Before when it was sunny and you could see larger and larger patches of grass, I thought we had turned the corner to spring, but now, WITH THIS SNOW, I need to see some sun and feel some heat again.
Here are some wonderful moments from our trips down south over the last several years as well as some secret places that I thought I’d share (shh! don’t tell anybody else…)
So here you go — and make notes to visit these heavenly spots yourself.
This image is wonky because we’re on a small motorized fishing boat that ferries people back and forth from the St-Martin mainland to this small island, called Isle Pinel. This spot is a nature sanctuary: electricity is supplied with generators and there are no roads, cars or motorbikes (the island is not big enough!).
You can see the ‘ferry’ fishing boat docked at the island. You can also see the gently sloping sand into the impossibly blue water.
Go in the morning when you’ll be able to spend the entire day. But avoid weekends; the crowds are just too large then!
This is the view from one of the palapa-covered picnic tables right on the beach at the Karibuni beach bar restaurant. If you order fresh lobster (don’t get the idea it will be cheap, even though they’re kept fresh in a wire crate off the side of the dock), you’ll be offered a choice of large or larger :c) But don’t ask for half; you’ll have to share! And if you’re squeamish, ask them NOT to bring it LIVE to your table for you to confirm its a-o-k.
Yes, I know it’s raining here but better that than snow!
This is a restaurant up in the tree tops, also in St-Martin; the chef creating the wonderful meals is a woman from Toronto (anyone who knows me knows that food is an essential part of a holiday!). This area is the lounge section where you can sit and look out at the surrounding views. The spot is on one of the most elevated areas of the island called Pic Paradis (or Paradise Peak), so it’s quite tropical looking in contrast to the arid landscape you see everywhere else. This worthwhile destination is called Loterie Farm; read about it and its history here.
St-Martin (or Sint-Maarten) is in the French West Indies, even though the island itself is divided into two definitive national halves: the north is French, with spectacular restaurants, cafes, bakeries that always carry baguettes and exquisite pastries, older or smaller ’boutique’ hotels and a European attitude — and the south is Dutch, with casinos, golf courses, American-style restaurants and a number of large chain hotels. It is also the side where more cruise ships dock and crowds gather. I favour the French side.
The island is quite small and somewhat hilly, with much of that land relatively dry and heavily grazed mainly by goats. As a result there is not a lot of lush and tropical vegetation to experience.
But if tropical rainforest is what you’re looking for, then Costa Rica or Jamaica might be your destination of choice, neither of which I’ve been to yet … or the Flower Forest in Barbados (which I featured earlier…)
But let’s get back to St-Martin.
Although many of the restaurants in the sleepy town of Grand Case have gourmet (aka expensive) French cuisine, others are right on the sand and offer less sophisticated fare. I chose it because I could have a beautifully prepared salad and fish, while my travelling companion, Kent, could have a burger!
Anything barbequed is also an option at the so-called ‘lolos’ that cluster around the centre of town in Grand Case. Oil drums have been cut in half and elevated on spindly legs to act as make-shift grills for a wide variety of fare: spareribs, burgers, steak, lobster, fish of the day … Add some corn on the cob, fried plantain, rice and beans, and a slew of other side dishes and you’ve got dinner or a generous lunch for a very reasonable price.
What could be better than this? Of course, this is how these hotels snag you. You book a room that is affordable, with a questionable view, and when you arrive, they tell you that you’ve been upgraded to an ocean-view one bedroom suite! With a balcony overlooking the ocean! Yoo hoo! And there’s a bottle of wine in your room for free…
Excuse me while I go to my happy place again…….