Nadine's Travel Entries


Thursday in New York City

posted May 20, 2011, 3:31 PM by Darren Cannell   [ updated Mar 17, 2012, 3:30 PM ]

We wanted to see the Statue of Liberty while we were in NYC and see what the new immigrants to the United States saw when they sailed up into the harbour.  So we caught the express subway downtown to the Staten Island Ferry terminal.  The Staten Island Ferry is free and you don’t even need a ticket.  It leaves every half hour on the hour.  It is a quick 20 or so minute ferry ride to the island.  We wanted to go out to Staten Island which is considered one of the 5 Burroughs of NYC; so that we could sail past the statue.  You know she is not as big as one would imagine, she sure is pretty but really not that large.  It was cloudy again so the pictures are going to seem gloomy.  The weather has really sucked here in NYC.  Out of our 39 countries that we have visited in the last 8 months, this would be the worst weather that we have encountered; we have been relatively lucky up till now.  This was actually the one day that it did not rain but it was really gloomy. 
 
 
Staten Island was one big disappointment and a bit seedy. We decided to walk around a bit before hopping back on the ferry.  After walking around the area for about 45 minutes we came across some homeboys and my spidey senses were starting to tingle and I never ignore these so we turned around and walked back to the terminal area.  Besides Dax was in a real mood and not fun to be with like he normally is.  We found that if he has to walk day after day to see sites, he shuts down on about the 5th day and naturally so.  He is a great kid and he wants to play and he is allowed to have a bad day once in a while.  Staten Island is not really that tourist friendly and I found nothing that would suggest that you should visit it.  But the ferry gave us a free trip to see the statue of liberty.  On our way back to the terminal we found a NYC hot dog vendor and bought a couple of dogs to eat.  We also managed to find a frozen yogurt place in the terminal and Dax and I indulged in some frozen chocolate yogurt to enjoy on the ferry trip back.  This treat made it worthwhile for Dax plus he really did want to see the Statue of Liberty.  On the way back you also get some really great views of the NYC skyline and especially the Manhattan skyline.
 

After getting off of the ferry we walked outside and there was a comedy/dance troupe outside and Dax loves watching these guys so we stopped and watched the break dancing etc.  We caught the ferry back and past the Manhattan Club up to the tram over to Roosevelt Island.  You pay your 2.50 just like you would on the sub and take the tram over the East River to the small island.  It is basically for the views because you ride in a large glassed-in tram car over the traffic and buildings and river and then take a steep dive into Roosevelt Island.  There is not much to see but apartment buildings on this island so we decided to take the underground subway back to our block.  We went to pick up a sub to eat and headed back to the Manhattan Club for the evening.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Our 4th Day in New York City

posted May 20, 2011, 3:05 PM by Darren Cannell   [ updated Mar 17, 2012, 3:32 PM ]

NYC is relatively quiet for one of the most populated places on planet earth.  While I was here I found out that it is illegal to honk unless there is an emergency.  Without horns honking it calms the city right down.  If you compare it to Cairo or Delhi for example where it is a free-for-all with the car horns and it adds so much extra unnecessary chaos.  NYC does seem fairly calm and civilized and 99% of the people are very helpful and will help you out without even being asked.  If you are struggling with the map or arguing about directions with your husband, people will come up and offer to help you. This happened many times to us so we found the New Yorkers to be quite nice, which was the opposite of what we were expecting. I found Manhattan extremely easy to get around and easy to figure out.  Darren is more abstract in his thinking and was turned around the whole time and never knew where he was, which was quite unusual for him.

We walked down to the discount ticket booth on 47th only to find that Mary Poppins was only available for a night show at 8 pm on our last night in NYC.  We decided to splurge and buy tickets and spent a bit more than we did for Billy Elliott.  We had to go directly to 42nd where the theatre is located to buy tickets, there were none available at the discount place. 
 
