Well back home in good old Blighty after 2 weeks in St Barths,
so as promised here is our trip report, perhaps a little later than we promised.
Tuesday 17th June
Fly from UK to Charles De Gaulle for full day in Paris before we fly to St Marteens-St Barths. Unfortunately it wassed down all day so we just stopped in the hotel and read.
Wednesday 18th June
Fly from Charles De Gaulle (International Airport? This has got to be the worst airport in the world, dirty, unfriendly and nothing to do. However back to the plot). Landed in St Marteens at 14:00 and St Barths Commuter sorted everything, luggage entry forms everything ten out of ten to them for that. Then to the plane, it isn’t that the plane was small or that we were squeezed in that worried us; it was the age of the pilot, our 21-year-old son looked old enough to be his father. As we approached St Barths he had to do a couple of sways from side to side to see if the runway was clear, yes really! However after we had all written last messages to our loved ones, we finally bounced down the runway unharmed.
We were staying at the Village St Jean and part of the deal was a free car for the 2 weeks (yes we are cheapskates) so off to the Maurice Car Rental for our Suzuki Samurai, now that sounds like a beast of a car, it must be eight feet wide and able to knock anything else off the highway. So as we walked past the junkyard expecting to see our growling monster in the distance, the Representative stopped and proudly pointed to something resembling a Mini-Moke with a top on. It appears it wasn’t a junkyard after all but their fleet of top of the range vehicles. Well that's torn it now everyone will know we are cheapskates before they even meet us. Not to worry off to Village St Jean to book in. No problems here the people were very friendly and our Terraced Bungalow must have had the best view in St Barths. After a shower, it was down to the beach for a reccy and a beer not necessarily in that order. The first place we see at the bottom of the hill is Nikki Beach Bar Restaurant, looking no further we go in and find what must be the sheikest, sexyist, plushest bar we have ever seen, right on the beach with a stunning views of Eden Rock the boats and the bay.
Two beers, then another two, and just two more to be getting on with. Paid the bill $40 dollars for six bottles of beer, but worth every penny. Back to the cottage for the 3S's, shower, shave etc and then off to find a place to eat.
We have decided not to mention too much about the restaurants on the island, mainly because a lot were closed and they have been done to death by everyone on this site with an epistle on the quality of lobster from one up market establishment to another. However, I think two places deserve a mention for very different reasons, firstly “Andy's Hideaway which we expected to be just a place to pick up a pizza, was in fact anything but, we ate there several times and the quality of food was excellent at a price that didn’t embarrass the waiter when he brought the bill. The atmosphere was brilliant on every occasion we went there, and the staff, and Andy were very, very friendly. But of course that is to be expected, he is, after all, “English”. The restaurant was the only one on the island that we saw that was always full and a place the locals use (which is always a good guide).
Secondly “Le Ti” which we were expecting to be heaving with nubile young people and dancing on the tables. Was in fact virtually empty, eight people there when we arrived less when we left. The meal was mediocre in the extreme with a cost of $150 for a one-course meal and a couple of beers and a minimum charge of $50 for a bottle of cheap wine, and I mean a $5 dollar bottle of wine from your local supermarket. Obviously this is all set up to keep misers like me away from it, may I say they succeeded, we didn’t go back.
So back to the plot, after a drenching from a quick storm we ate our fill and went back to Nikki Beach Bar, which turned out to be even better after dusk with lights playing over the waves and boats. A few more beers and back to bed.
Thursday 19th June
Our first day found us at St Jeans, trying to avoid the cars coming through the resort, it was then I realised our Suzuki Samurai, far from being due for the scrap heap was in fact one of the better maintained vehicles on the island.
On to the beach which was virtually empty, just enough people around to made it interesting, not too many so you were sitting on someone's lap, although there were several people there whose lap I would have enjoyed sitting on. The day was fairly cloudy but very warm and in the coming days it was the occasional cloud that we looked forward to, to break the intensity of the sun. We like the sun but you need a minimum of sun block 20 or 30. This beach as it turned out became our favourite, as it had all the amenities (Beach Bars, Restaurants and shops) and was very pretty.
Nikki Bar and beers as usual in the evening and a few more on the terrace at the bungalow. This is the life!
Friday 20th June
Picture Off to Saline beach, which everyone has told us, is the best on the island. It was indeed very nice with gently shelving sand into a crystal clear sea. This beach is clothing optional but there was only one couple baring all, a rather attractive (for her age, see photo) English woman and her husband a rather portly chap, who my wife said looked gross, she then told me to get some clothes on.
It was quite windy this side of the island, which we found to be true on all our visits to this side. I’m not sure if this is always true, but worth bearing in mind if it is a very hot day on the St Jean side. No beach bars here although there is a bar restaurant by the side of the lake/lagoon, but is rather hot after hours on the beach.
