Caribbean Travel Roundup

Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor


Caribbean Travel Roundup
Paul Graveline, Editor
Edition 70
December 1 1996

Last updated 29 Nov 96 1300EST

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JAMAICA: NEGRIL BY JOHN MARTINEZ

This  report  describes  our recent trip to Negril, Jamaica, including 
some  comparisons  to an earlier trip to Jamaica-Jamaica, a Superclubs 
resort  in  Runaway Bay. Strictly for my own convenience, I will write 
this report predominantly in chronological order.

Traveling  from  the  Southwest to the Caribbean is seldom convenient, 
and  this  trip  was  no  exception.  Our  routing was to take us from 
Phoenix  to  Detroit  to Tampa to Montego Bay. Mechanical delays added 
Miami  to  this  list  as  we were re-routed from Tampa. It made for a 
very  long  day, but we breezed right through customs and did not wait 
long  for our Tropical Tours van to Negril. If you don't find the ride 
to  Negril  thrilling  enough,  I  recommend doing it after dark - you 
still  go  more  than 70 mph, but you have less warning about roadside 
hazards.  Nonetheless, we survived the trip and collapsed into our bed 
at  Drumville  Cove, on the cliffs in the West End, to catch up on our 
sleep.  We  were  able to notice, prior to our collapse, that the room 
was  spacious  and quite a bit nicer than our dorm-like accommodations 
at Jam-Jam.

In  the morning, after breakfast there, we had a visit from Karlene of 
Tropical  Tours  (a  very nice lady) who gave us an overview of Negril 
as  well  as some of the tours we might want to take (we signed up for 
a  catamaran trip to Booby Cay for a picnic). We then got a quick tour 
of  the grounds by the manager, Linus. We had noticed that we left our 
shampoo  behind,  and  asked  Jennifer,  the  girl at the "lobby"  bar 
where  we  could  get  some. She offered to get it for us, and we left 
her some money to do so.

Once  we  were oriented to our surroundings, we grabbed our snorkeling 
gear  and  headed  for  the  water.  We  noticed  that  the cliffs are 
actually  fossilized coral and you can see fossil shapes all along the 
walls.  The  water  was  incredibly  clear  that  day  (over  100 feet 
visibility)  and  once  we  made  the  tricky entry into the water saw 
plenty  of  interesting sea life. While we were out there, we ran into 
Linus,  who was also snorkeling, and he pointed out a lobster that was 
hiding between the rocks. 

After  we  got  out and rinsed off under one of the freshwater showers 
on  the  cliffs,  we  started  to notice how empty the place seemed. I 
think  we  saw  only  about half a dozen guests there the entire trip, 
though  there  were  a  number  of  locals who were hanging out at the 
cliff-side  bar.  There was a small pool on the edge of the cliff, but 
it  was  not  filled. Otherwise, things were in generally good repair, 
with  one  exception. The water pressure is normally lower in the West 
End  than  in  the  rest  of Negril, but it was especially low at that 
time  due  to  work  that  was  being performed on the water and sewer 
lines.

We  decided to walk over and try lunch at Rock Cliff, one of Drumville 
Cove1s  neighbors.  I  was  glad that we did not decide to stay there, 
the  service  was  very  slow  (thirty  minutes  to  cook  ham  cheese 
sandwiches  for  their  only customers) and the girl serving us seemed 
to  resent that we wanted her to do anything at all. We also found out 
that   although   they  advertise  a  weekly  all-you-can-eat  lobster 
barbecue, they do not do so during the low season. 

We  did  more  snorkeling  in  the  afternoon,  and I tried some cliff 
jumping,  which was pretty fun (the water is at least thirty feet deep 
in  many  places  off  the  cliffs).  Jennifer found us to give us our 
shampoo,  and  we  were delighted to get $120 (Jamaican) back from the 
$5  (US)  that  we  gave  her (the exchange rate was between 33 and 35 
Jamaican  dollars  for  one  US dollar). If we had bought shampoo at a 
typical  resort gift shop, we would have paid much more. We decided to 
walk  down  and  try  the  Pickled  Parrot, a bar/restaurant that is a 
popular  hangout  spot  on  the  cliffs.  We  had  a  nice  dinner  (I 
especially  liked  the  Jerk  chicken)  with  a  wonderful view of the 
sunset. The food prices were quite good, but drinks were a bit high.

We  were  pretty  excited about the trip to Booby Cay . We were picked 
up  at our hotel and met some "ugly Americans" from Indianapolis, that 
made  embarrassed  to  be associated with them at all. Nonetheless, we 
made  it  to  the  beach and got on the catamaran to head out to Booby 
Cay.  We had complimentary drinks during the whole trip and stopped to 
snorkel  around  an offshore reef. Though there were not many fish, we 
were  able to see sea cucumbers, wrasses, parrot fish and a sea snake. 
We  finally  got  to  the  island  to  enjoy  our  BBQ picnic. We were 
exploring  the island, but had to retreat due to a gathering storm. We 
rode  the  storm  out under the hut we used for lunch. The strength of 
this  afternoon  storm  was  incredible,  even  compared to the summer 
monsoon  storms in Arizona; for the rest of the trip, my wife referred 
to  this  storm  as the "hurricane." Unfortunately, this storm took up 
all  of  our  time  on the island and we were soon headed back. I must 
note  that  the  catamaran  did not use its sails at all, but operated 
under gasoline engine power, as seemed to be the custom there.

For  dinner, we walked a short distance down the road to Mariner1s. We 
had  an  excellent  meal  there  with  great  fish  soup  and fabulous 
lobster.  The service there was some of the best we experienced on the 
island, and the sunset view was breath-taking.

The  next day, I met Moses! Moses is a local who fishes off the cliffs 
at  Drumville  Cove, and tried repeatedly to get me to take some tours 
arranged  by  him.  We later set out on a walk to Xtabi for breakfast. 
We  had  just  left Drumville Cove when we were accosted by one of the 
omnipresent  taxis.  We were not going far and wanted to just walk, so 
we  declined  the  taxi driver who proceeded to yell at us, telling us 
we  were  just  cheap!  Unfortunately,  this and a few other incidents 
tainted  our  entire stay in Jamaica. After a nice breakfast, we got a 
taxi  ride  from a driver that always seemed to turn up when we needed 
him and went to Hedonism II for the day.

This  day  pass  to  Hedonism  is a confusing business. In a number of 
different  calls  before  our visit, we got differing details on this. 
My  travel  agent,  myself and Drumville Cove got different answers as 
to  the hours a day pass covers and the amount it cost. In the end, it 
cost  $50 (US) each to go from 11-5 (which was shorter than any of the 
calls  had  indicated).  The  people  at  the front desk were not very 
pleasant  (my notes refer to them as surly), but we did get in. Having 
heard  so  much,  we were anxious to experience the beach. Although we 
had  been  warned,  we  were  a bit disappointed in the quality of the 
"beach."  The  area  was very crowded, mostly with couples and the use 
of  surf  shoes was very important as there are many rocks and urchins 
underwater.

With  the aid of some snorkel equipment, we were amazed at the variety 
of  life  swimming  around  these  congested  waters. These included a 
small  barracuda,  some  cute  baby Sgt. Majors, a sea snake, a puffer 
fish  and  some  fairy  basslets  (one of my favorites). The afternoon 
brought  yet  another big rainstorm, so we took the time to get lunch. 
I  was  struck  by  the very American menu they served compared to the 
area  restaurants,  but  the  food  was plentiful and good. I had more 
than  my  share  of  drinks that afternoon, but it was relaxing to get 
away  from  people  selling  things and kick back. Upon our departure, 
the  same  taxi  driver  appeared  as  if by magic and took us back to 
Drumville Cove.

That  night  at  our hotel, the water in our second-floor room stopped 
flowing;  we  could  not  flush  the  toilet or get water to drink. We 
contacted  the  management  about  this,  but they said sometimes this 
happens for days at a time due to the water line construction.

