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
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
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.
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