In the evening we went to Le Piment, which appears to only do snacks, but on further investigation had a good a la Carte as well. As with most other places on the island the food was excellent. Of course finishing at Nikki's for those beers, already we don’t have to ask for them they just appear with two Caribs as we sit down.
Saturday 21st June
We thought a day away from the beach was in order, so we are off to Gustavia, and were not disappointed the town is as pretty as a picture with a beautiful marina with Pelicans diving into the pristine waters and always coming up with a fish, unlike my own fishing trips.
Went to Bar de L’oubli, which is just on the corner where the cars come into Gustavia. It is a good place for people watching and the coffees and beers were excellent although the waitress looked as if she had sucked on a lemon and been chewing a wasp at the same time. We met a couple from Virginia and spent the next hour comparing our likes and dislikes of President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair, isn’t it funny you travel half way round the world talk to a complete stranger and still talk about the same things you do at home. Never mind, the bill came and I could have kissed the waitress $3 a beer and $2.50 for coffee, there is a god after all.
Back to the Bungalow for an afternoon on the terrace and a few hours kip before the usual evening ritual of dinner and Nikki's.
Sunday 22nd June
Off to Gouverneur today, we are told this is the second best beach on the island (also clothing optional as you can see from the photo this lady seems to get everywhere).
The view coming along the top of Gouverneur is spectacular, if you are not driving that is. The car park is almost on the beach so access is very easy, I assume this is a new road as other contributors have mentioned long treks to Gouverneur, or have I got it completely wrong? The beach is great but the rocks in the water make it difficult to get into the water at some places.
Monday 23rd June
Today we trekked off to the opposite side of St Jeans, the end with the runway. After walking the full length we decided we didn’t like this end of the beach very much, it was a bit more open and lacked the backing of palm trees etc. We decided to head back to the East side, but first had a coffee in a scruffy bar. When it came to paying the bill $12 for two coffees, I asked how much in Euros he informed me it was 12 Euros, now if that isn’t a double rip off then I don’t know what is. It made the 6 Euros for a beer almost a giveaway. After I had questioned the barman's parentage we thought it better not to go to that side of St Jeans again. So we trekked back to Nikki beach for the rest of the day. Andy's Hideaway for dinner and Nikki's for late beers again. We sat on the terrace and for the first time were attacked by mosquitoes, perhaps they were after a taste of the beautiful sauce Andy serves with the Gambas (Shrimps).
Tuesday 24th June
I haven’t so far mentioned what we did for breakfast, but most days we went to the Boulangerie next to Andy's, which sold fresh and delicious baguettes and croissants, the perfect start to the day with a cup of Rosie Lee. We decided today we should have a day by the pool, a good decision; we literally had the pool and Jacuzzi to ourselves. The pool at VSJ is a good size and overlooks the Bay a pleasant change from sand and shells in every orifice.
By the way the picture is of the Jacuzzi not the swimming pool.
Wednesday 25th June
Back to Saline today, and it was hot, we could only stand it for a couple of hours and then a beer or two to cool down at “The grain of Salt” by the lagoon. Back to the bungalow for the 3S's again and reading on the terrace.
There we met Godzilla (see photo) who became quite a frequent visitor, fortunately not on our terrace but the one below us, he settled in well with the family of cats who also frequented the lower terrace and surprisingly totally ignored each other. After a snooze back to our ritual of dinner and beers at Nikki Beach. You can always tell when we are relaxed, because we do less and less and settle into a routine, not very good for trip reports but great for our peace of mind.
Thursday 26th June
We decided to have a look at Flamands Beach and “Isle de France” and perhaps catch sight of some Super Stars and they in turn could go home regaling tales of John from England, an experience I am sure they would never forget.
However I think word must have gone round that we were coming, because the beach was totally deserted. A situation you might think is the thing dreams are made of. A completely deserted Caribbean island beach just for the two of us. But life is strange and we like the company of other people so we decided to look at some other beaches that side of the island. Nothing quite as good as Saline, Gouverneur & St Jeans, so off to
Gouverneur for the day and as always it was perfect.
Friday 27th June to Tuesday 1st July
Our routine had by now developed into a daily ritual of breakfast, St Jeans Beach for
reading and Nikki Beach for beers and Andy's for dinner, so I won’t bore you with the detail, suffice to say we absolutely relaxed and enjoyed every minute we were there. The only down side was the trip home which took 15 hours and of course having to go back to work, never mind there is always next year.
I hope you have enjoyed our little trip report, which may be a little different from those you are used to,
I hope everyone who goes to St Barths enjoys it as much as we did.
John & Anne