...
...
top of page
  • Writer's pictureKeef Hellinger

Blog 125 Ruby Wedding Anniversary Cruise 🌠Travel Blog

Updated: Aug 19, 2023

By keef and annie hellinger, Mar 14 2018 08:26AM

Not the Motorhome Trip No.9 5th Feb - 12 Mar 2018 This was our 40th Wedding Anniversary Cruise to the Azores, Caribbean & Lower US States including Louisiana, Florida & South Carolina. We encountered Storm Riley on the way back meaning we had 10 days at sea instead of stopping at our 2nd Azores island on the way back.


Overall for this Travel Blog

This Blog is like a website on its own, we were away for a month and a half so it resembles some of our much longer trips in Wendy House or hired vans in either Canada, New Zealand or Australia.

mugshots on the intrepid explorers, crossing the atlantic, tick
mugshots on the intrepid explorers, crossing the atlantic, tick

Proof we crossed the Atlantic We had a fun time despite being ill for quite a while and loved our Atul Kutcher meal on the 25th in the Benares offshoot on board called Sindhu. We sailed 12,865 land miles across the Atlantic on our journey. What a travel blog eh?


map of our cruise in 2018
map of our cruise

Itinerary

Booking Reference: WLHK2R

KEITH HELLINGER No Loyalty Tier: POFP78081M

ANNE HELLINGER No Loyalty Tier: POFP78085Y


Cruise

Number: N803 Ship: Ventura Duration: 35 Nights

Cabin Number: A517 Category: Inside Cabin Deck: A

Bed Configuration: Queen

Dress: Dress Codes for your Cruise: 10 Black Tie Nights, 25 Evening Casual Nights POSH or WHAT


Schedule


05 February Day 1 Southampton Dining:Freedom

Embark Ventura


06 February Day 2 Sea Day Dining:Freedom

07 February Day 3 Sea Day Dining:Freedom

08 February Day 4 Sea Day Dining:Freedom

To see At Sea slideshows , click HERE


09 February Day 5 Ponta Delgada Dining:Freedom

Arrive early morning

Depart early evening

Fire Lakes and Mountains Excursion 09:00

To see Azores slideshows , click HERE

10 February Day 6 Sea Day Dining:Freedom

11 February Day 7 Sea Day Dining:Freedom

12 February Day 8 Sea Day Dining:Freedom

13 February Day 9 Sea Day Dining:Freedom

14 February Day 10 Sea Day Dining:Freedom

15 February Day 11


Barbados Dining:Freedom

Arrive early morning

Depart early evening

Coast to Coast Excursion 09:00

To see Barbados slideshows , click HERE


16 February Day 12 Guadeloupe Dining:Freedom

Arrive early morning

Depart early evening

Botanical Garden & Paradise Excursion 08:30

To see Guadeloupe's slideshows , click HERE


17 February Day 13 Antigua Dining:Freedom

Arrive early morning

Depart afternoon

Antigua Island Sights Excursion 08:45

To see Antigua's slideshows , click HERE


18 February Day 14 At Sea Dining:Freedom


19 February Day 15 Ocho Rios Dining:Freedom

Arrive early afternoon

Depart early evening

Bob Marley by Zion Bus Excursion 12:30

20 February Day 16 Montego Bay Dining:Freedom

Arrive early morning

Depart early evening

To see Jamaica's slideshows, click HERE


21 February Day 17 Sea Day Dining:Freedom


22 February Day 18 Sea Day Dining:Freedom


23 February Day 19 New Orleans Dining:Freedom

Arrive early morning

Overnight In Port

24 February Day 20 New Orleans Dining:Freedom

Depart afternoon To see New Orleans' slideshows, click HERE


25 February Day 21 Sea Day

Table For 2 in Sindhu at 19:00, See HERE, our 40th Wedding Anniversary meal and cards


26 February Day 22 Key West Dining:Freedom

Arrive morning

Depart afternoon Possible Tender - No Harbourside

To see Key West's slideshows, click HERE


27 February Day 23 Port Everglades Dining:Freedom

Arrive early morning

Depart early evening

Snapshot of Miami Excursion 09:45

28 February Day 24 Port Canaveral Dining:Freedom

Arrive early morning

Depart afternoon


See Blog 125 Part 2 continued from now on, this blog has reached its WIX size limit (c 77 mins)

01 March Day 25 Charleston Dining:Freedom

Arrive morning

Charming Charleston Panoramic Excursion 09:30 Overnight In Port

02 March Day 26 Charleston Dining:Freedom

Depart early afternoon


03 March Day 27 Sea Day Dining:Freedom

04 March Day 28 Sea Day Dining:Freedom

05 March Day 29 Sea Day Dining:Freedom

06 March Day 30 Sea Day Dining:Freedom

07 March Day 31 Sea Day Dining:Freedom


08 March Day 32 Sea Day (see below)

Praia DA Vitoria Dining:Freedom

Arrive morning

Depart afternoon

South Island Sights and Angra Excursion 09:45

Sadly NOT Possible due to Storm Riley so day at Sea


09 March Day 33 Sea Day Dining:Freedom

10 March Day 34 Sea Day Dining:Freedom

11 March Day 35 Sea Day Dining:Freedom


12 March Day 36 Southampton

Disembark


It was our 40th Wedding Anniversary treat, what you might call our Ruby cruise! We had a wonderful time visiting some lovely places for the first time and revisiting some we had been to before , namely Key West, Everglades and Cocoa beach at Port Canaveral, all of which lived up to or exceeded our memories. We especially liked Charleston, Key West, Guadaloupe and New Orleans but loved the other places as well and Keef loved his Bob Marley pilgrimage (finally after Ivan in 2004). We had fun on the ship meeting some nice people, getting involved in Murder Mysteries and Cetacean watching (or not as the case was *smile*), swimming, sunbathing, reading, cribbage, qwirkle, music, photography, shows, Thornbridges Jaipur, sea swell, reggae with Serious Sounds from Barbados and, surely not, some very luxury food! We went to Atul Kochhar's restaurant (he owns 2* Michelin Benares in London, Indian/English fusion food) on board for our Ruby Wedding Anniversary meal which was lovely, so many courses we could not manage it all. Keef got 3 new Hard Rock Cafe shirts - New Orleans, Miami & Key West (I have an old one of those already) plus we had the usual HRC choc milk shakes and Local Legendries *smile*. Annie got some custom made jewellry, a lovely leather handbag from the covered town market in Charleston and some Mardi Gras fans. The things we didn't like were illness, end of row syndrome, rudeness of fellow passengers and total ignorance of most common decency etiquettes (i.e. lifts, sunbeds, respect for disabled, leaving performances early) but hey overall the good far outweighed the bad. Also we still feel a little young for cruising *smile*. Here are some formal pictures taken on the Ventura and some of our Ruby Anniversary meal, Love K&A x If you would like to read the detailed copy of the Captains Log Star date 11th March 2018 😉 here it is!


our cruise log cover from our trips and travel blogs


plus the very 1st days internal "newspaper"


plus the ships layout diagram


ventura cruise ship layout

We were in room A517 on board the Ventura

ss ventura in antigua

landing in Antigua


plus the Medevac video on Day 34 , scary CLICK HERE Gallery of our best times, so happy!


At Sea

DAY 1-4 5th-8th Feb 2018 Southampton-Azores DAY 6-10 10th-14th Feb 2018 Azores-Barbados

It was our 40th Wedding Anniversary treat, what you might call our Ruby cruise! We stayed in the Premier Inn at West Quay , Southampton the night before and had a meal in the TGI Fridays over the road plus brekkie in the Premier, full English of course, start the way you mean to continue. The first 3 days were at sea, we left in the dark 1 hour late from Southampton. The next day was the Azores, then 5 further days sailing to Barbados our 1st port of call in the Carribean. Mostly calm seas apart from the Bay of Biscay and very sunny as the got to the Caribbean, so speedos, sunnies and ipod on between cooling dips in the Oasis pool


keef on board SS Ventura from our trips and travel blogs


The Azores, Portugal, Sao Miguel

AY 5 - 9/2/2018 Landed in PONTA DELGADA, SAO MIGUEL, THE AZORES

It was our 40th Wedding Anniversary treat, what you might call our Ruby cruise! We landed in Ponta Delgada and went along slightly early for our Fire Lakes and Mountains excursion and were sent away by our lovely Travel department, luckily we came back early as the coach left 15 minutes early. They failed us on so many occasions we just took no notice of them ever after #thebrokenpromisesbrigade. Anyhow we had a lovely trip to give us a feel of Sao Migual stopping at the Pineapple plantation, that and fresh milk (exported to Madiera etc) are the main produce. We stopped at Ribeira Grande where we were lucky enough to see the kids parading in the Carnival festival (there version of the one in Brazil). Our guide was wonderful. We then climbed up to the highest point on the island, such lush rainforest vegetation , but with low cloud could see naught. Returning to Ponta Delgada we walked along the sea front and into the main town, it was very sunny and we finished with carnival fave Malassada & coffee and good it was too.


azores, from our trips and travel blogs



map of the azores, from our trips and travel blogs
map of the azores, from our trips and travel blogs

Your guide to Ponta Delgada

Ponta Delgada is situated on Sao Miguel island in the Azores. The island’s rugged jutting out into the ocean, sheer cliffs dropping into the sea and sheltered coves, vegetation are reflected in beautiful lakes within the craters of extinct volcanoes.

The Azores are a remote Portuguese, volcanic archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, consisting of nine islands divided into three groups. They are on approximately the same latitude as Lisbon and Washington DC, and lie about 760 miles west of Portugal.

The date of the discovery of the Azores remains somewhat uncertain, although Arabian geographers in the 12th and 14th centuries made mention of several islands in the Western Ocean, other than the Canaries. They also noted that these islands appeared to be inhabited by a large number of birds of prey, and it is from this reference that the present name is derived. The Portuguese word for hawk is agor.

Gongalo Valho Cabral brought in the first Portuguese settlers in 1439, but from 1580 to 1640 the islands were subject, like the rest of the Portuguese kingdom, to Spain. During this time they became an important meeting place for Spanish treasure fleets homeward bound from the Indies, and they were a place of maritime warfare between the English and Peninsular powers. In 1591, just off the coast of Flores, a famous sea battle took place between the Revenge (commanded by Sir Richard Grenville) and a Spanish fleet of 53 ships.

The islands of the Azores are volcanic in origin and have been shaped into their present form by various geographical phenomena. Fortunately, earthquakes of major consequence are extremely rare, particularly in the Eastern Azores, and there have been no recorded volcanic eruptions since 1957.

The Azores have a temperate climate due to their location in relation to the Gulf Stream and there’s an annual mean temperature of 64°F (18°C). The coldest month is February and the warmest month is August, when the temperature rises into the 80s°F (approx 27°C). The best time of year to visit the Azores is April to October. During the winter, they are renowned for being rather damp and occasional southwesterly gales are known to blow in.

The vegetation is remarkably beautiful and varied, and practically anything which grows in temperate or subtropical zones absolutely flourishes. The Azores abound in wonderful woodlands, groves of camellia trees, cannas, and azaleas, forests of tree ferns, tea plantations, splendid pastures and hedgerows of blue hydrangeas. Land commands a high price owing to • the possibility of getting three to four crops from it every year.

Sao Miguel (St Michael's) has been christened “The Green Island”, and the explosively fertile soil has earned the island this popular nickname.

The most important trade is that of dairy products and live cattle, both of which are exported to the island of Madeira and Portugal. Other exports include beet-sugar, alcohol, tea, tobacco, cereals and tinned fish.

The production and export of pineapples is also a trade of major importance to the Azores, and there are several pineapple establishments in the suburbs of Ponta Delgada and Vila Franca do Campo, on the south coast. Pineapples are only grown on Sao Miguel under glass, with no artificial heat being used and it takes around 24 months to obtain a fruit ready for the market. Exports from Ponta Delgada tota approximately one and a half million fruits a year. Owing to their exceptionally fine quality and careful selection, Sao Miguel pineapples fetch good prices in Lisbon and several other European markets.

There are many hot springs of great interest in the Azores, as a result of the volcanic origin of the archipelago. Of special note are the spas of Furnas on Sao Miguel, Varadouro on Faial and Carapacho on Graciosa. There are also many springs of mineral rich, medicinal waters; some of which are tapped commercially.

coastline is a mixture of headlands Mountains and valleys covered in lush

BEYOND PONTA DELGADA

Sete Cidades

10 miles North West of Ponta Delgada, means Seven Cities. Whether these existed at one time or not no one knows, but visitors come to admire the ethereal beauty of the area’s two lakes that lay in a circumference of eight miles. Sete Cidades is one of the smallest parishes of Ponta Delgada by population and also the largest in area because it’s located in the centre of a massive volcanic crater (three miles across) that’s also referred to as Sete Cidades.

The natural setting of this part of the Island is enchanting and will appeal to any nature lover or budding photographer.

Fire Lake

15 miles east of Ponta Delgada, in the centre of the island, is Fire Lake; in the crater of another extinct volcano. For more than 400 years, the crater has been filled with fresh, clean water and it’s now a lake that reflects endless surrounding natural beauty. Fire Lake is one of Ponta Delgada’s top natural tourist attractions and people come from far and wide to bathe in the nearby mineral rich waters that are believed to have healing properties.

Furnas Valley

25 miles east of Ponta Delgada is an area that proves the Azores’ volcanic origin. Furnas Valley is Europe’s richest hydrological centre with more than 20 mineral springs that belch, bubble and spray hot water and mud into an atmosphere that’s laden with Sulphur.

Grey, hot slime covers part of the area, rock faces are hot to the touch, steam puffs out of any hole in the earth and yellow bubbles burst as they are released from the earth. For several hundred years, housewives have cooked their sweet potatoes in the hot ground here and visitors have come to take the healing waters. Pay a visit to the Terra Nostra Hotel if you’re in the area to explore the gardens and the lake which are both well worth seeing.

