Sign In  Register

 

Trip Report June 4 til June 11


Tuesday June 4th

Left the house at 0500 for the 3+ hour drive from Sarasota to Fort Lauderdale (FLL) for a 10:54 flight. Arrived at FLL at approximately 0815. Took almost 30 minutes to finally find a parking spot. Got off the tram and checked the bags. TSA Pre-check was a breeze and we were at the gate by 0910.

Get a text from JetBlue that they are changing the gate from F7 to F10, no biggie, just across the way. Got some coffee and partook in my favorite thing to do at the airport, people watch! The flight scheduled before our SXM flight was boarding and left on time at 0952.

An announcement comes over the P.A. that our flight will be delayed due a minor mechanical issue at 1015 and hence the scheduled 1019 boarding will be delayed by about 15 minutes. At around 1035 a plane is towed into the gate and the next announcement comes along that the plane is here and is currently being cleaned and catered and boarding should be starting in 15 minutes. At 1100 boarding starts and we take our seats.

I booked us in Even More Space seats for a small increase in fee. The seats give you a nice amount of leg room, but not really any additional width. (My problem isn’t height, it’s width, heee). The flight was only about half filled, maybe because it was a Tuesday.

We departed somewhere around 1140 but landed only about 15 minutes later than scheduled. There were 2 Delta planes and an American plane parked at the terminal. We used those nice ramps rather than the steps to deplane. Not really needed for me and or my wife but I could really see why those with mobility issues appreciate it.

We were bused to the terminal and the other flights must have already gone through because we were the only ones going through customs. That took all of 7 minutes the on to the baggage carousel. We must have been lucky because our bags came out in approximately 5 minutes. After retrieving the bags we went outside and as usual, Mr. Dependable, a.k.a. Lesley Bruce of Kenny’s was waiting for us. We got our rental and were out of the airport in less than 30 minutes.

We drove to our rental in Orient Village and hit an absurd amount of traffic between Marigot and Grand Case. Took almost 45 minutes but it turns out there is some road being torn up to, what appeared to be, burying the utilities.

After arriving at the rental unit and getting our familiarization of the unit, and the password for the wi-fi, we emptied the baggage from the car and then went to the small grocery store in the village, Le Petit Casino and got a very small amount of items to make a quick dinner. Egg sandwiches to be exact.

After unpacking we spent a little while trying to find English Netflix because everything in this rental unit is French. Watched the last season of FULLER HOUSE and was able to get English version. Long day and crashed!

Wednesday June 5th
Woke up around 0630 to a beautiful day. Had a lazy morning sitting on the patio. I made coffee while Babs made friends with the 2 cats that seemed to have taken up residence outside the condo. After coffee, we took showers and then reluctantly got dressed. Walked a few minutes to the village and had a great breakfast at Good Morning and spent about an hour there. After breakfast we returned to the condo, got the car and went to the Leader Price for a better selection of groceries.
Major difference that I saw between September last year, when we were on the Dutch side, and this year being on the French side, is that the grocery stores on the Dutch cater more to the American tourists with many more familiar brands with far more choice of items. Everything in the 2 stores we went to on the French side had much less choice and everything in French. If we couldn’t figure out what was in the package based on the picture, we ignored it. Having said that, we got the basics and a few extras.

After Leader Price and heading back to the rental, we went for a quick dip in the pool. At around 1200, the condo manager left after making a minor repair to the ceiling fan. I realized that according to a posting by a recent visitor that the Perch Lite happy hour was only about a half hour away.

We had to take care of a few issues to take care of but we left the rental at 1245 and headed to Club O beach and made it to the Perch Lite for happy hour. Upon arrival we met with Shawn and got 2 chairs in the first row then headed to the Perch Lite for lunch and drinks. Yes the drinks are 2-4-1 and it seemed they kept it going until around 2:00 P.M. The parking area was almost full and it seemed that there was around 150 people along the stretch from the Perch Lite to the former Papagayo’s. Cedrick and his guys are doing a great job trying to keep this beach going. There was no seaweed on the sand and only a few strings in the water. I hope the owners at Club O can get to agreeing on a solution and rebuild soon.