We then decided that we should go and see the Empire State Building.  Our son even had heard about this site and he knew that there was a gorilla involved somehow.  He must have learned this on his cartoons so we had to explain to him about the movie King Kong and said that we would look into renting one of the versions for him to watch about the doomed love story.  The Empire State Building is on 5th Avenue and expect long line ups.  I would suggest going earlier rather than later to avoid really long line ups.  We got in the first line up and this was for security but we thought it was for tickets to go up to the 85th floor.  We then made it through that line up to the ticket line up and then through to the elevator line up.  Tickets cost 21 bucks per adult and 15 bucks for a child.  The whole line up experience added another 2 hours on to our day but Dax wanted to go up. Personally once we got up there I enjoyed it more than the views from the Eiffel Tower in Paris which I have now been up 3 times to see the views of Paris.  It was getting cloudy again so we got up just in time.  I forgot to tell you that you take the first set of elevators up to the 80th floor and then you have to get into another line up to get to the Observatory level which is at the 85th.  You can also buy another ticket to get you to the 102 floor which involves another different elevator.  The 85th is really good enough and when it is cloudy the 102 floor would just destroy your view entirely I would think.  I recommend going up on the now tallest building in NYC, you can view inside or outside or both.

We got down fairly quickly after the short line up to go down on the elevator and left the area and made our way up to the closest subway.  With Dax he was too tired to walk another 30 blocks up to the MET which is situated technically in Central Park on Museum Row.  I would suggest leaving at least 3-4 hours to see the Metropolitan Museum of Art because it is not just 2 dimensional art pieces to see.  There is an absolutely huge Egyptian exhibit of priceless wonders.  We had already been to see Egypt’s National Museum in Cairo so we blitzed this area but other people would need a great deal of time because there is much to see.  It was kind of sad to me that NYC displayed Egypt’s wonders much better than Egypt did.  As I mentioned blogs ago the National Museum in Cairo is a national disgrace.  It is dirty, disgusting and not well displayed and the managers should be fired and flogged for mismanagement.  Anyways don’t get me started on that treasure chest.  The MET is wonderful and delicious to feast on.  There is everything from priceless porcelain pieces to Indian artefacts to wealthy people’s antique living rooms.  It is a cornucopia of costly pieces collected from all over the world.  We only had 2 hours in there and that was not enough and Daxtin was not even bored so that tells you that there is much to see.  If you pay attention you can find Picassos, Van Gough’s and Matisse art as well.  It was only 20 dollars to get in for an adult and children are free.  I would strongly suggest that you do not leave NYC before seeing the MET.

Tuesday in New York City

posted May 20, 2011, 2:27 PM by Darren Cannell   [ updated Mar 17, 2012, 3:35 PM ]

We are still adapting to time changes and woke up late again.  The whole week that we were in NYC we did not make it out of the hotel once before noon.  I thought that this was pretty pathetic but Darren and Dax did not have a problem with it.  Darren would be happy living in a dark cave, no lies and Daxtin takes forever to get ready to leave the house.  I could have used a cattle prod and a firecracker to rouse the troops.  Dax was pretty excited to take the subway; we had not been on one since Singapore.  The NYC subway is pretty grouse and tight.  The platforms are very tiny and dirty and ancient looking.  The Asian subways are so much nicer to look at and ride.  We grabbed the subway and went downtown to Wall Street.  We saw the New York Stock Exchange building and in my naiveté I thought that we could actually go in and I was wrong, you can’t.  Wall Street is closed down to cars probably to accommodate all of the tourists that visit there.  At the end of Wall Street is Trinity Church and we ducked in there for a couple of seconds, I loved the old solid bronze doors.  We walked up to Cortland Street which is adjacent to Ground Zero.  Ground Zero is fenced off so you can’t actually see the ground not that it would look like it did after the disaster but it looks nothing like you would imagine.  There are about 10 building cranes on site and you can go into the place that has the plans for what is going to be there once it is complete.  Also there is a little museum set up in memory of all of the people who were murdered there.  If you walk up towards Brooklyn Bridge there is a cross that was constructed entirely of debris from the site after 911 cooled down a bit.  Obviously an artist had a hand in the making of it, it is artistically beautiful and horrible at the same time.  The site and area is very solemn and depressing just like it is when you go to Auschwitz, Poland.  It truly is devastating and confusing what human beings can do to each other when one dehumanizes another human being.  Whether you were a Jew or an Infidel, the results were the same – tragic.
 