EXPLORING

Sao Miguel

The largest and most important of the Azorean islands, is Sao Miguel which houses more than half of the archipelago’s population of 260,000. Sao Miguel (with its 140,000 residents) is roughly 39 miles long and 10 miles wide. Its capital, Ponta Delgada, lies on the south coast with an excellent harbour and a population of 70,000 people. Ponta Delgada has only been the island’s capital since 1546. Before then, Sao Miguel was governed from Vila Franca do Campo, further along the coast.

The main monuments of the Azores are the islands’ numerous churches built during many centuries of history from settlement times up to the present day. Their interiors of carved and gilded work, wood inlay and valuable azulejos (coloured, painted, glazed tiles) are veritable works of art. Besides the great number of churches and convents, some now housing museums, simple chapels and shrines of great charm are also scattered all over the island. There are also old forts, commemorative pillars, statues and busts that all mark famous dates and names in the history of the Azores.

Ponta Delgada

The largest city on Sao Miguel and the principal port of the eastern group of islands is Ponta Delgada; an old town of characteristic narrow roads and winding cobbled streets. The main avenues and highways are excellent and a day’s exploration could lead you from trodden tourist paths to undiscovered historical gems. Lovers of Madeira’s Funchal and Portugal’s Lisbon will feel at home in Ponta Delgada. The buildings are whitewashed with wooden balconies, the streets are paved with mosaics and ornate churches decorate almost every street. There’s a lovely, safe and friendly atmosphere in Ponta Delgada and when the jacaranda trees are in bloom, the bright purple blossom perfectly complements the black and white pavements and facades.

There are a few noteworthy buildings in the town:

The Igreja do Colegio is an 18th century church of late baroque architecture with a wonderfully carved high altar. This church formed part of a very rich convent founded by the Jesuits in the early 17th century.

Sao Sebastiao is the 16th century parish church with a southern fagade of Renaissance design. The main facade is influenced by the Manueline style which is most popular and commonly found in mainland Portugal. The choir stalls are carved cedar

wood and are decorated with other exotic woods like palisander. The statue of St. Sebastian on the high altar, pierced with arrows, bears an uncanny resemblance to Liberace. Valuable vestments embroidered in gold are on show, and the church is largely whitewashed like almost all the other buildings on the island.

Convento da boa Esperanga

Famous for the image of Christ, given by Pope Paul III in 1530, this church has been accumulating jewels and gifts for over 300 years. The chapel where the most treasured possessions are kept is completely lined with azulejos showing colourful, biblical scenes.

The museum of Carlos Machado is housed in a 16th century convent in Rua Joao Moreira (Dr Guilherme Pogas 65) and has several interesting ethnographic collections. It also contains works by local and foreign painters and sculptors, together with exhibitions of religious art, tiles and a wonderful collection of over 2000 bird species. St Andrew’s Church, which adjoins the museum, contains some remarkable wood carvings. Sao Jose has painted vaults over the three naves and a baroque Pieta in the baptismal chapel, while Sao Pedro towards the eastern end of this two mile long town is also worthy of inspection for its treasury. When it comes to secular architecture, have a look at the Fort of Sao Bras just outside the port area and you cannot miss the Triumphal Arch in the centre of town.

Art and Architecture Azulejos

These are coloured tiles painted and cleverly fitted together to create entire scenes. The first Portuguese azulejos were blue, or azul, hence the name. The idea of painting tiles came from the Moors and by the 17th century the Portuguese had mastered the craft so deftly, that it has since come to be associated almost solely with Portugal. Yellow, purple and green eventually joined the blue, followed by landscape and hunting scenes and abstract patterns. All kinds of buildings including churches, town halls, railway stations and private houses were decorated inside and out with azulejos and now they are everywhere to be seen in and around the city.

Talha dourada

Carved woodwork (talha) was popular for church interiors from the 15th century, but the influx of gold from Brazil in the early 18th century led to the gilding of woodwork. Some of Sao Miguel’s churches stand today, quite sober-looking from the outside, but gleam with gold on the inside.

EATING OUT

The geographical situation, the climate and the immense wealth of natural resources are responsible for the diversity of the cuisine on the Azores. The soil here is explosively fertile meaning that fresh produce grows in abundance.

Local favourites include homemade soups, fresh fish and seafood, locally sourced meat and a great selection of sweets. These include:

Seafood: Cavacos, lobster, barnacles, crab, Caldeirada de peixe (fish chowder), polvo guisado em vinho de cheiro (octopus cooked in wine), arroz de lapas (limpets), and lapas de molho Afonso, ensopado de trutas (trout stew).

Meat: chourigo com inhames (spiced sausage with yams), torresmos de moiho de figado (pork liver), and cozido das Furnas (meat and vegetables that are boiled in the heat of the earth at places where geothermal energy appears at the surface).

Cheese: Queijo da llha or fresh goat’s cheese.

Sweets: Bolo levedo (sweet muffin), barriga de freira (bread pudding) massa sovada (sweet bread).

The old brandy of Graciosa and the passion fruit and pineapple liqueurs of Sao Miguel are popular specialties in the Azores and they make good souvenirs and gifts as well as local delicacies to sample while you’re ashore.

Wine

The best known wines of the Azores are the verdelhos of Pico (which achieved fame as far away as the Court of Imperial Russia), but on Granciosa and Terceira some fine table wines are also produced, particularly the white wines. On nearly all of the Azorean islands there are the traditional vinhos de cheiro or morangueiro which have many keen enthusiasts. The best known are those of Caioura (Sao Miguel), Biscoitos (Terceira) and Sao Lourengo (Santa Maria), not forgetting a variety of wines from Pico.

GETTING AROUND

The terminal building in Ponta Delgada is split across two levels. Shore excursions depart from the car park on the upper floor accessible by stairs and lift. The ground level exit leads to the pedestrian walkway (to the town centre, via shops and cafes) and to available taxis.

Car hire

Varela Rent a Car: www.varelarentacar.com Micauto: www.micauto.com Autatlantis: www.autatlantis.com

Taxis

These are readily available. It is always advisable to negotiate a price with the driver before setting off on a journey. Most taxi drivers speak little English so ensure you have the means of explaining where you want to go and what time you need to get back to the ship.

HANDY TIPS

• The tap water is not always potable, so only drink bottled water.

• It is forbidden to sunbathe topless in the Azores.

• It is not acceptable to photograph people without asking for their permission.

• Tips and gifts compensate for quality

of service. It is therefore customary to leave a 5% tip in restaurants and to taxi drivers.

• Do not buy souvenirs made from sea based creatures.

SHOPPING

The Azorean archipelago, with its rich history and many traditions, is known for its arts and handicrafts. Artisans have saved and developed their workmanship techniques through the centuries and the handicrafts of the Azores include some that are now ancient in origin. Due to their isolated location Azorean craftsmen use primarily raw materials such as wood, fish scales, whale bone and teeth, basalt, hydrangea, piths, potter’s earth and corn leaves. Best buys

Colorful! pottery from Sao Miguel

Embroidery and lace from Sao Miguel,

Terceira, Pico and Faial

Woodwork created from fig

Wickerwork

Wheat straw decoration

Scrimshaws (works of art carved from the teeth and jaws of the sperm whale)

Pineapple and passion fruit liqueurs.

Most shops are dosed on Sundays, even when a cruise ship is in port, however the Sol Mar Shopping Centre and the new Parque Atlantico Mall in Ponta Delgada, are open daily from 9.30am-10.00pm every day.

ACTIVITIES

Beaches

Ponta Delgada’s beaches have black volcanic sand and are washed by the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean. During the months of July and August a few beaches (Praia do Populo, 3 miles from Ponta Delgada and Agua D’Alto, 14 miles away) have facilities and the waters are generally safe to swim in. There are swimming facilities in the cruise ship harbour, near to the marina with steps and pontoons leading down to the sea from the waterfront.

Golf

There are two courses on Ponta Delgada (Batalha Golf Course, over to the west of the island and Furnas Golf Club, over to the east). Both courses have 18 holes, and clubs and trolleys can be hired.


Barbados - The Caribbean

DAY 11 - 15/2/2018 Landed in BRIDGETOWN , BARBADOS, Windward Islands, West Indies " Woah, I'm going to Barbados, back to the palm trees, in the sunny Caribbean sea "

It was our 40th Wedding Anniversary treat, what you might call our Ruby cruise! We landed in Bridgetown and went on the Coast to Coast excursion which was a great way to get a look and feel of the diversity of the island. We especially liked the flowers and the lovely beach town of Bathsheba. On the trip we drove through Bridgetown, originally known as Indian Bridge, named after the old bridge which crosses the Constitution River. On the trip we visited the highest point, St Johns church with great views over the Caribbean sea. There are quite a few pictures taken there. Here is an extract from plaque on the church wall " This beautiful church is on the site of the earliest wooden church of 1645.The first stone church was built in 1660, for 110,000 pounds of sugar. It was badly damaged in the 1675 hurricane and rebuilt in 1676-7. This church was badly damaged in the 1780 hurricane, restored and destroyed in the 1831 hurricane. The present fourth church was completed in 1836 and the chancel added in 1876. Its pure Gothic design was influenced by Bishop William Hart Coleridge, first Anglican Bishop.The Vestry Hall above was the meeting place of the Parish Vestry, comprising elected landowners, which ran the affairs of the Parish until 1939. It is named for church patriarchs Mr. Eustace Gill and Mr.Thorne Gollop.". After the trip we took a walk through the craft market listening to the rap music in the sun, had a look at the fish market , flying fish is a local delicacy, and a stroll back along the waterfront gardens in Bridgetown. It was a very hot day. Keef especially liked adding to his collection of photos of world cricket venues with a snap of the Kensington Oval. Now remind me who was Captain Tobias Willcox?


barbados,  from our trips and travel blogs

Bathsheba beach





map of barbados,  from our trips and travel blogs

Your guide to Barbados

Beautiful beaches, warm blue sea and sun-drenched days, Barbados offers all the features of a tropical island. Its people are especially warm and welcoming and there is still an inescapable colonial ‘feel’ that adds to the island’s unique atmosphere and special style.

Barbados is the most easterly island in the West Indies, out of the chain of Leeward and Windward Islands. The island stands in splendid isolation with the powerful Atlantic Ocean on its east coast and the clear, calm waters of the Caribbean Sea on the south and west coasts. Measuring 21 miles long and 14 miles at its widest point (and with an overall area of only 166 square miles), the island is scarcely larger than the Isle of Wight. Mount Hillaby, in the northern centre is the highest point at 1,115 feet. The climate is a holiday-maker’s dream - tropical, but tempered by the sea breeze from the north-east. The temperature hardly varies from 24 - 27°C (75 - 80°F) and humidity is pleasantly low.

From its founding in 1627 to its independence in 1966, the island was a British colony and, unlike the rest of its Caribbean neighbours, was never taken by force. It has an endearing blend of British and West Indian cultures, which allied to the Bajan’s reputation as the friendliest people in the Caribbean, weaves a potent spell.

EXPLORING

Bridgetown - the Capital

Cruise ships berth just outside of Bridgetown, and almost at once you realise why Barbados is known throughout the Caribbean as ‘Little England’. The market town atmosphere, Georgian houses, Parliament Square, neo-Gothic public buildings, and cricket ground, to say nothing of the signposts to Hastings and Worthing, all contribute to the impression. Of the total population of nearly 300,000 people, more than a third of them live in the capital, Bridgetown.

The Careenage

An inlet of the sea, which cuts right into the heart of the town and its wharf is a fascinating melee of colour and energy. Merchant and navy sailing ships used to lie aground here at low tide for hull repairs.

It is now a pleasant marina where small yachts and pleasure craft moor. Larger yachts, of which there is no shortage in the Caribbean, anchor just south of the town in Carlisle Bay.

Heroes Square

This is the civic heart of the town, and its focal point is the statue of Nelson, erected in 1813 on the site of ‘The Green’ where hansom cabs once waited for fares. The Admiral spent some time here during his command of the naval station at English Harbour, Antigua. In the square stand the Renaissance-style Public Buildings of coral rock and the island’s chief administrative offices (opened in 1874). Here the Barbados Parliament meets and conducts its work. The open arcades have Gothic instead of the usual rounded arches, and the windows are stained glass portraits of all the monarchs of Great Britain from James I. In the neighbouring streets there are a number of elegant Georgian houses, now used mainly as shops or offices, though some are still privately occupied.

Bay Mansion

This Mansion, in Bay Street, is one of the great houses of the past, with parts dating back to 1750.

St Michael’s Cathedral, off St Michael’s Row, originally 17th century, was rebuilt in coral rock in 1780 after being destroyed in a hurricane. The font dates from 1680 and has inscribed round the top in capital letters a Greek palindrome of which the translation is ‘Wash the sin, not merely the skin’.

Government House

A serene white mansion with flower-filled gardens, lies to the east of the Cathedral on the edge of the town. This is the official office and residence of the Governor general of Barbados.

On the Garrison, 1 1 /2 miles south of the town is a block of red brick buildings, once the quarters of British officers and NCOs. Since 1905, it’s been occupied by government and public officials. Also note the Main Guard House with Clock Tower.

The Garrison Savannah

The Garrison Savannah was formerly the parade ground for Britain’s largest overseas garrison. Today it’s a lovely expanse of 50 acres devoted to walking, recreation and sport and it’s ringed by a horse racing track. The building with the clock tower, once the guard room, also used to house the famous Savannah Club. Queen’s Park

When the garrison left Barbados in 1905, Queen’s House, the official residence of the officer commanding the troops, was purchased by the Government. The grounds, now known as Queen’s Park, were laid out with a lake, terrace and parterres and were opened to the public in 1909. Look out for the Baobab tree that’s over 1000 years old.

Barbados Museum

Nearby is the Barbados Museum, housed in a former British military prison. The Museum takes you on a fascinating journey from the pre-Columbian period, through Barbados’ history to modern times. On display is some fine furniture imported from England in the 18th century to grace the mansions of the rich plantation owners.

The reference library documents the history of the island, exhibiting old newspapers, books and records of interest. There are also displays of geology and natural history. Art and other exhibitions are regularly arranged. The Museum is open Monday to Saturday from 9.00am - 5.00pm. (except public holidays - when it closes) and from 2.00pm - 6.00pm on Sundays.