After lunch we went back to the chairs and enjoyed the sun, sand and breeze au naturel until almost 4:30. Left the beach went back to the rental. The lunch was so filling we decided to forego any dinner and instead sat around the pool.

It’s still light when I am writing this and there are neighbors around us so we’ll wait until it’s a little darker before a skinny dip before retiring.

Don’t know what’s on tap for tomorrow, but sand gravity isn’t too bad either. For us country music lovers there’s a Kenny Chesney song that just may describe this vacation. The title is Sunrise, Sunburn, sunset, Repeat!

As we are on the island now, I will try to keep posting.

P.S. It is quite obvious that rain hasn't fallen for quite a time. The hills, mountains and vegetation is all dry and brown. Don;t want a rain out while we are here but it;s sorely needed.


Replies

Thanks for the update, have fun!


Life's a beach!
Thursday June 6th

Since SXM doesn’t recognize daylight savings time the sun rises earlier here than at home in Florida. So, this morning the sun was illuminating the rental through the curtains at 0545. No big deal because we are usually early risers anyway.

I got up and made the coffee while my wife slept. The smell of the coffee woke her up at about 0600 and I poured us each a cup of coffee. We had some conversation and another cup of Joe. It was just a nice relaxing morning and we just enjoyed sitting around the table on the patio and drank the rest of the pot of coffee.

It was about 0715 when we decided to go for a stroll on the beach. We changed into gym shorts, t-shirts and flip flops. From our rental it is about a 5-minute walk to the entrance of the Club O beach. Once we passed the chain we walked to the Club Orient Nude Beach sign and I took a few pictures. (Even though my better half is getting comfortable with being naked on the beach in public, she still is not comfortable with posting pictures in the old interweb, so I am sorry but no pics.)

We strolled from the entrance to Papagayo’s then turned around and walked back. During that walk we saw two people in the water and approximately 5 people walking the beach but we were the only ones nude. Once we got to the area before the rocks we both donned our shorts and t-shirts again. Unless we were too early or too late, it seems that we missed the masses doing their morning walks.

We got back to the rental, took a quick shower and decided to head out to the village for breakfast. Since we had experienced Good Morning yesterday we decided to stop at Yellow Sub. NEVER AGAIN!!!! Upon our arrival there were no more than 8 people in the entire establishment. We saw a staff person and asked for a table for two. We were shown a table near the street side and she gave us menus and pointed out the breakfast side of the menu. We looked it over for a few minutes as a few of the other people were paying their bills. Another couple arrives, probably locals because they spoke French, and were greeted by staff and shown a table. The server cleaned the table next us then walked back towards the kitchen. Another 5 minutes passed and the server appeared but went to the French speaking couple and took their order. She walked away again, not making eye contact with us and disappeared into the kitchen area. After another 5 minutes, for a total wait now of 20 minutes.

I looked at my wife and said let’s go to Good Morning since this place is totally ignoring us and obviously doesn’t want our business. We stood up and walked out. We went to Good Morning, sat at an outside table and within a minute the owner was taking our order. Another great breakfast! Three fluffy pancakes, fresh fruit mix of mango, cantaloupe, pineapple, coffee and juice. Too much food and neither of us could finish. Next time we order that we’ll split it.

After breakfast was a stop in the market to get cat food for the stray cat that has taken up residence on the patio along with a few of his/her visiting friends that make random appearances.

Once back at the rental with fresh food, the cats are fed too. We hung out at the rental and watched the workman in the area. There is a lot of work being done in this complex of homes. Part of the string that we are in is having the roof replaced and others in the area are being painted. Around the corner there was a crane lifting plywood to the roof for the roofers.

At about 1130 we decided it was time to head to the beach. I wore my gym shorts and t-shirt and my wife wore a flowy coverup. We again drove there because we had 2 bags: One had the towels, books, sunscreen, clips for securing the towels to the chairs and rental keys while the other was a soft side cooler which had the ice, a few bottles of water, a few beers and Tervis tumbler drinking cups.

The parking lot was pretty well packed and one of Cedrick’s guys was in the lot directing car where to park. We headed to the beach and found 2 chairs in the front row that were unoccupied. We placed our stuff there and Sean came by to collect the $20 and put the tags on them. I removed my t-shirt and shorts as my wife removed her coverup and we let that sand gravity take effect.