After that I was ready for a pick me up and I don’t mean a drink.  I mean shopping.  Century 21 Department Store sits directly beside Ground Zero.  I know it is kind of a sacrilegious placement of a store, but maybe it was there before 911, I don’t know.  I also know it is a stupid name for an amazing department store.  If you have been to Nordstrom Rack or Nordstrom Last Chance or even a TJMaxx then you will recognize a good bargain when you see one.  It was nuts in there, very crowded and not just by women there were just as many men in there, the man’s department was huge.  I needed a purse and the purse section was huge but I scoped one out for myself at a good deal.  Darren is not a shopper so he did not venture into the man’s area, the coward.  The boy’s department was not that big but I did find some really good bargains for our son.  I picked up 4 pairs of winter pyjamas for him; one pair was 49 cents and the others were $7.49 each.  In Canada I would pay $14.00 dollars for the same quality.  I also got him a great lined rain jacket which he needed here in NYC because it rained 6 out of the 7 days that we were here.  I also got him some really cute Volcam shorts which have an adjustable waist because he is so tiny.  Seriously when I come back to NYC in the future I would have to spend a minimum of 6 hours in Century 21 just to do it justice.  I did not even make it to the shoe area and that really is unforgiveable to a shoey like me (yes, I made that up).

We walked out of the financial area and trotted north to see the Brooklyn Bridge which everyone but my husband has heard of.  My mission was to walk the bridge and take pictures of the Manhattan skyline.  Apparently every tourist had the same idea and it was jam packed but at least the bridge has a walking area that is elevated above the traffic of the cars so it was a nice walk with a steep incline up.  The boys decided that they did not want to walk the Brooklyn Bridge with me so they stopped and sat down on some of the benches and waited for me.  The bridge was built in 1857 and still seems quite sturdy.  Once you get up a ways over top of the buildings and almost to the point when you are over the East River the walkway turns into a wooden walkway which looks to be wood 2 X 4 s.  There are spaces in-between each 2 X 4 and you can see straight down and this was a bit unnerving for me. The bridge was really kind of creepy but an architectural wonder and it provided some much needed exercise.  Once I got half way across, the weather had become extremely socked in with clouds so the pictures turned out very gloomy but I am still glad that I walked the bridge.  Why can’t Saskatoon build a bridge that lasts as long as the Brooklyn Bridge which is still going strong?

We kept walking north through Tribeca where many celebrities have homes.  Justin Timberlake has one in Tribeca but we did not see any celebs in NYC the whole time we were there.  We went through Chinatown and made it to Little Italy and chose a restaurant.  I had heard the food was great anywhere in this area.  We picked the wrong one apparently; however Dax loved his pizza.  We continued through SoHo and I wanted to make it to Greenwich Village and Dax was fading fast.  We hopped on the subway back to our area of Manhattan.  A subway fare is $2.50 or you can buy a 7 day pass for $29.00.

Monday in New York City

posted May 20, 2011, 1:44 PM by Darren Cannell   [ updated Mar 17, 2012, 3:37 PM ]

We woke up late again and got up and walked down to the ticket discount booth in Times Square on 47th.  We were on a mission to buy discounted Lion King Tickets for a matinee.  Well first of all this place is closed on Mondays so don’t bother and there are no matinees on Monday or Tuesdays.  Also there are no discounted Lion King tickets to buy, because it is still fairly new.  It would have cost my family over 400 bucks to see this show, so we decided to wait until we come back to NYC sometime in the future.  We enjoyed Billy Elliott so much that we wanted to experience another Broadway play here in NYC.  We had to quickly change our plans and pick something else to do instead of going to another matinee.  We decided to walk to Dylan’s Candy Store that touts itself as the largest candy store in the world.  It is very large but I would have my doubts that it is the largest.  It is located at 1011, 3rd ave and 60th street.  It does have 3 floors and 15,000 square feet of candy and it does have the old kind of candies that we enjoyed as kids like gold nuggets in a bag which is gum.  Do you remember them?  It also had pop rocks.  You can get quite carried away in there so check your prices.  I almost picked up the large chewable sweet tarts candy for double the price that you can get them at the 7-11.  Needless to say Dax had fun in there.
 