George Washington’s House

This house stands on Bush Hill, a mile from the town centre. It was acquired by the Barbados National Trust and is a popular historical tourist attraction. The great American statesman visited Barbados in 1751 when he was a 19-year-old major in the British army. With his brother he stayed seven weeks and is reported to have rented the house for £15 a month ‘exclusive of liquor and washing’. Open from Monday - Friday from 9.00am -4.30pm.

Jewish Synagogue

The Jewish Synagogue dates back to the 1650s, making it one of the two oldest synagogues in the western hemisphere. It is a Barbados National Trust protected building and is a must for anyone interested in cultural and archaeological history.

Not only has the structure been preserved, but the Synagogue has been restored to its original purpose as a house of prayer. The Synagogue is located on Synagogue Lane and is open Monday - Friday 9.00am -12.00 noon and 1.00pm -4.00pm.

Kensington Oval Cricket Ground

Sports lovers may stretch their legs with the short stroll from the centre of Bridgetown to the Kensington Oval Cricket Ground where the West Indies have so often demonstrated their flair and brilliance at the game which is not only a national passion, but also the most concrete bond between the countries of the Caribbean. On any beach or clear patch of ground in Barbados you may see a game of cricket being played, and perhaps catch a glimpse of a youngster with enough talent to follow in the footsteps of the hero of the island, the great Sir Garfield Sobers.

The Island

At only 21 miles from north to south, and 14 miles east to west, no part of Barbados is far from reach. With the exception of the Scotland district in the north-east, the island is of coral formation and is almost surrounded (except at its one harbour and the open roadstead of Carlisle Bay) by coral reefs - extending in some parts three miles out to sea. The soil, though fertile, has little depth and due to its porous nature there are no rivers or streams worthy of mention. The principal industry is tourism, closely followed by sugar and its byproducts. More than three-fifths of the island is under the cultivation of sugar cane. The island also produces around 40% of its oil requirements.

The Landscape

Barbados does not have the striking heights and lush tropical forests of some other West Indian islands, but there is plenty of variety. The highest point is Mt Hillaby (1115 feet) and the steeply descending east coast on the Atlantic is not unlike Cornwall, with its long stretches of superb and surprisingly undercrowded surf beaches interrupted by dramatic rocks. The Atlantic rollers come crashing in, accompanied by the constant breeze of the north-east trade winds that make the climate of Barbados so pleasant.

In the flatter parts of the island, hamlets and villages appear in the seemingly endless forest of whispering sugar cane, which grows to a height of 8 to 10 feet before it is reaped. At harvest time, the quiet back roads of the countryside are filled with trailer after trailer of cane, and soon the rich sweet smell of sugar being processed hangs in the air. Even the most diet conscious will be tempted by the aroma and taste of fresh sticky brown sugar. Sugar cane, introduced from Brazil in 1640, has become the island’s principal export and for many years now an average of 65,000 tons of sugar has been produced per year. The cane is generally harvested between January and July, but it has an 18 month cycle so you may see it in various stages of development.

Flora and Fauna

Although the gently undulating roads of the island have been likened to southern England, the scenery is truly West Indian. Hedges of pink and purple bougainvillea, oleander and hibiscus are dwarfed by rows of royal palms raising their plumed heads high against a bright blue sky.

The numerous villages of chattel houses, standing among banana and breadfruit trees, are built on coral piles high off the ground, and on the steps of these little cabins, people ‘chill out’ - which means doing nothing in particular - simply chatting and watching the world go by.

Among the bushes, the yellow-breasted finch and the comical blackbird-like grackle squabble continuously, while, darting from one flower-head to another, the tiny dark green, black-winged humming bird can be seen in its shimmering display of aerobatics. There are also two kinds of dove - the pinky-brown turtle dove, whose inconsolable call sounds softly in the trees, and the small ground dove.

A stroll in the cool of the evening may reward you with the sight of whole trees illuminated by fireflies. The visitor is unlikely to meet anything more threatening than toads, ants, and the endearing green lizard (much respected because he keeps down The population of flies!). In the country, you might see a mongoose scuttling across the lane - these are furry creatures with squirrel like tails that were brought from India in the late 1800’s to combat the problem of rats, which threatened the sugar industry. You may also see the green monkey which originated from Africa and was originally considered a pest by farmers. The Sabin Polio Vaccine comes from the green monkey and one green monkey can provide up to 2.5 million doses of polio vaccine. The Primate Research Centre and Wildlife Reserve (Farley Hill, St Peter) is responsible for up to 70% of the world’s Polio vaccines.

HANDY TIPS

• It is illegal to wear clothing that is of camouflage design in Barbados

• The people of Barbados are encouraging visitors to the island to ‘think green' and help them preserve their island’s beautiful environment. They believe that many of the solutions to environmental problems lie with individuals themselves. We would ask our passengers to support the islanders in their eco-drive. Here are a few ways in which you can help:

• Protect the coral reef - do not stand on it or touch it. Coral or coral jewellery should not be purchased as a souvenir.

• Buy local produce and support stores trying to preserve the environment.

• Keep the island tidy - do not drop litter.

• Never damage trees, plants or wildlife.

• Support the National Trust, botanical gardens and wildlife reserves. Remember - take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints

BEYOND BRIDGETOWN

Speightstown

This town is 12 miles north of Bridgetown and is the second largest town on the island. It was once an important shipping centre and is known as ‘Little Bristol’ from its considerable trade with that English port. St. Peter’s Church is located here and this is one of the oldest churches in Barbados. As a result of countless tragedies and re-building programmes, no records have survived. Today's church and grounds offer a lovely insight to the past though so it’s well worth a visit.

Holetown

A monument, raised in 1905, which commemorates the first landing of the English in 1525 can be seen in Holetown. Barbados’ first settlement was originally called Jamestown in honour of James I, but its name was changed to reflect the very small channel that allowed the off loading and cleaning of visiting ships. The Barbados National Trust owns Welchman Hall Gully, just east of Holetown. This wooded ravine has been developed as a garden of tropical! trees, fruit trees, shrubs and flowering plants, and has several caves that can be explored.

Gun Hill Signal Station

A patriotic Captain H J Wilkinson made his mark on the slopes below Gun Hill in 1868 when he caved a lion out of a single piece of rock which has been kept white ever since. Gun Hill, six miles east of Bridgetown, was the barracks and watchtower of the Colonial Troops. The signal station, which has a superb panoramic view, was completely restored by the Barbados National Trust and is open from Monday to Saturday 9.00am - 5.00pm. Note repairs are ongoing and unexpected closures may occur. Check with Tourist Information on the day.

Orchid World

Is a “paradise found" for lovers of orchids. Orchids are grown in beautiful surroundings with coral rock gardens, cool shady gullies and ponds and running water. It is situated on Highway 3B, between Cun Hill and St John’s Church. Open daily 9.00am - 4.00pm Closed Mondays from May 15- October 15. (admission charge)

St John’s Church

St John’s Church stands on Barbados' east coast near the edge of an 824 feet high cliff and commands an extensive view of the coral-fringed windward coast. The little church contains work by Sir Richard Westmacott who sculpted Bridgetown’s statue of Nelson. The pulpit is made from six different woods, four of them local - ebony, locust, oak, mahogany, pine and manchineel - and the galleries are supported by columns of cedar.

Codrington College

Codrington College, also in the parish of St John, is a place of great dignity and peace, approached through a glorious avenue of palms. The founder of the college, Christopher Codrington, a governor of the Leeward Islands, was born in the house, which he bequeathed to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in 1710. It now houses the Theological College of the West Indies. The east coast of the parish of St Joseph, this is one of the highest parts of the island at 997 feet. Here you can take in the attractive, panoramic views over the entire east coast. According to legend the cliff is named after a man who committed suicide by riding his horse over the cliff.

Hastings, Worthing and St Lawrence

These are seaside residential districts just south of Bridgetown with a number of first-class hotels and excellent bathing.

Bathsheba

This is a seaside resort on the east coast. This area is known as the “soup bowl” and is considered to be the most scenic part of the island with rolling Atlantic waves and long stretches of golden sands set against a backdrop of hills.

The Andromeda Gardens

These gardens have an astonishing array of plants from all over the tropical world; and through them winds a babbling stream forming pools and waterfalls. The garden is internationally famous and represents what is perhaps the best collection of exotic tropical flowers and plants to be found in the Caribbean.

There are many rare species and hybrids and at all times of the year there are masses of brightly coloured blooms and foliage. Open 9.00am to 4.30pm (entrance fee).

Sunbury Plantation House

One of the last remaining sugar plantation houses open to visitors. Sunbury Plantation House is over 300 years old, and restored after a recent fire, boasts a great number of antiques, old prints and photographs and old machinery used in cultivation of crops, which are on display throughout the estate. Open daily from 9.00am to 5.00pm (last tour at 4.30pm).

Tyrol Cot House and Chattel Village

Tyrol Cot was the family residence of Barbados’ first premier Sir Grantley Adams and also his son Tom Adams (Barbados’ second Prime Minister),

It is considered to be the birthplace of Barbadian Democracy and is filled with collections of Adams’ antique furniture arid memorabilia. The adjacent Chattel Village contains a replica of an 1820’s Slave Hut, Blacksmith Shop and Bajan Rum Shop. Open daily from 8.00am - 4.30pm (last tour at 4.00pm).

The Mount Gay Experience

Is the home of the oldest rum in the world. Built in a traditional Barbadian “Chattle House" you will find a Visitors Centre where one can take a tour and experience the fascinating process of producing the world’s finest rum. Situated at Spring Garden Highway, St Michael. Open Monday - Friday 9.00am - 5.00pm and Saturday 10.00am - 4.00pm.

EATING OUT

There is a distinctive Barbadian cuisine, although most hotels and restaurants - many of them with Swiss or French-trained chefs - offer a European-inspired menu, plus Californian-style barbecues. Occasionally you can find local specialties on offer. These could be black pudding (a highly-seasoned sausage stuffed with minced pork and sweet potatoes, souse (spiced pork made from pig’s head and tongue), cou-cou (a kind of cornmeal puree) and cassava pone (a baked concoction of cassavas and dried coconut). Flying fish - you may see their glittering acrobatics from the deck of the ship - provide the bulk of the fishermen’s catch and appear on menus in many different forms. Other seafoods are lobster, crabs, octopus (called sea-cat), jacks and sprats.

Fruits include mangoes, paw-paws, bananas, guavas, and avocados, along with more exotic soursops and Barbados cherries.

Rum is, of course, an irresistible buy in Barbados, both white and dark. Favourite brands are Cockspur, Mount Gay, and Dooriy’s Macaw. Barbados is generally accepted as the birthplace of rum or “rumbullion” as it was called in the mid 1600’s. The name probably had something to do with “rumbustious” behaviour of seafarers at the Bridgetown waterfront! Take advantage of sampling the “liquid gold” in the land of sunshine where it is produced. Whisky and other spirits can be bought duty-free. The local beers, such as Banks Beer, are best enjoyed ice-cold in the shade beside one of the countless little roadside bars. A unique Barbadian drink you may wish to try is Mauby, brewed from bark, sugar and spices. Barbados, drinking water is rated as one of the purest in the world - rainwater is naturally filtered as it percolates through the coral rock.

ACTIVITIES

Beaches

The island has so many fine white sandy beaches you’ll be spoilt for choice. Those on the west coast offer lake-calm swimming, while the east coast provides excellent surfing at the Soup Bowl (this is where the professional surfers surf). Beaches going north from Bridgetown along the Platinum Coast are Payne’s Bay, Sandy Lane Bay, Gibb’s Bay, and Mullin’s Bay. The fine hotels along this coast have excellent bathing facilities. The nearest beaches are Carlisle Bay, Dover Beach and Accra Beach - all located to the south and east of Bridgetown.

Swimming on the east coast at Bathsheba/ Cattlewash is extremely dangerous due to the size of the waves and the strength of the currents.

Watersports

These include waterskiing, windsurfing, snorkeling, parasailing, banana boats and surfing. For scuba diving consider wreck dives from Carlisle Bay and at Folkestone Marine Park.

Golf

There are 3 golf courses on Barbados; Sandy Lane championship Golf Club, St James, is 5 miles north of Bridgetown and has an 18-hole championship course.

Rockley Golf Club has a 9 hole course and is 6 miles from Bridgetown. Barbados Golf Club has an 18 hole course and is 9 miles from the capital.

Clubs and carts can be hired at all golf courses.

SHOPPING

Shopping hours are from 8.30am - 4.30pm with early closing on Saturdays although some stores may stay open late while the ship is in port. Most shops in Bridgetown will be closed on public holidays, however those in the Cruise Terminal normally remain open. Please note that it is not customary to bargain when shopping in Barbados.

Many stores will display two prices. DF = Duty Free. Foreigners to Barbados will pay Duty Free prices wherever DF is printed on a price label. There are numerous stores and malls selling a wide range of local souvenirs.

Best buys

Hand-made straw hats

Baskets

Mats

Wood and ceramic items

Hand-embroidered Sea Island cotton

Dresses

Local art work

GETTING AROUND

Docking information

Dependent on which cruise ship berth is used, minibuses may be arranged to take passengers from the berth to the Customs Hall. Passengers are allowed to walk, but it can take up to ten minutes. No public transport or cars are allowed into the dock area.

Car hire

The major international car hire companies are not represented, but there are several local companies. You will be required to obtain a temporary drivers permit which can be obtained from your rental company at a cost of B’Dos $10.00 or any local police station on production of your UK drivers license and is valid for one year.

Courtesy Rent-a-car: courtesyrentacar.com National Car Rentals Ltd: nationalcar.com Corbin’s Car Rentals: corbinscars.com Drive-A-Matic (Located in the Cruise Terminal): carhire.tv

The speed limit in Barbados is 37 miles per hour (60 km) - in keeping with the slow pace of life. Driving is on the left, reflecting the British influence on the island.

Taxis

Taxis are plentiful and generally have set rates. It is always advisable to agree the price beforehand for longer journeys.

Buses

An island-wide service connects the eleven parishes with Bridgetown. Transport Board buses are blue with a yellow stripe and private minibuses are yellow with a blue stripe. Another option includes ZR vans which are painted white with a maroon stripe. These are known for their high speed, loud music and packing in as many passengers as possible.