In  the  morning,  I  was  forced to shower out on the cliffs since we 
still  had  no  water.  We spoke to the management and decided to move 
down  to  the  beach.  I have to compliment Drumville Cove for the way 
they  handled  this:  they covered the extra expense for us to stay at 
Firefly  and  also  got  us  a ride down there; they were a class act, 
though they were clearly sad to see us go.

We  got  to  Firefly  in time for lunch and got settled into the beach 
cottage  room.  This  room  is in a separate building from the rest of 
the  rooms. The beach bar here was tended by a nice woman named Livia, 
and  features  one of the best prices on the beach for Red Stripe ($50 
J).  We  spent  the  afternoon  relaxing on the beach. This was Sunday 
afternoon,  and  the beach-walking crowd included some locals. We took 
a  walk  later  up  past Swept Away, but were not impressed. The Swept 
Away  grounds  seemed  a  bit  cramped,  and  the  people seemed a bit 
uptight, though I cant say why.

Following  a recommendation from Karlene, we tried a restaurant on the 
beach  named  Kuyaba.  We  had  some  great bacon-wrapped shrimp as an 
appetizer,  followed  by  an  incredible  dish of pasta covered with a 
lobster  in  garlic sauce. Though the meal was not much more expensive 
than many others we had, it was awesome, and we vowed to return.

After  our long walk back up the beach to our room, we went to the spa 
for  a  dip,  and  found  the  water level too low. We found the night 
watchman,  Desmond (a very friendly man), but he could not help us, so 
we went to bed.

We  started  our  next morning with a quiet walk on one of the world's 
most  beautiful  beaches,  which  was  even  more pleasant because few 
hasslers  (salespeople) were out yet. I know these people are making a 
living  this  way  (I  don't  need  any  lessons  on  their struggling 
economy,  thank  you), but I don't reward their pushy behavior with my 
business  on  vacation  any  more  than I do at home. An obnoxious and 
insincere  salesperson  is unpleasant to me no matter where I am. Upon 
our  return, we had a wonderful and inexpensive breakfast of bacon and 
egg  sandwiches  at  the  beach bar. We then headed to Xtabi by way of 
the resident taxi man, Jerry.

On  our  arrival  at  Xtabi,  we  were  given an enthusiastic and warm 
greeting  to  begin  one  of our best afternoons on the island. George 
showed  us  around  the  property  including  the cliff-side caves. We 
quickly  went  down  for some great snorkeling. When we took a rest on 
one  of  the  platforms built on top of some coral, Richard brought us 
some  lounge  chairs  and  drinks  (what  service!).  We  got  in more 
snorkeling,  spotting  virtual  clouds  of  small fish, a sand digger, 
many  Tang  and  some  fish  I call Neon Dots that were too shy for my 
camera.  We  had  a tasty lunch of Jamaican Chicken and headed back to 
Firefly.

During  our  afternoon  walk, we went North on the beach again. By the 
time  we  returned,  the  spa  had  more  water in it, and I enjoyed a 
sunset  soak  watching the many tropical birds in the trees, imagining 
I was in paradise.

We  walked  down  to  Alfred's  Ocean  Palace,  which is noted for its 
frequent  Reggae  shows,  for  dinner.  Though the meal was decent, it 
took  over  20  minutes  just  to get the check. Then, after this long 
wait,  they  treated  me  like a criminal for paying with a traveler's 
check  without  a picture ID (which had not been a problem elsewhere). 
We left there disappointed with our treatment.

After  a  short walk on the beach, we resolved to give Hedo II another 
try  and  had Jerry drive us there. We had less hassle getting in this 
time  and  quickly found a shady spot on the beach. We had a good time 
watching  the  competing  teams  in  the "Olympics" that were going on 
that morning.

Later,  I  got a sailing lesson from Devon of watersports and got some 
relaxation  in,  floating off of the beach. We then took a Sunfish out 
for  a  sail  over  towards  Grand  Lido  (looked much more quiet over 
there)  and  around  Booby Cay, getting in just as the daily storm was 
getting underway.

In  the  afternoon,  we  had  a  fun  time  watching the body painting 
contest  which  featured  some  very  creative  designs.  We grabbed a 
couple  of  burgers  from  the  beach  grill  and had to head back. We 
started  walking back towards Firefly when we got a lift from the same 
taxi   driver   who   took  us  back  the  last  time  (that  guy  was 
everywhere!).  We  got  back  in  time to watch the party boats return 
after sunset and have a relaxed evening in our room.

We  spent  the  next  morning  reading  on  the beach and enjoying our 
breakfast  at  the  beach bar. We had a such a good time at Xtabi that 
we  returned  for  more  snorkeling. The water was a bit cloudier that 
day,  but  the  snorkeling  was  still  great.  We met a nice newlywed 
couple  from  North Carolina and had a pleasant lunch during the daily 
storm.

The  rest  of  the  afternoon was some relaxation back at the beach at 
Firefly,  followed  by  another  great  dinner  at  Kuyaba  and a free 
shuttle  ride  back  to  our  room.  We  spent the rest of our evening 
packing for our trip back.

The  nest  morning,  we  got  the bus back to Montego Bay to start our 
long journey back home to some very happy dogs.

General Comments: 

I  doubt  we  would  go  back  to  Negril  this  way again. We went on 
vacation  to  get  away from hassles, not to be constantly accosted by 
pushy  salespeople  and  taxi  drivers  who sometimes don't understand 
what  "no, thank you" means. The only respite we got from this was our 
time  at  Hedonism II. We also decided that though we got more variety 
by  choosing  where we went for our next meal, the process of deciding 
and  then  traveling  to each meal was very time-consuming and, in the 
end,  detracted  from our vacation experience (YMMV). If we do go back 
to Negril, we will probably stay at Xtabi

As  far  as  Hedo  II  vs.  Jam-Jam  is  concerned, we prefer Jam-Jam, 
though,  once  again, YMMV. We are beach people and the beach and reef 
are  much nicer at Jam-Jam. The full service bar and grill at the Hedo 
II  beach  were  nice but we would give them up for the natural beauty 
of  Jam-Jam. The grounds at Hedo II seem more lush, in part because it 
is  less  open  and  built  upon a hill. Though we did not sample many 
meals  at Hedo, we thought the fare (and the clientele) at Jam-Jam was 
a bit more international.

It  was  a  nice  vacation,  and  a  bit  less  expensive than an all-
inclusive, but we are not likely to vacation this way again. 

JAMAICA: SWEPT AWAY NEGRIL BY KIRA PERDUE

My  new  husband  and I just got back from our honeymoon at Swept Away 
in  Negril.  Since  I  benefited  so much from reading reports in this 
forum, I thought I'd write a brief one for anyone who is interested.

Swept  Away was absolutely marvelous. We took a quick peek and some of 
the  other  resorts along the strip and in our opinion, Swept Away was 
much nicer. It was the perfect spot for a romantic honeymoon.

We  got  there  around noon and were given fresh orange juice while we 
checked  in.  Our bags were taken to our room -- our room was so large 
and  nice.  We  had  an  Atrium  room  which  is the middle lane and I 
thought  it  was the perfect location. We could see a bit of the beach 
from  our balcony, but were surrounded by beautiful trees. The windows 
in  each  room  have  mahogany  panels  and  no glass. The balcony was 
almost as big as the bedroom itself. We were impressed.

We  put on our swimsuits and explored the grounds. Everything was very 
well  kept  and  the  grounds were lush with palm trees and many other 
tropical  flowering  plants. The beach was very large and well kept -- 
they  raked  it  every  morning. There were always plenty of chairs on 
the  beach  with  foam mats. There are also plenty of places to sit in 
the shade for those fair of skin.

FOOD:  We  made  our  first  trip  to  the bar and the bartender never 
forgot  our  names after that. This is an example of most of the staff 
at  Swept  Away: they are very friendly and make an effort to remember 
your  name and what you like. There are four bars on the property: one 
on  the  beach,  one  in the main dining hall, one in the piano lounge 
and one in the sports complex.

