Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The restaurant at the middle of the alley

Panoramic photo of Nettle Beach. Such relax........

Happy selfie...waiting for more French food

Sunset view from the restaurant in Grand Case

Happy Jim

our table was right up against the railing, which was right on the sand, not 15 feet from the ocean

panoramic pic of sunset

dessert, a profiterole  SO DELICIOUS

moonlight on the deck of the villa

I thought I would start off with pictures. We spent Wednesday walking around Phillipsburg. I'll have more picrures of Phillipsburg later because we went back on Friday. The big deal of this day was the dinner in Grand Case. Our guide book says that Grand Case is the culinary capital of the Caribbean. For such a dinky little town that is difficult to get into (seriously we took wrong turns several times), the title is well-deserved. The only issue we had was that at the time we wanted to eat, most of the restaurants were closed. I swear we are old people. We were looking around for places to eat along the alleyway that serves as the main road through the heart of Grand Case around 5 but most of them didn't open until 6:30. We finally found an open restaurant, actually the guy found us and lured us in with promises of jumbo shrimp. The minute he said shrimp, I was practically sitting down. The food was heavenly. I had a risotto that I wish went on forever. And the scallops and shrimp were perfect. Jim had ribs. For dessert, we shared a profiterole.
The restaurant itself was a lovely little place with a host who was happy to have us there. The server was funny too--Jim reached over to the water bottle to pour himself another glass and she rushed over and said, "Step away from the water!" She was so eager to be of service. I felt like we should have been celebrating a major anniversary with the view, the food and the service.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Orient Beach

On Tuesday I actually spent the morning in the seminar for dental practice management. It was very good, especially the presentation from the guy who had gone to jail for insurance fraud--his presentation was "Stay Out of Jail". He taught us all how not to get caught at it (HA not really). I tried very hard not to make jokes about everything because I was sitting next to my boss (He's also the reason I am tempted to make jokes and stuff). I took notes on the hotel-logoed pad of paper given to us as a freebie by the hotel. The hotel pad that had 3 sheets of paper on it and a fine cardboard backing. Yes. 3 WHOLE SHEETS OF PAPER. And it was warped from water damage. Boy, did the Westin go all out or what???

But you don't want to hear about the conference, which was held in a windowless room so we couldn't be distracted by the view of the beach.

After the conference, Jim and I had lunch in another French restaurant called Le planteur. It was very uncrowded. Jim and I have determined that the French do not like to be rushed when they eat and so everything is served in an untimely manner. You forget that time is actually passing. You just sit there and look at the view.
The view of Oyster Bay. Our villa is on the other side of that big hill on the right side of the picture.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Even the picture is relaxing

The interior of "Le planteur." Again, no real walls. Open air eating with a roof for shade.

After lunch, we set our sights on Orient Beach. We didn't get lost so much as we guessed wrong a couple of times. We never did see a sign for the public beach area. 

We did spy a sign for "Club Orient" and figured that it was close to the beach. It was a resort but it allowed public parking. So we parked and asked the attendant how much it was to park. He said "It's free today." Yay for free! We walked into the resort to get to the beach and discovered Club Orient is a resort for nudists. HAHAHAHAHA! We just kept walking.  We finally did get to the beach, but it was the part of the beach where the nudists sunbathe. We just kept walking. I felt like everyone was looking at me because I was wearing a swimming suit. Also, I was probably the youngest one there by decades. No, I didn't take any pictures. There was a sign saying pictures weren't allowed.

We finally found the not nude section of Orient beach and got ourselves a couple of chaises and an umbrella. 


At one point, I saw a guy walking along the beach that looked a lot like Mike (who had gone their own way that day and I wasn't sure where they had gone to). The closer he got, the more like Mike he looked. Then he stopped at my chair and said, "Hey. Here you are." It was Mike. How ridiculous not to realize that the reason that the guy looked like Mike was because it WAS Mike. Anyway, he was walking up and down the beach looking for something he and Jen had lost. They were at the other end of the beach. Then he went on his merry way.

I went into the water and bobbed around in the swells again. I stayed mostly by the jet ski in the picture above. There was a guy who came within a dozen yards and motioned for me to approach him. I was leery, but after repeated attempts to get me to come closer, I finally decided he was harmless and went over. I'm glad I did because he was surrounded by a school of angelfish and he was feeding them bread. He gave me some bread and let me feed the angelfish. IT WAS SO COOL. They nibbled on my finger and having no teeth, it was simply a funny feeling and not painful. The fish were beggars, they knew that there was food to be had and they wanted it. It made me laugh. What a perfectly delightful beach activity! Eventually the guy wanted to take his school of angelfish to show others, and as he was about to leave, he looked around at the fish and said, "OK everybody, come with me.  This way." And he and the fish moved on to the next person in the water. What a strange person, and it was one of the highlights of the vacation. Too bad Jim chose to sit on the beach the whole time and not get into the water.