We left the Dylan’s Candy Store with more calories than when we walked in and started walking around the area.  I loved walking around the wealthy area of the Upper East Side and enjoying all of the beautiful properties.  There were some gorgeous old Brownstones that were done up to the nines.  The houses around 5th Avenue and Madison Avenue were great to look at and even the architecture is interesting to see.  Some of these homes in this area are in one of the most expensive real estate places in the world.  Darren was bored to tears.  We continued our journey into Central Park from the East side about half way up.  Central Park is lovely and old and developed.  What surprised me about this park is that there are roads that go through it with cars.  Only in NYC I guess.  It kind of kills the whole park atmosphere when you can hear cars driving by you.  There are lots of squirrels and everyone is out walking their dogs.  So Dax and I had our Dog fix.  We really miss our poodle and we can’t wait to see him.  We kept walking north through Central Park up to the MET or the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  It really was starting to rain at this point so we just made it in time just to see the big red sign outside saying CLOSED MONDAYS.  There were people coming and going inside so when we asked the security guard he said that it is only open to VIP’s on Mondays.  I am not a VIP so it was a bit frustrating, but I guess if I was Gwen Stefani or Julia Roberts or President Obama, I would not be able to visit the MET on a normal day because I would be hounded by fans and people wanting my autograph and photo.  Personally I would hate to be famous, it would suck royally.  We decided to walk across Central Park to the American Natural Museum of History to see if we could get into this place.  We got there at 4:35 pm and they open the doors for free entry at 4:45 pm so we just waited 10 minutes and got in free and avoided the 20 dollar fee per adult.  We had one full hour to peruse the Space area which was cool and all of the other floors combined.  We decided to walk back home instead of taking the subway much to our child’s chagrin.  We walked the 24 blocks back to 56th street and went to the Topaz restaurant again.  Dax decided to try some Thai rolls for supper, way to go Daxtin.  I had the Pad Thai and Darren had some meat laden dish because he is a carnivore.

The Big Apple - New York City

posted May 20, 2011, 1:18 PM by Darren Cannell   [ updated Mar 17, 2012, 3:12 PM ]

We arrived into Newark International Airport, collected our luggage and caught a taxi.  We needed a minivan taxi to take all of our luggage and newly acquired purchases from Phoenix.  We ended up getting an Egyptian taxi cab driver who was very interesting.  We left Egypt 3 weeks before that country imploded and so we had lots to talk about.  He immigrated into the United States by the Lottery system which I did not even know existed here in America because we do not have this in Canada.  The taxi ride was expensive but we knew it would be, it was 72 dollars with our entire luggage and we got a VISA slip from the taxi operating lady before we got in the cab, which enabled us to pay with VISA.  We ended up tipping him 10 bucks as well so $82.00 for the ride into Manhattan.  It was about ½ hour ride because the traffic was not too terrible and it was about 8 pm at night.

We checked into our hotel which was The Manhattan Club at 200 West 56th street.  We quickly realized what a valuable location we were at.  We grabbed a map of NYC and then ventured out into Manhattan and walked to Times Square which was only 5 blocks away.  Times Square really lights up at night and is quite a spectacle to see.  We were right in the middle of the Theatre District and the Tonight Show was less than a block away and the famous Carnegie Hall was kitty corner to us.  The Manhattan Club is right on the corner of Broadway and 56th and Broadway is where all of the action is.  If you walk along Broadway all the way downtown you will see every store known to womankind including all of the big designer names.  The Manhattan Club is definitely location, location, location.
 

We woke up late the next morning on Sunday.  We were still on Phoenix time which was a two hour difference which does make a difference and you have to adjust to it.  We had picked up groceries last night which was a block from our hotel.  So we ate breakfast in our little timeshare unit with a kitchenette.  We ventured out again and wanted to figure out what Broadway shows we could see at 50% at the discount ticket booth which was 5 blocks away.  We bought Billy Elliot tickets for 65.00 each for the 2 pm matinee.  We picked up a salad at McDonalds and walked to 42nd to catch the show.  We had great tickets up in the Mezzanine and we really enjoyed the 3 hour show.  Our 7 year old son really thought that it was “awesome”.  He did say that and he also said that there were “too many swears”.  I would agree with him, there were, but hell, you know the Irish, ha ha.

After the show we walked around and went through a very large M & M store that our son thought was fantastic.  We went through the Rockefeller Center as well.  This is the place that has the huge Christmas tree lighting every year.  It is also a high end mall to shop at too.  We walked through a very large Lego store which our son would have stayed hours in if we would have let him.  Once we dragged him out of there we walked to ST. Patrick’s Cathedral and ended up lucking out and catching the last half of a Sunday mass.   This is a beautiful church and very reminiscent of the grand churches of Europe.

