We arrived in the Virgin Islands via St. Thomas. Although it wasn't a very pretty town and less than charming at times, the turquoise water surrounding it and the beautiful beaches made me think of paradise. We stayed in St. Thomas for two days before our sailboat adventure. So, Stone and I decided to roam the town. Little did we know that the town was hosting the Carnival - a week-long food and music festival. The islanders take their celebrations very seriously. So, immediately we immersed ourselves in the town's celebration. We tried the traditional food, danced to some crazy music and made plans to return for dessert after dinner. I had my eye on a number of pastries but by the time we came back from dinner, all the vendors had gone home, calling it a night. I was very surprising at how early things shut down in St. Thomas. Bars and restaurants which typically stay open till late into the night closed at 9 pm.
Historic District, Charlotte Amelia on St. Thomas USVI: This area really caters to the cruise ship tourists who want to buy luxury items at discount prices.
Bands competing at Carnival.
This young man was loving the music.
St. Thomas Carnival 2015 Food Day
The gorgeous view for our first dinner in St. Thomas.
We took a break from touring the town and stop for lunch at an open air restaurant, the Fat Turtle. While enjoying the tropical breeze, we indulged ourselves with a Maui Sandwich and Citrus Salad.
I loved all the little alley ways: lots of greenery, colorful flowers and old gateways.
Of course I had to have ice-cream: coconut ice-cream topped with crushed Oreo's, M&M's and colorful sprinkles. It's vacation time, isn't it?
Fueling my obsession for doors.
Why do we not have doors like this in TN?
The aftermath of the Carnival just outside our hotel.
The beautiful Caribbean Sea
I love murals painted on dilapidated old walls and buildings.
It transforms a drab building into something beautiful.
Some old ruins we passed by on our tour of the town.
View from Government Hill.
St. Thomas Carnival 2015
Stone in front of Government House.
Steps street on Government Hill.
Built in the mid-1860, the Government House represents the center of official life in St. Thomas and the main residence for the Governor of the Virgin Island.
99 Steps: one of several step streets built by the Danes to solve the problem of getting around the town's hilly terrain.
Blackbeard's Castle: Set upon Government Hill, this five story masonry landmark was said to be the lookout post for pirate Edward Teach, alias Blackbeard in the 18th century.
Our view from Government Hill
After a couple of days in St. Thomas, we started embarking on the sailboat that would be our home for the next seven days. The process took a very long time and we didn't get on our boat until 5:30 pm. Since I wanted to see some of Tortola, Stone and I walked to the Old Town to check it out. There were a large number of colorful buildings on narrow windy roads that make up the original part of town. It was definitely the happening place as the locals did their daily shopping.
Old Main Street in Tortola.
The Roti Queen: a very unpretentious restaurant.
Prior to our trip to the BVI, I did lots a research on "Must Do" while on the islands. One of the things I read from an expat blog was you should not leave Tortola until you payed a visit to the Roti Queen and have a Roti. Apparently they are the best. Although I cannot vouch for that, I will say it was very, very tasty with lots of flavor!
Roti: a West Indian flatbread stuffed with shrimp and served with mango sauce.
White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookie from Mac's Bakery: the best white chocolate macadamia nut cookie I have ever had. I could have eaten the entire thing and I so wanted to but then I remembered I was going to be in a swimsuit for the next seven days and decided to share it with Stone.
Again, really cool doors I want!
Trellis Bay and the De Loose Mongoose was where, in my opinion, we had the best meal. A funky beach bar/restaurant that looked as though in the beginning it was just a simple bar when a man pulled up his grill and decided to serve up some very tasty food. Being someone who loves to cook, I couldn't leave the place without tell the cook just how delicious our meal was. I eyed three others from our group who make their way to the chef. Hmm...were they telling him, just as I did, how wonderful their meal had been? Prior to our trip, this was just the kind of place I had imagined going to. It just goes to show you it doesn't have to be fancy to be fabulous.
Pirates Bight, on Norman Island, were we had dinner and played beach Jenga.
When the band started up, we began dancing - such a great night!
Shooting the sunset from Norman Island.
Our dingy...which was nearly the death of Don!
Don fought the dingy and the dingy won.
Our sleeping quarters on the sailboat.
Don, Captain Denny ready for a dive.
And she's off.
On our way to Cooper Island we stopped so Helen and Don could dive at an old shipwreck site while the rest of us snorkeled. I had not snorkeled in years. As soon as I jumped in I began fighting the water, making it worse when I saw how deep it was. I took a deep breath and calmed myself, finally able to adjust and get into the rhythm. It's like another world under the water; so peaceful. It was so eerie swimming among the ruins of the old vessel.
Cooper Island, it was here that I had my first experience at stand-up paddle boarding. And no...I didn't fall.
Stone, Captain Hairy practicing his knot tying skills.
Stone and I at Cooper Island.
This was the site of the baths. We had to dingy in and swim the rest of the way to shore, therefore NO CAMERA. After mooring and swimming ashore, we walked, climbed and hiked through large rock formations. The most challenging was getting back into the dingy after swimming back. It took a bit but I managed to host myself up into the dingy. Hmm...maybe I should start some upper body workout? Nah!!
We spent ten days in the VI and the BVI, traveling to St. Thomas, Tortola, Norman Island, Cooper Island, The Bath's, Virgin Gorde, Bitter End, Trellis Bay, Jost Van Dyke and Peter Island.
Prior to leaving I had stated more than once, the only pieces of clothing I was taking with me were the maxi dress and jacket I wore on the plane (and set aside for the return trip), a pair of denim shorts that I got from CAbi which I love (thank you Helen) and swimsuits, sarongs and a pair of flip-flops. I was doing no dressing up, no fine dining. A couple of nights, I didn't even wear shoes to dinner. In my mind, we were on a glorified camping trip. The only difference was that our "tent" was a sailboat.
During this trip, I also limited my intake of caffeine. I am a Diet Coke addict but when we travel I learn to control my craving because I'm not willing to pay two-three-four times the price for it. Also I vowed very little alcohol, if any. I am not used to drinking that much, why would I do it then.
On our arrival back to TN, we didn't get back home until 12:15am and like many other times, I was craving Mexican food. Some people crave a true American burger upon returning home. Me - I always look forward to Mexican food! So...on Mother's Day, we walked to our favorite Mexican restaurant, Azul Tequil Mexican Grill where I overindulged myself with a delicious chicken taco salad with chips and salsa, ending my meal with complimentary sopapillas drizzled with honey and topped with whipping cream .
Since we got back, I have been ask more than once: would you take a sail trip again?
The answer is definitely yes but there would be a few things I would do differently.