A Travellerspoint blog

St Kitts/Nevis

Round the island

When I first got here, one of my goals was to try every restaurant on St. Kitts. I've made some progress there.

Waterfalls at OTI is elegant, and I was pretty impressed with the food. The view is pretty great too.

There aren't a lot of places open for lunch on Saturdays, but the Marriott has Cafe Calypso. The food was pretty good, although the place was air conditioned so it was actually a bit chilly.

One Friday, we got off work early and I got to eat lunch at Waterfalls inside Ocean Terrace Inn (in Basseterre). The food there was also very good. The scenery is great- they have a little garden and you can get a seat that overlooks the water.

On Sunday evening, there aren't a lot of places open, but Rock Lobster in Frigate Bay is. The food was good, but what was exciting was that they have a lot of Mediterranean choices. I really don't know where else on the island you can get mezzes, real olives, or some of the other choices they had. I will definitely be going back there. I'm actually at the point where I can't decide if my favorite restaurant on the island is Rock Lobster or Ciao.

Right between Rock Lobster and Ciao is a little art studio that I had never been to before Les Maines D'or. They use local clay to make all sorts of neat pottery, have some cool paintings/drawings, and had some very unique jewelry. Since I was told that the pottery pieces are dishwasher and microwave safe, I actually picked up some.

This past Sunday, I was looking to try someplace new for dinner. The French restaurant has always intrigued me, and their sign was lit up. There were some lights on inside, but it didn't really look like the dining room. There was another guy also who saw the same thing as I did- their hours sign said they should be open, but they looked pretty closed. It's a little frustrating as I don't know if that means they're permanently shut or just that day. Places here keep such bizarre hours and you never know how long they'll stay open as a business. For example, Calabash, which I really enjoyed in December, was closed shortly after and replaced with Taste Kittitian (not as good). Bangkok in Frigate Bay closed (Twist in Port Zante is still open as far as I can tell) and there is something new going in there. Right next to the Marriott, ther was some open beach where we moved the water aerobics class the other week when the waves were high in Timothy Beach, and now there is a beach Bar, Karma there. Things here seem to go up and down pretty quickly.

I actually ended up at La Cucina in the Marriott. They let me in, even though I was wearing shorts, but made sure to tell me that this isn't a shorts restaurant. True, it was nicer. The food was elegant, but pretty bland. I suppose if you're into very light flavors, this would be for you. It wasn't bad, just I like bolder flavors and more seasoning. Plus, it wasn't cheap. I'm going to say that if you're in the mood for Italian in Frigate Bay, Ciao (if it's open) is a better choice financially and taste-wise.

Yesterday (Firday night) was a bit on the awesome side. December is Carnival time in St. Kitts. There are events all month long. I heard that some of my co-workers go every night. I'm not doing that, but last night, we went to a "launch party." The day after Christmas is jouvert morning (pronounced "joo-vay"), which is a morning full of fun and parades and dancing, I'm told. I expect that it's similar to what I went to in Cayon in May, but scaled up. To "lead" the parades, I guess, there are jouvert troups. Each troop has a big party where people can go to see costumes and sign up to be in the troop. The goal of the evening was to get signed up for a troop (and of course, enjoy the parties.) We started at Fat Tuesday in Port Zante, which is known for its alcoholic slushee drinks. From there, we headed up to Cloud 9 (which is right up the stairs) and partied there for a while, but as it was still early, it was pretty empty, especially compared to what I'm used to. Next ,we headed up to 17 degrees, which is an outdoor venue. It was early, so that was pretty empty, but they did have a stationary party bus with a DJ playing pretty good music from the top of the bus. This is where the jouvert launch party was supposed to be. After a while, we headed to KFC for some snacks and then back to 17 degrees. There were a lot of people there by the time we re-arrived and that party was definitely going on. However, there were a lot of kids, so my friends and I decided to go over toe Potential, a bar by Independence Square. The party at Potential was great for the first few minutes we were there. There are 2 major bands in St. Kitts- Sugar Band and Grandmasters (Nu Vybes). Personally, I prefer the Grandmasters live and Sugar Band's recordings. Grandmasters were at Potential, and I think that's what made the party fun. However, they finished at midnight, which is very early for St. Kitts and just after when we got there, so a lot of people left at that point, and the party kind of dwindled. We headed back to Fat Tuesday, then Cloud 9 again, and I was wondering what kind of bizarre bar crawl we were on- it seemed like we were going everywhere twice (except the strip). Finally, we ended back at the launch party. They were out of sign up papers, so we didn't get to sign up for the troop, but they told us where in town to go to sign up later. They did have a "costume launch" where they had a bunch of girls walk down a catwalk and show off the "costumes." They consisted of boy-short undies and a t-shirt, which most of the girls had town in various fashions to make unique. They were also wearing light-up horns as the theme was "Red Devils." At this point, the party really took off, and we were even caught behind a mosh-pit at one point. Honestly, just being with my friends at a big party where everybody is in a good mood was fabulous. As an added bonus, we weren't all sweaty and gross as it was pretty cold outside (which in St. Kitts means 75 degrees F). If you are ever here and have an opportunity to attend something like this, I highly recommend it.