We found 5th avenue which is famous for stores like Saks – 5th Avenue etc and for very expensive real estate.  It is really cool experiencing these places that you have always heard about on T V and in the movies etc.  The rain was coming down hard so we broke down and bought an umbrella for 5 bucks to protect us from getting too soaked.  We found a restaurant close to the Manhattan Club called Topaz (127 – West 56th street) and it was Thai.  I ordered the Green Curry which was excellent.  Darren ordered the Pad Thai which was also good.  Our little well traveled child ordered nothing.   He does not have a well travelled palate and we picked up a sub for him to take back to the room.  Topaz was reasonably priced for NYC standards and we enjoyed our meal.  We were bagged and dragged ourselves back to the Manhattan Club and fell asleep.  Walking 50 or so blocks is quite a bit after lazing out on the Caribbean for 6 weeks.  Dax was exhausted and so were we.

Phoenix With Friends

posted May 13, 2011, 4:47 PM by Darren Cannell   [ updated May 13, 2011, 5:30 PM ]

 

I was very excited to get to Phoenix, Arizona to see all of my girlfriends that were meeting us there.  Leaving St. Thomas was sad because that meant that the Caribbean portion of our trip had come to an end and I absolutely love spending time in the Caribbean with all of the warm tropical breezes, the beautiful colour water and the all of the beauty that surrounds you with the flowers and trees.  It is pure relaxation.  But I was ecstatic to see all my buds that had flown all the way from Saskatoon.  It has been a long and dry 8 months without them. 

 

All of us flew in late on Friday May 6th.  We were close to the Arizona Mills Outlet Mall and they had a hotel close to the Phoenix International Airport.  Our plan was to meet up the next morning at the mall.  It was so good to see them that I was getting a bit verklempt with all of the solid hugs and I had missed them so much.  Good, trustworthy friends are ultra important to me.  Not to mention that these chicks are bags of fun.  We said our hellos and had our hugs and our quick chats but let’s get serious there was some extreme shopping to do and time was a wasting.  I had not been to Phoenix in over a year and Phoenix is the Mecca of all shopping in the world.  I come here once a year as a non religious sort of pilgrimage of vanity and greed.  A girl has to look and feel good about herself and Phoenix helps me to do this.  Hopefully I have introduced this Phoenix concept to my girlfriends and they will feel the need to pilgrimage once a year as well. 

 

We all made our way towards Marshalls which is a store like Winners in Canada but much better with cheaper deals.  Leann and Mardi were a bit overwhelmed with Marshalls which is kind of a Rambo style shopping that I happen to excel at and have special skills at.  It is kind of scavenging and plundering after the ravages of war type shopping.  They left Marshalls after a few minutes and made their way back out to the mall to various stores.  Kerrie left soon after and Bridget was in her own little Bridget world (hey what happens in Phoenix stays in Phoenix). Who knows where Bridget was and went?  
 
 
Belle, Lindsay and I stayed the full allotted time in Marshall’s and did quite well I might add. 
 

 

We met the rest of the girls and Darren and Dax and I took one look at the boys and knew that they were done, so we opted to leave the mall and drive north to Scottsdale and try and check in to the Westin Kierland Villas.  Unfortunately they were not ready for us so we went out and about and came back later to check in and then off to Walmart to get the groceries and supplies.  The rest of the girls stayed at the mall and did not make it back to the Villas until well after 7 pm.  They apparently tried to stay and unpack their vehicle at the Westin Kierland Hotel until they were redirected back to the Villas.  We lucked out with a great view of the mountains and golf course.  We were on the second floor and when you went out onto the balconies in our suite it was a veritable animal kingdom outside.  There were duck families and partridge mom and dads with their 10 babies following closely behind.  You could watch the antics of hummingbird couples doing their hummingbird dance.  Baby bunnies and multitudes of desert bunnies were scampering around continuously.  Bunnies really are as dumb as mud; I guess that is why Playboy picked the bunny as their representative animal.  You will throw a bunny a carrot and it starts to eat it and then something will scare it like its own shadow and then it will scamper off about a foot away and forget that it has a carrot one foot away and then it will actually leave the carrot.  That is really dumb or brainless.  There are also these black strange sounding birds with a long plumage of tail feathers that fluff up when they sing.  They look like they should be in the tropics not the desert.   There are also lizards slithering around and all sorts of other creatures.  We spent allot of time in the mornings with our coffee on the balcony.  We tried to spend some more time at night on our balcony with our music and drinks but the lovely lady down below on the first floor was not really down with our music or us, she was always complaining and phoning into management who would then call us to tell us to keep it down.  I mean really, seriously, she should have just joined us and added some fun into her life; live a little honey.
 