I  tried  many  new drinks, my favorite being the Dirty Banana. I also 
tried  the  Jamaican  Delight  (yum)  and  the  Yellow Bird (which I'm 
convinced is for alcoholics). :-)

They  also  have  a  Veggie Bar (open daily from 11a.m. to 6 p.m.) and 
Beach  Grill.  Paul  runs  the  bar  and can introduce you to many new 
fruits  and fruit drinks. I drank out of a coconut and my husband fell 
in  love with the Mediterranean olives. The beach grill offers grouper 
or  snapper  sandwiches  and  chicken  sandwiches.  We ate here almost 
daily.

There  are  two  restaurants  at  Swept Away: the Main Dining Room and 
Feathers  (at  the  sports  complex across the street). Both have very 
good  food. Feathers is more gourmet and we were always impressed with 
the  food  there (but weren't too crazy about the deserts). Definitely 
try  the  lamb  at  Feathers. Yum! One thing: you must get used to the 
Jamaican  way and not expect your food to come as quickly as it may in 
American  restaurants.  Things run slower there, so take your time and 
enjoy the wine and company.

We  did  have  breakfast  in our room most mornings (the only time you 
can  get  room  service).  I  guess a local bird got used to us having 
breakfast  on  our  balcony.  The  last morning we were there, we were 
sitting  having  fruit and banana bread and a little bird came, sat on 
our plate and started eating my bread!! It was pretty cute.

SPORTS:  Swept  Away has a very very large sports complex that is well 
known.  We  aren't  the  athletic  types so we didn't make good use of 
this  aspect  of the resort, but know that many people did. We did get 
a  massage,  which  came free since we were honeymooners. We also took 
the  couples  massage  class  (offered twice a week, I think) and that 
was fun.

We  concentrated  mainly  on water sports. We snorkeled a lot, learned 
to  wind  surf  (we  weren't  very  good  at it), water skied and even 
learned  to  SCUBA.  We  didn't  get officially PADI certified, but we 
took  the  resort certification course. The instructors were very good 
and  made  sure  that  everyone  was  comfortable  in the water before 
ending  the  class.  SCUBA  was a neat experience and we dove twice. I 
think  I'd  recommend  maybe getting officially PADI certified though. 
Although  the  instructors  were good, there simply wasn't enough time 
in  a  three  hour  class  to  learn  all  you  need to know about the 
physiology  of  the  sport. I ended up not equalizing myself correctly 
and  had  an  ear  problem that sent me to the doctor. It's cleared up 
now and wasn't a big deal, so it didn't spoil our experience.

Our  one  trip  off the property was to go horseback riding to Babo's. 
This  was arranged through the resort and cost about $77 per couple. I 
am  very  glad  that  we  did  this. We got a chance to see the "real" 
Jamaica.  We  rode  up into the hills and met a couple of Rastafarians 
living  up  there who showed us some "historical" sights. The ride was 
scenic  and educational -- Jamaica is really a third-world country and 
many  of  the  homes  looked  like they were about to fall over. I was 
never  uncomfortable,  though.  Everyone  we  met  was  very friendly. 
O'Neill  was  our guide. My husband lost his sunglasses along the way. 
A  couple  of  days later O'Neill found them for us and sent them back 
to the resort!!

We  did  walk  down  the beach and visited some of the vendors selling 
carvings,  jewelry, etc. Again, Jamaicans are very friendly people and 
they  expect  the  same  from  visitors.  If you are not interested in 
seeing  their  stuff,  just  smile  and  say  "No  thank you." They'll 
appreciate  that  and leave you alone with a "No problem, Mon." If you 
ignore  them  (like  we  are "trained" to do in the states) they get a 
bit irritated.

GENERAL:  Monday  night, the resort has a beach party with buffet food 
(and  lots  of  it)  and entertainment. We learned how to dance raggae 
and  saw  fire-eaters,  etc. It was a good time and we walked down the 
beach later listening to the sounds of the Calypso band.

It  rained  daily  for about an hour in the afternoon. The last day or 
two  it  started  raining  about 3 p.m. and didn't quit, but it was no 
big  deal.  We  sat  on our balcony, listened to the rain and read. We 
also  played  pool  and  ping pong. They have a room next to the piano 
bar  that  plays  movies on a big screen TV and also has an assortment 
of  many  board  games.  During  the  rain,  we  saw  some people take 
advantage of this room.

Swept  Away  does not have the night live some other resorts do, which 
is  one of the reasons we chose it. There is dancing and nightly shows 
until  midnight  every  night,  but  after that, things are quiet. For 
that  reason,  the  resort may not be for someone looking for parties, 
but  it's  perfect for people like us who enjoy a good dinner and then 
a  quiet  walk  on  the beach without the distractions of loudspeakers 
announcing the next race.

We  didn't  have  any trouble getting through customs either coming or 
going.  Our  flight back to Atlanta was delayed three hours, which was 
disappointing  as  I  could  have  had more beach time. We spent about 
$150  total  in  American  cash  while we were there on souvenirs, cab 
rides,  etc.  We brought it in 1, 5 and 10s, which I think is the best 
way  to  go. Anything bigger is unnecessary. We did exchange money for 
our exiting tax which is about $14 per person ($500JA).

In  short, my husband and I had a wonderful time at Swept Away and are 
planning  to return next year. I would highly recommend this resort to 
anyone wanting a relaxing vacation in a beautiful, quiet setting.

ST. CROIX RESTAURANT GUIDE BY ED BUCKLEY

(Ed Note: This file was submitted by Ed Buckley who operates V.I. Divers, Ltd. He can be contacted at http://www.padi.com/vidivers.html)

________________________________________________________

Name of Restaurant           BLD       (Phone number)
                    (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
   Location
   Description of food
   "My comments are always in quotes"
   Credit Cards they accept.  None accepted if none listed. 

________________________________________________________

Anabelle's Tea Room          BLD        (773-3990)
   51 Company Street, Christiansted
     Spanish,   Cuban,  &  Caribbean  cuisine  including  hot  pressed 
sandwiches and
   vegetarian dishes, and salad platters.

Antoine's in Anchor Inn       BLD       (773-0263)
   58A King Street, Christiansted
   Alpine Cuisine and Seafood
   AX, V, MC

Anything Goes Deli            BL        (773-2777)
   Gallows Bay, Christiansted
   Gourmet takeout and deli
   
Blue Marlin                   BLD       (773-7077)
   Club St. Croix Condos
    Salads,  sandwiches,  burgers  and pastas for lunch while seafood, 
including
   their flaming rum lobster, is their dinner specialty.
   AX, V, MC

Bombay Club                   LD        (773-1838)
   5A King Street, Christiansted
    Steak,  Chicken,  shrimp,  fish,  sandwiches,  and  several  daily 
specials.
   "Great roasted garlic and brie."
   Air conditioned dining in the bar or air cooled in the patio.
   AX, V, MC

Cafe Du Soleil                D         (772-5400)
   Prince Passage on Strant Street, Christiansted
   Local fish, lamb, lobster, shrimp.
   "Great Sunday brunch.  Excellent place to catch a sunset."
   AX, V, MC

Camille's                     BLD       (773-2985)
   53B Company Street, Christiansted
   American, Steak, Seafood, Sandwiches, Salads

Cheeseburgers in Paradise     LD        (773-1119)
   East End Road
     "Wonderful  cheeseburgers,  burritos,  chicken,  pasta  and daily 
specials. 
   A real favorite hangout for the locals especially on weekends."
   Live music Thu-Sun
   MC, V

Columbus Cove                 BLD       (778-5771)
   Salt River Marina
    Continental  &  Caribbean  cuisine,  seafood,  and  pasta,  steak, 
sandwiches.
   Great home made deserts.
   