At the end of the beach time, we had to walk back through the nudist part and resort. I was telling Jim how even if I wanted to be a nudist and stay here, I would have to wear shoes (rocks and sticks and grass and stuff) and just as I said that, a guy walked by (nude of course) and replied, "Ain't that the truth."


Friday, February 20, 2015

The BZH

After Friar's Bay, and going back to the villa for a shower, we contemplated where to eat. Jim and I had seen a creperie in Oyster Bay and I had a keen interest in trying it out. Mike and Jen agreed to go along. At first, Mike wasn't so sure about it, because he wanted pizza. Fortunately, the BZH had pizza on the menu.

I have no idea what BZH stands for and I wish I'd asked. We'd also had a grocery store clerk tell us that she worked at BZH in the evening and we should go there to eat. So when we showed up, there she was and she remembered us. She saw us and said in her awesome French accent, "You came!"

I ordered a savory crepe with creme fraiche, ham, avocado, and a sunny side up egg in it. I think we all enjoyed our food, except for Jen, who ordered a different kind of savory crepe that had a kind of sausage on it that smelled and tasted like a barn. The server said it was a French taste and probably an acquired taste at that. I tried it and it was indeed yucky.

I'm glad for Jen's sake that we got dessert too, so the trip wasn't entirely a downer for her. I ordered an apple cinnamon crepe and Jim got a caramel one. I loved my apple one, but when I tried Jim's caramel one, I had to physically restrain myself from taking it from him and eating the rest myself. It was heavenly. All week, I had thoughts of that crepe in my head. If I ever go to St Maarten again, I will go to the BZH and eat caramel crepes every night.

I have to post all the pictures of the two of us together that I can.

The BZH restaurant kitty

The luminescent mushroom lights. I want several of these.

My apple crepe. I didn't take a picture of Jim's caramel crepe--we were too busy eating it.

The BZH menu on an Apple computer screen. They somehow put the pieces of paper behind the screen glass and no it wasn't a computer generated image appearing on the screen.

the restaurant dog. He wandered around the restaurant and would occasionally stop to let people pet him, or he would nap under a table.

from the outside

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Couples pictures and my near death experience

So after Maho, Jim and I headed back to the villa. We kind of got lost, but on a tiny island only 37 square miles in size, it's hard to be too lost. There is only one main road around the island, and only a few roads that run off of it. Anytime there is a choice of roads to take, they use a roundabout to control traffic--which means there is not a single stoplight on the island. And very, very few stop signs.

Mike and Jen had returned from their scuba adventure and we went out for dinner together at the restaurant that is Busby's during the afternoon. It's weird that it's called something else for the evening (Daniel's by the Sea? Can't quite remember, dangit). There was a dog at the restaurant. We weren't sure if it was owned by anyone, but since the restaurant had only a roof (no walls, only railings) the dog came and went as it pleased. The French like their animals and allow them in restaurants.

Jen and Mike. Also notice that the restaurant features plastic patio furniture to sit on. Then again, we are essentially eating on a deck.

Yours truly, and my truly.
 We then retired to the villa for a round of Settlers of Catan while the Super Bowl played in the background.

On Monday, Jim and I lazed around a bit in the morning. Jen and Mike left for their second scuba appointment, but returned soon after because of an accident that suspended diving activity. Jen was sure death was involved (and she found out later that she was right). So the four of us headed out to Friar's Bay beach for lunch and sunbathing. The rental cars were powerless little husks, and with the four of us in the car and the air conditioning on, it was iffy whether we were going to make it up the steep hill. I was afraid we were going to start drifting backwards ("into the bay" Jenni, remember that Bill Cosby routine?). Jim had the bright idea to turn off the AC to give the engine more power and it worked. The car still putt-putted up the hill, but I wasn't worried that we were going to slip backwards.

Friar's Bay was not very crowded unless you count the pack of roaming dogs. We ate lunch there--there are restaurants right on the beach. The waves got big later on in the day and I was dumb enough to attempt to outrun a large wave. I had been bobbing around in the swells quite a ways out (for me) and I realized these big swells were creating big crashing waves on the beach, which were not going to be fun to dodge when trying to get back to shore. I went for it anyway, and a big wave crashed on me, knocking me down and pulling me under. It was so strong that it knocked my two-piece bathing suit different directions and I was trying to pull everything back on while also wondering when I was going to resurface so I could take a breath. Just in time, the wave receded and I was saved from drowning and dying. I felt a little out of whack after that. I kinda felt like I'd been assaulted. But I refused to let my "near-death" experience dampen my mood. I had to take a good long shower when we got back, though, because that wave put sand everywhere. I'm sure I was nowhere near dying really, but still one does tend to get a little creeped out when one isn't sure when the next opportunity to breathe air will be.