The Bridgetown bus terminal is near the Pelican Craft Village. There is also another bus terminal in the center of Bridgetown which is the called the Fairchild Bus Terminal and is located in Heroes Square.


Guadeloupe - Caribbean

DAY 12 - 16/2/18 Landed Pointe-a-Pitre & Visited Deshaies, Guadeloupe, Windward Islands, West Indies

It was our 40th Wedding Anniversary treat, what you might call our Ruby cruise! We loved Guadeloupe, landing in Pointe-A-Pitre, which looked a little run down, we did the "Death in Paradise" tour to Deshaies including the fabulous Jardin Botanique , via Saint Rose on Basse Terre , it is the Butterfly island and this is on the left wing. We saw the church and what doubles as the Police station in the crime drama and had a drink in Catherine's bar (see picture above). We also got a glimpse of the beach where they set up and remove the house where Harry the CGI stays during filming. Duane loves the island so much , as we do, he bought a house there. The Botanic gardens were spectacular. It is a French colony and we loved it so much we would like to return.


death in paradise revisited,  from our trips and travel blogs
death in paradise revisited, from our trips and travel blogs



map of guadeloupe,  from our trips and travel blogs

So French, So Beautiful.....

Your Guide to Guadeloupe

This ‘butterfly’ settled on the Caribbean Sea centuries ago and belying the general reputation of the species, it has survived tribulations that would have destroyed the more fragile of its kind. Guadeloupe is actually two islands joined by a bridge that crosses the Riviere Salee hence its ‘butterfly’ appearance.

Golden beaches rimmed with coconut palms, crysta blue seas, and a feeling that all is exotic and unusual sums up Guadeloupe. This French island has been called the “Emerald Island” for its incredible flora of a thousand tropical scents, or “Butterfly Island” as its shape resembles a butterfly with outspread wings.

The two ‘butterfly wings’, Basse-Terre and Grande- Terre, are separated by a narrow channel and connected by a bridge.

Basse-Terre, regardless of any logic that its name might imply, is a mountainous island reaching a maximum height of 1,467 m (4,813 ft) at Mount Soufriere. It rains more often here than on Grande- Terre, however this is the region of tropical flora, with iush greens, waterfalls, banana fields and volcanic craters. Grande-Terre, home of sugar cane, windmills and white beaches with clear blue waters protected by coral reefs, is much flatter than its neighbour. Most of the facilities, including Pointe-a- Pitre, are here.

Christopher Columbus landed on the eastern side of Basse-Terre on 4 November 1493 during his second voyage to the New World. He named the island

“Santa Maria de Guadalupe de Estremadura” either in thanks for the saint's protection during a storm on his first voyage or to fulfil a promise made to the monks of the Spanish monastery of that name. The name “Guadeloupe” is derived from the Arabic meaning “The River of Love”. The then residents, Carib Indians, called it Karukera - “Isle of Beautiful Waters”.

The Spanish made half-hearted attempts to settle on the island; the Caribs made strenuous, and successful efforts to prevent them. However, the French were less easily discouraged and in 1635 some 500 colonists arrived from France. After initial problems, the Caribs were defeated and African slaves were introduced to work in the sugar plantations. In 1674 Guadeloupe was formally annexed by France.

The British also wanted the island and even took control of it in 1759 for a few years. Later in the 18th century, the French Revolution reached the Caribbean. The British supported the Royalists against the revolutionaries and, in 1794, again ruled the island. The notorious Committee of Public Safety in Paris sent Victor Hugues and a small army

to sort it all out. The British were defeated, and the guillotine did a thriving business in Pointe-a-Pitre where many aristocrats were executed. Others fled into the hills, where their descendants still live today.

Hugues abolished slavery in 1794, but Napoleon was clearly not impressed and not only sacked him, but also reintroduced slavery in 1802. The British continued to dispute the ownership of Guadeloupe and took the island again in 1810. However, the Treaty of Paris in 1815 gave Guadeloupe to France.

In 1848, thanks to the efforts of Victor Schoelcher, the 93,000 slaves were freed. To replace them, the plantation owners turned to indentured workers from India.

n 1946 Guadeloupe became a department of France and in 1974 Guadeloupe and the Islands of Saint-Martin, Saint-Barthelemy (St Barts), La Desirade, Marie-Galante and Les Saintes were constituted as a region of France. On 15th July 2007 the island communes of Saint-Martin and Saint-Barthelemy (St Barts) were officially detached from Guadeloupe and became two separate French overseas collectivities.

EXPLORING

Pointe-a-Pitre

Although the city of Basse-Terre is the capital, Pointe- a-Pitre is the largest town, the dominant commercial centre and the chief port of Guadeloupe. Its name is derived from Pieter, a Dutch fisherman who came to Guadeloupe after being expelled from Brazil by the Portuguese in the 17th century. Pieter’s Point soon became Pointe-a-Pitre, although it was not until 1759 that the British improved the natural harbour and a town was founded. Today, about 17,500 people live in the town which is a mixture of old colonial buildings, high-rise apartments, small typical Caribbean houses and an industrial area.

Pointe-a-Pitre has survived several natural disasters in the last 150 years. An earthquake in 1843 wrecked much of the town; the 1899 fire destroyed one-third of it, and hurricanes in 1928 and 1989 did extensive damage.

Everything worth seeing is only a short walk from the Place de la Victoire. The various street markets - around the harbour and slightly further inland at the junction of rues Peynier and Frebault - are particularly lively in the morning.

Harbourside

Ferries leave from the old port (La Darse) to the islands of Marie-Galante and Les Saintes. Buses

to Gosier, the island’s main resort, leave from the quayside.

Centre St-John-Perse

Old warehouses have been transformed into a modern complex - named after the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1960 - of shops, restaurants and a tourist information booth.

Place de la Victoire

This garden square, bordered by colonial style houses with balconies and shutters, is the hub of the town. The royal palms and sandbox trees were planted by Victor Hugues the day after his victory over the British in 1794. Shortly afterwards, Hugues put a guillotine in the square and possibly as many as 500 aristocrats were executed. The main tourist office is in the south­west corner - it is a good example of French colonial architecture.

Musee Schoelcher

A small museum in an ornate colonial building on rue Peynier is dedicated to the Frenchman, Victor Schoelcher who was responsible for slavery being abolished in the French West Indies in 1848. It contains some of his persona! belongings and exhibits showing his life and work. Open weekdays 9.00am-5.00pm. Musee St-John-Perse

Opened in 1987 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the poet Alexis Leger (better known

as St John Perse). This museum contains some of the poet’s personal possessions, photographs and a complete collection of his poetry. This beautiful building is well worth a visit as it is a rare example of 19th-century colonial architecture. The museum at 9 Rue de Nozieres, is open weekdays from 9.00am- 5.00pm and from 8.30am-12.30pm on Saturdays.

Cathedrale de St-Pierre et St-Paul

The cathedral in Place Gourbeyre (near the main shopping area) was built In 1807. It is often called the “Iron Cathedral” because it is reinforced with iron ribs to withstand hurricanes and earthquakes. Apart from the rather curious pink-coloured exterior, the beautifully-coloured stained glass windows are the main attraction.

Aquarium de la Guadeloupe

Located in Place Creole at Bas-du-Fort, this very highly-rated aquarium is the largest in the Caribbean. A symphony of over 700 tropical! parrot- fish, lion fish, chartreus and sharks live together in harmony in a silent, dream-like world. Some 3km (2 miles) from the town centre, it is open daily from 9.00am-6.30pm.

Fort Fleur d’Epee

Slightly further away from Pointe-a-Pitre, In the same direction, are the well-preserved ruins of a 19th century fort at Gosier. Perhaps the main attraction is the view across the bay and, if clear, of the islands of Marie-Galante and Les Saintes.

BEYOND POINTE-A-PITRE

Grande-Terre

This is an ideal place for cyclists and devotees of beaches and watersports. A complete tour involves driving about 130 km (80 miles) on very reasonable roads.

Gosier

The main resort centre of Guadeloupe - with hotels, restaurants and beaches - is only 8 km (5 miles) from Pointe-a-Pitre.

Ste-Anne and St Franqois

Continuing along the south coast and through the sugarcane fields, Ste-Anne is the next place of any real size. The main square, Place Schoelcher, has a statue of the man responsible for the ending of slavery in 1848. Further along the south coast, St- Franqois is another resort and also a fishing village. Lovely white sand beaches, (Raiisins Clairs and La Gourde), Creole and French restaurants, as well as a Hindu cemetery and an 18th century church are the main attractions.

Pointe-des-Chateaux

Mountainous waves often pound the jagged rocks at the eastern tip of the island where the Atlantic and Caribbean meet. Tarare Beach is for naturists, but this part of Grande-Terre is not safe for swimming.

Moule and the Extreme North

The former capital of Guadeloupe is still one of the island’s largest towns.

its 18th century neo-classical church is classified as an historical monument. Also worth seeing is a small fort on the harbour. In nearby La Rosette is an archaeological museum. The northern coastline consists of rocky headlands (Pointe de la Grand Vigie) with good views as far as Antigua and Montserrat, and beaches in the sheltered bays (Anse de Souffleur).

Les Grands-Fonds

The hills and valleys of the central region are the home of the Blancs Matignon - the white-skinned, fair-haired people - who are believed to be the descendants of not only those aristocrats who fled to the hills during the French Revolution, but also of a small minority of plantation owners who retreated to this area after the abolition of slavery. Basse-Terre

Basse-Terre is quite different - spectacular scenery, mountains, waterfalls, tropical rainforests and the place for hikers. Drivers will find the hilly and steep roads more demanding. A tour of the more interesting southern half involves a trip from Pointe- a-Pitre of about 145 km (90 miles).

Route de la Traversee

The cross-country road from east to west passes through the rainforest and the Parc Naturel - a lush, verdant wonderland covering around 74,000 acres. A hundred and ninety miles of marked paths lead through the natural flora and picturesque locations of this exotic sanctuary. Routes for hikers are displayed at the Maison de la Foret, where there is an information bureau and a slide show (Open from 10.00am-5.00pm). Tucked away in the park are picnic areas and small museums

covering information on the Park. You may even spot the racoon (the Park’s mascot). It is advisable to wear sturdy shoes and take a waterproof jacket if you decide to walk in the Park. The Cascade aux Ecrevisses is a natural waterfall, and there are panoramic views from the lookout on Les Deux Mamelles and from the top of Morne-a- Louis.

Also worth visiting is the Parc Zoologique (zoo and botanical gardens).

The Park is situated on the Route de la Traversee. Open from 9.00am-4.30pm daily.

Basse-Terre and the South Coast

Worth seeing in the capital city (population 12,000) are the cathedral, the Palais de Justice, the old colonial houses and Fort Sainte-Charles. At an Archaeological Park at Trois-Rivieres, are the Roches Gravees - strange petroglyphs carved on the rocks by the native Indians some 1,600 years ago.

East Coast

Near Capesterere-Belle-Eau is the impressive Allee Dumanoir, a road lined by century-old royal palm trees. To the north is an important Hindu temple and in the next village, Ste-Marie, a small bust of Columbus commemorates his landing here in 1493.

Also of interest, but involving detours from the coastal road, are Mount Soufriere (1,316 m 14,318 ft)a dormant, but not extinct, volcano and the Carbet Falls. The volcano, which threatened to erupt in 1975, cannot be climbed in the available time, but the three impressive cascades of the Carbet Falls are within walking distance. It takes about two hours to reach the 125 m (410 ft) high First Fall and only 30 minutes to reach the lower Second Fall.

GENERAL INFORMATION

Post Office

Boulevard Faidherbe, a few blocks inland from the Place de la Victoire and the Cathedral. Stamps and also available from souvenir shops and tabacs. Airmail letters take about a week to reach Europe.

Money Matters

Banks are open weekdays 8.00am-Noon and 2.00pm-4.00pm. (From June to September they are usually open from 7.30am-3.30pm).

The unit of currency is the euro (€).

Denominations

Notes: €5,10, 20,50,100,200 and 500 Coins: 1, 2, 5,10, 20 and 50 cents; €1 and 2

Hotels, larger restaurants and car-rental agencies will accept Visa, American Express and MasterCard.

Tourist Information

The main office is at 5 Square de la Banque. Tel. 82 09 30 English is spoken and useful leaflets include suggested tours of the island by car. In addition, maps, details of walks and hikes in the Parc Naturel, and “Boujour Guadeloupe” (tourist booklet) are all of interest.

ACTIVITIES

Beaches

The countless beaches which ring these islands are among the most beautiful in the Caribbean. Turquoise waters, honey coloured sand and coconut palms swaying gently in the breeze conjure up images of a tropical paradise.

Grand-Terre has a number of beautiful beaches of white sand, especially around Cosier, a short taxi ride from Pointe-a-Pitre. The Novotel Fleur d’Epee and La Creole Beach may be happy for non residents to use their changing facilities, beach chairs and towels for a small fee. Ilet du Cosier is a nudist beach.

Public beaches are free, but have limited facilities. There are several around Gosier and along the south coast of Grande-Terre from Ste-Anne to Pointe-des- Chateaux. One of the best is the reef-protected Caravelle Beach, some 14 km (9 miles) from Cosier, which is a popular place for snorkeling. Topless bathing is common on all beaches.

Watersports

Most beach-side hotels at Cosier rent equipment for windsurfing, body surfing and snorkeling. Water skiing is available on the beaches of the Creole Beach and Meridien Hotels.

Scuba diving is a popular activity, especially at Pigeon Island (Ilet Pigeon) and Cousteau Reserve on the west coast of Basse-Terre, which Jacques Cousteau ranked as one of the world’s ten best diving spots.

Hiking

Marked trails lead through the tropical rainforest of the Parc Naturel and around Mount Soufriere, both of which are on Basse-Terre. Waterfalls, dense forests, steaming fumaroles and unusual birds can all be seen. There are hikes for all levels and tastes - some can be walked along, but a guide is strongly recommended if attempting anything ambitious - enquire at the Tourist Office or In the Park Bureaux.