 

We made our way to the pool a few times throughout their stay and to the lazy river and waterslide over at the hotel. 
 
We did this on Mother’s Day and then later went out to shop some more. 
 
 
The nights were great and we had lots of fun.  The one night that Darren barbecued we spent our time outside with our drinks and later made our way to the outdoor fireplace. 
 
 
The Westin has a ton of outdoor relaxing spaces.  Lindsay packed it in early this night, because she had to leave the next day, which was one day earlier than the other girls.  The girls last day was spent at the pool and a little bit of shopping and planning on how to get back into the country with their multitude of purchases.  The next day the girls had to leave fairly early for the airport.  We said our goodbyes and I was really sad to see them go.  The good news is that we are at the end of our 8 month World Tour and I will see them again shortly.  The bad news is that I don’t have anyone to shop with for the remainder of the time in Phoenix, so I will have to brave the amazing sales on my own.  Thanks for coming to join us in Phoenix my lovely friends, I love you, you are the best!
 

Phoenix with the Girls

St. John, United States Virgin Islands

posted May 5, 2011, 6:50 AM by Darren Cannell

We took the car ferry from Red Hook ferry terminal in the eastern part of St. Thomas to Cruz Bay terminal in St. John.  No reservation is required; you just drive on and pay your 45 dollar return trip.  You also need to pay 3 dollars per car to get into the terminal area.  The trip takes approximately 20 minutes to get to St. John.  You can also take a passenger ferry which is what most cruisers would take, but then you don’t have the luxury of having your own car to explore the lovely island of St. John.
 
 

 
We drove around the tight road spaces of Cruz Bay where their many shops and restaurants.  There is a beach there as well but we were not interested in that.  We wanted to check out the views and Trunk Bay mostly.  We drove around in the inland areas where you can stop and get great pictures of the views that St. John is full of.  We finally made our way to Maho Bay area where there is a development called Peter’s Bay Estates. 
 

 

If I win the lottery I could be inspired to buy one of these homes.  Their views are incredible with some of the best views that I have ever seen in the world.  I stopped and got out of the car near an estate called Coco de Mer to take some pictures of the views.  I later went to a website where you can rent Coco de Mer and it is mere 17,000 per week at Christmas time.  Maybe when I am a rock star I would be able to afford this rental.
We drove on westerly towards Trunk Bay.  The roads are hairpin and up and down and quite a little ride around this area.  We spotted a deer in the bush and then another one a mile or so down closer to Trunk Bay.  Trunk Bay is managed by the government and it also carries a charge of 4 USD per adult.  Trunk Bay has an underwater snorkelling trail and a life guard.  Trunk Bay Beach is commonly mentioned in the top ten beaches in the world as well. 
 
I found it much prettier than Magens Bay Beach but it was not near as pretty as Lighthouse Beach on Eleuthera Island, Bahamas.  At Trunk Bay Beach the water is more turquoise in color and the sand is much whiter than Magens Bay Beach.  But it is still a fairly narrow strip of sand and I like an expansive and wide beach so you can appreciate its beauty.  We hung out at Trunk Bay for a few hours; Dax played in the sand and made dry sand dunes instead of wet sand castles.  He is a bit stubborn and odd sometimes.  The sand was very pretty and there are no waves on Trunk Bay it is just calm Caribbean waters that are clear and pretty.  There were many cruisers here you can tell by their beach towels.  They have to leave fairly early to catch a taxi back to Cruz Bay and then a passenger ferry back to St. Thomas in order to catch their boat.  We had the luxury of leaving when we wanted.  We leisurely got changed in the shower stall area and loaded into the car. 
 
