Thursday, January 31, 2013

Paradise Vacation 2013: St. Kitt's

I'm going to have to break this trip up into at least 2 parts. We have so many fun pictures (and a few stories) to share, and I'm not looking to break any records with an epic post of the trip. In case you did not know, I won the Circle of Excellence award at work (for sales performance and meeting set goals)- and was rewarded with a trip to the Four Seasons, Nevis. We decided to head out a couple of days early so that we'd have some time to ourselves.

After 12 long hours of traveling, we arrived at 9pm in St. Kitts on Friday night. We chose to stay at the Marriott St. Kitt's Resort & Royal Beach Casino because it seemed like the easy thing to do. With a long name like that though, we should have known it was going to be a monstrous hotel. But we just needed a place to land for 2 nights that wouldn't be much of a hassle. After a very lame bar dinner and less than impressive service the first night, I already knew that we would likely never visit it again.

But when we woke up on Saturday morning, we were treated to a beautiful view, and were excited to start our vacation. We took off for a short run and made our way over to what is known as "the strip" (a small string of beach bars/restaurants that seems to be popular for late night revelry and dancing). There is an international vet school on the island, and apparently the strip is where they all like to party. Interesting fact- St. Kitts is home to multiple international schools. It was bad enough just finishing college in a party town- I can only imagine how distracting the beach would be!

View from our hotel balcony.

Hank in front of Elvis' Love Shack. Elvis is a popular name on the island, according to one of our taxi drivers.

After our run, we grabbed a quick breakfast from the lobby, and then got ready to hit the beach. We really didn't want to be stuck at the hotel- as it was on the Atlantic side (rougher water) and just didn't have much personality. Several people recommended that we taxi to a small beach bar (on the Caribbean side) called Shipwreck. It's tucked away on a secluded strip of beach, and I swear it's where you go when you don't want to be found. We snagged two chairs covered by a little palapa roof, and quickly ordered a round of Pirate's Punch (for me) and a $3 Carib (for Hank). We napped, swam, ate, watched monkeys and mongoose, and snorkeled. This was seriously one of my favorite days of our whole trip. We could have stayed there forever, but ran out of cash just in time for our taxi guy who came to pick us back up.

Entrance to Shipwreck

View along the beach front.

Our chairs for the day.

Monkeys eating leftover scraps.

Saying a sad goodbye to our new bar friends.
After a day of drinking on the beach, and a few hours in the hotel lobby looking for other Apple people to trickle in, we finally decided to clean ourselves up and head out for some dinner. Another interesting fact about the island is that many of the stores are owned by Indians, and therefore the island has a significant Indian population. The only thing that really means to me is that there was good food to be found. There just happened to be an Indian restaurant a short walk from the hotel, and it had good reviews online, so we headed to Bombay Blues. Full disclosure- we had been drinking all afternoon, so our judgement might be slightly skewed. But my recollection of the meal was fabulous. I had the Malai Kofta (one of my favorite dishes) and the sauce was flavorful and hearty. Hank had his favorite- Aloo Gobi. It was reasonably priced, our server was nice, and overall we enjoyed the meal. The restaurant was pretty crowded, so I got the impression that it was a local favorite.

After sleeping it off in the next morning, we decided it would be fun to take a tour of the island before we had to meet the ferry for Nevis. The island is only 18 miles long, so it doesn't take long to make the big circle. Through the hotel, we hired a really nice driver to give us a tour. First stop was a high point overlooking our hotel from the beach.

Below Hank down on the right is where Shipwreck was- the South part of the island.

View of the Marriott (red roofs) on the far right side)

After a little driving and story telling, he waited patiently while we toured the Brimstone Hill Fortress. It is now a national monument that was originally designed by the British, and built by African slaves. After an extensive preservation effort (that is still ongoing), it is one of the best preserved fortifications in the Americas. You can read more information in the link- but my brief description is that it was breathtaking. We really, really enjoyed walking around viewing the amazing construction and beautiful views of the island from one of the highest points.

Looking up to the highest point and the Citadel. There were multiple levels and buildings overall.

It was no joke climbing up to the top- those stairs were serious business, and intentionally built to slow down any troops trying to overtake the fort. 

View of the Infantry Officers Quarters
Hank geeking out with all the history around him.

Many of the original canons were stolen and melted down.

Drinking a local (non-alcoholic) Ting and enjoying the view.

Here kitty, kitty....A cute cat hanging out in the main area of the Citadel.

More canons pointing towards the back of the fort. They had all angles covered for any attacks.

We finished the loop around the north side of the island, and got to view where the Atlantic meets the Carribean, and also black rocks formed by the now dormant volcano on the island. We finished the tour just in time to catch an early ferry to Nevis, where the rest of our trip continued. Stay tuned.....

The Atlantic is the rougher/bluer part on the left, and where the color changes is where the Caribbean begins.

Volcanic rocks and crashing waves.

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