Golf

St Francois International Coif Course, an 18-hole course designed by Robert Trent Jones.

Tel. 88 41 ST.

Windsurfing and waterskiing are possible on an adjacent lagoon.

EATING OUT

Guadeloupe, being French, has always been a noted centre of culinary expertise. Plenty of real Creole food, renowned for its spicy flavour, is on loca menus, including such island specialities as stuffed crab, stewed conch, roast wild goat, boudin creole (a pork sausage), jugged rabbit, fresh fish (for example red snapper in a passionfruit sauce) and seafood. While waiting for a substantial meal to arrive, try the appetizers known as accras, crispy fritters or crusty croquettes made of codfish or malanga roots. To complete the meal, the ice creams are truly mouthwatering and include an array of different tropical fruit flavours.

Rum punches are also extremely popular before, or after, a meal. The most popular is Ti Punch, a mixture of rum, sugarcane syrup and a dash of lime juice; Planteurs are rum with fruit juice and the ever popular Pina Colada consists of rum with cream of coconut, pineapple juice and crushed ice. Most restaurants carry a range of beers and French wines. Naturally, there are also plenty of fruit drinks, colas and minerals waters.

GETTING AROUND

Car Hire

It is advisable to go to a reputable company (as many of the smaller local agencies are perfectly illegal) and take out the CDW additional insurance.

Taxis

Fares, theoretically, are regulated by the Government, but agree on the price before starting the journey. The taxi stand is at the Place de la Victoire.

Buses

Buses run from Pointe-a-Pitre to almost anywhere in Guadeloupe; fares are inexpensive, but the bus system is infrequent and can be unreliable.

For Grande-Terre, buses leave from La Darse (by the Place de la Victoire): for Basse-Terre, a 15-minute walk will take you to the Care Routiere (bus station) de Bergevin.

Local buses run from 5.00am. There are no stops, you have to flag the bus down on the road.

Travelling by bus is a good way to meet the locals, but they don’t always provide service to the touristic sites.

Bicycle Hire

Bicycles can be rented at several places around the Place de la Victoire.

Ferries

Occasional services run to the islands of Marie- Galante (1 hour trip) and tes Saintes (45 minutes)


Antigua - Caribbean

DAY 13 17/2/2018 Landed St Johns, Antigua, Leeward Islands, West Indies

It was our 40th Wedding Anniversary treat, what you might call our Ruby cruise! We landed in St Johns and went on the Islands sights excursion visiting initially Shirley Heights with views across to Eric Claptons reform complex on Montserrat, the the Lookout overlooking Falmouth bay, then the Unesco World Heritage site of Nelsons Dockyard in English harbour.Here are the words written on the plaque at the Shirley Heights military camp " At the most southerly tip of Antigua,The Lookout, part of the Shirley Heights military complex, commands a breathtaking view over the whole of English Harbour. Behind the catchment, on the highest ground, 490 ft (150 m) above sea level, is the Signal Station from which a system of flags was used by day and guns by night to convey messages to St.John’s by way of Great Fort George on Monk’s Hill The Shirley Heights military' complex also includes a guard house, magazine and kitchen, officers’ quarters, adjoining parade grounds, a 30-bed hospital, canteen, and a cemetery. An obelisk in the cemetery commemorates the officers and men of the 54th Regiment (2nd Battalion Dorsets) who died in service in the West Indies between 1840 and 1851".Our guide was wonderful and never stopped talking in that lovely Caribbean school mistress way *smile* It was a very hot day. Keef saw both the new Sir Viv Richards cricket stadium and the old ARG in St Johns and bought a T-Shirt for the local Wadadli beer. On a cricketing front Millie (Hillie) Ambrose, Sir Curtly's Mum used to ring the village bell in Swetes where she lived every time he took a wicket, no matter what time of day or night, remember he played all over the world and took a lot of wickets. Imagine her popularity *smile*.


gordon the lizard,  from our trips and travel blogs

gordon




map og antigua,  from our trips and travel blogs

Wadadli as the locals call it, home of cricket legends Sir Viv and Curtly Ambrose

Your Guide to Antigua

Antigua famously boasts of a beach for every day of the year, with water sparkling in every shade of blue. The beaches are not all that this versatile island has to offer though. Take a jeep trip off road, discover the island’s lush forests, swing through the treetops, visit the historical dockyard, swim with the rays, fly over Montserrat or circumnavigate the island. There is something wonderful for everyone in Antigua.

A ‘beach with an island in the middle’ is great way to describe this charming Caribbean island. Antigua, with its little sisters, Barbuda and Redonda, forms the largest and most developed of the four British Leeward Islands. Roughly circular in shape, the island is about 12 miles in diameter and has some of the finest beaches in the Caribbean - more than 350 of them -with gleaming pink-white sand backed by gently waving palms.

The variation in temperature is less than 10 degrees, averaging at 25-30°C (77-85°F), and rainfall is low (accounting for the total absence of rivers), However, to the southwest, where the island is slightly more mountainous, lush tropical vegetation is more evident.

The original inhabitants of Antigua founded settlements around 4,000 years ago and were incorrectly known as the Ciboney Indians. The true inhabitants of the island are believed to have occupied Antigua for more than 3000 years, until they disappeared mysteriously, leaving the island uninhabited for nearly 10 centuries.

By the time Christopher Columbus arrived on his second voyage in the late 15th century, the Arawak Indians were in residence, followed closely by the Caribs. Antigua was ‘discovered’, along with numerous other Western Indian islands, by Columbus in 1493.

It was Columbus’ habit to stop at each of the islands he came across en route to the Americas, and paint a cross and a Spanish flag in symbolic expression of missionary and imperial zeal. Often he had little time to do anything else because on many of the islands, his first step ashore was greeted by a hail of arrows from Caribs, hidden amongst the undergrowth. He named the island after the church of Santa Maria la Antigua in Seville, and sailed on.

It was not until 1632 that the island was colonized by a party of refugee English planters from St Kitts. Following the English Restoration, a further settlement was made under the direction of Lord Willoughby, to whom the island had been granted by King Charles II.

In 1666, it was raided by the French, assisted by Irish

malcontents and Caribs, but was soon recaptured and formally restored to England in 1667. By this time, slaves had been imported from Africa to work the sugar plantations.

During the 18th and 19th centuries, Antigua was the headquarters of the Commander-in-Chief of the Leeward Island Station and the principal British naval base in the Eastern Caribbean during the Napoleonic Wars. Admirals Nelson, Rodney, Hood and Jervis all made the dockyard at English Harbour their headquarters, and it was from here that Rodney sailed to the Battle of the Saints.

It was also here that Nelson re-fitted his ships during his chase of the French Admiral Villeneuve, which ended at Trafalgar. Nelson lived on Antigua from 1784 to 1787, during which time his vigorous suppression of the illegal trade with American rebels earned him the dislike of the whole island. In 1967 Antigua became an associated state within the Commonwealth and achieved full independence in 1981.

EXPLORING

St John’s

The capital, St John’s, is home to a third of the island’s total population of 90,000 people. It stands at the head of a spacious bay on the north-west coast.

This bay is almost two miles long and its entrance is guarded by two forts.

Fort James, dominating the northern headland, was started in 1704 but dates mostly from 1739. At one time, it had 36 cannons and one was fired every day at sunrise and sunset. There are 10 cannons still in position today. They weigh over two tons each and can throw a cannon ball about a mile and a half.

Fort Barrington stands on the southern headland and saw plenty of military action during the 17th and 18th centuries. A third defensive battery was built on Rat Island in the middle of the bay - this is now occupied by a rum distillery and the deep-water cargo harbour.

The town, with its colourful, balconied houses and busy streets, rises gently from the waterfront towards Government House (a fine example of a colonial . residence set amid beautiful lawns and gardens), A little to the west is the Anglican Cathedral of St John, set in a picturesque position surrounded by mahogany trees and its churchyard. The Cathedral was rebuilt in 1845 to replace an earlier wooden building that was destroyed by an earthquake in 1843 and it's dominated by twin towers and a white brick façade. The interior was designed to encase the congregation in pitch pine (as an attempt to secure the building from ruin during earthquake or hurricane) but it is now undergoing a huge renovation project. The Cathedral is closed during the restoration period and there is no definite date confirmed for the planned reopening.

For a general feel of the town, the market, just a stroll away from the cruise ship berths, makes a colourful spectacle. The market is open whenever a cruise ship is in town and it’s a great place people-watch, get a feel for the local atmosphere, take photographs and buy Caribbean-style souvenirs.

Heritage Quay

Directly in front of the main cruise ship berth and a short walk away from the pier is Heritage Quay, the most popular place to stroll and shop for cruise ship visitors. Heritage Quay is full of shops and recognisable stores as well as bars and entertainers. Redcliffe Quay

A short walk along the waterfront boardwalk will lead you to historic Redcliffe Quay. A selection of colourful, renovated buildings create an atmospheric warren of interest, and the old trade buildings are now shops, boutiques and art galleries.

Museum of Antigua and Barbuda

This museum is situated at the junction where Long Street crosses Market Street, is housed In the historic British colonial courthouse. Founded as a museum in 1985, but built in 1750, this is believed to be the oldest building in St John’s. Exhibits and displays take visitors on a journey back in time through Antigua’s history; from the Arawak Indians and the slavery era to the present day. The museum and gift shop are open 8,30am - 4.30pm Monday to Friday and 10.00am - 2.00pm on Saturdays. Closed on Sundays.

BEYOND ST JOHN’S

English Harbour

The most famous attraction in Antigua is Nelson’s Dockyard in English Harbour; located approximately 12 miles from St. John’s, on the south coast.

To the right of the entrance is a huge water- catchment tank whose low walls are covered with the initials of many visiting sailors - including that of Nelson himself.

The potential value of the harbour was recognised by the Royal Navy as early as 1670, and by the beginning of the 18th century it was in regular use by the British men-of-war. Construction of the dockyard on its present site began in 1725 and by the time Nelson was appointed to the station in 1784 it was equipped with a capstan house, mast house, blacksmith’s shop, engineer’s offices, copper, canvas and lumber stores, and quarters for both officers and men.

The harbour and dockyard continued to be used as a base for many years, but with the coming of larger vessels, they were finally abandoned in 1899 and quickly fell into tropical decay. However, in 1950 the Society of Friends of English Harbour was founded and began the task of restoring the dockyard. Today, the dockyard is not only preserved for posterity, but is a haven for modem yachts and motor cruisers from all over the western hemisphere who lie at anchor in its calm waters.

The old Admiral’s House (named after Nelson) is now a museum with marine pictures, charts, clay pipes, models and Arawak Indian relics. The strangely capped pillars that once supported the sail loft are still in position and the Admiral’s Inn, once a storehouse and joiner’s loft, has been converted into a delightful small hotel. More rooms are found in the engineer’s office and the copper and lumber store, which also houses a restaurant. Brass and mahogany fittings tell of a more gracious age and the old bakery is still in operation. Craft and gift shops in the galley and officers’ quarters complete the holiday atmosphere of this yacht basin.

The original wooden church (built in 1711) burnt down and its replacement of 1754 was dismantled. The exterior is in constant need of restoration; however the octagonal interior is beautifully proportioned with a fascinating wooden ceiling.

Fort George

Standing on Monk’s Hill, Fort George is one of the earliest attempts to fortify the entrance to Falmouth Harbour. You can see the ruins of the original 17th-century buildings, water cisterns, magazines and cannons, as well as amazing views of Falmouth Harbour and the surrounding countryside. Please note Fort George is only accessible on foot or by four wheel drive jeep.

Indian Town and Devil’s Bridge

A national park since the 1950s and a site of archaeological excavation, Indian town is situated at the extreme eastern point of Antigua. Over the centuries, enormous Atlantic breakers have earned out a natural limestone arch called Devil’s Bridge and have created blowholes where spouting surf shoots up into the air.

EATING OUT

The main hotels and a few of the restaurants offer an excellent choice of food in French, American and ‘continental’ style. Menus include lobster, roast suckling pig, poultry and game birds, fish, curries, pilafs and exotic salads, fungi and salt fish, pepperpot stew and souse.

Fruits such as mango, paw-paw and pineapple are popular favourites and are also prepared in ingenious ways. Local thirst-quenchers: include fresh fruit and sugar cane juices, coconut juice and endless varieties of rum cocktails.

The locally brewed beer is called Wadadli (Antigua’s original name) and this is popular with both tourists and locals alike on a hot day.

It is advisable to avoid drinking tap water, which is highly chlorinated and tends to be brackish.

ACTIVITIES

Beaches

Antigua boasts of 365 beaches (some renowned for being among the finest in the Caribbean) and it's, believed that one of Antigua’s beaches is the only beach at which Queen Elizabeth II ever went into the sea! The nearest beaches to St John’s include Fort James, Dickenson Bay and Runaway Bay (each between a mile and two miles away). The main resort areas are three miles north and 12 miles south of St John’s.

Sports

Watersports (including scuba diving) and tennis are available at most of the major resort hotels and tourist beaches. There are two golf courses within reach of St John’s: Cedar Valley (18 holes) is located three miles away from the capital and Jolly Harbour (18 holes) is located 6 miles away. GENERAL INFORMATION Post Office There are 4 post offices on Island. One is in Nelson’s Dockyard and one is on the High Street in St John’s (this is the main sorting office). Opening hours are: 8.15am - 12.00pm and 1.00pm - 3.30pm on weekdays (except on Friday, when closing hour extends to 4.00pm). Saturday opening hours are 9.00am - 12.00pm. Money matters

The official currency is the Eastern Caribbean dollar, divided into 100 cents and tied to the US dollar. US dollars are accepted in almost all establishments, as are major credit cards and US $ Travellers cheques.

US dollar denominations

Notes and coins in circulation are as follows: Notes: 1,2, 5,10, 20, 50,100 dollars.

Coins: 1,2, 5,10, 25 cents.

Calling the UK

Dial 011 44 then your code and number (omitting the zero prefixed to the code). There are telephones suitable for international calls on the cruise ship pier at Heritage Quay.

