Sunday, February 3, 2013

Paradise Vacation 2012: Nevis (Part II)

Wednesday morning started just like the rest, with a delicious brunch buffet at the Coral Grill, at a table over looking the beach. We had another early start, as this time we had planned a Rainforest Hike with a group of Apple folks. We boarded a few taxis and headed towards the volcano. I thought it was just for effect when we were handed walking sticks, but it turns out that they were very necessary. The climb was a little harder than we thought, but still lots of fun. The higher we got, the muddier it was, so we had to be very careful on some parts. Our guide pointed out lots of the different trees and plants (including a cinnamon tree and the "leaf of life"- it never actually dies). Hank was a little disappointed that we hardly saw any monkeys, but we were treated to a beautiful view once we reached the peak of the trail.

Our view at breakfast each morning.

Next to one of the water wells that was part of the water collection system on the island.

It was really hard to get pictures that truly captured how neat the rainforest was. But I loved all these vines that hung down everywhere.

Part of the view from the top of our trail.

After our hike, we changed and hit yet another pool, and took advantage of the opportunity to have a little alone time from the rest of the group. We found a quiet spot at the Garden Pool and enjoyed lunch and drinks for the afternoon. Miss Jackie (my favorite staff person) took good care of us, and we enjoyed leisurely dips in the pool and naps.

This bird was stalking a small lizard, and swooped right above the water to catch it on another bush.
It's the little things in life that entertain us. 

Wrapping up another fun day by the pool.

We headed around the corner for dinner again, this time eating at Double Deuce. We had read great things about it, and were not disappointed. The restaurant is run by a local family, but the chef was British and previously cooked at one of the plantations. I caught a glimpse of the kitchen and could not believe there were only two people doing all the work, but they did it well! Hank had fish and I had coconut shrimp, and everything was delicious. We were pretty worn out from the week, and I wasn't feeling so hot, so we skipped another late night at Sunshine's and opted to head back to the room instead.

Thursday morning finally brought the opportunity to sleep in for a bit. We grabbed some breakfast, and decided to walk the "challenging" trail along the golf course. There were 3 options, and they weren't joking that this one would be difficult. Hank had tried to run it our first morning there, and the hills nearly killed him. But the best part about it was that we saw monkeys- LOTS of monkeys. They got so close to us that we could have reached out to pet them. For fear of having our faces ripped off, we opted to just snap a couple of pictures. When the British settled on the island, many of them brought Vervet monkeys with them that they kept as pets. There is now a huge population of them on the island, but they aren't all that welcome. They're known for eating fruit and flowers, but they are awfully cute to look at.

A sweet little monkey who was captivated by  Hank.

Monkeys on the road! Right before this they were swinging on the vines.

A rare view of the top of the volcano.
It only happens about once a month when the clouds are not covering the top.

View of the ocean from the golf course trail.

When we got back to the hotel, it was time to hit the beach for an Apple-hosted beach bash. They reserved all sorts-of water sports (paddle boarding, jet skis, sailing, etc) and also served lunch and drinks. It also happened to be Hank's birthday, so I tried to pull off the beach party as his very own party. He didn't seem to mind! We enjoyed jet skiing, napping, hanging out with friends and drinking some fruity drinks. The highlight of the day though was when 4 French men swam from their catamaran (at any given time there was a variety of boats and yachts just off the shore) and made friends with some of our group. A volleyball game ensued, and there was all sorts of yelling (and likely cussing) in French. Watching Hank interact with these guys was hilarious, and I think everyone had a good time watching.

Beach party

French men and their speedos!

Off to circle the yachts on our jet skis.

Our final night in Nevis was the Apple awards dinner, held under a tent on the 18th green. There was a cocktail reception first, along with a performance by the most adorable children's choir. The view was gorgeous and of course the whole set-up was top notch. We were served a three course dinner, and treated to a slide show with fun pictures of all the Apple employees who were on the trip. After a day of drinking on the beach, and cocktails and wine with dinner, we got to show our stuff on the dance floor to a really fun band- the evening definitely got a little crazy! There was a ton of dancing, and everyone had a great time! It was the perfect way to wrap up an amazing trip.

Awards dinner

The sun setting behind the children's choir.

Loved their colorful dresses.

Pretty flowers on the table.

Dinner menu.

We were sad to say goodbye on Friday, but ready to make our way home to see all our animals and sleep in our own bed. The ferry didn't leave until 1, so at least we had time to sleep in and have one last lunch by the pool. We were treated to one last "surprise", a view of a $300 million yacht parked right outside the hotel. Each day it seemed that the yachts got bigger and bigger, and this one took the prize. We found out that it belonged to a 38 year-old Russian billionaire named Andrey Melnichenko, and his yacht was simply named "A". You have to click on this link to get a video tour of the inside- it is so over the top, that it's just hard to imagine what that lifestyle must be. We also saw his matching plane as we flew out of the St. Kitts airport- it was hard to miss with the matching A's in front of each engine. Rough life, I tell you!

One last drink- iced tea- before taking the ferry back to St.  Kitts.

View of "A" from the hotel.

A view of the open hull in the back, where they keep 2 30-foot speed boats.

Back of the boat. They say it's named A after Andrey and his wife Aleksandra.
But other say it's so that it will be the first boat listed in the registry of super yachts. 

After an overnight stay in Miami, and a 6:20AM flight the next morning, we finally made our way home on Saturday afternoon. I don't think I have to say again what an amazing experience the whole thing was, but I will! We really, really enjoyed getting away to paradise and shutting off all the stress and worries of work, home, etc. We relaxed, experienced the islands as much as we had time for, and just enjoyed being together. I was ready to get back to work though, and get busy trying to make my goal this year so that we can do it all over again in Hawaii for the 2013 Circle of Excellence trip.

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