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Postcard from St. Lucia

Hey gang,

Sorry I’ve been absent here this week. We’ve had a couple of issues here at home I’ve had to deal with, not the least of which is I’ve stopped receiving emails of your new posts. So sorry if I’ve missed a post or two. I’m still subscribed, my email is still in there.

Has anyone one else had this happen to them. What did you do?

Second, our new house misadventure continues to unfold.

We called out our local power company to do an audit to find out why our power bills have been so jigundous. It turns out the area over our master bedroom on our second floor has no insulation covering it in the attic.

Ceiling temps in our upstairs hallway were 74 degrees.  Ceiling temps in our MBR were 85 degrees. It is no wonder our A/C continues to run all the time!

AND…

Our lovable new greyhound actually bit our nanny this week.

This friendly, submissive, 60lb ball of muscles turned on her and gave her a nip and broke the skin. Unacceptable! He actually growled at Mom today as she was trying to take some trash back that Chum pulled from the trash can. Not good!

So we are in touch with his trainers to try to figure this out. They call him a ‘fearful and not confident’ dog who is just coming out of his ‘honeymoon’ period in his new home, trying to establish himself, much like a child pushing some boundaries. Stay tuned. If he ever growls at these girls he has to go back. And we all agree that would be a shame.

These, along with more questions and anxieties arising for my cancer procedure next week, reminded me of my friend Jimmy’s saying, “When you attitude’s appalling, there’s a latitude that’s calling, so get yourself past that continental shelf.”

Coincidently, that verse come from Buffett’s “Party At The End Of The World”  (sigh)  ….

So I wanted to send you all a post card from our valentine’s day trip to St. Lucia a few years back.

First, I enjoy doing these Travel posts so much because doing the research and digging out out photos just bring back some great memories. So that is why this runs on.  if you don’t have the time right now but want to take a quick trip with us to the island of St. Lucia, bookmark this and come back when you have some time or need that  attitude fix.

If you only have time for a quick fix  right now, here is a great, professionally done video, courteous of the island. I find it to be very accurate as to what we saw and explored. You can get a good look at this beautiful, romantic Caribbean island in 4-6 minutes. Or click on it and read on for a nice relaxing backdrop to the story.

Where did you go/what was it like?

We chose St. Lucia in part as part of our quest to explore every island in the Caribbean and in part for the great all-inclusives that are on the island. More on that later.

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St. Lucia is part of the British West Indies. It celebrates a transient and colorful history from the days of pirates, new world exploration,and colonization, as all her sister islands do. You can get a good glimpse at her sorted-past right here.

The island hosts a myriad of twisting, winding roads that certainly keeps any tourist on the edge of his/her seat when traveling in a tour bus or shuttle! The trip to a remote part of the island to go zip lining was probably the most thrilling part of our getaway!

zip-liningThe island seems designed to be sort of a romantic destination due to its lush foliage (more on that) and resorts designed for couples only

flowers in the jungleThe topography of the island is very diverse, featuring a canopy of a tropical rainforest:

Visiting the rainforestto an actual live ‘drive in’ volcano at Sulfur Springs….

with some smelly sulphur gas rising

to twin mountain tops that are adoringly called the ‘Twin Pitons‘ in this romantic hideaway…

twin pitons….to a tropical flower garden, Botanical Gardens, that even any high testosterone male could enjoy! It features an orchid garden, white lilies, a wide assortment of colorful tropical plants; a tropical delicacy in flowers….

Red Lobster Claws

Red Lobster Claws

Red Crab Claws

Red Crab Claws

You can caption this one...

You can caption this one…

The history of the Botanical Gardens gos back to the French in habitation, when they saw the baths in the gardens having ‘healing qualities’.

There is a stream flowing through the gardens, with the waterfall featured in ‘Romancing The Stone’. The clear water flowing down this fall illustrates the vast amount of minerals in the water.

The romantic Diamond Head Falls can heal whats wrong with youThe romantic Diamond Head Falls can heal whats wrong with you

You see the water flowing around Sulfur Springs volcano is a whopping 340 degrees. This hot water dissolves a lot of the minerals found in the soil and rocky landscape. So when filming the clear water it captures the colorful minerals trapped in the water. Besides touristy baths, advertising healing powers, today’s tourism also features mud baths as well. You won’t get cold!

Where did you stay/what was it like?

When looking for a vacation destination we didn’t chose St. Lucia per se, we chose Sandal’s Resorts. We always enjoy a nice all-inclusive offering, some good water sports, and Sandal’s was hard to ignore.

