April 15th, 2003

Keep Walking

(no subject)

Here's my Day-by-Day Vacation Report
(my regular Blog will continue tomorrow)

Thursday, 04/03/03 - After my plane was delayed plane in Boston (Philadelphia was fogged in), and having to run in Philadelphia airport from one wing of the airport to the other to just make the plane, I made it to Saint Maarten at 3:00pm Atlantic Standard Time. What to do first? It was overcast and raining on and off, which is very unusual for the island this time of year -- but it was warm and comfortable! I decided to take a quick drive around the island and verify that places I commonly go to were still there, by 6pm, I decide to go for quick swim at Cupecoy Beach (the gay clothes-optional beach) -- I swam in the sea as the sun was getting ready to set... The water was somewhat rough, as it normally is as the tide changes -- making for some nice body surfing. A good chunk of Cupecoy Beach is still eroded from the 1999 hurricane, the locals say that it takes about 10 years for the sand to all come back, although some days the sand will come back for a little while, it just does not stay. As the evening was upon me, I drove over to the Sunset Beach Bar (near the airport) for dinner and a few island drinks. They have the best grilled cheeseburgers at this little bar!! They had live reggae music that night, while I had my drink and dinner, I watched the sun set in the distance. Later that evening I went to Bliss, a fabulous nightclub that Johnny and I had discovered last year. They seem to have become very popular. Thursdays are two-for-one drinks, and has become unofficially "gay nights" at Bliss. I took a break from Bliss to go to Dolphin Casino and try my luck at some of the games. I thought of Kelly when I saw the "let-it-ride" game. I know where she would have been that evening! I went back to Bliss for a couple more drinks, and as it was getting far too busy, decided to go to the French side of the island. I hung out at Colibar for a while (they always have great music! -- they're still playing Costes there a lot, although it's over a year old now.) Realizing that Colibar was not going to get busy that night, I decide to check out the only officially gay bar -- L'Alibi, located next to the office of tourism. Although it was a slow night, I had a good time conversing with many of the tourists and locals. I got totally blitzed.

Friday, 04/04/03 - Did I really drink that much? My hangover says yes. Ouch! Time to locate some water, food and aspirin!!! Today is the first full day on the island -- I decide to go to Orient Beach slather on the sun block, get a lounge chair and an umbrella and work on hydrating my hangover to a manageable state. I spent from 9am - 4pm on the beach, with a small break for lunch -- a delicious chicken cesar salad. Although in the shade with SPF 30 sun block on, I managed to get very, very red. I already counted on getting pretty burnt my first day out, so I take it in stride. I checked into Delfina guest house, the only gay hotel on the island. I read about this place in the Advocate; and considering that my reservations at the time share were Sunday to Sunday, this would be the perfect place to spend my "extra" days. The owners, Michael and Borris, are wonderful hosts, former Germans that now live here on St. Maarten running their gay hotel for the last two years. Included with the room is a pool, gym, Jacuzzi, and free Dutch breakfast! What a wonderful place. I bought a Delfina T-shirt for Luis (friend in Rochester) as he collects Dolphins. He would love their dolphin theme. I ended up going to bed early to nurse my sunburn.

Saturday, 04/05/03 - My sunburn still hurts -- so much that my joints ached. I managed to put on some loose-fitting clothes and going to breakfast. I got to meet other guests over a traditional Dutch breakfast of cold cuts, breads, cheeses, coffee & tea. I took another pain pill to get rid of the pain of my sunburn. Today is relaxing in the shade only day. I lounge at the hotel and hang out with the guests here. I hear that tonight is the best night to go to L'Alibi -- remembering my last experience with the hangover, I'm considering going, but curbing the about I drink.