I slept away the morning because I had partied into today. When I did wake, I went into town to sign up for the jouvert troop, but the place said that they hadn't yet received the papers. I grabbed a bite at the American Bakery on Fort Street. Last night, we passed it a bunch of times and it always smelled soooo good, so I thought I'd check it out. The food was decent, but it smelled a lot better. I also grabbed some ice cream at Scoops in Port Zante, which was good ice cream, but I have to admit, I had higher hopes since it was advertised as homemade.

I took a drive up the peninsula, just to enjoy the weather.

up the peninsula

up the peninsula


up the peninsula

up the peninsula


in back of the Marriott

in back of the Marriott

Posted by spsadventures 16:00 Archived in St Kitts/Nevis Comments (0)

Early fall adventures

Since the last time I updated my blog, I did a few things worth talking about.

I hiked the peninsula with a friend. It wasn't much of a hike since we pretty much followed the road. There aren't that many places to go on paths and most of the paths either dead end very quickly or return to the road just as quickly (as in less than 1 minute down the path). However, because it is so hilly, it is a decent workout. Also, the view is pretty great. All in all though, I wouldn't really recommend it. I dove 2 new spots with Kenneth (of Kenneth's Dive Center). This is the 3rd dive master I've had diving with the same company and all have been great. One site we dove was an artificial reef and there was a boat there that was pretty cool. There were a ton of neat-looking corals and fish, as usual. While we were down there, I got to hold a sea cucumber. That's not a plant- thats a large hotdog roll-sized slug-looking thing. It was surprisingly soft. In between dives, we saw off in the distance something very cool- it was raining in one place and not another and we could see the line between them. It's a pretty cool phenomenon that I usually experience from the underside, but it was really neat to actually see the line. The other site we dove that day is called "Scrappy," because it's basically a scrap yard. I guess when they were building Port Zante, they had a bunch of extra metal beams left over. So, somebody placed them out to sea in a strategic place where all of the sealife would make the scrap yard into a home. While I have to admit I was a bit worried about getting too close and cutting myself, it was actually very unique to swim around a scrap yard full of coral and fish. I highly recommend it.

I ate at a new (to me) restaurant in Port Zante named Sweet Cane (I think). It's hidden in a little corner, but it's worth finding. I had a panini that was better than any other sandwich I've had on the island and better than many in the states. It was just the right balance of salty and sweet, crunchy and gooey. Delicious!

Today was the start of manufacturing awareness week. As such, there was a festival-type event downtown. There were all sorts of cottage manufacturers who put up stands to show off how they make their wares. One stand was run by a lady who makes pickled pumpkin balls. This isn't something I had before, but they turned out to be really good. She basically uses a melon baller to scoop out the pumpkin, adds sugar, vinegar, cinnamon bark and cinnamon leaf (an ingredient I never knew existed until today), boils them together and cans them. This is definitely something I'll try to make on my own later. I grabbed a quick bite at Chef's Garden Restaurant- it was bad. The restaurant itself is nice in that it's just off Fort Street in a side courtyard that is nice and shady. I always pass the specials sign and they at least look interesting, so I tried some chow or lo mein (whatever the special was that day). It was basically spaghetti that was doused in oil and soy sauce, accompanied by a few veggies that weren't particularly flavorful. There were spots of sweet that tasted as if somebody made the dish, realized how bad it was, and poured mirin over a few spots to see if that fixed it. Those spots were better, but they were few and far between and most certainly weren't good, although they weren't as bad as the rest of the plate. After I ate, it was time for the cart races. Three of the factories in town had put together teams that assembled a racecart in a short period of time, and then the carts were raced down bank street. It was fun to watch and cheer. It reminded me of a smaller version of the bathtub races in Berlin, MD. I guess when you're in a small town, everything becomes a big deal because, hey, it's at least something to do.