 
We drove back to Cruz Bay and found the car ferry terminal.  We had about a ½ hour wait before it left; they leave every hour.  We produced our return ticket and the ferry sailed off for St. Thomas.  Darren fell asleep in the car and Dax and I went to the small passenger lounge balcony up above and watched as we got closer to St. Thomas.  From Red Hook car ferry terminal to the Marriott is about a ½ hour drive and by the time we got back we were bagged.  We made supper and stayed in and watched tv and we also caught the Carnival Liberty sailing out as well.  I don’t think I will ever grow tired of watching cruise ships sail out to sea, there is something so romantic and adventurous about it.
 
 
 
 
 
 

St. John, USVI

 

Magens Bay, St. Thomas, USVI

posted May 5, 2011, 6:43 AM by Darren Cannell   [ updated May 5, 2011, 7:03 AM ]

Magens Bay Beach is managed by the government so there is a cost of 4 dollars per adult to get in but there are public washrooms etc.  Magens Bay is in the North of the island and it is a one mile long beach which is quite a narrow sand beach.  Magens Bay is usually always on the list of the top ten beaches of the world by Conde Nast travel magazine and others.  Personally I would say that it is a very nice pretty beach but not in the top ten beaches of the world.  I found 3 beaches that were better than Magens Bay in Eleuthera Island, Bahamas and then there is always Jolly Harbour Beach in Antigua as well.  I am not sure if Conde Nast focuses more on beaches in the US or what but they need to get a new judge for best beaches.  Like I said Magens Bay is pretty but not anywhere close to the top ten in the world.
 
 

 
We laid around on the beach and came up with a new game where we throw our  wave runner bouncy ball out into the water and see how many skips you can get and then Dax takes his inner tube out and retrieves it.  What can I say, we miss our dog and Dax wears off energy and loves it.
 
 

 

Most of the cruisers had already left the beach and it was just us and the locals left.  So we closed this beach down and stayed too long because something bit the hell out of my legs, either sand fleas or noseeums.  I needed an antihistamine to take the itch out, whatever bit me, it was about 50 times and with a nasty bite that I was allergic to.  Should have left earlier.

You have to drive up and over the mountains to get back to the Marriott and there are spots to stop your car and take picture perfect shots of the cruise terminal area and Charlotte Amalie.  Our Marriott timeshare is just up and over the back end of the ship below.
 
We went back to the pool at the Marriott Frenchman’s Cove to let Dax play with his new friends which were a family of 3 kids.  They ran around and up and down the water slide for about an hour.  Then I noticed that Dax was walking up the slide with all of the kids behind him and I thought to myself this is not going to end up well.  Well unfortunately my psychic abilities were dead on.  Dax wiped out with the rush of water and took out the rest of the kids.  Somehow a foot caught Daxtin in the snorkelling goggles and it must of cracked the tempered glass and they got knocked off of Dax’s face.  One of the boys swam to the bottom of the pool to retrieve the googles and he threw them on to the side of the pool and this is when the tempered glass of the Dax’s goggles shattered everywhere on the side of the pool.  The glass crumpled like a windshield. Somehow thank God they did not shatter on Dax’s face because he could have lost an eye or two because the glass was very sharp.  He only ended up with a huge goose egg in between his eyes.  There was glass everywhere and before anyone knew what was going on one of the boys from the other family cut his foot in 3 places.  The parents swarmed and figured out what was happening and got the boy some help, he was bleeding quite alot and it finally came to a slow bleed, but this ended the horse play.  They bandaged him up and then they were relegated to play ping pong to keep the bandage dry.  Lesson – do not walk up slides, slides are for going down not up.

 

Flying into St. Thomas United States Virgin Islands

posted May 5, 2011, 6:20 AM by Darren Cannell

We flew in with Liat Ailines and they were 1.5 hours late getting in.  Liat is an interesting little airline with rush seating which is a concern with a child.  The lady at the gate had a good head on her shoulders and she had the people with children let on first to the aircraft.  We arrived into St. Thomas and collected our car from Budget.  The drive to the Marriott is normally a short 10 minute drive but Carnival began on Friday and there was lots of traffic.  We had to drive right through Charlotte Amalie the capital city and then up into the hills to the Marriott Frenchman’s Cove which is situated high up on different terraces overlooking the Caribbean Sea.  We finally lucked out and got a great view of the water and beach.  We are in the Virgin Gorda building on the top floor directly looking over the middle of the beach and water.  We also have a great view of Charlotte Amalie and all of the cruise ships as they enter and exit the port or terminal, they sail right by our balconies. 
 