10:00pm: I did go out last night with Eddie and the Germans to Club Planet and then to L'Alibi -- what fun! About 2am, I realized that I had enough to drink, and that I'd better get some food in me to buffer the alcohol. I went downstairs to the straight bar, where they were playing some cool tunes and served pizza. I ordered a pepperoni pizza and a coke. The folks at the bar were getting loaded, and the bartender and his D.J. Were quite amusing! As some time went by, they went from playing French music to "American" music, starting with Roxanne (by the Police) -- I was singing along, and next thing I knew, they handed me the wireless mike and provoked me to sing along! -- I guess this was as close to karaoke I was going to get on the island -- I had a ball! When the next song came on, the lady to my left hopped up on the bar and started doing a sexy strip tease, riding the support pole and eventually showing off her breasts to the delight of all the guys at the bar -- her boyfriend, two seats over was cool with it.... I love the French!! A song later, my pizza came, and then it was time for turnabout! The lady egged on the bartender to get up and also do a strip tease! After my meal was finished, I went back to Delphina for my last night there until next week.

Sunday 04/06/03 - Sunday's here!!! Bruce will be coming in this afternoon! I got up, and felt fine -- glad I watched my drinking, and had food before I went to bed! I had continental breakfast and hung out until 12:45. Bruce should be coming in 1 hour. I drive to the airport to discover his plane was going to be late -- 2:45. So, I went to Sunset Beach Bar for a few beers and to watch the planes land. I met a nice couple from Southern England; they were so sweet! Two hours, and three beers later, I saw Bruce's plane come in!! I made a beeline to the airport and I was hoping that there were no problems for Bruce getting through customs. About 30 minutes later, he emerged from the baggage claim area!! I was so excited that he made it! We went back to Delphina for a cocktail and to grab my luggage, then it was off to Pelican Resort for check in. Once this was all done, it was already 5:00pm. Since we would have about 2 hours before sundown, I decided to show him around the island. We made a counterclockwise trip around the island on the main road, with stops at Dawn Bay (Beach), Orient Beach, dinner in Marigot at the Marina, and then Cupecoy [it was dark by then.]

Monday 04/07/03 - Last night was rough -- there was a nasty storm from 3:00am until about 4:00am that woke me up (Bruce slept through it), but we still got up about 10am and went to Orient Beach for the whole day! Sun, swimming and a little bit of shopping! We were going to go out that night, but alas, EVERYTHING was closed Monday night! We drove around a while, and ended up at the resort early, and went to bed early.

Tuesday 04/08/03 - Today, we were well rested, and hung out ALL DAY at Cupecoy Beach! We met a nice couple from Rochester, New York! Ben and Pam are great folks -- we're going to meet them out at L'Alibi tonight.

L'Alibi was fun! -- Bruce and Pam were dancing nonstop and in between, we got to know them better. They invited us to their villa tomorrow night for dinner.

Wednesday 04/09/03 - Today's the day we're going to meet Ken at the port in Phillipsburg. Ken is a guy I work closely with that happened to take the same week as I did for vacation; he however took a Caribbean Cruise. When we discovered that one of his ports of call was Saint Maarten, we agreed to meet and that I'd show him the island. From where we were staying, I could watch his ship coming in to Philipsburg -- we had breakfast and went to meet him. With the lines he had to deal with, it took him 1½ hours to get from the boat to the dock (you have to take small boats "water taxis" to get to the island, as Great Bay is too shallow for the huge cruise ships to enter. We waited for him at a restaurant/bar on the beach and sampled some local island food, including conch fritters. Kenny arrived with a friend, and off we went to do some minor shopping in Philipsburg. It's always busy there when the ships come in. About an hour later, we took off to begin the driving tour. Driving from Philipsburg, up the main road we pass through Upper Prince's Quarter, Middle Region, Quarter D'Orleans, and arrive at our first stop: Orient Beach! This is Ken's first visit to a nude beach. We hung out for a little while (clothed!) and had a cocktail at the beach bar. Then we were off again -- Grand Case, Marigot, and then we arrived at Sandy Ground for lunch at my favourite island restaurant: Leala's. What a wonderful lunch we had -- We all shared a baked camembert cheese with garlic and toast points. I had a delicious Cajon-style Mahi-Mahi with a provincial salad. Their food is amazing! Back in the car, we made a quick stop at my other favourite beach -- Cupecoy! We were rapidly running out of time so we needed to get them back to the boat. Of course, this was the perfect time for a traffic jam! Poor Ken was getting all upset about the possibility of missing his boat. We went through Mullet Bay, Maho, past the Princess Juliana Airport, Bobby's Marina, and then up the big hill to pass to the east side of the island where Philipsburg is. He got to his boat on time. No worries. Bruce and I went back to "the Floating Bar" for a quick beer before going back to our condo to get washed and changed for dinner.