Comanche                      LD        (773-2665)
   Strand Street, Christiansted
   Seafood, Prime Rib, duckling, local fish, steaks
   Reservations Requested
   AX, V, MC

Company Street Pub            LD        (773-6880)
   Company Street
   Snacks, Sandwiches, salads, daily specials
   "French Dip and Curly fries are wonderful."
   Open till 4am

Cormorant Beach Club          BLD       (778-8920)
   Cormorant Beach Beach Hotel
    Continental  &  Caribbean  Cuisine  including  salads  and gourmet 
sandwiches
    for  lunch  and a great Caribbean Night Buffet on Thursdays with a 
floor
   show.  Good Sunday Brunch spot 
   too.
   Reservations Requested
   AX, V, MC, DC

Cultured Pelican              LD        (773-3333)
   Coakley Bay Condos
    Pasta,  veal,  and  italian dishes along with an excellent stuffed 
lobster.
   Also a great Sunday Brunch.
   "One of the best views on the island"
   V, MC

Deep End Bar                  LD        (773-4455)
   Tamarind Reef Hotel
   Light fare, sandwiches, salads  

Down By the Bay               BLD       (773-2918)
   Chenay Bay Beach Hotel
   Continental & West Indian Cuisine
    Tuesday  & Saturday West Indian buffets, Wednesday is pasta night, 
Friday
   has belly dancers. 

Duggan's at the Reef          LD        (773-9800)
   Teague Bay, East End
    Quiche,  flying  fish,  soups,  sandwiches  and daily specials for 
lunch, rack
   of lamb, filet, mignon, veal and lobster for dinner
    "Great setting at the east end of the island.  Chicken verde pasta 
and
   lobster putanesca  is excellent."
   Reservations Requested
   AX, V, MC

The Galleon                   D         (773-9949)
   Green Cay Marina
   French, Italian, lobster, chateaubriand, breast of duck.
   "The best rack of lamb on the island."
   Reservations Requested
   AX, V, MC

Greathouse at Villa Madeline  D         (778-7377)
   Teague Bay, East End
   International, Continental cuisine
    "Gourmet  dining  and  an  excellent  view  from  the  top  of the 
mountain"
   AX, V, D, MC

Harbormaster                  BLD       (773-2035)
   Hotel on the Cay, Christiansted
    Seafood,  burgers,  sandwiches  and a Tuesday night Beach Barbecue 
buffet
    with  a limbo show, broken bottle dancer, fire eater, mocko jumbie 
and
   steel band. 
   Reservations for the buffet.
   AX, MC, V

Harvey's                      LD        (773-3433)
   11B Company Street, Christiansted
    West  Indian  cuisine including local fish, creole, ribs, chicken, 
lobster
   and lamb stew. 

Hideaway                      BLD       (773-4042)
   Hibiscus Beach Hotel
    Right  on the beach serving steak, seafood, sandwiches.  Wednesday 
night
    barbecue  night  with  live music and limbo contest.  Friday night 
five
    course  dinner  and  show  by the Caribbean Dance Company. Jazz on 
Saturday
   night. 
   Reservations required for special nights
   AX, MC, V

Indies                        LD        (692-9440)
   55-56 Company Street, Christiansted
   Caribbean & International Cuisine, Seafood.  
    "This  is  the  place I recommend first for seafood.  There's also 
Sushi on
   Friday nights." 
   Reservations Suggested
   AX, V, MC

Kendrick's                    LD        (773-9199)
   Gallow's Bay, Christiansted
     "This   is   my  top  choice  for  fine  dining  on  the  island.  
Contemporary &
    Nouvelle  American  cuisine, including pastas, seafood, duck, pork 
loin and
   a great wine list."  Pub dining downstairs, fine dining upstairs.
   Reservations requested
   AX, V, MC

Lizards                       LD        (773-4485)
   1111 Strand Street, Christiansted
   Island-inspired dishes, barbecue
   Live music nightly
   AX, V, MC

Luncheria                     LD        (773-4247)
   6 Company Street, Christiansted
    "My  favorite  all  around  restaurant  for  their  cheap and good 
Mexican Food
    and  the  best  frozen Margaritas ANYWHERE.  Their $1 margarita is 
extremely
    "tart"  to  cover  the  vast quantity of tequila that gives it the 
kick of a
    mule.   Three  or  four of these and you'll see things that aren't 
there!"

Mahogony Room                 D         (778-3800)
   Westin Carambola Beach Resort
   Fine Dining, Seafood
   AX, V, MC, D, DC

Mango Grove                   LD        (773-0200)
   Queen Cross Street, Christiansted
    Sandwiches,  burgers,  light  fare,  and their specialty drink the 
Mango
   daiquiri.  "Chicken fingers and fries make a great lunch"
   AX

Marina Bar                    BLD       (773-0103)
   King's Alley Yacht Landing
   Continental breakfast, light fare
   AX, MC, V, D

No Bones Cafe                 LD        (773-2128)
   Gallows Bay, Christiansted
    Seafood,  grilled steak and chicken, homemade desserts prepared by 
the
    self proclaimed resident gypsy, Chef Tomas.  Great seafood chowder 
too.
    "My  favorite is the Flying Fish and Chips with really really cold 
beer
    (which always makes a place rate highly on my list).  Their steaks 
are
   highly acclaimed" 
   Reservations Requested for dinner
   V, MC, D

Nolan's Tavern                LD        (773-6660)
   Estate St. Peters, Christiansted
   West Indian Cuisine
   Conch Specialties
   Reservations Suggested

Off the Wall                  LD        (778-2227)
   Cane Bay Beach
    Grilled  food,  pizzas,  subs, mexican, all served in an extremely 
casual
    atmosphere  right  on  the beach with a great sunset view.  "Great 
place to
    stop  in  for a snack and a drink if you're out touring around the 
island
   or after a day of diving at Cane Bay." 

On the Beach                  BLD       (772-4242)
   At the On the Beach Resort
   Wonderful west end view from right on the beach which means great
    sunsets.  Lunch is salads, gourmet pizzas, and huge burgers, while 
dinner
    includes  nightly  gourmet  specials.  Sunday Brunch is great (and 
then
   spend the day at their beach) and Sunday night is Pasta Night.
   Reservations suggested
   AX, V, MC

Picnic in Paradise            D         (778-1212)
   West end of Cane Bay
    "Even  though the name says picnic, it's because they used to be a 
deli.
    It's  excellent  dining  in a great seaside setting now with fresh 
seafood,
   pasta, pork, and lobster." 
   AX, V, MC, D, DC, CB

Roget's Cafe                  LD        (772-1100)
   In the former Royal Dane Hotel, Frederiksted
   Fresh seafood and steak and nightly specials and a dessert
   special--flourless chocolate cake. 
   AX, V, MC, D

Saman Room                    BLD       (778-3800)
   Westin Carambola Beach Resort
   American, West Indian dishes.  "Their Friday night Pirate's Buffet
    including  an  Island  Show  and/or  Sunday  brunch  are not to be 
missed."

St. Croix Seaport             BLD       (773-6585)
   Hotel Caravelle, Christiansted
    Right  on  the  water  with  a great view of Christiansted harbor.  
Caribbean &
   Contemporary World Cuisine, Pizza
   AX, D, V, MC

Saloon                        LD        (772-BEER)
   Market street a block from the water, Frederiksted
    Airconditioned  bar  with burgers, nachos, chicken sandwiches, and 
salads.
   AX, V, MC

Serendipity Inn               LD        (773-5762)
   Mill Harbor Condominiums
    Soups,  salads, sandwiches for lunch, fish pasta chicken, steak au 
poivre
    for  dinner.  Tuesday night-fried chicken, Wednesday night-Italian 
night,
   Friday night-barbecue.  Sunday brunch.
   AX, MC, V

South Shore Cafe              D         (773-9311)
   Corner of routes 62 and 624
    Fine  seafood and vegetable entrees featuring homemade pasta, also 
prime
   rib, lamb, and daily vegetarian specials.

Stixx                         BLD       (773-5157)
   Pan Am Pavilion (Waterfront),Christiansted
   Seafood, continental cuisine, pizza, pasta
   AX, V, MC

Tivoli Gardens                LD        (773-6782)
   Strand @ Queen Cross Street, Christiansted
    Continental  cuisine  &  seafood  like shrimp curry, coquilles St. 
Jacques,
   and lobster. 
   Reservations requested
   AX, V, MC

Tommy & Susan's Taverna       L         (773-8666)
   6 Company Street, Christiansted
    Greek  with  at least one island special every day like roast pork 
or fresh
   snapper. 

