Jack turned 80 this year, so we decided that this Birthday needed some "extra fun". It had been a rough year with him being in the hospital in March and an extra hot summer, we both really needed a break! After our planned trip to Spain got cancelled, it was time to look for something a little closer and someplace a little different. We have a time-share, so I let my fingers do the walking and I was able to find us a really nice stay in Saint Martin!
American Airlines was nice enough to give us credit for our cancelled flight, so we decided to use it and add a small amount more and upgrade it to first class. There is no direct flights to Saint Martin, so we decided to break it up and fly into Miami and spend the night and fly out the next day to the island. It sure beats trying to catch that second flight "on time" dashing from one plane to the next (especially at our age!)
It had been a long time since we had flown first class, and what a luxury that is! Being waited on every minute, good food, good leg room and comfy seats...one could really get used to this! The flight was great, and the shuttle to the hotel was right on time. Arriving in the evening in Miami, a bit tired, left us no time or energy to explore Miami, unfortunately. Our room was nice, but cold...our first introduction to the tropical solution to dealing with the humidity! Welcome to Miami!
Like good travelers, we checked the airline's schedule before leaving the hotel, and everything was still scheduled "on time", so we left to be there the required two hours before boarding. When we got there, I checked again, printed our boarding passes, and proceeded to the proper gate. Fifteen minutes later the gate attendant announces that due to high winds yesterday, Saint Thomas closed their airport, and all their flights were cancelled and those flights were delayed until today....so, all OUR flights were now delayed! Our 10am flight would now be 7pm. What? That said, "we could leave, however, there is always a chance that the flight could get moved up, so be watchful..."
We were not happy. All this could have been told to us either last night, or earlier this morning, since the flights were cancelled the day before. At that moment, there were only three of us sitting there, and we went up to the attendant and asked her if she could let us into the AA Lounge? "No, because it's not AA's fault!" and she walked away. Wow. Great customer service. The other gentleman went to the lounge and offered to pay the day rate and was told they didn't have one, "that it was only for Business Class and above." So, we all sat there all day long...;-(
We had prearranged for a taxi pick up to the hotel, but had little hope that it would still be there for us nine hours later! But there was Ritchie, holding a sign with my name on it, standing in the rain, with a big smile on his face! I was never so glad to see anyone before! Thus began our island vacation!
Our room at the Flamingo Beach Hilton was spectacular! I actually think it was as big as our home is, only with a better view! The balcony faced the beautiful sandy beach and wonderful ocean. I loved listening to the sound of the waves and sat outside on the balcony every time we were at the room. The only downside to the room was how cold it was! Being from Arizona, our blood has thinned out so much, that any temperature lower than 80-85 is cold to us. It was set around 70, so I turned it off! The next day everything was wet...the floors, the walls, counter tops, our bedding was damp, it was awful. Jack went down to the front desk and told them. Minutes later the maintenance man came knocking. He quickly realized it was the thermostat and explained that it HAD to be set at least at 74 to keep it dry! After that, we kept the sliding door to the balcony open and also wrapped a blanket around us when we were inside sitting! Wimps, lol
Our days were a mixture of sun, clouds, and rain and always humidity. The ocean was lovely, always warm and mild with smooth sand to walk on. The pool area had a much cooler breeze though, so it made lounging around more comfortable and the pool itself was cooler than the ocean. Music was played there and the bar was there too! ;-) It was to hot to lay in the sun itself, but we both still got quite tan, just hanging around, amazing!
The next day was Jack's Birthday and he wanted to go to the nearby restaurant, which was a sports bar! It just so happened to be the final playoffs between Philadelphia and the Arizona D-Backs! Well, since the Caribbean Islands are closer to the east coast, it was no surprise that the bar was full of "Philly fans"! Of course I made it known that the D-Backs were a sure winner and for them not to put their hopes up! We left before the game ended (to be on the safe side), but it was probably a good thing anyway, as we would probably gotten napkins thrown at us! lol
On our third day, we booked an all day sailing trip on a catamaran called Quality Time. It was a beautiful day, great for sailing and snorkeling. They stopped at four or five different locations for us to swim and snorkel. The water was so delicious, nice and warm and smooth...but nothing to see, unfortunately. A couple of the guys swam about 1/4 of a mile away and said they saw a couple of small fish and some small coral, but that's pretty far against the currant for a couple of fish (at my age!). Each stop was about the same. Nice swim, but nothing to see. No matter, the crew were great and the food was fantastic! We were the oldest aboard, but the young people were delightful to be around, not drunk, rowdies at all. It rained a couple of times, and Jack sat outside and enjoyed the rainfall while the rest of us dashed inside (like we weren't already wet!) We stopped at Maho Beach where the planes fly just over your head and watched a couple take off, which was fun too. All in all, a great day.Philipsburg sponsored by a jewelry store that we took. Jack bought me a couple of earrings (of course!) and almost a new diamond and sapphire ring! But I talked him (and myself) out of it, as I would rather use that money for travel! ;-) We then enjoyed walking around the town, and all to soon it was time to go back to the resort.
Later, we called our favorite taxi driver, Ritchie and had him take us to Marigot, which is on the French side of the island. It was quite different than Philipsburg. Philipsburg is Dutch, very busy, bumper-to-bumper cars and the stores are mostly jewelry, with restaurant and others mixed in. In Marigot, it's less traffic, with an Open Market along the harbor, while the rest of the stores are more up-scale clothing and shoes with cafes and bakeries mixed in with some restaurants. While we wished we had more time to walk around in Philipsburg, we were done with Marigot in two hours and that included breakfast. I did find some fun things there though! A cool license plate (I collect them) and a very pretty beach cover-up. While we were there, we discovered their cemetery, so I got to take some different pictures too!
We were on a Caribbean cruise years ago and it stopped in Marigot, but at a completely different location, so it was really neat to see not only a different part of the Capitol, but of the island itself and to get to know some of the local people. One of them was Enoh. She was a waitress at Juliette's Bistro, which was across the street from our hotel. Jack and Enoh really hit it off, joking with each other and having such fun teasing together. She had such a wonderful laugh and sweetness about her, we all felt like we had made a new friend by the time we left.
Like all vacations, in a blink of an eye, they come to an end. Our flight out of Saint Martin was delayed by a flat tire. Then our flight out of Miami was delayed by a medical emergency. I had to laugh. They were all fairly short in comparison to the first one, but all of them? Wow.
I love to travel, I really do, but sometimes it just feels good to be home again...
...back in Arizona, Marie
If you would like to see the rest of my photos, you can on flickr: https://flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/