"" Writer's Wanderings: St. Barts--Like Being In A Bond Movie!

Thursday, January 13, 2022

St. Barts--Like Being In A Bond Movie!

 St. Barthelemy, or St. Barts as it is familiarly called, was a new experience for us. We had watched the enrichment lecturer as he gave us commentary on the last three islands we would be visiting for this part of our trip. His comment on St. Barts was that it was a place for the rich and famous. His remark was right on target. 

We awoke to our ship anchoring outside the harbor. Even if there had been a cruise ship dock, it would have been like threading a needle to get into the harbor to dock. There was the largest collection of huge yachts anchored just outside the harbor or at the entrance that I have ever seen. I'm not so sure there were even that many in Monaco the several times we visited. 

Shell Beach

After breakfast we found that the reception desk had maps of Gustavia so we tucked one in Bob's back pocket and we were on our way to the tenders. There are often some challenges in tendering into a port. Today would be one of them. While the ocean didn't seem that rough, the tender rose and fell a good three to four feet with the waves. Bless the attendants on the landing and the tender. They just about lifted us onto the tender. You would stand there until there was a little break in the waves and then four of them took your arms and hands securely as you quickly stepped onto the tender. Once aboard, it wasn't too bad of a ride into the tender dock on shore. 

I'd like to take a moment to indulge in a bit of information that I think should be taken to heart if you cruise and need to tender into a port. On days like this, when it's difficult to board the tender, no matter how fashionable you want to look, do not where fancy flip flops or slides. Wear shoes that strap to your feet or are very secure to walk in. I saw a lady almost lose a toe today as her foot slipped in her slide type shoe while she was trying to get off the tender. A few years ago, I followed a trail of blood up the stairs after another lady who didn't have proper shoes and cut her foot badly. If you must be fashionable, take a bag for the fancy shoes and wear the safe ones to get on and off the tender, then change them out at the dock. Okay, that's off my chest.

The ride from our ship into the harbor was amazing as we weaved in and out of the fancy and huge yachts that had their "boat garage doors" open. There were two or three motorboats on each side of their yachts. These yachts were 300 feet long or more. Just in comparison, our Crystal Serenity cruise ship is 790 feet long. Someone had been doing their homework before going ashore and the tender conversation about the yachts mentioned a cost of $500 million dollars for one of them. Another had 80 crew members. 

Onshore, we began our walk to see Shell Beach. The walk through town passed Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Prada...well, you get the idea. Bob's wallet shivered in terror in his pocket. Between the fancy shops, the narrow streets with all sorts of cars and scooters and motor bikes and of course all those yachts in the harbor, I turned to Bob and said, "I think we're in the middle of a James Bond 007 movie!"

We found the shell beach (Plage de Grands Galets). Once we discovered the blue signs with the French wording (French seems to be the language of the island), it was easy enough to find our way. Most of the beach is just little shells. There are some areas with a bit more sand but for the most part that is all you walk on--little shells. 

There was a higher point labeled Fort Karl and we followed our map to find the trail that led to it. When we found it, I looked up and groaned. It was going to be quite a climb but at least there were steps. The climb was well worth it for the view. There was nothing that looked like a fort but I assume the remnants were buried there somewhere. During the Swedish era of the island (1784-1878) four forts were built including this one built in 1789. Eventually it was abandoned and nature took over. We did get a good view of the town and all the red roofs it is famous for and of course another view of the pricey yachts.

On our way up, Bob found a hermit crab that he had trouble holding onto for a picture. He was a feisty little guy who wanted to nip a finger if he could. At the top as we wandered with another couple from the ship, we discovered a turtle who hissed at Bob. He just wasn't having a friendly day with the wild life.

Passing back the way we came through town, we found a little church that had been built in 1855 and stopped to look in. I liked the sign by the door, Enter, Rest, Pray.

Even though the day was not that hot, all our walking and climbing tired us out and to say the least had us drenched in sweat. We made our way back to the tender dock and the ship and the shower.

A little time in the hot tub after lunch with what we thought would be some time to read and relax by the pool turned into a mad dash for the indoors as it poured rain with a passing shower followed by several more with dabs of sunshine in-between. We should have figured it out when the pool attendants started packing up all the chair liners and cushions.

Dried off, we dressed and went to tea and probably ate too much--again. But who can resist all those little sandwiches and scones and cream puffs that were "sugar free". The view was great, the music special and before long we found ourselves needing to go change for dinner. It's kind of nice dressing up a bit each night instead of having dinner in jeans and flannel shirts with the TV blaring the news. It's also nice to be away from all the COVID reports. 

Dinner was special. The long awaited escargot was served. The waiters were generous with the French bread to sop up the rich garlicky butter that the snails are cooked in. The snails were the biggest we could ever remember having. We both chose turkey for dinner but mine was with a salad instead of all the fancy potatoes and veggies. Have to cut calories somewhere.

When we arrived in the Galaxy Lounge (theater) for the evening's show, the cruise director announced that there was a change in plans. The performer (the high energy one we'd already seen once) was not feeling well so they had come up with some alternatives including the ventriloquist from the previous night and the female lead singer who was now back on board the ship. It was a good show but I couldn't help but remember that Bob had played paddle tennis with the entertainer who was ill several days before. I hoped it wasn't COVID.

We were not due to sail until midnight since our next port, St. Maarten, was not far away. That allowed us to see the big yachts lit up at night. One had lights that shone under the water. It will probably be our last time to see so many yachts in one place until we reach Monaco much later in our cruise--should all go well and we are still aboard. Yes, folks, we are being as careful as we can.

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