Ben & Pam's villa was just a few hundred feet from where we're staying. It's a single house with three bedrooms, a large beautiful patio with a swimming pool and a wet bar, and situated up high on the hillside. It was a beautiful home. Yours to rent for a week for a mere $3k. Pam made a huge dinner, featuring BBQ chicken and Salmon. Enough food to put your average thanksgiving to shame! We were there until 1:30 playing jazz music and dancing! We exchanged phone numbers so we can stay in contact back in Rochester! We made plans to meet them tomorrow at Cupecoy beach again. We had NO serious beach time all day today, so we'll make up for it tomorrow.

The evening ended on a down note: we didn't lock our car, and although it was high up on the hill, my cell phone and Bruce's prescription glasses were stolen out of the car. Although the phone nor the glasses are good to anyone else, they took them. What a bummer. I guess it could have been much, much worse if we had cash or valuables in the car. As this part of the island is "gated", we found out the hard way that crime finds a way. Ben and Pam's car was also invaded, but they too had nothing of serious value in it. Note to myself: no matter how secure you think an area is: lock the car.

Thursday 04/10/03 - We decide to make up for lost beach time and go directly to Cupecoy and relax in the sun and surf all day -- another perfect day!! That evening, Bruce took me to an Indian Restaurant (which I've always been fearful of, as I've heard it's very spicy/hot) -- although the main course was very tasty, the spice was just about as hot as I can handle. The appetizers were wonderful! It was a variety of vegetarian "pastries" (for lack of a better word), we also ordered spinach nan (flat bread with spinach) which was delicious! After getting stuffed, we took a walk around the complex -- down to the beach, then up to La Vista (where I stayed two years ago) for a cocktail. We were still feeling quite full, so we walked to the casino, and while thinking of Kelly, I played Let It Ride for a while. I spent $40, and when I went down to $10, we went over to the Blackjack table, and I made my money back (and then promptly lost it again!) We played a few slots and then headed back to the suite for an early night to bed (11pm) so we could get up in the morning at eight.

Friday 04/11/03 - We dread the days going by so fast - we're having such a wonderful time, and every passing day means one day closer to going home to cold weather and work. Today we got up early and headed out to Marigot for breakfast and shopping. We had breakfast at "Zee Best", a restaurant John, Daniel and I discovered last year. Instead of rolls and butter, they put a basket of French pastries (all croissant based) on the table while you await your breakfast. Bruce had a delicious Florentine omelet, while I had a crepe stuffed with eggs, bacon and cheese. To quote Bruce, "yummers!" We proceeded to shop in the open-air market for a while, this is on the waterfront area. If you've seen the movie "Speed 2" (the one with the boat), this is the area where the boat crashed into the island. The marketplace is similar to Park Avenue festival, except the products are all from the island. I picked up a few gifts for friends, and a year's supply of saffron (for $7) -- we then shopped along the street, and then in the marina. With this being accomplished, it was time for the beach again!

Some people just wander around cruising other people, Bruce and I started giving them all nicknames based on their behaviour. "Stubbed-toe man" walked with such a swish, it looked like he had stubbed his toe. He was a piece of work. We "labeled" another guy who just sat at the far end of the beach on the rocks all the time (who was very handsome) "Beefers" since he was so beefy. We intend to bring the saying "beefers" back home, and see if we can get it to be used in general conversation. It would be inter operable with "woof!" when you see a sexy looking guy.

