World Trip, Part 16 - St. Croix (USVI)
Trip Start Jul 30, 2008
21Trip End May 02, 2009
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The last stop...sniff...tear...sniff...takes me to an island paradise I have flown over a billion times. And, forcing (oh, rubber arm) my friend, Steve, along with.
Welcome to St. Croix (USVI)!
Well, not quite "Welcome". After fighting to get to St. Croix via Atlanta (I know...), we got stuck in Miami (Beach). Oh, woe is me. To get "stuck" in probably my most favorite city on Planet Pink is like throwing a kid mouth-first into a candy store. :)
I didn't want to spend all of Steve's birthday at an airport, or in a plane, and since we weren't going to make it to St. Croix as planned, we headed to Miami Beach just in time for afternoon birthday drinks and celebrations on Ocean Blvd. Of course, as Ms. Murphy and her Law would have it, this was the only time EVER I have not packed a change of clothes in my carry-on (checked bags went directly to St. Croix). Yoiks. After a quick stop at the beach, it was off to Lincoln Mall to get new digs and have a birthday dinner. The following day we had breakky at my favorite diner in Miami Beach, then hopped on our first-class plane. Finally....St. Croix - and with a little bit of luxury this time.
Well, I have toured St. Thomas and St. John and their painfully decadent beaches, so this time I wanted to check out St. Croix.
The Virgin Islands are not only a special place, they are a "special" place (sing it, Church Lady!). It is probably the only place in the world where people drive on the left side of the road, but with North American cars (left side driver's seat/controls). You should try making a left turn here - holy blindspots! Fun stuff! This special place is also the only American place I know where you enter trouble-free, but all citizens, including US citizens, have to clear customs and immigration and be in possession of a passport when departing. (Puerto Rico right next door, for example, is also a US territory, but doesn't do this). Strange indeed.
St. Croix is definitely quieter than the other two Virgin Islands and was a perfect way to end this world trip. The resort we stayed at was located on the quieter Frederiksted side of the island (not the busier Christiansted side). For the first three days, we just parked our bee-hinds at the resort and on the beach and did nothing. Of course, Steve got a second birthday bonanza as we were actually supposed to be there for it. And, we met a bunch of people who were really cool, including Chris and Ron.
On Day 3, we made the short walk into Frederiksted. Frederiksted is quite nice, and nice and quiet, and has interesting colorful houses and buildings. As the story goes, Frederiksted used to host cruise lines, but the locals became anti-tourist and drove everyone away. After feeling the economic loss of their attitude, they now have a new cruise ship pier, and a new attitude, and are welcoming the cruise lines back.
One nite at dinner, Rob, who we evicted from his first-class seat so we could sit together on the way to St. Croix, approached and befriended us. Great guy. Cosmo Rob, as he is now affectionately called, and who lives part-time on St. Croix, took us on a little tour of the island on Day 4. After lunch in Frederiksted, we toured the Whim Estate (Plantation), and had a hilarious tour of the Cruzan Rum Distillery. Slightly cocktailed, we then headed over to Christiansted to walk around and do a wee bit of shopping. The great day ended with Cosmo Rob dropping us back at the airport to pick up our rental car.
Taxis are definitely expensive on St. Croix. So much so that it is actually cheaper to rent a car if you're going to be traveling around. The following day, Steve Chris, Ron and I headed to Christiansted to pick up our catamaran to Buck Island. During the full day tour, we sailed to Buck Island, stopped at the beach and swam, then went around the other side of the island to snorkel at the reef, then sailed to another beach for an all-you-can-eat rum punch BBQ, and then finally sailed back to Christiansted. The day was incredible and the people, including the crew, were great. Afterward, we walked around Christiansted a little, then followed an amazing loop to Point Udall - the most easterly point in the United States - and then along the south shore back to Frederiksted. Awesome!
The next day was sadly our last day, and since we still had the car, we made it up to the north point of the island. Then, we did the road loop through the rainforest. More awesome.
Well, I guess all good things must come to an end. And, with flights #39 and #40 it was back to Dallas, and the end of an incredible 8-month, 4-continent experience!
From an incredible seafood, and a veal/muschroom pasta birthday dinner and the world's best diner breakfast in Miami, then from awesome gianormous sandwiches, to incredible mahi-mahi, to great pastries, to some of the best hamburgers around, to awesome caesar salads, to great coffee, to yummy rum tastings, to my first Painkiller, my poor stomach begged for more.
To top off a world adventure with some incredibly wonderful people is like adding ice cream, whipped cream and cherries to my triple-decker fudge chocolate cake! :)
The people on St. Croix, named "Cruzans", are truly amazing - warm with hospitality, very accommodating, polite, super-duper mannered, friendly, and helpful with all kinds of information.
We arrived a day late, and the resort pushed our whole reservation back a day - without extra charge or losing a day. The woman who owned the resort we stayed at offered us (and no one else) and extra special (second) welcome drink, and a departure drink. Bring it on!
Rhetorical Questions/Comments for Cruzans:
* You guys are nutso over your speed bumps, and double-bump speed bumps. Ha!
* Holy blind turns and hidden intersections, Batman! I have never seen so many!
* You're an American duty-free zone, but there are no duty-free shops at the airport!!! Hmmpppfff!!
* You may have the largest oil refinery in the Western Hemisphere and third largest in the world, but you never see it, and you would never know it. (Thank goodness!)
* Cruzans are definitely poster people for any Taiwanese "Smile More" campaign. :)
Photos: On blog.