Emergency contacts

Ambulance - 999 or 911 Police-999 or 911 (Police Station:

American Road, Tel: 462-0125)

Fire - 999 or 911

Air/Sea Rescue - 462-3062 British Consulate in Antigua 11 Old Parham Road, PO Box 1531, St. John’s, Antigua and Barbuda. Tel: (+1 268) 561 5046 / (+1 268) 462-3000

British High Commission

For emergency Consular assistance contact the British High Commission (based in Bridgetown, Barbados). Email: ukinantigua@fco.gov.uk

Tourist information www.antigua-barbuda.org

GETTING AROUND

Car hire

Tropical Rentals:

tropicairentalsantigua.com

Avis:

avis.co.uk/Antigua

Pineapple Rentals:

pineapplerentals.com

Antigua Car Rental:

antigua.rentalcargroup.com

Rental Cars:

rentalcars.com/Antigua

Taxis

The Antigua Tourist Board has an approved schedule of taxi fares. It is advisable to agree the fare for longer journeys before embarking on any journey. Rates are usually per car (for 1 - 4 people) so the price will be the same regardless of whether there is 1 or 4 people in the taxi. Stretch limousines are available in St John’s. Antigua Rent a car is one of the companies that offers this service: www.antigua-rentacar.com

Buses

There is an unscheduled local minibus service from the west bus station to the south.

SHOPPING

Shopping hours in St John’s are generally 9.00am - 4.30pm when a cruise ship is in port.

Best buys

Clothing in sea-island cotton T-shirts

Paintings

Straw goods

Batik

Shell jewellery

Pottery

Gemstones and jewellery

Antigua Cavalier Rum


Jamaica - Ocho Rios & Montego Bay & Bob Marley

DAY 15 & 16 - 19th-20th Feb 2018 - Landed Ocho Rios & Montego Bay, Jamaica, ya Man!

It was our 40th Wedding Anniversary treat, what you might call our Ruby cruise! We now had 2 stops in Jamaica after the cruise was readjusted due to Hurricane damage to the British Virgin Islands and Dominica. One in Ocho Rios the other in Montego Bay. There was lots of concern upfront in Montego Bay especially and its parish of St James as the British Foreign Office had said it was a no go area due to 350 fatal shootings in the last year and large scale lawlessness. In Ocho Rios Keef went on the Bob Marley pilgrimage tour by a 50 year old Zion bus, no suspension, but what fun and made up for not being able to do it in 20004 due to Hurricane Ivan. Annie stayed on the boat.The bus tour went high into the mountains to stop at Nine Mile, St Ann's parish both the birth and resting place of Bob Marley where Fozzy (an old school friend of Bob's) showed us around the Bob Marley Mausoleum. We stopped at the Bumpers Reggae Lawn & Bar Stop in both directions, on the way up for a lovely beef pattie and on the way back for jerk chicken, rice & pea and what tasted like a deep fried donut for pud. There was a lot of debate about quite how many children Bob actually had CLICK HERE but there is one thing for certain as our guide kept saying "he was a Producer". The smell of hash was everywhere in the hills, Jamaican law allows 5 strands for personal use in the house daily. No wonder so many of these lovely people are spaced out *smile*. In Montego Bay, MoBay as the locals call it and sometimes the Second City, we went on the Greenwood House plantation tour which was very educational with great views and saw some of the posher houses on the way back. Greenwood house had fabulous views up the coast as far as Falmouth and the breeze on the balcony would have kept the slave masters cool. The slave restraints and sales posters were a bit of a shock to us but it was different times and now counts as part of Jamaica's heritage, thank god those days are over. Although we didnt go around it we stopped for a photo shoot outside the other big slave plantation, Rose Hall Great house, once owned by the horrid white witch Annie Palmer. Read all about her HERE. The centre of Montego Bay is a little seedy sadly, especially St James Street. PS Jamaica was no where near as frightening as made out, loved the people, such a sense of fun and a fun time.


arrival in Jamaica,  from our trips and travel blogs



map of Jamaica,  from our trips and travel blogs

Ocho Rios, Montego Bay (MoBay), Bob Marley tour & Greenwood Plantation

Your Guide to Ocho Rios

Blue mountains, green valleys, white water and golden sands await you on the island of Jamaica. Ocho Rios is your gateway to a vast array of experiences, from swinging through the trees, horse riding on the beaches, tubing down rivers to scenic sightseeing and, of course, the main attraction is Dunn’s River Falls. There is so much to do here; you won’t want to miss a thing!

Ocho Rios is particularly noted for its spectacular waterfalls, working plantations, beaches and beautiful tropical gardens. Ocho Rios is Spanish for eight rivers.

Lying south of Cuba and west of Hispaniola, Jamaica - the name is derived from the Arawak word 'Xaymaca’ meaning the 'land of wood and water’ - is the third largest island in the Caribbean. It is also the largest English-speaking island of the region. The island is roughly 146 miles from west to east and 22 - 51 miles from north to south, with a total area of 4,411 sg. miles. The capital of this mountainous country (Blue Mountain Peak reaches 7,402 ft 12,256 m above sea level) is Kingston on the south coast. Ocho Rios is in the centre of the Island's north coast.

Christopher Columbus discovered the island during his second voyage to the New World in 1494 and he landed on the north coast at Discovery Bay, 22 miles west of Ocho Rios, on 4 May. As might have been anticipated, the local Arawaks were not pleased to

see him. Nine years later the intrepid explorer put into St Ann’s Bay near Ocho Rios when his ships were so worm-ridden and waterlogged that they were in imminent danger of sinking. And so his fourth voyage came to an unexpected end. Columbus had to wait a year, surrounded by distinctly unfriendly natives and with a crew close to mutiny, before help arrived.

The Spanish, however, were not deterred by Columbus' unhappy experiences and in 1509 Seville Nueva near St Ann’s Bay was established as Jamaica’s first town. Thirty years later it was abandoned and Spanish Town near the present capital, Kingston, was founded.

The unfortunate Arawaks, all 60,000 of them, were soon eradicated through murder, over-work and by catching European diseases from which they had no natural immunity. However, several of their words are still used in the English language - hammock, tobacco, potato and hurricane.

n 1655, the English captured Jamaica from the

Spanish after prolonged fighting. The island was turned into a huge sugar plantation and African slaves were imported. The Maroons - slaves freed when the Spanish left in haste - took to the hills behind Montego Bay and were a major problem for many years. However, in 1838, slavery was abolished and, as a consequence, the sugar industry declined. Banana plantations were found to be more successful.

On 6 August 1962, Jamaica became an

independent country and remains a member of the Commonwealth. Modern Jamaica still has plantations producing such crops as bananas, sugar and coffee, but there are also other important industries, including the production of bauxite (smelted into aluminum), chemicals, cement, oil refining and plastics. Tourism ranks as the second foreign exchange earner.

EXPLORING

Ocho Rios is the fastest growing tourist destination in Jamaica and a popular port of call for many cruise liners, especially those based in the United States.

The original Spanish name for the then very small settlement was Las Chorreras (the waterfalls), which was almost certainly a reference to the Dunn’s River Falls. By 1841, however, it was known as Ocho Rios - rather surprisingly there are not eight rivers in the area. There is little opportunity for sightseeing in the town itself, although it is a bustling place and many exclusive hotels are nearby.

Ocho Rios has a number of beautiful gardens full of brightly-coloured birds, exotic plants, including a proliferation of orchids, and steeply-plunging rivers. Each of the following gardens is off the A3, the main road leading southwards out of Ocho Rios.

Shaw Park Gardens

Set above Ocho Rios, these 35 acres of streams, waterfalls, ponds, flowers, ferns and woods provide a fine view of the town. These gardens are not, as the name might suggest in the grounds of the Shaw Park Hotel. Guided tours are available daily between 08.00 to 16.00 hrs.

Coyaba River Garden and Museum

In the same area as Shaw Park Cardens and also a taxi ride away. The word ‘coyaba' is Arawak for paradise. The museum shows the history of Jamaica starting, appropriately enough, with the Arawaks. Open daily from 08.00 to 17.00 hrs.

Fern Gully

Situated on the southern outskirts of the town. Fern Gully is best reached by taxi or hiring a car for the day. The route, through an old river bed, winds through a lush valley of ferns and vines. It is claimed that there are more than 600 different varieties of ferns here.

Dunn’s River Falls and Park

Just 2 miles away is the most popular attraction in Jamaica, a photograph of which appears in most travel brochures featuring holidays to Jamaica. Cascading falls drop 600 ft and here is an opportunity to hold hands with the next person in a long chain gradually going to the top. It’s wet and it’s fun, and changing rooms enable you to change into a bathing costume and leave your clothes in a looker until you return (although queues can be long so it is recommended that you wear swimsuits under your clothing if climbing the falls). Make sure that you wear rubber soled shoes as the rocks are slippery. Old

tennis shoes are also useful if you opt to climb up the actual falls, alternatively climbing shoes are available for hire at the Park.

The Falls and Park open daily from 08.30 to 16.00 hrs. It is also possible to follow a path at the side of the fails and reach the top fully-dressed. Please be advised it is customary to tip the guide at the end of the climb.

Popularity unfortunately implies crowds and the falls can be busy, especially if several cruise ships are in port at the same time. There is, however, always the beach to enjoy.

Calypso Rafting

For an unusual experience, try a romantic raft ride for two on the White River to the east of the town. A bamboo raft is poled by a skillful guide on a 45-minute trip through the tropical rainforest. There is even a stop for an optional dip in the cool mountain waters. Open daily 08.30 - 16.30 hrs.

The Town

The only historical site of any significance in Ocho Rios is an old fort built in 1777 and even then there is little to see. The main attractions are the shops and the craft markets.

BEYOND OCHO RIOS

The northern coastal area around Ocho Rios has much to interest visitors, although a tour, taxi or hired car is really necessary to visit most places, if you decide to hire a car, you’ll need to choose a route - maps are available from the Tourist Office - and two possibilities are suggested below, each of which could take up much of the day.

Route A - East of Ocho Rios

From Ocho Rios to the White River (Calypso River Rafting), Harmony Hail (Jamaican art and crafts), Boscobel Beach (aka James Bond beach), Oracabessa, Firefly (former home and burial place of Noel Coward), Port Maria, Brimmer Hali (plantation tour) and back to Ocho Rios. Total distance of 45 miles.

Firefly

About 21 miles from Ocho Rios and just north of Port Maria, Firefly was the home of Noel Coward from 1956 until his death on 26 March 1973. Named after the luminous fireflies seen after dark, this spot was originally known as the Look-Out and was used by the buccaneer Sir Henry Morgan 300 years earlier to keep watch for pirates. The house, now owned by the Jamaican National Heritage Trust, has been restored to look as it did in the mid-1960s and visitors can see Coward’s paintings and clothes. He is buried at the bottom of the garden beneath a plain marble tomb. Open Monday - Thursday and Saturday 9.00 -17.00 hrs. Note that this attraction is normally closed on a Friday and Sunday.

A plantation offering guided tours is the Prospect Plantation which is only 4 miles from Ocho Rios. Tours take place at 10.30 hrs, 14.00 hrs and 15.30 hrs.

Route B - West of Ocho Rios

From Ocho Rios to Dunn's River Falls, St Ann’s Bay, Seville Nueva (site of the first capital and Seville Great House), Chukka Cove Adventure Tours, Runaway Bay, Discovery Bay, Green Grotto Caves (underground boat ride), Brown’s Town, Nine Mile (Bob Marley's Mausoleum), Claremont, Fern Gully and back to Ocho Rios. Total distance of 76 miles.

St Ann’s Bay

Birthplace of Marcus Garvey, one of Jamaica’s national heroes.

Seville Nueva

The first capital of Jamaica and the site of Columbus' statue. Spanish artefacts found in the area can be seen in the Seville Great House.

Discovery Bay

Attractions include the nearby Green Grotto Caves, where guided tours are available, and Columbus Park. Columbus landed here on 4 May 1494 and there is now an open-air park with exhibits of Jamaican history. Puerto Seco Beach is a good public beach with a restaurant and some watersports are usually possible.

Bob Marley’s Mausoleum

The reggae superstar lived here as a child until the family moved to Kingston. Bob Marley died on 11 May 1981 and he is buried in this isolated part of northern Jamaica, about 24 miles from Ocho Rios. Worth seeing is the black leather book containing thousands of signatures of those in the amazingly-long funeral procession. The mausoleum is open daily from 09.00 -17.00 hrs. Well known resorts such as Montego Bay (62 miles) are much further from Ocho Rios and mean that some considerable time is spent on the road rather than seeing places of particular interest. Kingston, the capital, is a slightly shorter distance, but still takes about two hours driving time.


Your Guide to Montego Bay

Montego Bay is Jamaica’s second city and has been a mecca for tourists since the 1920’s. Today visitors still flock to this bustling resort to relax on its silvery beaches, explore its lush tropical surroundings or hear ghostly tales in one of its former plantation houses.

Lying south of Cuba and west of Hispaniola, Jamaica forms part of the Greater Antilles group and is the third largest island in the Caribbean. With its three counties of Cornwall in the west, Middlesex in the centre and Surrey in the east, the island covers an area about three times the size of Kent in England.

It measures 159 miles from east to west, and from twenty to fifty miles from north to south with a population of nearly 2.5 million.

Located on the south coast, Kingston, the capital, has a population of half a million and is the centre of political and artistic life. The highest point is in the Blue Mountains to the east, nearly 7,500 feet, where it is much wetter and cooler than on the 200 miles of Jamaica’s beaches. Ocho Rios, the most popular port of cal! for cruise ships, lies almost in the centre of the north coast, and Montego Bay, up in the North West corner, is a close second.

During his second voyage in 1494. Columbus anchored in Discovery Bay on the north coast and received a surprisingly hostile welcome from the Arawak farmers and fishermen. They had been here for at least five hundred years and were known as a peaceful people, but understandably they weren’t keen on invaders, having already suffered horribly from the cannibalistic tendencies of the Caribs. However, after some preliminary skirmishes they all settled down fairly happily, Columbus receiving the necessary provision in exchange for the usual glass beads and other items, comparable to tourist tat today. The Arawak words canoe, hamac and tobacco have passed into our language, and they called this island Xaymaca, land of wood and water. Jamaica has 120 rivers and streams and enormous areas of forest today, but then it would have been even more densely forested, However, there was variety, and Columbus considered Jamaica “the fairest island that eyes have beheld... all full of valleys and fields and plains".