When the sun began to approach the horizon, we drove to Sunset Beach Bar (the first time Bruce has been there) -- we brought our own olives (as they did not have any at the bar, we were prepared) so they could make us 'dirty' Martinis -- yummers! We took some photos, toasted the sunset, and hung out for a while. After the handful of people we have met from Rochester, NY; here at Sunset, we met some guys from Boston, MA! In fact, one of the guys lives one block from where I do in Boston! It was cool that I met someone that lived near me!

Getting slightly toasted, we stopped for a beer and to order another pizza -- those pizzas are really good!! We came back to the suite and changed for going out. We were going out early tonight; roughly 10pm. It normally does not get busy until 3am in the clubs. We went to both Club Planet and L'Alibi and danced. Although the sign for C.D. Zion was still up, it was not open. We came back to the suite to promptly pass out.

Saturday 04/12/03 - In the morning, our usual routine... Stop at the store for snacks and water, then off to Cupecoy beach. We spent another glorious day at the beach - sunning, reading, swimming, the usual... :-) I wish I had this kind of life all the time! When dusk approached, we headed back to the condo to pack up, clean up and make dinner reservations. Tonight was to be our "formal" dinner. We went to Indochine, which was listed as an Argentine restaurant -- to our surprise it turned out to be Vietnamese. We contemplated going elsewhere, but decided to give it a chance. After having some difficulty with the language barrier (French to English) we had a very enjoyable meal! We stopped over at Colibar for a nightcap. Colibar is a very trendy nightclub that we found last year. A bit pricey, but great music, as always! On the way home, we stopped at one of the casinos in Maho for some quick gaming - we broke slightly above even and left. We went back to the condo for the night and had some wine and cheese as we watched the moonlight reflect on Simpson Bay. A large cruise ship was having some sort of event in the distance, as aerial spotlights flashed off every end of it, making it look like a quasar on the horizon!

Sunday 04/13/03 - Today's check-out day at Pelican Resort. Although this resort is the largest I've stayed on, making it a little less personal, the stay was enjoyable overall! Bruce's departure is at 3:30pm, so we're going to cram as much as we can into the morning and enjoy the day. Our plans are visiting the Butterfly Farm and Guana Bay.

2:30pm: We visited the Butterfly Farm, which is always so pretty. It's such a peaceful place to visit with hundreds of butterflies everywhere... Afterwards, we went to Guana Bay for the first time this visit. Bruce filled a small bottle of sand to bring home for a friend - we found a small sponge, and added it to the mix. We had about one hour before Bruce needed to be at the airport, enough time to stop over at Delphina for some sun and a dip in the pool. Bruce changed back into long pants and a shirt for the trip back to New York. I brought him to the airport, and he was off shortly thereafter.

While we were at Delphina, I met two other guests whom just arrived from Germany. We hung out for a while, then went to Cupecoy Beach to swim and watch the sunset (for my last time this vacation) -- it was a beautiful sight.

I'm back at Delphina, and as just about everything is closed on Sunday, have no plans other than to relax. Maybe I'll pop into the hot tub until they open their bar later tonight... The Germans are going to the same Chinese restaurant that went to a week ago Friday. Hummmm... There's always the casinos also... (evil grin)

10:30pm: I did end up going to the casino last night. I won some and lost some in the slots. In Kelly's absence, I played "Let It Ride" for her. I didn't win at all - yuck. Oh well. I went back to Delphina and drank the last of my wine before bed. Since the restaurants were closed, and frankly, I wasn't hungry, I didn't go out to dinner.

Monday 04/14/03 - Woke up just about 9:30am - I forgot to set my alarm. I wanted to make it to Guana Bay in the morning for high tide for some body surfing, but I also wanted to finish my shopping. I drove to Philipsburg; did my shopping and thanks to traffic, just had enough time left to get back to the hotel to shower and re-pack for the trip home. Less than an hour later, I was in the airport getting ready to come home... :-(