So serene!

Jim is sporting his tropical vacation wear.

More open air restaurant eating.

More selfie

It wasn't cloudy the whole time. It rained only briefly once that day. (it rained briefly once or twice for a few minutes several days we were there)

 
Those rocks made a cool tapping noise when the waves pushed them up on the shore and then dragged them back out.







Monday, February 16, 2015

Maho Beach and airplanes

Where was I? Sadly not in St Maarten anymore. But I will continue the series of posts about my vacation since I want to remember it always. And the kids have found their valentine treats so I don't have to keep the pictures up on top of the blog. I have two more years of treasure hunts. I do it strictly for my own enjoyment; Matt probably wouldn't care if I stopped. Hayley enjoyed it, I think.

Back to St Maarten, which I wish I could go back to.

After we got up, Mike and Jen headed off to their scuba appointment so Jim and I decided to go for a drive around the island to see what it was like. We stopped at a roadside trailer for lunch. They were barbecuing and it looked good. Turns out it tasted good too. Lots of French spoken. I caught a lot of "cherie" this and "cherie" that. People like each other on the island.

We drove around the whole island. It doesn't take too long, but there is a lot of traffic on those tiny roads.

We finally stopped at Maho Beach, which was on my list of things to do. Jim and I had seen a list of most interesting beaches in the world, and this one was on it because of the airplanes. We didn't get to see it when we landed because it was dark.

It was great fun to watch the planes land so close to the beach. There is no way the US would ever let anyone play around on a beach so close to a runway so we felt like we were getting away with something. The big jets do come in low and it gets loud. When the big jets take off, everyone gets blasted with the wind. Lots of people lost their hats. I had to brace myself in the sand to avoid being knocked over, and I wasn't even standing in the the "blast zone." It was so cool!  I have a video of a plane landing, but I think it's on the external drive, which is downstairs and I'm too lazy to go get it. So you'll have to make do with pictures for now.




Now that I looked closer at the pictures, this isn't Maho. Maho did not have all those rocks on the beach. This is Friar's Bay, which we visited on Monday. That small dot in the ocean is me. This is before I almost drowned. I'll tell that brief story when I get to the Friar's Beach portion of my narrative.




This selfie was necessary; I have to prove that I was actually there.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Valentine treasure hunt

I'm interrupting my St Maarten vacation series to attend to some Valentine business.



Not for use as a disinfectant

Serving Suggestion


Good luck to those who this applies to!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

First stamp in my passport

Now that no one reads this blog anymore, I can safely share all my vacation photos without making people jealous/mad/irritated.

Thanks to my work, I spent the first week of February on the Caribbean island of St Maarten/St Martin. Thanks to my boss/little brother and his wife for making it possible for me to go and for being ok with me dragging Jim along.

I will do this a little at a time, maybe one day at a time or one event at a time, with no guarantees that I will finish. At least I'm starting it.

We arrived late Saturday night; the island was dark and we couldn't see our surroundings, except for the neon lights of some shady places that stay open past 10 on Sunday nights. Those neon lights were pretty close to the runway too. I thought, "In the US, they would never let anyone build anything so close to the runway." During the whole week, I spent a lot of time thinking, "They wouldn't allow that in the US," but not always as a criticism.

We got our passports stamped by irritated-looking customs employees. Sorry ladies, but your lack of enthusiasm wasn't going to dampen my delight!

Jim and I rented a separate car so there were two cars following the agent who was showing us to our accommodations. When she saw that we had two cars, she said, "I don't know if they will both fit in the driveway. It's pretty small." I wondered at that since I have never seen a driveway too small for two vehicles. She led us through narrow town streets, and we had no idea where we were going. And then the road started to go UP. I don't believe the road crews down there ever heard of a switchback. Straight up, and then with curves. It was almost frightening. I had to close my eyes a few times. Thankfully, I wasn't driving. We finally made it to the villa (which was located on the Dutch side, but only just). And the driveway was very small, but we managed to fit both cars in. It was kind of like playing Tetris.

We went to bed soon after because it was a long traveling day (we left MSP at 5:45 a.m.--the flight took off then! We had been there since 3:30 a.m.).

In the morning, we woke up to a view of the ocean!


Yes, our villa had a pool. A very tiny pool. And Jim and I actually went in it. Mike did too the first night I think.


The island on the horizon is St Barthelemy.
I took a lot of pictures of this view over the week. It never ceased to enthrall me!
OK that's enough for now.