On his fourth voyage, he spent a year marooned in St Ann’s Bay just west of Ocho Rios. His waterlogged ships ran aground and his life was made miserable by sickness and hunger, unfriendly locals and mutinous sailors. Finally he was taken off by a ship chartered from Hispaniola. It was an ignominious end to the explorations and adventurers of the man who put this part of the world on the map.

Jamaica did not possess the gold and jewels which the Spaniards had hoped for, but the land was fertile and in 1509 they established a colony on the north coast called New Seville. Fever broke out in the swampy marshes, so a few years later they moved to the south coast an established themselves in Spanish Town near present- day Kingston. In a short time, all the 60,000 Arawaks, enslaved and ill-treated by the Spaniards, had died, their demise probably hastened by the European import of strange diseases, a killer wherever they settled.

African slaves were imported to take the place of the Arawaks, but colonisation was not a roaring success in Jamaica. Moreover, since the Pope had divided all new discoveries over here between Spain and Portugal, other nations were furious at being excluded, and the

16th century saw various European nations attacking these colonies in the New World. English, and then British forces made several raids on Jamaica, and at last an ill-equipped expeditionary force, sent out by Cromwell, attacked Jamaica as an afterthought. The Spaniards put up a stout resistance in the way of guerilla warfare for five years, but finally sailed away from Runaway Bay and left the British in undisputed possession, confirmed by the treaty of Madrid.

During the 18th Century, Jamaica was the world’s largest producer of sugar, but when slavery was abolished and the apprenticeship system folded up as well, the freed slaves had had enough of work and the industry declined. The fortunes of the island were at a low ebb but were retrieved by Admiral Rodney in the Battle of the Saints, and from then on the island remained securely in British hands.

There was sporadic trouble from the Maroons, slaves left by the Spaniards. They had taken to the forested hills in what is known as Cockpit Country behind Montego Bay, and they harassed the white settlers until the threat of bloodhounds imported from Cuba brought about their final surrender.

Bananas bolstered the sugar trade during the first half of this century, but industrial unrest just before the Second World War set in train the movement towards independence. This passed through various stages until full independence within the Commonwealth was achieved in 1962, after Jamaica had been a British colony for more than 300 years. Now, although life is not always peaceful and was terribly disrupted by Hurricane Gilbert in 1988. at least the Jamaicans have their own land to themselves.

But who are the Jamaicans? “Out of Many, One People” is the national motto, and the ethnic mix of European, East Indian, African, Chinese and Arabic peoples has turned out to be surprisingly harmonious.

Jamaica is the world’s third largest producer of bauxite, the raw material which is smelted into aluminum. It also produces, sandstone and limestone, marble and alabaster as well as sugar cane, bananas, pimentos, coffee, cocoa, tobacco and rum. Tourism ranks as the second foreign exchange earner.

From December to April, the most popular time to visit the island, the temperature ranges between 75° and 85° F (24° - 30°C). Rainfall averages nearly eighty inches annually. Late spring and autumn are the wettest periods and the hurricane season is late summer. But there’s always plenty of sunshine.

Over a thousand species of tree grow on the island, There are more than 600 varieties of fern and 200 species of orchid, 73 of which are unique to Jamaica. Botanists have recorded almost 3,000 varieties of flowering plant.

Wild animals are practically non-existent: there are few snakes - and they are harmless - while crocodiles live only in a few rivers and swamps on the south side of the island. Bats and lizards are common, wild boar still exist in the mountains, and mongooses cause little trouble except to chickens. Birds are particularly varied and colourful.

BEYOND MONTEGO BAY

Ocho Rios (67 miles east)

Apart from the little town of Ocho Rios, the name also refers to the area between Annotto Bay in the east and Discovery Bay in the west, a sixty mile strip of splendid beaches and elegant resorts. This is a watery area, the name either derives from the Spanish for ‘eight rivers’ though there aren’t quite as many, or it may be a corruption of ‘las chorreras’ as referring to waterspouts and falls, particularly Dunn’s river falls clearly visible from the sea.

Just inland is Fern Gully, an old riverbed, until an earthquake drove the river underground. Now it’s a twisting road bordered by hardwoods, liana and masses of ferns, a tropical version of many an English country lane. Above Ocho Rios with a fine view down to the town are the Shaw Park Gardens, 34 acres of streams, ponds, flowers, ferns and trees.

Dunn’s River Falls (65 miles east)

The most famous beauty spot on the north coast is undoubtedly this waterfall which cascades 600 feet through pools over limestone terraces to the Caribbean. There are guides available to help the more active individuals to climb up. Naturally the climb should be done in bathing gear, so there are lockers

on the beach for your clothes, and a booth to buy your ticket to ascend. The not-so-active can walk up and down a path at the side, free and fully clothed.

Rose Hall (5 miles east)

This is an 18th Century plantation estate, which now has been restored to its former glory by an American millionaire. The interior including the furnishings and staircase are magnificent and well worth a visit. The estate is steeped in history and legends.

Complementing what you see is what you hear.

The story of Annie Palmer, who was known as a White Witch because of her marital and extramarital adventures. She is supposed to have poisoned, stabbed and strangled her three husbands, in that order, and the ladies who show visitors round delight in telling you in which bedroom which husband was done in and by what method. Meanwhile the insatiable Annie enjoyed a succession of slave lovers until a person or persons unknown decided that enough was enough and murdered her at the age of twenty nine.

Martha Brae (23 miles east)

The tourist attraction of this river is the 90 minute raft ride. A bamboo raft made for two is poled gently

downstream by a professional raft captain, and the tranquillity of the journey is enhanced by the dense tropical vegetation on both banks. This is one of the unusual pleasures to be enjoyed in Jamaica. The river is named after a strange Arawak Indian girl who was captured by Spanish soldiers and tortured to reveal the location of a secret gold mine. She finally promised to take them there but on reaching the river she called up her supernatural powers and changed its course, drowning the soldiers and herself.

Luminous Lagoon (16 miles east)

At Rock, just beyond Falmouth is the unique Luminous Lagoon, one of the most spectacular natural wonders of the world. If you visit the Lagoon after dark, the luminosity is quite fantastic, particularly if the water is agitated. Even the fish create streaks of light as they swim.

Negril (50 miles west)

Lying on the western tip of the island, Negril boasts an unbroken seven-mile stretch of pure white sand, laced off shore by coral reefs which make the water appear every conceivable shade of blue and green - a perfect West Indian fairytale beach. Negril caters for every conceivable character and depth of purse.


New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

DAY 19 & 20 - 23rd-24th Feb 2018 - Landed Julia Terminal , Riverfront, New Orleans, USA "The Big Easy"

It was our 40th Wedding Anniversary treat, what you might call our Ruby cruise! A day and a half in the lovely Big Easy but short by some amazing bureaucracy whilst checking into the states, it took 6 hours from landing until we were finally free on the streets of New Orleans. We arrived and left via 106 miles of the muddy but magnificent Mississippi River, mostly sadly in the dark but we did see some of it! We didn't do any trips here but went under our own steam. Took the riverside street car (red and hopefully named Desire *smile*) to Toulouse street and walked up into the french quarter into the famous Bourbon street, such fab architecture.It had only been a week since the Mardi Gras and there were beads everywhere, quite an atmosphere. Had lunch in the Hard Rock Cafe in Bourbon Street with hand signed Fats Domino piano top and an old Liverpool Institute school photo featuring a very young George Harrison and Paul McCartney. We then walked along a bit of Canal street at which point it started to rain. Loved the Voodoo shops *smile*. A very kind tourist shop lady (way better than on the ship) suggested we don't do the Hop-On Hop-Off bus as a waste of money but use our all day ETA transport ticket to travel on the worlds oldest continuously running streetcar / trolley bus (green) all the way along St Charles Avenue and South Carrollton to the end of the line and back to see the Antibellum houses and the Uni and the Parks. What fun. On the 2nd day Keef went in alone by trolley bus / street car to the French Market , 6 stops along the riverfront Julia Street to French Market. I saw some jazz in the streets , great graffiti and bought Annie some Ruby anniversary gifts. Love the BIG EAZIE... *happy* In the eve on the boat a local Jazz band played, how nice.


absinthe house,  from our trips and travel blogs



map of new orleans,  from our trips and travel blogs

2 fab days in the "Big Easy"

The Guide to New Orleans

The home of jazz, of Creole culture, architecture and cuisine, together with the influence of voodoo makes for a heady mix. New Orleans is quite unlike any other American city as a result of its Franco Spanish background with a sprinkling of other nationalities thrown in.

“Don’t you just love those long rainy afternoons in New Orleans when an hour isn’t just an hour - but a little piece of eternity dropped into your hands - and who knows what to do with it?” Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire.

Tennessee Williams, Mark Twain, William Faulkner and of course", Hollywood (where else could Rhett Butler have taken Scarlett O’Hara for their honeymoon?) have all helped in the creation of everlasting images of New Orleans. Sultry and seductive; bluesy trumpets crying through the damp mists that roll off the Mississippi; timeless cobbled streets viewed languorously from bourbon-suppers on balconies and ceiling fans whirring like drowsy bees. It is as if New Orleans, ‘The Big Easy’, so ingratiated with time, has been allotted a few more hours in the day, a few more hours to while away.

New Orleans is the largest city in the state of Louisiana. Snuggled into ‘The Crescent’ of the Mississippi river, at most it rises to only 17 feet above sea level; almost half of New Orleans’ 375 square mile area is water. The atmosphere is so ‘souther’ that it is often referred to as the ‘northernmost city of the Caribbean.’ Originally settled by the French and Spanish, its 275-year history has seen the arrival of Acadians from Canada, Indians, Africans, Cubans, Irish, English and Germans - certainly it is one of the world’s most cosmopolitan cities.

New Orleans apparently is invested with only two seasons - May to September is hot and humid and October to April is usually mild but with rapid changed possible, including southern freezes.

The first known explorer to reach this part of the world was Cavalier Sieur de la Salle in 1682. He

arrived at a point about 90 miles from present- day New Orleans that enjoyed drainage from the Mississippi. He proclaimed it a possession of France in honour of the Regent of France, Philippe due d’Orleans. The Quebec-born French brothers, Sieur d’Iberville and Sieur de Bienville, followed after la Salle and on 2 March 1699 sailed to the mouth of the Mississippi and landed at a point they named Point du Mardi Gras - the next day being the Catholic holiday of ‘Fat Tuesday’ (still remembered in the famous Mardi Gras Festival). The French Quarter is the site at which Bienville had his engineers plot the original city. In spite of the hostile cannibals the city continued to expand.

It is said that in 1762 Louis XV of France lost a wager to his cousin, King Charles III of Spain, and thus the whole of Louisiana territory became a Spanish possession. The handover took place under the secret Treaty of Fontainbleau in 1762 and French officials and citizens did not learn of this until 1766 when the Spanish Commissioner, Don Antonio de Ulloa, arrived by boat in New Orleans. The people felt betrayed and refused to accept Spanish rule, forcing Ulloa to leave in 1768 under the threat of being hanged.

For eight months the colony enjoyed the position of being the only American colony to be free from foreign rule, until that is, over 3,000 soldiers arrived to reclaim the territory for Spain. Don Bernardo de Galvez was made Governor of Louisiana in 1770.

It must be remembered that the French and Spanish lived together for most of the time in considerable harmony and the inter-marriage of their cultures gave rise of the city.

During the early 18th century Spain and Great Britain were pirating each others ships in the Atlantic and by 1779 various events had led Britain to declare war on Spain. The war with Britain was costly, and though Spain looked on Louisiana as valuable property, she could no longer afford to keep it. In 1801 Louisiana ceded to France, however Napoleon was soon to run into financial difficulties so in turn he sold it to the United States for $15 million dollars.

The fact that New Orleans was being taken from the Catholic European powers and handed over to the ‘grubby American Protestants’ caused fear amongst the citizens. Fighting was fierce but gradually settled as the Americans built up their own area on the other side of Canal Street.

During the War of 1812, the British made repeated attempts to seize New Orleans and thus control the Mississippi River. This reached a head in 1815 when General Jackson teamed up with the noted pirate Jean Lafitte, Choctaw Indians and Negro slaves. After a fierce 29 day battle, the Battle of New Orleans, the British were finally defeated.

More recently Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans and the surrounding coastal area of Louisiana and Mississippi in September 2005.

Much of the city was underwater and more than 1500 people in the region lost their lives from this devastating natural disaster.

Prior to Hurricane Katrina, the population exceeded 490,000, often appearing much more as it receives over 10 million visitors a year. However, after Katrina, the population stood at around 150,000. This figure has now risen to around 337,000.

EXPLORING

The French Quarter

Pulsing and exuberant, friendly and traditional, this is the place to be. If you didn’t pay a visit to the French Quarter it is doubtful that anyone would believe you had visited New Orleans. This is where is all began, in the Vieux Carr6, where you can explore street with names like Chartres, Bourbon and Toulouse. Start off with a stroll along the riverfront from the ‘Moon Walk’ in front of Jackson Square to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas - feel the romance of the city and the charm of the mighty Mississippi.

Jackson Square

Originally the Place d’Armes - a military marching area - Jackson Square is today the very heart of the French Quarter, named in honour of Jackson’s decisive victory over the British. A beautifully landscaped area alive with street performers musicians and local artists - there’s always something happening.

St Louis Cathedral

One of the eldest Catholic cathedrals in the country. Though extensively remodelled after the original building of 1722 was destroyed by fire. Contains magnificence and glory in abundance.

The Presbytere and Cabildo

These two Spanish colonial buildings flanking the cathedral formed the Spanish seat of government. In front of the Presbytere is a curious metal object which is in fact The Pioneer, the first confederate submarine. Inside the Cabiido is the grim exhibit of Napoleon’s death mask.

