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Yesterday at 09:38 PM 4 wheelers [by jmon]
One of the last times I stopped at JVD, someone was renting 4-wheelers to ride around the island. Does anyone know if they are still doing that?
2 254 Read More
Yesterday at 09:37 PM As of Oct 1 2022 - Canada dropping all Covid-19 border restrictions [by Dr Phil SXM]
Finally, as of Oct 1 2022, SXM to Canada. 🇨🇦 No more Covid-19 travel restrictions .

ArriveCan App not necessary
No mandatory masks on planes or at airports
No random covid-19 testing upon arrival at border
No quarantines
No required proof of Covid-19 vaccination upon entry

This will make traveling back and forth to SXM much easier.

Drphilsxm

https://beta.ctvnews.ca/national/politics/2022/9/26/1_6084119.amp.html
15 489 Read More
Yesterday at 03:15 PM Where should we stay? [by macaroni]
Thinking of taking a late flight from San Juan to beef island, spending the night and then taking the first ferry to virgin Gorda. What is the closest and nicest place to stay for 1 night? We usually fly direct to virgin Gorda with cape air but the airfare is just getting crazy. Could even look into a charter instead at cape air prices.
Thanks for any suggestions.
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09/25/2022 08:26 PM MIA GE/Customs [by cruzer]
On our Thursday SXM departure it took us 2 hours from landing to the connecting gate in MIA. Sure glad I had a 3 1/2 hour connection instead of the shorter possible 1 1/2 hour connection.

We deplaned near D1 and had a long trek ahead of us to Passport Control. After clearing, they dump everyone into one line for connecting flights. At least they let Pre-checkers keep their shoes on and electronics in the carry-ons. The line was very long.

At GE it happened so fast. I might have missed something. No passport needed at GE. I think they did a retina scan, took your picture, and then sent you to the agent, where he asked you one or 2 questions. Absolute simplicity. Shocked me, for sure. Regular people then proceeded to bag claim. Oh, BTW, they want friggin' $8 for a cart rental!!! Not any takers that I saw.

One of the questions asked was "do you have anything to declare". I said yes, about $3300 of purchases. In the past they would ask what it was, rub their chins, decide the paperwork wasn't worth it, and send you on your merry way. Not this time. Got in another line, got asked a bunch of questions, sent to 2 different desks along the way in a kind of no-mans land, and then down the stairs to customs baggage inspection. Had to wait for an agent to serve us, despite numerous folks around there. He quizzed us, made me fill out that old-times customs form, checked the receipt for Mrs. Cruzer's nice bracelet, didn't care about my new watch purchase or anything else we bought, and then sent us to the cashier to pay our $39 in import duties. This entire process was another long walk and lots of waiting for the officials to deal with us, despite us being the only folks there at the time.

So, it appears to me that escaping import duties on small overages might now be a thing of the past. The duties really don't bother me, it's just the administrative hassle. Maybe they can smooth this as well as the rest of the GE process. I still won't like MIA, but I won't be cursing under my breath as much.

Oh, and another pleasant surprise with AA in-cabin service. Ok, so it was up front, but shortly after we took our seats the FA asked if we'd like a drink. As one of the choices was wine or beer, I was shocked--shocked I say. I asked if this was something AA is reinstating, or an MIA perk, and she responded "No, that's my way of serving you". And after our 9:30 PM departure for DFW, she was constantly throughout the cabin, offering and refilling drinks, passing out snacks, and just seeing what her passengers needed. My previous experience with late night flights, is they pass out a big bottle of water, dim the cabin lights, hang out in their flight seat, and hope to not deal with you again until arrival. This kind of made up for the hassle at MIA. I have to send AA am attaboy for our FA.

Another fine trip to St. Martin comes to an end, but we'll be back in the middle of December for 4 weeks. I hear a White Christmas is a high probability this year, or so, that's what the casinos there are saying.
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09/25/2022 03:19 PM Northern ITALY 9/22, part 3 [by BEERMAN]
Northern Italy 2022, (September 3-14)

Enjoyed a great sleep, with the curtains closed it was pitch black and the rumor of night noise was not realized with the windows and shutters closed! My eyes opened early as usual around 5:30-6am. I eased quietly out of the bedroom to make coffee. I opened the large windows and tall green shutters in the living room and the sky was just starting to glow. The sound of scooters racing through town was already evident, closed the windows to let the ladies sleep a while longer. Made coffee and took it outside with me to take sunrise pics, beautiful morning...


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Soon I found the ladies joyfully awake having coffee and tea, also taking pics from the open windows. With a great weather forecast we decided to take our hike to Portofino this morning. In my dry bag backpack you would find bathing suits and towel, just in case we needed a swim. Walked through Santa Margarita's marina then onto a nice coastal walkway next to the road. One amazing thing about Italy is that everyone seems very fit, lots of joggers and cyclists out at 9am....and scooters! We probably only went a mile or so when we saw a nice restaurant Buongustinaio, had to check it out. We decided to have another coffee and a croissant there, just because. The views are awesome from their deck, watched dogs play with their owners on Bau Bau beach. The restaurant offered beach accommodations, but I was more interested in the brick oven! We said we should return to try their pizza, didn't happen.