We met and spoke with a few people who were from the areas we used to live, New York Metropolitan area and New England. Happy hour was from 1:30 to 2:30 so we had to partake in the BBC frozen drink. The next thing we knew it was 4:30 and we decided it was time to go.
I should have had my wife spray me with that sunscreen because even though I was under the umbrella and only in the water very briefly, this Irish Fair Skinned lad got a bit of sunburn, luckily though, not in those sensitive areas nor under my man boobs, lol.

We got back to the rental and figured out how to get Netflix in English, Yay!!!!

I guess tomorrow will be another verse from Kenny Chesney’s Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset, repeat.
Friday June 7th
SAND GRAVITY has taken hold!
I again awoke at 0540 and made a pot of coffee. Wife got up about 0600 and we decided this vacation is just going to be R&R with no true plans other than no plans.

We decided to sit and converse over a bowl of cereal and milk that we bought at Leader Price. We grabbed our laptops, sat on the patio and used the wireless wi-fi. After checking for any emails of importance, most of the emails are nothing more than sales or scams, I open up my word program to type my daily trip report.

After completing my trip report we read some of our books and just decided to have another beach day. At 1:00 we left for Club O beach with the cooler and bag of beach towels etc. When we got there the parking lot was again pretty full. After finding a spot to park we walked to the beach and there were no first row chairs available so we settled on a second row set.

We saw a couple that we had met a few days earlier and walked over to ask them if they had arrived around the same time as us since they too were in second row even though they come every day. (These folks had been 20+ year veterans of Club Orient) They said they had arrived at 1130 but it appeared that a lot of the folks on the beach were leaving tomorrow and maybe they just were all trying to get one last day in the sun before headed out.

Perch Lite happy hour began at 1:30 but we opted to just have the snacks and drinks in the cooler. We wanted to go out for dinner and when we eat a big lunch like the last few days at the Perch Lite, we aren’t hungry in the evening. Not to mention as Americans we eat earlier than the Europeans, so our clocks are set different.

Enjoyed another beautiful day with the love of my life. We talked a little, took a walk down toward Papagayo’s then stepped into the water and bobbed back to our chairs. I got a little more sunburned on my shoulders, hafta learn to use that dang sunscreen. A couple of more dips in the water, a few chair adjustments to avoid the sun under the umbrella, a little more conversation and then we decided to leave because we thought we felt a light drizzle starting. As we stood up to gather our belongings, I noticed 4 or 5 fully uniformed and armed Gendarmes speaking to Cedrick up on a hill. It didn’t appear that there was anything more than friendly conversation and I wasn’t concerned at all. We walked back to the car and went back to the rental.

We took our obligatory post beach shower and decided that tonight we would try Le Piment. The restaurant is not too far from the rental but I didn’t know if the streets there were lighted and how safe it would be after dark, so we drove there.

We arrived just as they were opening. The staff sat us and explained the menu and took our drink order. I had a glass of Chardonnay and my wife had a Pinot Grigio. After explaining the specials, we looked the menu over but I just couldn’t get past the description of the ribeye steak. It was blackened with cracked peppercorn and cooked in maple syrup. That dish came with au gratin potatoes, cheese and mushrooms and greens. My wife decided on the spaghetti with meat sauce. We were warned by the staff that the portion size was generous but when the meals got to the table it wasn’t true. Rather than being generous, they were benevolent. My gosh we’ll have lunches for the next 2 days! After the meal and the best Tiramisu I have ever had, we were brought a shot of Ma DouDou banana vanilla rum (rhum) as a finishing touch. That was such a nice surprise and it was the first time I’d ever tasted it. Very good, I think I see a liter or 2 headed back to Florida very soon. This experience was nothing like we had experienced earlier in our trip at a different location. This establishment is the epitome of customer service.

The meal was to die for, and we have found our new favorite restaurant. On Friday nights in the common area where the restaurants are located, they also have a few jewelry vendors and live music. We strolled around the mini market and my wife bought a couple pieces of handmade jewelry.