Top Hat                       LD        (773-2346)
   52 Company Street, Christiansted
     Continental   cuisine,   Scandinavian   Specialties  including  a 
smorgaasbord
    selection of hors d'oeuvres and salad bar.  Black angus steaks and 
fresh
   local seafood. 
   Reservations Suggested
   AX, DC, V, MC

Tutto Bene                    D         (773-5229)
   2 Company Street, Christiansted
   Southern provincial Italian
   AX, D, MC, V

Waves at Cane Bay             D         (778-1805)
   Near Cane Bay at the Waves at Cane Bay Hotel
    Fresh  seafood,  steak,  pasta,  chicken, and vegetarian specials.  
"Great
   food, an excellent view right on the water" 
   AX, MC, V

Wreck Bar & Grill             D         (773-6092)
   5AB Hospital Street
   American Cuisine
   V, MC, D

ST. JOHN BY LINDA TUFFEY

Well,  back  again to Cold Wisconsin. Spent 17 days on St. John. Had a 
variety  of  weather,  those  hot steamy days, windy days, rainy days, 
and the high surf from hurricane Lily. All typical October weather. 

Happy  to  report that Pusser's has re-opened. Totally new staff, same 
pain  killers!  Asolare  opened  on  Nov  1  (the day we left), as did 
Caneel  Bay.  The  island looks really good. No hurricane damage to be 
seen.  The  former  Hyatt,  now  the  Great Cruz Bay Hotel, has yet to 
open. Scop Bank seems not to know what to do with it. 

We  ate  out alot. there is a new restaurant, La Tapa, where ice cream 
parlor  used  to be, next to police station, is great. Serving Spanish 
TAPAS,  light  appetizer fare, that is usually eaten family style, has 
great  selection,  good service and interesting location (right on the 
street).  Spent  Halloween  at  Morgan's  Mango,  along  with  all the 
costumed  wait  staff  and  neighborhood  kids.  Was  great - food was 
fantansic. 

Lime  Inn  was experiencing it's first crowds since last season. First 
time  we  got in on shrimp feast night without having to wait. All the 
businesses  have  been suffering from lack of tourists. A shame, cause 
the  island  wasn't  hit that bad. No tourists at all in Sept. As they 
say  at the Barricuda Bistro - bring more tourists to St John! We love 
'um. 

I  don't  think I have ever seen the island more green and colorful. I 
know  I've  never seen more rainbows! It was spectacular. We stayed at 
our  new  villa,  which is 725 ft above sea level overlooking Jost and 
Tortola.  A  view  to  die  for!  We  will  be  putting  in a pool and 
remodeling  it  this  winter,  so will be on island for 3+ months. Now 
that sounds alot better than Wisconsin! (except for the Packers!) 

Cable  TV  is  still  struggling to re-cable the island. We have it at 
Morningside  Villa,  but  not  at  the  new  one.  Some one should get 
satelite  TV  there!  What  a market! We worked alot on this trip, but 
did  get to Trunk, Cinnamon and Francis Bays. All were empty with just 
a  few  tourists. The Cruise ships were starting to bring people over, 
especially  on  Wed  (Norway) and Thurs (7 ships in STT). More touring 
of  the  island  and  less  dropping off at Trunk to stomp the snorkel 
trail! 

Le  Chateau  de  Bordeaux is running full swing, so is Woody's. 2 ends 
of  the  restautant spectrum! Had great pasta at Cafe Roma (as usual), 
and  super  BBQ at Uncle Joes. Spent a day at Jost at the Soggy Dollar 
Bar   eating   flying   fish  sandwiches  and  drinking  the  original 
PainKillers. a great trip - too soon over! 

ST. JOHN BY BRAD DAVIDSON

Just  returned  from  a  10-day  trip to St. John, USVI and though I'd 
offer  an  update  on the conditions we found there after the past two 
seasons  of  significant hurricane activity. Our last trip was 7 years 
ago so that's the standard against which we compare.

In  a nutshell, we couldn't tell there had actually been any problems. 
We  saw  little  evidence of lingering damage from the storms. Because 
of  the  fairly wet summer, the vegetation was thick and green even in 
the  southwest  part  of  the  island  which was quite dry on our last 
visit.  The downtown areas of Cruz Bay and Coral Bay were bustling and 
in  the  same state of repair as usual. All of the normal services and 
activities were available and we had a great time.

Caneel  Bay  Resort  had  just opened a few days before we arrived and 
from  the  road above and a passing ferry boat ride, looked to be back 
in  good form with palm trees back in place. We did hear the Hyatt was 
not back in operation yet but didn't go check it out.

The  beaches  we  visited  (see  itinerary  below)  were  also in good 
condition.  The  only  effect we saw was the damage to the coral reefs 
and  grassy seabed which had taken a lot of sand coverage. In spite of 
this we saw as much fish life as before and even a few new types.

If  anyone  is  interested  in  more detail drop an e-mail and we'd be 
happy  to pass along what we experienced. The activities and locations 
we experienced were:

Flew  to  St. Thomas from Chicago via Delta then cab to Red Hook Ferry 
to St. John to pick up Avis rental "jeep".

Stayed  6  nights  at  Concordia  Eco-Tents out beyond Coral Bay and 4 
nights at Maho Bay Camp on north shore.

Dined  out  at  Shipwreck  Bar,  Coral  Bay  and  Pussers  and Asolare 
(awesome)  in  Cruz  Bay.  Rest  of  the  time, picked up stuff at the 
markets and cooked in.

Snorkeled  Salt Pond, Lameshur (Big and Little), Leinster, Trunk, Maho 
(Big  and  Little),  Francis,  Hawknest and Jumbie Bays and Waterlemon 
and Whistling Cays (rented a sea kayak).

Hiked  Rams  Head, Drunk Bay and Europa Bay trails and took a day trip 
to the Baths on Virgin Gorda, BVI

Spent  a  1/2 day shopping in St. Thomas on the last day on the way to 
the airport and back to Chicago via Atlanta on Delta. 

ST. LUCIA: CLUB MED BY TOM ALTSTIEL

All the Fun You Can Eat...Club Med for the whole family

Inspired  by  visions  of  topless  beaches  and  round the clock toga 
parties,  I  never  dreamed  of bringing my family to a Club Med.  But 
over  the years, the Club shed its hedonistic overtones and now offers 
G-rated  packages  at  many of its locations.  So we selected the Club 
Med  on  St.  Lucia,  a former British colony with French place names.  
It  seemed  exotic...yet safe.  This facility has since been converted 
into  Aquarius,  a no frills resort affiliated with Club Med, so these 
comments may not be typical for every family oriented Club Med.

The Rooms
When  we  considered  an  all  inclusive  resort,  we assumed it would 
include  a hotel room rather than a broom closet with twin beds.  Ever 
been   to   the   men's  room  at  Billy  Earle's  Texaco  in  Sardis, 
Mississippi?   Well,  our  bathroom had the same designer.  If this is 
the antidote for civilization give me the poison.

The Activities
Obviously,  the Club Med staff does not want to spend all your time in 
your  cubicle.   So  they  provide  activities for every age group and 
level  of  athletic  ability.   Our kids signed up for go carts, golf, 
archery,  swimming, scuba, street hockey...and that was just the first 
morning.   Other  choices include tennis, horseback riding, triathlon, 
alligator   wrestling,  jousting,  chainsaw  juggling  and  demolition 
derby.   Being  adventuresome,  I  signed  up  for sitting in a lounge 
chair  to  see if any woman under 200 pounds between the age of 18 and 
55  would  go  topless.  My wife opted for water aerobics, an activity 
where  a  very tan woman barks confusing directions in French at a pod 
of  pale Americans bobbing in the water while Euro Techno music annoys 
the rest of the people at the pool. 