 

After checking in and settling for a few minutes we got together our grocery list and drove back into the city to get groceries at Pueblo Grocery Store.  It is a large grocery store and all of the prices are in American and they are decently priced.  We came back and cooked our steaks on the grills that are provided at the resort.  We already like it here and feel very comfortable.
 

 

The next day we walked over to the Marriott Frenchman’s Reef which is the hotel.  They have a very expansive property with an even larger beach but it is not a swimming beach for children, the waves are larger but the water is very pretty and the beach is really nice. 
 
 
We hung out there for quite a while.  We found a rockier alcove where many iguanas were sunning themselves and we watched these creatures for quite a while.  Darren and Dax tried to see how close they could get to these horrible things before the creature would scurry off. 
 
 
These are not small and harmless and they are very ugly.  There were a couple of iguanas on the beach the other day and he was not moving for anyone.  He decided to settle under my lounge chair and he was about 4 feet long with his tail.  I was not going to lie on my lounge chair with him or her under me and it was not until someone opened up a package of food that the thing left, thank God.
 

 

 
 

St. Thomas, USVI

Driving Around the Entire Island of St. Kitts

posted Apr 27, 2011, 8:23 AM by Darren Cannell

We drove up the Atlantic side and it was so pretty.  This side seemed to be a bit more of rain forest vegetation. 
 
 
We got waylaid onto several little side roads which we drove up and down and we were rewarded with beautiful views of the ocean.  The old sugar plantation ruins dot the entire island and they lay testament to the slave labour that provided the sugar to the growing addiction.
 
 
We encountered many wondering goat herds that were not tended by anyone. I am sure that many baby goats end up getting run over because they are all over the roads.  We drove by the Black Rocks area on the East side of the island and this is where molten lava had burned its way down to the water’s edge a million years ago and has produced a bit of a scary black and rugged landscape.  Many black sand beaches are in this area as well.  Once we rounded the northern end the views of Mount Liamuiga the dormant volcano were tremendous.  Also the views of the Dutch owned island of Statia or St. Eustatius were incredible; also we could just barely see the island of Saba as well. 
 
Before we flew to St. Kitts my plan was to hike up the dormant volcano crater and apparently you can still see the bubbling activity and smell the sulphur.  When we actually got a look at how high it is we thought that there is no way Dax would make it and on second thought I might not make it.  I am not 20 anymore.  I kind of feel like a wimp with this decision but I don’t want to end up in traction for the remainder of my holiday either.
 
We drove around the whole northern end through to the Caribbean side of St. Kitts and made it to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park. 
 
 

 

It is an incredible feat of British military engineering and it is one of the finest examples in the world.  I am not sure why the British are so recognized for it.  It was actually the imported African slaves who built it and slaved over it literally.  We watched a video of the making of Brimstone first. 
 
 

 

The Fortress is quite interesting to explore with all of its cannons and quarters and the views are second to none overlooking the Caribbean Sea. 
 
 

 

I forgot the sunscreen so I felt like I was frying like a piece of bacon the whole time.  I actually did not burn though because my base tan was ample enough to protect me for the 2 hours of exploring.  The breezes were divine because it was a very hot day and a lot of it was walking uphill.
 
 
We drove back to Basseterre the capital and wanted to pick up some groceries but it was Easter Monday and all of the stores were closed.  We ventured back to the Marriott and went to the pool and then back to the comforts of home and our 2 bedroom/ 2 bathroom unit.  I was surprised to find the Global channel on TV, imagine that; Global in St. Kitts.  I hope that the next place we move to on St. Thomas has the Global network so that I can follow the Canadian Federal Election.  And speaking of politics and politicians we have a bidet in our condo.  Many of the timeshares and hotel rooms that we have stayed in along the way during our World Tour have had bidets.  For me I just felt they were a waste of space in the bathroom and a waste of porcelain.  I tried the bidet the other day for the first time and I still feel this way about them.  I think they were designed for lazy people.  If anyone would care to argue with me then bring it.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

St. Kitts Island

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