It is now already 3 months ago that we went on the cruise but I still haven’t published anything about the last islands we visited. I always seem to forget to write about the last days of our holidays*, but since I have been working this week on a photo book (My Publisher via Costco, of course) to chronicle our travels 2008 – 2009, I thought it was time for a cruise blog post as well.
So, the first islands we visited during the cruise were St Thomas (read more here), Dominica and Barbados (blog post here), and on day 4 we woke up in St Johns, the capital of Antigua (pronunced without the “u” so something like this: [Antiga]). I was feeling really bad as I seemed to have caught a cold and during the whole day I was a little (?) cranky and miserable 😦
Our plan from the beginning was to do a combined excursion of “historical Antigua” + a beach visit but it was cancelled, and since I didn’t feel like spending a whole day at the beach with my cold, we decided for a “Best of Antigua”-tour instead.
Antigua’s slogan is “Land of Sea and Sun” and we had some spectacular views over the sea from Shirley’s Heights. However, it did actually rain a couple of times during our day on the island. At Nelson’s dockyard we saw historical colonial buildings – in stone, not wood which most private homes seem to be built of. The marina at the dockyard was full of huge yachts, almost like St Tropez!
We didn’t have the curried goat at this local restaurant… Conch which is also listed, is the creature living inside the big sea shells that you can find in the Caribbean. In some parts it is endangered and protected, but in Puerto Rico you can also find conch (carrucho) salad on menus.
Since it was pouring down with rain when we returned to St Johns, we had lunch lunch on board the ship and then had a quick nap. Afterwards I felt a little better and we strolled around St Johns for a while. It was a pretty town with lots of wooden houses and we even saw two British red telephone boxes!
In the evening it was the second “formal night” and we dressed up for dinner. We had realised already before leaving for the cruise that the formal nights are not very strict so O decided not to bring a suit but just a nice pair of trousers and shirts. I wore a nice dress but nothing too fancy. I guess that for Americans the dress code seems stricter as they are used to going to a restaurant in shorts, flip flops and caps… (sorry for the generalisation!). We actually saw some people wear that in the restaurant on the formal night so so much for that dress code!! I am not too fond of dress codes in general but common sense for me is to not wear beach wear in a formal restaurant and when do you ever need to wear a cap indoors??
Day 5 in St Kitts was definitely the worst day for me, health-wise and I was quite disappointed that I didn’t have the energy to discover the capital, Basseterre. However, we did another excursion with a sweet driver and guide who told us to “Be kind on your knees” everytime we got out of the minibus. He told us lots of fascinating facts about the island, for example that St Kitts has a lot of foreign, mostly American, students who study medicine at the University of Medicine and Health Sciences.
Our first stop was a place called the Batik factory, which has a lush garden and a shop selling batik clothing. O and I were more interested in the gardens than shopping and thought that it was interesting to compare the plants and trees with the ones we are used to in Puerto Rico. The palm trees were the same and some cacti we recognised from the Puerto Rican dry forest of Guánica. However, in Puerto Rico I haven’t seen palm trees and cacti growing in the same locations.
Already when we walked off the ship in Basseterre we noticed that St Kitts was a very windy island, and up on Brimstone Hill fortress, it was extremely windy. One fellow tourist lost his cap and O’s almost met the same fate**. The fortress and its surroundings is a national park and UNESCO World Heritage, and was built by the British over the course of 100 years, starting in 1690. The British used the fortress in their struggle against the French to control the islands of St Kitts and the sister island Nevis. Brimstone Hill fortress used to be known as “The Gibraltar of the West Indies”.
Next time: The split island of St Maarten / Martin, which was the final island we visited on the cruise…
*) I still haven’t written about the Niagara Falls and Canadian part of our November 2008 holidays! I wonder if there is any point in writing about it now?
**) Instead he lost it on the island of Vieques two weeks ago when he forgot it in a restaurant – maybe because he took it off when entering the restaurant! 😉