoose Junction, a fun shopping area that has the most beautiful architecture. The buildings seem to have been there forever and are covered with different plants. It’s as if the buildings sprouted up in the middle of a jungle. I found a very cute dress at one of the shops and learned that the designer lives on St. Croix. Very cool!

On the way off the ferry, we noticed a car with a SLO bumper sticker. How cool?! Well, he kept driving in the same direction as us towards Rita’s apartment. He stopped just a few blocks from Rita’s place so we pulled up and asked him about the sticker. Turned out, he was from my home town! It’s a small world after all!