It was now time to head back to the rental, so we drove back and the streets were relatively well lit. It seemed a few residents and/or visitors were outside their units talking and drinking. Upon arrival at the rental we headed inside, and I was so stuffed from the meal that I had to get out of my cargo shorts and into my stretch gym shorts while my wife also changed into a coverup.

We had a night cap and watched Back to the Future on Netflix. Tomorrow will be another day and this sand gravity is taking its toll, haaa.



Good to hear from you DD. Wish we could be there with you, but things just didn't work out this year.

Thanks for the reports. It sounds as though Cedrick is doing a whole lot more business this year than he was last year. When we were there in June, there were chairs and umbrellas less than 1/2 way to Papagayo's.


Paragraphs Are A Reader's Best Friend.
The remainder of our trip was basically ditto of the other days. Get up, have breakfast, go to Club Orient beach and let sand gravity take over. Go back to the rental around 4:30, dinner, then chill.

Today (June 11) was the dreaded return home date! The rental manager, Magali who is a real sweetheart, had contacted us and asked what time we wanted to check out. We opted for noon since our JetBlue flight was scheduled to depart at 3:05 and we figured that would leave us plenty of time to get from Orient Village to the airport. When she came over to the unit, we returned the key to her and she said there was some traffic from Hope Estate to Grand Case. She had mentioned that there was also a detour on the Dutch side near the roundabout so either way would take about the same time. I opted for the French side. WRONG!!!

We left the village at 1205. Traffic started in Hope Estate and was bumper to bumper all the way through Hope Estate, Grand Case and Marigot. I am not sure of the name but we were still in the downtown area at 1:15, yes 1:15. I honestly was stressing that we were going to miss our flight. The traffic never let up until we were completely out of Marigot and on the main roadway that leads to the causeway.

We pulled into the airport parking lot to return the rental car at 1:38. It took us 1 hour and 30 minutes to make that normal 20 minute trip. We returned the car ad scooted into the airport. Luckily it was a Tuesday so there wasn't the mad rush of a weekend crowd or my greatest fear that day of missing our flight may have become a reality. Very easy at the airport. Check bags, go through security, head toward the gates, stop at the food counter for flight home eats, get called to board the flight, get on the buss, go to plane, get on plane and realize that the real world is only a few hours away.

The flight left a few minutes early and was only half filled. Our scheduled landing was at 6:24 but we got in to Fort Lauderdale really early, at 5:42. Yayyyyy! That was until the door was opened and the ground attendant made the announcement that the ramp was just closed due to lightning in the area. (Not complaining too much because I'd rather be inconvenienced a short while rather than a ramp worker getting injured or killed if struck by lightning.)

The customs process was a breeze with Mobile Passport. After coming down the escalator, you show your receipt from your phone to the agent at the base of the escalator and he directs you to another agent just down the hallway. That agent directs you to the proper line for Mobile Passport. That line had about 6 people/couples. Customs was done in less than 15 minutes. Continue through to the next escalator down for baggage claim. We waited approximately 20 more minutes then the buzzer starts and the carousel begins to move. At this time, it was 6:25 which was the time we were slated to land so all in all, we were still ahead of schedule. Luckily our 2 bags were one of the first 30 or so and we collected them. From there it's a real short walk to the exit. Make sure you keep your Mobile Passport receipt up and running because this is where you once again show it to the customs officer. He or she will scan the QR code and out you go for either connecting flights or, ground transportation or, in our case, the parking lot. We used Sun Pass Plus for parking and it worked out very well.
Thanks for sharing. The traffic was a nightmare when we were there in Dec also.. We'd prefer to remain on the French side, but we had friends who wanted to meet us for dinner at the Greenhouse - took 1 1/2 hours from Orient Village.


"But then I think about the good times, down in the Caribbean sunshine..." (J.B.)
Thanks for the update. We almost always give ourselves more than 3 hours, usually 4 hours from the time we leave Club O/The Village until flight departure. There are usually traffic jams, but we get to the airport with enough time for lunch and then wait around for the flight to leave. Really don't want to miss the flight.


Paragraphs Are A Reader's Best Friend.
I was honestly getting concerned that we may not make the flight but luckily we did make it. I also think that the fact it was a Tuesday made the airport less crowded and hence the ability to get to our flight. I'll know for next time!
Thanks for the report Deputy. And all the updates.