Friday, June 21, 2013

Paradise Vacation 2013: St. Kitt's

These next vacation posts were originally posted on the Amy in Austin blog,  but I wanted to preserve our "pre-wedding honeymoon" on our new blog as well. We took advantage of a nearly all-expenses paid trip back in January, and went ahead and made it our honeymoon since we knew it would be unlikely that we'd be able to take a trip of this caliber on our own dime.

I'm breaking this trip up into multiple parts. We have so many fun pictures and stories to share, and I'm not looking to break any records with an epic post of this trip. I won the Circle of Excellence Award at work (for sales performance and meeting set goals), and was rewarded with a trip to the Four Seasons, Nevis. We decided to head out a couple of days early so that we'd have plenty of time to ourselves, and booked 2 nights on the lovely island of St. Kitts.

After 12 long hours of traveling, we arrived a 9pm in St. Kitts on Friday night. We chose to stay at the Marriott St. Kitt's Resort & Royal Beach Casino because it seemed like the easy thing to do. With a long name like that though, we should have known it was going to be a monstrous hotel. But we just needed a place to land for 2 nights that wouldn't be much of a hassle. After a very lame bar dinner and less than impressive service the first night, I already knew that we would likely never visit it again.

But when we woke up Saturday morning, we were treated to a beautiful view, and were so excited to start our vacation. We took off for a short run and made our way over to what is known as "the strip"- a small string of beach bars/restaurants that seems to be popular for late night dancing and revelry. There are several international schools on the island, and apparently the strip is where they like to party.

The Holland House: View from balcony in St. Kitts

The Holland House: Hank on The Strip

After our run, we grabbed a quick breakfast in the lobby and then got ready to hit the beach. We really didn't want to be stuck at the hotel all day, as it was on the rougher Atlantic side. Several people recommended that we taxi to a small beach bar on the Caribbean side of the island called Shipwreck. It's tucked away on a secluded strip of the beach, and I swear it's where you go when you don't want to be found. We snagged two chairs covered by a little palapa roof, and quickly ordered a round of Pirate's Punch (for me) and a $3 Carib (for Hank). We napped, swam, ate, watched monkeys and mongoose, and snorkeled. This was seriously one of my favorite days of our whole trip. We could have stayed there forever, but ran out of cash just in time for our taxi guy who came back to pick us back up.

The Holland House: Day at Shipwreck St. Kitts

After a day of drinking on the beach, and a few hours in the hotel lobby looking for other Apple people to trickle in, we finally decided to clean ourselves up and head out for some dinner. Another interesting fact about the island is that many of the stores are owned by Indians, and therefore the island has a significant Indian population. The only thing that really means to me is that there was good food to be found. There just happened to be an Indian restaurant a short walk from the hotel, and it had good reviews online, so we headed to Bombay Blues. Full disclosure- we had been drinking all afternoon, so our judgment might be slightly skewed. But my recollection of the meal was fabulous. I had the Malai Kofta (one of my favorite dishes) and the sauce was flavorful and hearty. Hank had his favorite- Aloo Gobi. It was all reasonably priced, our server was nice, and overall we enjoyed the meal. The restaurant was pretty crowded, so I got the impression that it was a local favorite.

After sleeping it off in the next morning, we decided it would be fun to take a tour of the island before we had to meet the ferry for Nevis. The island is only 18 miles long, so it doesn't take long to make the big circle. Through the hotel, we hired a really nice driver to give us the tour. First stop was a high point overlooking our hotel from the beach.

The Holland House: St. Kitts
Below Hank down on the right is where Shipwreck was- the South part of the island.

The Holland House: View of Marriott
View of the Marriott (red roofs) on the far right side.

After a little driving and story telling, the driver waited patiently while we toured Brimstone Hill Fortress. It is no a national monument that was originally designed by the British, and built by African slaves. After an extensive preservation effort (that is still ongoing), it is one of the best preserved fortifications in the Americas. You can read more information in the link- but my brief description is that it was breathtaking. We really, really enjoyed walking around viewing the amazing construction and beautiful views of the island from one of the highest points.

The Holland House: Brimstone Hill Citadel

The Holland House: Brimstone Hill

The Holland House: Brimstone Hill

We finished the loop around the north side of the island, and got to view where the Atlantic meets the Caribbean, and also black rocks formed by the now dormant volcano on the island. Our tour ended just in time to catch an early ferry to Nevis, where the rest of trip continued. Stay tuned...

The Holland House: Atlantic meets Caribbean
The Atlantic is the darker blue water on the left, and the Caribbean is where the lighter water begins.
The Holland House: Volcanic Rocks
Volcanic rocks.

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