Virgin Islands 12/03

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Sun, sand and the power of being in the "now"...

Trunk Bay Beach on St. John

In conjunction with a business trip, an opportunity arose for me to visit the US Virgin Islands for a long weekend in December. Never one to shirk a travel opportunity, I took another of my sanity vacations - a chance to briefly get away from work and home to concentrate on filling my heart, focusing my mind and recharging my body. The Virgin Islands are located just east of Puerto Rico, about 1200 miles southeast of Miami in the Caribbean. I stayed at Frenchman's Bay beach, about 5 miles southeast of the main city of Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas and also took a day trip over to St. John. The weather was nearly ideal throughout, with a couple 10 minute afternoon showers and daytime highs in the mid to upper 80s.

The islands of St. Thomas and St. John are very different. St. Thomas is a bustling tourist spot complete with a crowded city, traffic, cheap duty free shopping and lots of nightlife. Just two blocks off the waterfront in Charlotte Amalie you are in a very poor and dangerous area. St. John is almost all national forest and unspoiled beaches.

 

I tried on this trip to see all the sights on both islands and still leave myself lots of time each day to sit on the beach with a good book, good music and a cool glass of sipping rum (Cruzan Single Barrel Estate). On a recommendation, I took "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle to read, which fit the trip well in every way.

Rain over Charlotte Amalie seen from Paradise Pt.

Saturday December 13th

I flew in from JFK, arriving around 4pm AST. I didn't rent a car there because like the rest of the Caribbean, they drive on the left. I took a taxi ($40, unless you want to be packed in with 8 others in a van) to the Marriott Morning Star and checked in. My room was upgraded to building 4 on the ground floor facing the beach with a nice balcony (first picture above). I took a taxi into Charlotte Amalie ($5) where I grabbed dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe and took a sunset picture from their outdoor deck (second picture above). I walked the length of the waterfront and grabbed some supplies before taxi-ing back to the hotel. The quiet beach at the hotel made for a good night walk that evening before digging into my book, music and rum on the balcony.

Sunday December 14th

After a morning swim at the beach at the hotel (third picture above), I taxied back into Charlotte Amalie to do a walking tour. A big outdoor market runs every day on the waterfront (fourth picture above) selling mostly tourist junk at cheap prices. My walking tour began across the street from the market, covering the 17th century Ft. Christian (red building in the background of the fourth picture above), Emancipation park, the 18th century Frederick Lutheran church and "99 Steps" (first and second pictures below), finally ending up on Main street (third picture below) near Camille Pissarro's birthplace. The small, but free, Camille Pissarro gallery is located upstairs there with some of Pissarro's work and a good collection of local artists' works including Janine Wesselmann and Silva Kahn. I made the 20 minute walk from town over to the cruise ship dock along the coast to take the aerial tram ($15) to the top of Paradise Point (large picture above right and fourth picture below) where I had lunch and a couple of their famous "Bushwackers". I got back to the hotel by 4pm and spent the next 8 hours reading on the balcony, sipping rum and listening to music on the beach.

Monday December 15th

After a morning swim and walk, I taxied over to Redhook Bay at the east end of St. Thomas ($12) to catch the ferry to St. John. The pleasant and scenic ferry ride to Cruz Bay took about 20 minutes and only cost $3. I grabbed a quick lunch near the dock at a Subway and then hired a taxi for $40 for a private 3 hour tour of the island. Leaving Cruz Bay, the tour goes through the center of the island's national forest, emerging first at a lookout over Coral Bay at the east end of the island (first picture below). Continuing north to the coast we passed Cinnamon Bay (second picture below), the famous Trunk Bay Beach (large picture top of page left and third picture below) and Caneel Bay beach (fourth picture below), which is the spot in the Virgin Islands for the rich and famous.

Continuing past some old abandoned sugar mills (first picture below), we returned to Cruz Bay. A very worthwhile 3 hour tour. I took the ferry back to St. Thomas, this time going directly into Charlotte Amalie (50 minutes - $7) and grabbed dinner there before returning to the hotel for six hours of reading, sipping and listening.

 

Tuesday December 16th

On my last day on the island I walked all around Frenchman's Reef and took some shots from the bluff overlooking the water (second and third pictures below). The pathways in the area are often inhabited by native iguanas, who are very used to humans being around them (fourth picture below).

 Having accomplished my goal of slowing myself down and generally returning to my own vague definition of sanity, I flew back to Los Angeles through Miami that afternoon.

Home Up Aruba 5/14 Aruba 7/13 Aruba 4/09 Aruba 10/04 Cancun 5/07 Costa Rica 4/06 Costa Rica 7/04 Costa Rica 11/12 Curacao 2/05 Grand Cayman 12/00 Jamaica 7/07 Panama 12/13 Puerto Rico coasts 7 & 9/14 Puerto Rico & Vieques 12/08 Puerto Rico & Vieques 9/08 Puerto Rico 12/07 Saint Kitts 2/06 Virgin Islands 12/03

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