Sandal’s is part of a larger chain with the motto, “Luxury Included” in the all-inclusives. And they really try to pull it off. Sandal’s is actually a ‘couples only’ resort. Their sister company, ‘Beaches‘, is a family oriented resort chain.

Lots of weddings at this 'couples' only resort

Lots of weddings at this ‘couples’ only resort

We actually chose St. Lucia because there happen to be 3 Sandal’s resorts on this one tiny island. This was a BIG perk when it came to dining. We stayed at the Sandal’s Halcyon, which was actually the oldest and most modest of the 3 Sandal’s resorts; the only one that could fit our budget.  But we weren’t slumming….

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Sandal’s Halcyon web site reads, “By design, this resort is built naturally into the environment with no building higher than the highest palm. Enjoy Classic Caribbean architecture and quaint, charming ginger breaded cottages, creatively designed to meld into the luxuriant surrounding landscape, during your ideal St. Lucia vacation.”

Oh, and its a couples only resort so no loud teenagers or exhausted toddlers. It just could be ‘romantic’.

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Below is a view from our room balcony…views from room balcony

The resort featured lots of lush tropical foliage…

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Some nice restaurants with great views…

Kellys dock side reest

Like at Kelly’s Dockside—dramatically extending 130 feet out over the water. It’s just one of six restaurants and seven bars, plus with there dine around program on St. Lucia there are sixteen additional restaurants at the neighboring Sandals Resorts to try.

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Some of the required water sports…

What, no diving?

What, no diving?

Tube Racing

Yea, that'll do!

Yea, that’ll do!

Being in some upscale settings (for once) we met a lot of nice people from all over the world here in the British West Indies.

Our friends Marilyn and Frank were staying for a month!

Our friends Marilyn and Frank, from Toronto were staying for a month!

We met some crabby locals too…

Good morning little friend

The grounds were lush and tropical as you would expect but with some FUN amenities that you might not expect…

I'm planning on doing this little treat by our new pool

I’m planning on recreating this little treat by our new pool

plus a pool or two that were absolutely toxic!

I'm not moving....

I’m not moving….

Plus, we were on the western side of the island, by design. So we had the opportunity to see this every night….if we could find the time!

The sunset our first day

The sunset our first day

All in all, not too bad for the ‘budget’ Sandal’s on St. Lucia!

What was the food like?/Where did you have the best food?

The good and the bad of staying in all-inclusives is that you rarely venture off the property to explore and experience the local cuisine. That liability was really mitigated with Sandal’s in St. Lucia. In fact it was a perk!

If any part of our stay at the ‘luxury included’ resort typified luxury it was the dining.

What do you think of when it comes to dining at all-inclusives?

The same breakfast buffets? In expensive entree’s prepared on flashy ways? Nothing too pricey or even tasty?

These Sandal’s resorts featured some literal Four and Five Star restaurants. This was no hype. They were excellent. And you didn’t need your wallet or a credit card to try the best thing on the menu….it was already paid for!

Gardens over Sandals Regency

Gardens over Sandals Regency

The best illustration of this was at the Sandal’s Regency French Restaurant, La Toc.

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We enjoyed a fantastic meal at La Toc. I tried a few new things that I have never tasted before. Like escargot for appetizers and caviar for sides with my beef wellington; at an all-inclusive!

It was great! It was a moment. It is what going on vacation in new places is all about. Memorable!

From the French Restaurant La Toc at Sandal's Regency

From the French Restaurant La Toc at Sandal’s Regency

We also took the Sandal’s shuttle over to the Regency to enjoy dinner at their popular Japanese restaurant, Kimonos!

Grande shrimp at Sandal's Regency's Japanese restaurant

Grande shrimp at Sandal’s Regency’s Japanese restaurant

In the true definition of ‘a small world‘ the people seated immediately beside us were from our hometown. What are the odds?

Anybody can do ONE set of chop sticks...

Anybody can do ONE set of chop sticks…

The other Sandal’s resort, Grande we visited too. And it was! It was a gorgeous resort on the tip of the island with more restaurants that really put ours to shame. We went there for one special evening too!

Sandal's Grande beach. The resort was grande!

Sandal’s Grande beach. The resort was grande!

What was the highlight of your trip

This survey asks what is the highlight of our trip?

As I alluded to earlier, the most thrilling part of our Valentine’s vacation wasn’t the zip lines but the ride to the zip lines!

We were dispatched in old worn out school buses that barely ran. No power! If you can imagine downshifting in a school bus on a 35% incline.