The French Market

Restored buildings and beautiful stalls make this - 160year-old-market one-of the mostpicturesque -

scenes in the French Quarter. Browse around the market for jewellery, leather, antique dresses, t-shirts, fresh pralines and a huge variety of local produce.

The Ursuline Convent

The oldest building in the Mississippi valley. Constructed in 1745, it is 25 years younger than the city of New Orleans, but 25 years older than the United States at 1100 Chartres Street. Closed Monday. Guided tours are available at several times during the day.

Voodoo Authentica

612 Dumaine Street. A voodoo cultural centre and collection of artefacts dealing with the occult and supernatural. Voodoo was a spiritual belief system of the 18th century slaves that brought fear to the ruling elite. Open daily from 11.00am - 7.00pm. Hermann-Grima Historic House 820 St Louis Street. A fantastically preserved example of American architecture, this house depicts the gracious lifestyle of a prosperous 1830’s Creole family. The mansion house, stables and kitchen have been meticulously restored and guided tours are available Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 10.00am to 3.00pm (by appointment) and on Saturday between 12.00pm and 3.00pm. The tours last from between 45 minutes and 1 hour. There are literally hundreds of places of interest catering for all tastes in the French Quarter. The best advice is to pick up some leaflets from the Tourist Information Centre, and Vieux Carre will become your oyster. Tickets may be booked online at least 24 hours in advance via www.hgghh.org. Tickets may be purchased at the museum gift shops the day of the tour, depending on availability.

American District

Traditionally Canal Street is the dividing line between the French Quarter and the American area. Its name is such because it was actually intended as a canal, which accounts for the unusual width of the streets.

Audubon Aquarium of the Americas

Situated in Canal Street and home to over 7,500 aquatic specimens. The Aquarium features four major habitats including the Caribbean Reef and one ofthe world’s largest shark collections. The Aquarium is open from Tuesday - Sunday from 10.00am - 5.00pm. Louisiana Superdome

The famous location of many Super Bowls and Sugar Bowls, this impressive building plays host to many sporting events. Costing over $180 million, it proudly boasts the largest roof-span in the world with a diameter of 680 feet. No tours are available.

St Charles Avenue Streetcar

For a different view of New Orleans, hop aboard one of

the historic streetcars at any of the well-marked spots for a nostalgic trip to the Garden District. This area was home to the Americans and the wide streets and stately, elegant 19th century homes provide a sharp contrast to the narrow streets and closed courtyards of the French Quarter. Look out for the gothic Briggs- Stubb House, Robinson House and Colonel Short’s Villa. Magazine Street

A few streets from St. Charles Avenue is Magazine Street with dozens of small cottages selling everything from antiques to books and flowers to clothing. Take a breather at one of the cafes for a pick me up for which New Orleans is synonymous - cafe au lait. This area also has some excellent bistros and restaurants.

Audubon Zoological Gardens

Also in Magazine Street in the city zoo, one of the top five zoos in the USA. Be sure to visit the white alligators in the Louisiana Swamp exhibit.

City Park

This 1,500-acre park is home to the newly expanded New Orleans Museums of Art. The lush 10-acre Botanical Cardens (admission charged) are also to be found in Gty Park as well as 8 miles of scenic lagoons for boating, fishing and bird watching. Open Tuesday - Sunday 10.00am -4.30pm. New Orleans has excellent public transport facilities covering the whole city. Comprehensive details can be obtained from the Visitor Information Centre at 529, St Anne Street in the French Quarter, across from Jackson Square. Open Tuesday - Saturday 9.00am - 5.00pm. Tel. 568-5661.

GETTING AROUND

Car Hire

It is practical to tour New Orleans without a car, but if you must drive remember that parking in the city is extremely difficult.

Avis, 2024 Canal Street,Tel. 523-4317. Budget,

1317 Canal Street, Tel. 565-5600. Hertz, Loews Hotel, 300 Poydras Street, Tel. 636-3300, ext 5347.

Taxis

Taxis are available at the quayside. The Pier is very close to the main city and its facilities. Taxis operating within the city are metered.

Riverboats

The Queen Creole departs for the Big Easy Harbour Cruise from the Riverwalk Dock, Spanish Plaza at various times. This 90-minute cruise is on the authentic replica of the steamboats which provided passenger service in the late 19th century and cruises past the French Quarter, plantations and the site of the Battle of New Orleans.

EATING OUT

The major gastronomic influences are French, Spanish, Native American and Caribbean, which combine to form the two main flavours of the city - Creole and Cajun. Memorable dishes include gumbo, a stew-like soup. Jambalaya reflects the Spanish influence - a paella-style dish of seasoned rice, shrimp, ham, celery and green peppers. Seafood dishes are unparalleled, especially the bisques, shrimp or crab in thick soup swirled with cream.

The muffuletta sandwich and the po-boy (served on delicious French bread) were invented in New Orleans, and don’t miss the wonderful bread pudding. There are also many establishments in the city, serving Continental, Oriental and Italian dishes.

Key West, Florida, USA

DAY 22 - 26th Feb 2018 - Landed Key West, Florida, USA

It was our 40th Wedding Anniversary treat, what you might call our Ruby cruise! We have been to Key West before in August 1997 with the boys, I have included a few of those memories here but if you wish to see more of that trip please look on the FAMILY page by Year. Otherwise see the 1997 Key West slideshows HERE. Had a lovely time on the trolley bus seeing much of Key West, it was much nicer than we remembered it. The bus took us around most of it including the Wharf, Martello museums, Mangrove swamps, the Southernmost tip and much more. Walked down Duval street into the Hard Rock Café and then into the NEW sloppy joes bar where Hemingway supposedly supped daily. Beautiful houses, saw an iguana which are apparently overrunning the island, a coral key, are stripping all vegetation. Moni-G on the trolley bus was a hoot. We ended back on the water front at sunset pier. We met pals Brian & Lorraine in their hired electric car outside the HRC but declined their invitation for a lift.


key lime pie shop,  from our trips and travel blogs

Only just noticed this in 2023, hippiedom makes it all the way to "far out" Key West!!! #smile

nude pub garden key west,  from our trips and travel blogs



So much better than we remembered, came here with the boys in 1997

The Guide to Key West

The Florida Keys are a necklace of subtropical islands stretching into the heart of the Gulf of Mexico. Key West, located 135 miles southwest of Miami and just 90 miles from Havana, has enjoyed the most colourful history and clientele of them all. Visitors, historians, marine enthusiasts, gourmands and shoppers are all drawn to this truly charming town at the southernmost tip of the United States.

The Spanish conquistadors named this island Cayo Hueso, Island of Bones, for when they first landed they were rather disconcerted to find human bones scattered along the waterfront. It has remained inconclusive to this day as to why the bones were there, but fortunately the island’s grisly name has been Anglicised - rather than translated - hence ‘Key West’ is no reference to geographical location.

The Florida Keys are a necklace of subtropical limestone and coral islands that stretch for about 150 miles from the southern tip of mainland America into the heart of the Gulf of Mexico. Closer to Havana than to Miami the tiny island of Key West is only four miles from east to west and two miles in width. This is the southernmost city in the continental United States and has a population of approximately 24,800.

As a member of “The Sunshine State” of Florida, it is not surprising to learn that the average annual temperature in the Keys is 78°F (26°C), ranging from 70°F in January to 84°F in July. Winter is the driest time of the year and the summer brings along high humidity with frequent electrical storms.

Time used to stand still in these back of beyond islands, the only inhabitants being smugglers, criminals and madmen explorers. All of this changed in 1912 when Henry Flagler extended his railroad to Key West. Spurred by his vision of carrying sportsmen to exotic fishing camps, Flagler’s remarkable feat of engineering connected over three dozen islands with more than 100 miles of rail-track. Though the railroad was destroyed in 1935 by a hurricane, the surviving structures were incorporated into the Overseas Highway, and now the Keys are accessible to everyone who wants to partake of their individual attractions.

It may feel as though you are in the middle of the ocean as you cross bridge after bridge over an ever widening expanse of sea, but strange as it may seem, no depth around the Keys is greater than sixty feet.

The Calusa Indians were the first known inhabitants of the Keys. They were lured from the Florida mainland by the abundance of fish and shellfish just waiting in the waters to be caught. The native hardwoods of the islands were an added attraction, supplying sturdy wood for their homes. Many Indian mounds have been discovered on the islands along with sunken dugouts. Arawak and Carib Indian settlements followed in the pattern that is echoed throughout the Caribbean, but European settlers could not seem to navigate their way through the coral reefs. They decided that a watery grave was too high a price to pay for these little islands and so settlement was left to brave mainlanders and pirates.

In their efforts to carve out an existence for themselves in the 18th century the islanders turned to fruit-farming. Produce included breadfruit, limes, pineapples and tamarind. In later years the Keys’ economy was further boosted when Big Pine Key saw a shark processing factory established, the hides of which were sent further north to be processed into shagreen leather. In the 19th century British

loyalists, American merchant seamen and Cubans also infiltrated the economy of the islands, setting up factories to produce those big, fat, Havana cigars.

It is a simple exercise to reach Key West by sea these days and if you travel through the Keys by road the journey is definitely one to appreciate. The modern aspects of the tourist trade have blended so well with more traditional ways that on arrival in Key West you may wonder why it took so long to become popular. For instance, early in the last century, the Spanish owner sold the island to an American businessman for only $2,000 because piracy was frightening off the settlers. But soon the sponge divers prospered, up to 100 million cigars were rolled annually and ‘wreckers’ - people who made a living from rescuing people and salvage - did a roaring trade. At the turn of the century, the population had reached 18,000 and Key West became per capita the richest city in the United States.

Such prosperity could not last. The 1929 stock market crash, the failure of the sponges and the departure of the US Navy and the cigar rollers all spelled decline and decay. Key West became the poorest city in the US, but the residents remained and dug in their heels, determined to forge a new wealth by way of tourism. And how they have succeeded, with sunshine, sand, sea and sports - this is what the inhabitants of Key West live for today.

EXPLORING

The Old Town

The main street in Key West is Duval Street - said to be the longest street in the world as it connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. The Old Town has plenty of authentic houses, or at least houses restored to their original 19th century condition. Often these houses were constructed by ships’ carpenters with gingerbread railings and wide verandahs being essential prerequisites. Houses such as Conch House (pronounced conk) boast heady arrays of shutters, cisterns and scuttles to let hot air out through the roof, a feature copied from the Bahamian and New England styles. The conch, by the way, is almost the symbol of the Keys and the nickname of the native born people.

There are two other conch houses on Caroline Street, the Captain George Carey at 410 and George A. T. Roberts at 313. The Bartlum/Forgarty House in Eaton Street had its frontal structure floated over from the Bahamas on a schooner. Duval Street plays host to the Oldest House which shows the history of wrecking through paintings and artefacts.

Audubon House and Gardens

Whitehead Street. This three-storey frame house is held together entirely by wooden pegs and is a fine example of the shipbuilders’ craft. Built in the early 1800s it now serves as a museum dedicated to the period and life of Jon James Audubon, a famous painter and naturalist. Exhibits include antiques, Audubon’s original engravings, and a videotape presentation of Audubon’s Birds of America. That his memory is served so well by this building is one of life’sxuriosities as he only stayed herefor a few weeks in 1832.

Hemingway’s House

Whitehead Street. Here in this beautiful coral-stone house where he lived with his wife from 1931 to 1940, Hemingway created such masterpieces as A Farewell To Arms and For Whom The Bell Tolls. Completed in 1851, the house sits on a one-acre lot - an enormous luxury for such a small island. There are daily tours through the house and its gardens, and keep your eyes open for the sleek, six-toed cats reputed to be descendants of Hemingway’s own.

For those with a literary bent, a visit to Tennessee Williams House in Duncan Street may also be worth a visit. It is a Bahamian-style cottage where the writer lived until his death in 1983. In fact, many notable writers and artists have chosen Key West as their home, including the poet Wallace Stevens. Today there are more than a dozen Pulitzer Prize­winners in residence.

Wreckers’ Museum

Duval Street. Allegedly the oldest house in Key West, dating from the 19th century. Its exhibits include sea artefacts, models of ships and an exquisite miniature house in the Conch style.

Mel Fisher’s Museum

Greene Street. In this Maritime Heritage Society Museum, breathtaking riches materialise before your eyes in the shape of jewels, chains and gleaming coins, all treasures gathered by Fisher and his divers from sunken ships. You can be a millionaire for a moment when you hold the golden barl

East Martello Museum

S. Roosevelt Blvd. This historic structure houses a museum dedicated to the history of Key West and its artists. The citadel, with its fine vaulted ceilings, affords a glorious view of the island’s position in the Atlantic.

Martello Towers

East and West, were built for defense purposes in the 19th century, possibly to fend off a Napoleonic invasion. Fort Zachary Taylor was strengthened about the same time and now houses a superb collection of Civil War cannon.

Mallory Square

Waterfront area. This is the place which attracts the crowds at sunset when the cries of street-performers reach a crescendo as the sun sinks down onto the horizon. The oldest attraction in this area is the Aquarium where daily shark and turtle feeding and the touch tank offer guests hands-on experience with the sea life.

St Mary Star of the Sea

Windsor Lane. The second oldest catholic church in Florida with unusual features including tin arches and metal columns. In the grounds stands a small grotto; built by a nun and dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes it is said to protect the island from hurricanes - so far it has done its job.

Key West Cemetery

Not as morbid as it sounds for there are many humorous inscriptions to be found on the stone caskets, such as ‘I Told You I Was Sick’ and ‘At Least I Know Where He’s Sleeping Tonight’.

Conch Tour Train

A well-narrated hour and a half tour will show you the best of Key West. The little open-air ‘train’ covers many unusual and historical sites and will help familiarise you with the layout of the town. The trains leave at regular intervals daily from Mallory Square.

Harry Truman Little White House

This attraction is just a few hundred yards from Mallory Square and was President Truman’s Winter Retreat. He visited Key West several times while in office and continued the visits for many years after he left office. The Truman Little White House is Florida’s only Presidential Museum and was where Prime Minister Harold Macmillan and US President Kennedy met in the 1960’s.

GETTING AROUND

Car Hire

Key West Cruisers, 500 T