From there, I went to the 3rd annual 5k run/walk to benefit the St. Kitts Children's Home. The race was held at the Marriott gold course, which is a pretty place to race that is also relatively flat. The race was actually very well-run. They had nice performance t-shirts for participants, which are sooooooo much better than regular t-shirts for running. Now, I have something I'll actually wear when I go on my morning runs, not just another cotton t to shove in a drawer with the rest of the free shirt collection. They separated runners and walkers so walkers didn't get trampled and runners could make good time (although I was bit disappointed that they didn't separate runners by pace, but oh well). The course was well-marked with km markers and direction arrows where the runners and walkers split (the walk was only 2k). The volunteers getting everybody registered, handing out water at the finish line, and handing out food afterwards were well-organized and seemed to know what they were doing. The food afterward was healthy, tasty, and there was something for everybody. Overall, it was one of the more pleasant races I've done, logistically. Of course, it was in St. Kitts, so the sun was beating down and it was hot, despite being at 4pm. At least they didn't make it for noon. Because of the hotness, I wasn't too upset at getting a 5k time of 32:38.

Manufacturing Awareness Week cart race

Manufacturing Awareness Week cart race


MAW pumpkin ball maker

MAW pumpkin ball maker


Dive Site

Dive Site


Cool fish

Cool fish


Petting sea cucumber

Petting sea cucumber

Posted by spsadventures 16:00 Archived in St Kitts/Nevis Comments (0)

Complacency

Recently, the novelty of living on a tropical island wore off. I think I realized it when I toured a friend around the island and wasn't so in-awe of the things that I used to be. Also, I got sick and had to deal with a lack of pharmacies/choices. Plus, work has been very stressful recently. Paradise isn't supposed to be stressful!

Culturama weekend brought some relief as we had 2 days off of work. Saturday, I went to water aerobics and was still stressed afterwards, so I went looking for one of the beach masseuses to give me a massage. My friend instead recommended some pros that do massages in a building instead. Thinking that it couldn't hurt, I went, even though that is not really my thing. Honestly, I'm glad I did. It gave me a chance to think and process and get myself mentally ready for what may come. Also, I'm pretty sure she found some knots I didn't even realize I had and she worked them out.

Additionally, since last I blogged, I went to Spratnet, a highly recommended fish restaurant. The menuthere consists of a wet-floor sign-sized chalkboard that says "fish, lobster, pizza" or something like that. I ordered pizza, and it was pretty reasonable.

In general, my weeks are pretty consistent and I've exhausted a lot of the tourist stuff to do. If I end up doing something new and different, I'll post, but most of St. Kitts has been explored.

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Cricket Holiday

Wednesday, the government declared a federal holiday. Why? Because there was a cricket match. Can I just state for the record how incredibly fabulous this is?

I went to the game because I had the day off, even though I knew nothing about cricket. I found some ladies from work and some strangers who explained the game to me though. By the end, I had half an idea as to what was going on. The West Indies Windies lost horribly to the New Zealand All Blacks, but the crowd had a good time anyway.

crowd at cricket game

crowd at cricket game


Cricket game

Cricket game

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Around Nevis

Sunday, we took the Sea Bridge (a ferry that takes cars) over to Nevis for the day. Even though the boat hadn't even arrived by the scheduled departure time (and hence departed very late), it was good we got there early as the boat filled up and I think there were a few cars that had to wait until the next one. When we got over to Nevis, we went hunting for food. Most of the restaurants in town seemed to be closed because it was Sunday, but we eventually found signs for a restaurant that sounded like it was at a hotel or something and would be open. We followed the signs down some side road, up some back road, on some neighborhood path that was more driveway than road, up the mountain, and finally to the Montpelier.

Montpelier is a hotel/restaurant on the site of what used to be a sugar mill. They have some very pretty gardens. As we were the only people eating there that day, we got the best table in the house and had a had a calm lunch overlooking their the foliage. Again, it was a “nice view” type of place with a calm ambiance made even calmer by the James Taylor and Jack Johnson playing softly in the background. Of course, as was our luck for the weekend, as soon as we were done, it started to rain. I drove back down the mountain very carefully in the downpour. We started our “touristing” in town at the Jewish Cemetery. Next to it is what may have been a synagogue at one point in time. Both are pretty abandoned. We went to a couple of the sights in town, but as it was a no-cruise-ship Sunday during off season, most everything was closed. We saw the outside of the Nevis museum. We saw the abandoned stalls of the craft market. We saw the pier where a ship would dock if there was one, but there really wasn't much in town to see.