Then  there's the circus activities.  Every now and then I'd glance at 
the  trapeze,  high wire, trampoline and other instruments of torture.  
I  never  liked  clowns.  I didn't spend all this money to become one.  
No thank you.

Kids  are  divided  into four age groups from toddlers to teens.  With 
proper  planning,  family  members  can  avoid  each other for a whole 
week.

The Food
Club  Med's  real  claim  to  fame is the food.  And there is a lot of 
it.   All  identified  by  little  signs in French.  Even the hot dogs 
seemed  to  taste  better  with  French  names.  Hot food.  Cold food.  
Soups.   Fruit.   Vegetables.  Salads.  Wonderful fresh bread.  French 
food.   Italian  food.   Chinese  food.   Burgers.   Pizza.  Ice cream 
sundaes.   Fresh pastries.  All you could eat and then some.  And some 
people still asked for doggy bags.

Club  Med  encourages  camaraderie  in  the  dining  room.  The forced 
mingling  provides  an  opportunity  for  total strangers to develop a 
genuine  and lasting dislike for each other.  Sometimes we were joined 
by  French  or  German  people  who claimed to be world travelers, but 
didn't   even  know  who  Brett  Favre  is!   Boy,  talk  about  being 
provincial.

The Entertainment
Every  night  the  staff  provided  free  entertainment  such  as  lip 
synching  to  Disney  cartoon  songs  or dancing in front of someone's 
vacation  slides.   I  now  have  a  much  better appreciation for the 
production  values of my sixth graders' school plays.  Every night had 
a  theme,  like  "Watch Your Kids Bounce on a Trampoline While Wearing 
Silly Costumes."

The Money
Instead  of  using real money, you buy bags of colored pop beads which 
you  trade  for overpriced drinks or snacks.  And they say the Indians 
got  a  raw deal for Manhattan.  The theory is to make every one equal 
regardless  of social class.  It didn't work.  The rich folks couldn't 
resist  prancing  around  in  their  pop bead chokers and tiaras.  One 
aristocrat  was  dripping with enough beads to keep a small village in 
Red Stripes and Doritos for a month.  Show off.

The Bottom Line
A  family  Club  Med is a summer camp without reveille.  A cruise ship 
without  sea  sickness  or  Cathy  Lee.   A  non stop orgy of food and 
sports  instead  of the other kind at Hedonism II.  In short, a family 
oriented  Club  Med  is  a  wonderful  experience  for a kid...and for 
adults who want to be treated like one.  

ST. MARTIN BY ALTHEA BOGDAN

I   think  I  should  title  this  trip  report  the  "Adventures  (or 
misadventures)  of Ed and Althea. We arrived on the island on Oct. 17. 
Our  flight was right on time. As I am somewhat limited in my mobility 
I  waited  till  everyone  had gotten off the plane before I did. Even 
doing  that  we  were through immigration, got and luggage and were in 
the  villa  within  an  hour of landing. We spent the remainder of the 
afternoon on the deck of the villa greeting our friends. 

We  had  some  problem with the car on the short ride from the airport 
and  told  Naldo  (our  friend  who  keeps the car for us). He said he 
would  take  the car in the next morning and see what the problem was. 
Since  Frank  &  Nina  were  not  back on the island yet Naldo brought 
their car for us to use and took ours for repair. 

About  6  o'clock  we  went  up to take a nap and did not get up again 
till  morning. We had gotten up at 3:30 AM on travel day so I guess we 
were  just  tired.  On  Friday morning we made our normal trip to Food 
Center.  We  decided  to go to the new/old Food Center that had opened 
just  recently.  I  found  the  store  to be very well supplied and we 
purchased enough groceries to keep us through any blizzard <g>. 

On  Saturday  we decided to take a ride around the island and see what 
it  looked  like  since  the hurricane. My impression was that for the 
most  part  the  island looked physically recovered. There are still a 
few  places  that have piles of rubble where a building used to stand, 
but  for  the  most  part  if you did not know there was a devastating 
hurricane  you  would  not  know  it.  We  road  completely around the 
island,  first  to  Point Blanche, then Guana Bay, Orient Beach. Grand 
Case,  Marigot, the lowlands and through Mullet Bay. I am happy to see 
that  the  buildings  at  Mullet  now  have new red roofs and there is 
signs  of  work  going  on  there.  The  golf course is nice and green 
(there  has been lots of rain) and I saw a staff of gardeners working. 


I  must  add that although the island looks to be physically restored, 
the  local  people  on  the  island  are  FAR from recovered. It is my 
opinion  that  some  of  them  will never completely recover. Over the 
years  we  have become friends with many locals and we visit with most 
of  them  while  we  are there. At this point if the wind picks up and 
there  is  even a small storm in the area the locals are spooked. Most 
of  the  island  people  are religious and all have said how much they 
are  praying  NEVER to see anything like Luis again. On Monday Frank & 
Nina  were  due  to  return. Ed and I thought it would be fun to greet 
them  at the airport for a change. They arrived right on time and were 
surprised  to  see  us  greeting  them!  That night they came over for 
dinner.  I  had  brought  sausage  and peppers, Frank's favorite meal, 
from  home.  I  was  careful  not to let the sausages get loose at the 
airport when we arrived <g>. 

For  the  most part after that we spent most days watching the flowers 
bloom.  Each  day  Ed  would  wheel me down to the pool and I would be 
able  to  sit  on  the  steps  in it for a while and enjoy the sun and 
visit  with  the  many  home  owners  who  were  in residence at Coral 
Shores. Most of them are from here in NJ and we know them. 

I  must  say  at this point that although the island is not wheelchair 
friendly,  it  is truly the friendly island. I have enough mobility to 
get  up  and  down  a couple of steps, but I do need assistance. Every 
where  we went someone was always ready to help. Whether we were going 
into  a store, restaurant, casino, etc. there was always someone ready 
to  lend  an  arm  of  support, of if Ed was helping me up or down the 
stairs someone would bring my wheelchair. 

Frank  &  Nina decided to give Ed a day off from me (I didn't think he 
needed  that <g>) and take me out shopping for a day. We parked at the 
Seafood  Gallery and went from there. My first stop was the Gold Coin. 
I  know  everyone on this bb goes to Touch of Gold, but over the years 
I  have  always  shopped at Gold Coin and gotten great bargains there. 
For  the  most  part  I  am not usually in the market for jewelry as I 
already  have  enough  (don't  tell  Ed  I  said  that <g>). Gold Coin 
carries  the Swarovski crystal I collect, which is why I started going 
there  years  ago.  This trip I did buy two of our girls gold earrings 
and a gold cross and chain for our 5 yr. old granddaughter. 

After  Gold Coin I went to Penha to purchase some perfumes for Xmas. I 
must  say  that even though I have been shopping there for years it is 
always  the worst service of any store. A salesgirl reluctantly waited 
on  me.  Halfway through (I spent about $300) my selection she told me 
her  lunch was there and someone else would help me! I think that if I 
were  physically  able to get around better I would have told her what 
to  do  with the perfume and gone elsewhere, but I was almost finished 
with  the  selection  process so I just allowed someone else to finish 
and  we  left.  Next  time  I  think  I will go elsewhere! We finished 
shopping  and  went  to  Kalaloo  (formerly Callaloo <sp?>) for lunch. 
There are under new management and have been renovated. 

I  will  do  a  separate  report  of where we ate, what we ate and the 
cost.  Where we ate was dictated quite a bit by whether or not our car 
was  running.  We  had  constant  problems with it and it is now being 
repaired. 

I  am sorry to report that the Paradise Cafe is history. Byron closed. 
owing  his  employees  back  pay.  He  is in the process of filing for 
bankruptcy  so that he does not have to pay them. Byron has a drinking 
problem  and it is a shame. I also understand that he is trying to buy 
another  restaurant.  I  am  happy to report that Ren & Stimpy is open 
again.  They  were closed for vacation and while closed had a new roof 
put on the building. We ate there one night and had a great meal. 

