Moreover, the island is a well known tax-free paradise and almost all cruise ships make a stop-over here to let their guests shop for gold, silver and diamonds as well as tobacco and liquor. We mostly settled with window shopping and were happy with that.
We stayed in a lovely appartement in Oyster Pond, a quiet area on the French side of the island. La Caravelle as it is called (www.lacaravelle.net), is run by Mireille who lives in the house and rents out rooms and appartments. From our terrasse we had a beautiful view of the marina area, and access to the swimming pool.
We enjoyed a very comfortable 29-30 degrees every day, and probably the same temperature in the sea. Every morning we were entertained by a group of pelicans hunting for fish and, Bacchus the house cat, kept us company whenever we were home. This is a really nice place and during our five day long stay we got to refresh our french skills as we spent time with Mireille and other French speaking guests.
While in the Caribbean it appears you are not really supposed to do anything in particular. "Island time" is what matters, meaning things happen when they happen. That goes for traffic, buses, service and so on.
This can be very frustrating, but also very refreshing, because there is nothing you can do about any of it. All in all, we spent time relaxing on several of the islands magnificent beaches, as well as in our own pool. As we had rented a car for our entire stay, we drove around the island through small villages and the two pricipal cities on respective sides; Philipsburg and Marigot.
We did however take a day-trip to Anguilla, a nearby island. For details on this trip, see the next posting.
All in all there is not much to report from the Caribbean, so we'll just let the photos speak for themselves.
On December 9th we left the cold behind and travelled to the Caribbean Sea, departing from the extremely crappy terminal 8 at New York's JFK airport. St. Maarten was our destination, an island divided between two European nations. Confused? Ok, listen to this: The island has two official names, Sint Maarten and Saint Martin, and is the smallest piece of land which is shared by two nations. The Netherlands are responsible for one half, Netherlands Antilles, and France for the other half, Guadaloupe. The rest of both the Netherlands Antilles and Guadaloupe are located rather far away from this island, so it is all quite confusing. There is actually a boarder, but it is completely open and not marked by anything but a sign, and the whole island is the home of appox. 220,000 people...