We headed off around the island ring road. We stopped to see if we could find one of the Forts, but it required a hike through some woods and my parents weren't up to hiking to see the fort. (I miss you Jen!) Next, we stopped at the ruins of a church. This was one of the first churches built where blacks and whites could pray together. It was built by a slave owner who had a reputation for treating his slaves better than others treated their slaves, but he still owned slaves. He even brought in missionaries to educate them. Just outside the church is a nice display that explains the history of the building itself as well as the significance during the time that it was in use. Personally, I found it interesting, but if you're not into history or social activism you might not.

After the church, we went back to the main road to continue driving around it, but I was told that my passengers weren't that interested in stopping at places like that church or the fort, so I kept going. We got some nice views, but there really wasn't much that my parents wanted to see or do, so we went back to the Sea bridge port and took a nap until it arrived. I'm glad we got there early because it came and left a half hour ahead of schedule (or maybe 1 ½ hours behind schedule). My guess is that they were constantly running it because when we got back to St. Kitts, the line to get on the Sea Bridge was longer than it was in the morning. Probably, it was a lot of people who had come over for Music Fest and were going back.

Back on St. Kitts, we went for dinner at Ciao, because it was nearby. As usual, the food there was divine. This time, I got one of the specials which was some homemade spinach pasta, and was perfect. There is a reason I have a rule to always eat homemade pasta if a restaurant has it, and Ciao just reinforces the rule. When we were done with dinner, we went to the Marriott Royal Casino to play Bingo. The bingo was a bit larger than Mapau, but it was basically the same thing. We didn't win, but somebody else did win the bingo jackpot.

Monday, I took the day off of work to chill with my parents. My mom and I made soursop juice with the soursop we got at the Saturday market while my dad slept. Then, the plan was to do some snorkeling, but first they wanted to hit Port Zante. We started at the St. Kitts museum (previously reviewed here), which my parents seemed to really enjoy. They actually had one display that was new and I hadn't seen before, but had heard about from the intern who was putting it together. It was informative and fit in well with the rest of the museum. Next, we went to do some souvenir shopping. Note to visitors: all of the souvenir shops have the same stuff and similar prices. They are mostly owned by the same few people. When you ask for a size/color they don't have on the floor and they go to check, they are just running across the street to the next store to ask them. So, if the store you're in doesn't have it, the next store down won't either because the guy has already asked them and would have brought it back if they did.

When we got done with going through the stores once, we went for lunch at Circus Grill, because it was right there. The food was decent and there was a lot of it. It was nice to relax and just enjoy the breeze, even though we seemed to be doing a lot of that. Sometimes I take it for granted because I can do that every day, but I know that it was a nice treat for my parents who can't. Then, I went elsewhere as my parents went back through the Port Zante shops to get more stuff. I met back up with them and we went to more shops before calling it quits.

Purchases in the car, we headed over to Shipwreck for some afternoon snorkeling. It is really nice to be able to just walk into the water and snorkel right there whenever you want- no waiting for a boat. However, I have to admit that the reef looked pretty dead and was not one of the better places I've snorkeled or dove. Despite the sad-looking coral, there were a whole lot of fish out and about. We got to see a ton of urchins (if I was having a large dinner party and wanted to serve urchin, I could have picked up enough here to feed everybody and have leftovers), a few sea slugs, some cuttlefish, and a bunch of small fish that whose names I don't know because they look like generic fish, but with various patterns. I think my mom really liked the snorkeling because of all of the fish.

I got changed back at the Marriott where my parents were staying. I have to say, the Marriott is a nice place to be. The rooms are clean and fancy, with tons of pillows on the beds. The tub had water jets and was plenty big to have room to maneuver in the shower. They bathroom even had a bidet. I didn't feel like I was in St. Kitts. I felt like I was back in the states. I guess if that kind of luxury is what you want on a vacation, this is the place to stay.

After changing, we attempted to go to dinner at Jasmine's as the billboards had always intrigued me, but it appeared closed, so we went to Marshall's instead. Marshall's is a very fancy restaurant with a great view of the water and a nice, relaxed ambiance. The food was very fancy as well, although the flavors were subtle herby flavors and definitely not bold.

After a quick stop at my house for some free internet (you'd think an expensive place like the Marriott would give you free internet when you pay their high room prices, but apparently not), I said goodbye to my parents.

Synagogue Ruins

Synagogue Ruins


Cottel Church

Cottel Church


Nevis

Nevis


Montpelier Mill

Montpelier Mill


Crab and urchin

Crab and urchin


Sea slug and urchin

Sea slug and urchin

Posted by spsadventures 16:00 Archived in St Kitts/Nevis Comments (0)

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