Felix  has  been  sold. The new owners have renovated the place and it 
is  now  called  the  Indiana Beach. It is very nice. We ate there one 
night  because  we were on our way to Yvette's for dinner when our car 
broke  down  in  front  of LaVista. Naldo came and got us going again, 
but we decided to eat close by just in case we had another problem 

The  people on the island are hoping for a better season this year and 
although  personally  I  liked  the  lack  of  tourists,  I  can  well 
understand  the need for more tourists. For the first time EVER, there 
were  people  begging. You know things are bad when locals are begging 
from locals! 

 

Most  of  our  days  were  spent  being  lazy  and not doing more then 
waiting for the flowers to bloom. 

One  day  Ed  was  going out to buy a newspaper. As he was leaving the 
house  Naldo  told  him  that one of the rear tires on our car was low 
and  to  put  some air in it. Ed stopped at the Texaco station in Cole 
Bay  and  asked if they had an air pump. They said "yes". Ed said okay 
and  proceeded  to  have  them  put $10 worth of gas in the car. After 
they  finished  that  he  asked if they would put air in the tire. The 
clerk  looked  at  Ed  and said "The pump is broken". When Ed asked if 
they  had  an  air  pump  he  NEVER asked if it worked!!!! On the last 
couple  of days on the island we did the usual packing to get ready to 
come  home.  Since  we  leave a lot of stuff on the island it takes us 
time to pack up our kitchen utensils, snorkeling equipment, etc. 

On  Friday,  Nov.  8,  we  got our luggage together and at about 11 AM 
Frank  came  over  and  went  to  the  airport with Ed. Ed checked our 
luggage,  got  our  boarding passes and paid our departure tax so that 
we  could  arrive  at the airport around 4PM for our 4:40 flight. When 
he  got  back  from  the  airport we spent some time at the pool, then 
showered  and  got  dressed. We went to Mark's Place to have lunch and 
then  went back to Coral Shores to say good bye to all our friends. We 
arrived  at  the  airport  around  4PM.  Almost  immediately  upon our 
arrival  an  announcement was made that the flight had more passengers 
then  seats  and  AA  would give $250 in vouchers to anyone willing to 
surrender  their  seat. I thought it would be fun to stay an extra day 
so  I  volunteered  our  seats. Since they still needed volunteers the 
ante  went  up  and  by  the time the vouchers were issued we ended up 
with  $700 plus AA paid for our hotel room at the Maho and dinner that 
night,  breakfast  the next morning and lunch the next afternoon, plus 
our  taxi  fare  to and from the airport. This procedure took a bit of 
time  and  we arrived at the Maho about 6PM and were given a beautiful 
room.  I  was  able to arrange for a late check out the next day so we 
had  the  room  till about 3PM. Our luggage had left the island so all 
we  had  were our carry-ons, which held a bathing suit for each of us, 
plus  some  clean underwear and medications. We had a lovely dinner at 
the Rumboat and went to the casino where we won a few. 

On  Saturday we spent a couple of hours at the pool, then had lunch at 
the  restaurant  on  the beach, got dressed and went to the airport at 
around  4PM.  Again  they announced that the flight was overbooked and 
would  anyone  be  willing to give up their seats. Again I volunteered 
and  this  time  we  received  $600 in travel vouchers plus the hotel, 
meals  and  taxi fare. Again we returned to the Maho. I again arranged 
for  a  late  check  out. We had dinner that night at Cheri's, went to 
the casino, where we lost a few this time. 

Sunday  was  pretty  much  a  repeat  of  Saturday except that shortly 
before  we  left  for the airport we stopped in the lobby of the Maho, 
where  there  are some slot machines, and bought some quarters. Ed hit 
a  machine  for  over  $300  and while he was across at the big casino 
cashing  in  the  quarters  (they did not have enough cash in the slot 
area)  I was playing a machine and hit 1000 quarters. When Ed returned 
he  then  took my quarters and cashed them in. It was a profitable day 
<g>. 

We  again  returned to the airport around 4PM and again the flight was 
overbooked  and  we  did  not have a seat assignment and again we were 
bumped.  However,  this  time we received NO travel voucher because as 
it turned out the flight was canceled. 

The  flight was canceled because while it was waiting for it's turn to 
take  off at 747 took off and the windshear from the takeoff broke the 
windshield  of the American plane. Since the parts necessary to repair 
the  windshield  were  not available on the island and had to be flown 
in,  the flight was canceled and instead left at 7AM the next morning. 


When  we got back to the Maho on Sunday the clerks all knew us by this 
time and gave us "our" room AGAIN. 

On  Monday  we again returned to the airport around 4PM. The flight on 
this  day  was  GREATLY  overbooked  and they were offering $550 pp to 
give  up your seat....guess who was the first in line<g>. The AA agent 
asked  if  I  was  ready  to apply for residency on the island <g>. We 
again  returned  to  the Maho and by this time the clerk (the same one 
for  the fourth day in a row) said if we wanted they would engrave our 
name on the door of the room <g>. 

We  ended  up  with a total of $2400 in travel vouchers. Guess we will 
have  to find somewhere to go <bg>. It REALLY hurt me to have to spend 
an extra 4 days on the island...NOT! 

Now  we  get to the good part.....the restaurants. We had hoped to eat 
in  the  French cul de sac and Grand Case a few times, but car trouble 
kept us in our own neighborhood most of the time. 

All  meal  prices  I given includes the tip or service. We don't drink 
wine, but the price includes a diet coke for me and a beer for Ed. 

Surf  Club  South:  We  stopped  here on Saturday for a late lunch. We 
were  driving  around  the  island  and  thought  this would be a good 
place.  We  each  had  a burger, Ed had fries with his and I had onion 
rings  (the best I've ever eaten). the food was great and the bill was 
$22.  Surf  Club  had  a  Halloween  party. Our friends went to it and 
there  were  hundreds  of  people  there  all  in  costume. They had a 
contest  for the best costume and a woman dressed as a table (her head 
was the centerpiece on a silver platter) won first prize. 

Laguna:  We  decided  to  go to the Paradise Cafe, only to find out it 
was  closed  so we ended up at Laguna. It was a great choice. We had a 
Caesar  salad.  Ed  had  angel  hair pasta alfredo and I had spaghetti 
carbonara. The food was excellent. $58. 

Don  Carlos:  Ed  and  I shared an order of their special nachos. They 
were  yummy.  I  had a chimichanga dinner and Ed had grilled shrimp in 
garlic  sauce  which  was  served  with  mixed veggies. Everything was 
good. $48 

Don  Camillo:  We  went  here by default. We met Frank & Nina at Ren & 
Stimpy.  That  night  Ren & Stimpy were offering a buffet only. It was 
$12  pp  but  did not appeal to either Ed or Frank so we go in the car 
and  went  to  Marigot.  Don  Camillo has been a place we enjoy and go 
there  at  least  once  each  trip.  Ed  had  his  favorite  appetizer 
Carpaccio.  He  also  had  angel  hair  pasta  with  alfredo sauce and 
shrimps.  I  had  their  special  salad and their pasta with eggplant. 
Frank  had  their  lasagna  and  Nina had one of the specials (I can't 
quite remember). The bill was $65 per couple. 

Rancho  Argentine  Steakhouse  (formerly La Palapa): I had a 10 oz rib 
eye  and Ed had the medium filet. Both came with french fries (you had 
a  choice of fries or baked( and vegetables. The steaks were done just 
as  ordered and were really tasty. The bill was $38. This place serves 
till  around  11  PM  which is nice since there are times that we just 
don't quite make it up from our afternoon nap any earlier <g>. 

Mario's  Bistro:We  did have reservations, although on this particular 
night  it  was  not  full.  I  think it was "Coral Shores Night" there 
since  residents  of  the complex took up 4 tables that night. Martine 
was  our  server.  I  think  they kept those adorable French guys away 
from  our  table  because  while  I  was  sitting  in the front of the 
restaurant  waiting  for  Ed to park the car I was doing some drooling 
and  they  got  tired  of  mopping up the floor <g>. Our meal was very 
good.  Ed had carpaccio (this time served with ham instead of beef). I 
had  an  asparagus  appetizer  that  was OUT OF THIS WORLD. For a main 
course  Ed  had  the  filet  topped with blue cheese and I had the rib 
eye.  We both got the garlic mashed potatoes and vegetables. We shared 
the  dessert  of the day which I can't describe but it was to die for. 
It had chocolate mousse on it. Our bill was $78 and well worth it. 