This bus had to make hairpin turns on narrow dirt roads at steep angles, both going in and coming out of the rainforest ( It didn’t rain) Every time we approached one of these turns I just knew the bus would just roll over down the mountain side into the jungle never to be heard from again.

But we didn’t. However I have no pictures to show you of the severity of this event (you see how I like a picture) so I will move on to memorable night number 2 (sort of).

The most memorable event recorded (thankfully)was our dinner over at Sandal’s Grande. We took the shuttle over early so we could explore. They had a private dining room on the end of a pier that was by reservation and currency only. Yes, in an all-inclusive, to eat in this private room at the end of the dock you needed some money!

We opted for the Bare feet Beach Restaurant where we could have a table right next to rolling surf.

A view from our table at Sandal's Grande Barefoot Beach Restaurant...where we could only look at the private dining room.

A view from our table at Sandal’s Grande Barefoot Beach Restaurant…where we could only look at the private dining room.

This was nice! And only the beginning.

It was dusk. The gentle waves just feet from our table. My favorite date in front of me. And I could order anything on the menu at this 5 Star resort and not have to worry about getting a bill.

And so, like all cheap frugal minds, I couldn’t make mine up. There were two entree’s that I really wanted to try. I couldn’t make up my mind. Analysis paralysis!

So, after a glass of wine an haggling with my server, he let me have BOTH entrees. Yes, I am a pig!

It was delicious, light, tropical, star lit night. And then our server said the dessert buffet was right upstairs!

WHAT?

Dessert Buffet? Do you know me? We are called the dessert couple by our neighbors. Buffet? Here?

So we marched up to the British Pub where they told us it could be found

Next upstairs to the 'British Pub'

No passports needed.

We found a table in the British Pub and then I spied it. A dessert Buffet!

Where are the plates!

for the dessert buffet

You see, they were teeny-tiny desserts that didn’t really fill you up. You could take all you wanted. Oh, and if you got thirsty, we were sitting right across from the after-dinner drink buffet!

just put it on my tab...

just put it on my tab…

It was incredible. I ate the best stuff. I countered it with the best, soothing beverages. And it wa endless.

I AM such a pig!

After I moved the notch on my belt back as far as I dare we eventually found the shuttle back to our resort. If you have a culinary background, or just like tasting great things like I do, this was heaven on  stick and worth the trip alone.

How could we ever top it off?

so comfy...the swinging bed

Yes, the swinging bed!

Luxury Included!

The last thing I remember

The last thing I remember

Any funny/embarrassing stories or disasters?

Not a good one but painfully embarrassing…

We had become good friends with the outgoing Activities Director at our resort. One day she asked if we would like to do a Dating Game type of game at the night’s activities, where they ask one person a questions and then pull their partner out and ask them the same question to see if they match.

Do you remember this game?

First we agreed we would NOT answer anything that puts the other person in an embarrassing light. We knew this part. Right?

We get there and right away we won a prize!

…for being the oldest couple on the stage!

She did her questions and then I did mine. The pressure was on! The last question, keep in mind this is a couple’s Dating Game, they asked me if my wife was a Doormat, a Chit Chat, or an Acrobat..in bed?

(gasp!)

I told them well she’s none of these…I can’t tell this stuff.

They insisted on an answer. I insisted she was not any of these! They insisted harder and brought the crowd in to the picture.

I failed. Whatever answer I said, it was the worst one! It was going to be no matter what I said.

The game was over. She steamed off. I groveled with apologies, promises, I’m sorry’s and more.

She was mad for the next 36 hours…on our vacation in paradise. PAINfully embarrassing!

How was the weather (and when did you travel)?

The weather was great. We wondered what it would be like with a tropical rainforest on the island. But all we had was a few morning showers at daybreak and a few around 4:00pm, never lasting longer than 30 minutes and that was it.

It was the kind of light rain you might welcome at a ‘couples only’ resort on a tropical island.

Most useful word/phrase you learnt.

“What time is the shuttle”. our days were planned around this, whether planning meals at other resorts or catching a commercial travel activity like zip lining or volcano hunting.

And the other useful piece of information that we have tried to build into our trips to tiny islands, “Always stay on the western side of the island!

going down

Our practice is to sit and watch the sun go down on every last day of a trip, wringing every lat drop of Travel and Escape out of our trip.

If I haven’t lost you yet, and want to see glimpses of this trip in action, click on the video and join us one more time. I think its worth it!

Sorry for the typos!

it is and continues to be a busy week!

I get back to them eventually

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