Barvaria:  This is a place that doesn't get mentioned here very often, 
but  is  one  that  has  very  good  food  and  the  prices  are quite 
reasonable.  Since  the  hurricane  the place has been refunished. Out 
are  the  dark (and uncomfortable) benches and IN are tables with pink 
table  clothes  and  while  chairs.  The  place  is brighter and nicer 
looking.  Both  Ed  and  I  had  the  potato soup, which is absolutely 
delicious.  I  had their schnitzel <sp?> which is a huge piece of pork 
and  is cooked to perfection. It comes with potatoes and salad. Ed had 
the  bratwurst  which caqme with potatoes and sauerkraut. The bill was 
$38. 

Pasanggrahan:  Ed and I drove into town to exchange a pair of earrings 
and  decided  to  have  lunch  while we were there. We had never eaten 
here  before  and decided it was time to try it. I always enjoy eating 
at  the  places  that  face  the  beach and the water. We each had the 
lobster salad, which was quite good. The bill was $32 

Ren  &  Stimpy: We went back and this time made sure that there was no 
buffet.  Addie said they were only going to do the buffet about once a 
month.  Ed  and  I  shared  one caesar salad. Ed had a pasta dish with 
gorgonzola  cheese  and  I  had  their  pasta with eggplant. Both were 
great.  $37.  Indiana  Beach:  We  ate here because on this particular 
night  we  were  going to goto Yvette's. Our car broke down in from of 
the  LaVista and we called Naldo, who came and gave us a jump and left 
the  cables  in  our car just in case. We decided that we did not want 
to  venture  that far so we opted for this place. The food was good. I 
had  a  mixed  salad,  which  had  pieces of star fruit on it...a nice 
touch. I also had the ribs as my main course. Ed had gaspacho and a t-
bone. The food was good but a bit pricey.

Seafood  Gallery:  We  had dinner with Frank & Nina and this is one of 
their  favorites,  so  the  four of us, plus their cellphone, got into 
our  car  and  headed there. The meal was great! Ed had steamed clams, 
Frank  had  conch  fritters.  for  the  entree  Frank & I both had the 
lobster  thermedore.  It  was  excellent. Ed had scallops and Nina had 
the stuffed shrimps. Everything was prepared to perfection. $65. 

Rumboat:  We  had  never  tried  this  place  before  but were glad we 
decided  to  try  it. We each had a cheeseburger and I had my all time 
favorite  dessert...profiteroles.  The  food  was  very  good  and not 
expensive,  although I don't remember what the bill was as my notebook 
was already packed. 

Yvette's:  Again  on  this evening we were going out with Frank & Nina 
and  their  cellphone.  We  had a terrific meal (as usual). Ed had the 
conch  cocktail  and  the three of us had the lobster cocktail. We all 
had  the  shrimp and lobster creole. That is the most expensive entree 
on  the  menu and I mention that because most of the meals are between 
$9  and  $12 but this was $25, but well worth it. The night we were in 
there  the  service was exceptionally slow because there were short of 
staff  and  all  the  tables  were  occupied.  I did not mind the slow 
service,  after  all,  I'm  on vacation <g>. When we went to leave our 
car  would not start AGAIN! Glad we had those jumper cables. There was 
another  couple  leaving and we asked if they would give us a jump and 
they did. 

On  the  nights we were bumped we ate at the Rumboat, Cherie's and the 
Grand  Europe  Cafe. It was the first time I had eaten at Cherie's and 
did  not think much of the food. It was edible but not great. The meal 
we  had  at  the  Grand Europe Cafe was good. We each had one of their 
salads and a steak. The food was excellent. 

We  did  not  eat  out as often as we normally do. The reason for that 
was  that  many  evenings  we were just not hungry so we stayed in and 
just had a sandwich. 

All  in  all  it was a great trip, one I am grateful to have been able 
to  make.  I  am now hoping we can get back in the spring. I am hoping 
to  go late in May and stay for the month of June, but it is too early 
to plan it yet. 

ST. MARTIN BY JOACHIM DEUTENBERG

(Ed Note: Joachim is from Germany and mentioned that his English is not that good and suggested that I make appropriate changes. I'm always impressed when someone can write in a foreign language so I've made a few corrections where they seemed appropriate but left the article essentially as he wrote it.)

Marine Hotel Simson Beach

I  stayed 3 weeks in this Hotel. The rooms are clean and equipped with 
AC,  cable  TV,  safe  and  a small kitchen. The breakfast is good and 
included  in  the  room  price. I had half-board in this hotel and for 
the  dinner  I  must  take the menu of the day . I can't recommend it. 
Maybe the other items on the menu are better. I don't try them.

If  you go to this hotel, avoid a rooms on the street side. The street 
is  just  in  front  of  the  hotel,  and the cars and the motorcycles 
accelerate  after the bumpers. In the early morning trucks passes very 
noisy  in  front  of  the  hotel.  The  others rooms, with view to the 
lagoon or the pool are quiet. 

No  public bus passes to this hotel. If you want to go out, you need a 
taxi,  or  you  must  walk  to Marigot. It takes about 45 minutes. The 
hotel  offers  a  bus  service  to  Marigot and Phillisburg every day, 
except  Sundays. The two-way to Philipsburg is about 8 US$. They offer 
a  bus  service to different beaches on the island too. The bus leaves 
an  9:45  am  and  take  you  back  an 4:00 pm. On some of the offered 
beaches,  like  Plum  Bay,  there  is  no  shadow  and  no beachbar or 
restaurant in the vicinity. 

The  next  beach to the hotel is Baie Rouge. You can walk there and it 
takes you about 10 to 15 minutes. 

A  big  problem  in  the  hotel is the language. You are on the French 
side  and  they  can't (or won't) speak English. On the reception they 
speak  English  sometimes. In the restaurant the menu is in French and 
the waiters have some problems to explain the menu in English.

The  best  way  is  to  rent  a  car  a go out to dinner. (I recommend 
Chery's  Cafe  at  Maho  Plaza).  In  the lobby you can choose between 
Europcar  and  Sandy's. I took the car from Sandy's, because they were 
cheaper.  I  rented  a Dahiatsu Charade (without AC) and payed 125 US$ 
for  the  week. (227 US$ including the CDW). I think, this is the best 
way to explore the island.

Shopping

Following  suggestions,  I went to J N Jewelers at Maho Plaza. While I 
was  choosing  what  I want to buy, they offered me something to drink 
(Beer,  Coke  or  what you want) The selection is good and the service 
friendly  and  excellent. Finally I bought a bracelet for me. I looked 
for  the  bracelets  in  Philipsburg  too  and  I think the prices are 
higher  in  the  city.  In  any  case  the  service at J N Jewelers is 
excellent  and  better  than  in  the  city. They have 2 shops at Maho 
Plaza and a third one at the Juliana airport.

Maho Bay

Because  I  like  to  take  pictures  of  airplanes,  Maho  Bay was my 
favorite  beach.  The best time for pictures is Fridays and Saturdays, 
when  the  Boeing  747  (Jumbo  Jet)  from  Air  France, KLM an others 
arrives.  This  big aircraft passes the beach very low. But be careful 
when  they  take  off. Don't stay behind the aircraft on the street or 
on the beach. All your belongings will be blown in the sea.

Tours

If  possible, try to make a tour to the islands in the neighborhood. I 
went  to Anguilla with the ferry-boat from Marigot and to Saba and St. 
Eustatius with the plane..

On  the islands a took a taxi and the drivers showed me the large part 
of  the  islands.  I  like  Saba  very  much.  Its  totally  quiet and 
different from the other islands in the Caribbean. 

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