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Time to move. Next place of interest to slow our pace was Paraggi Bay, absolutely our kind of place. Watching people dive and jump from the rock platforms looked fun and the colorful water inviting. We said we would come back to swim, we did, just not this day. Breezed through Paraggi and kept following the signs to Portofino, interesting to see people walking the crowded, if not treacherous, roadway when there's a beautiful trail system. The views were outstanding, but the shade was my happy place.

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I didn't keep a journal this trip like i usually do, funny I just forgot to bring one. The distance hiked... about 7.5 miles round trip, I did document 30,000 steps on my cell phone from the entire day! and 70 flights for what it's worth. The trail is considered "moderate", we saw all varieties of people enjoying the trail, some seemed to be in a race, others just one step at a time. Relatively few people on the hike. The trail meanders along the coastal hillside, giving an occasional glimpse of some secluded swimming hole and amazing villas, I want to be their friend. Sometimes you're walking in the shadows next to a tall stone wall covered in ivy then into a treed park like setting in dappled sunlight, very nice. In the full sun I certainly broke a sweat on this clear 85 degree day! Cresting a hill we got our first glimpse of Portofino, not bad!

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The town wears an upscale quaint persona, turn your back to the marina you get the quaint, face the mega yachts you get the upscale!. There were quite a few people here and the ferries seemed never ending. We sat on the piazza for a brief moment and people watched while cooling down, with a medium beer and spritz of course. The ladies did get to browse the shops a little.

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Back on the trail to our waypoint at the lighthouse, probably another mile to go. The walk continued to be beautiful with few people, nice. Before you know it, there it is! I had read about the Al Faro Bar and it was easy to find at the base of the lighthouse facing the deep blue waters. Very Mediterranean vibe with everything white except for the blue chairs, cool place. We decided to have a light lunch here, shared some type of panini and caprese salad. Very good and the prices were reasonable considering where we were. So curious as to how they move provisions in and out of this remote spot?!

One thing that I'm fond of when traveling is actually buying a local t-shirt, that craze is apparently not a thing in Northern Italy! If Al Faro had a white t-shirt with a small blue logo of the lighthouse I would own it!!! Funny story, I was actually walking by the Santa Margherita marina with an Asheville North Carolina t-shirt on and another man passed wearing his Asheville shirt, I heard his wife say with a southern twang "did y'all see his shirt?"


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Denying ourselves a second drink we opted to start the long trek back to Santa Margherita but not before changing into our bathing suits. The return trip seemed so much faster. I know we picked up the pace a little by not needing to take pics of everything we saw (1500 photos this trip) . As we walked around Paraggi Bay it was decided that we would come back in the morning to swim from the rocks when there are fewer people. We did take a refreshing swim break at Bau Bau beach! Sorry no pics, I didn't want to be "that guy" with the camera while some European sunbathing was going on! I should have been recorded stumbling into the water like a drunken sailor without beach shoes, painfull!!

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Stopped at the apartment to relax and freshen up before dinner. We were looking for a restaurant without reservations AGAIN around 9pm. I would highly recommend reservations in the summer months. We saw a nice looking place called II Patio, the palm tree strung up with lights actually caught our eye. They may have rolled their eyes when we said no reservation, but the nice hostess said of course, give us 2 minutes. We opted for a variety of tasty seafood dishes. Service and food is great here. Surprisingly we had room for dessert, shared an orange panna cotta and I think they called it apple pie served in a jar, crazy good!

Funny moment at the end of dinner that would be repeated many times during our trip, the waiter spoke almost no English, I speak basically no Italian, but I love to talk, I was trying to tell the waiter how much we appreciated getting to dine there, how wonderful the food and service was and with a blank look he quickly says "Good night, bye bye!"! I simply nodded my head and said ciao!

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It was agreed that we couldn't call it a night without a nightcap at Il Vernissage wine bar...until the next post...Cheers!


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09/25/2022 01:08 PM Back to tents?? [by Tonythepilot]
https://smn-news.com/index.php/st-m...ae-seeking-clarifications-on-delays.html
7 928 Read More
09/24/2022 03:52 PM Groceries [by nakedisbetter]
Last year there was a reference from some about a person who would shop for your prior to arrival and stock the condo. Trying to decide if we will rent a car again or go a different route. Any contact information would be appreciated if someone has it. Will be staying in Orient Bay but would prefer the shopping done in Phillipsburg. (the French stores are great but the Dutch ones have a few more options for our American Appetites. :))
8 867 Read More
09/24/2022 01:08 PM Halloween Dinghy Poker Run [by capttom]
Good Morning All
There IS going to be a dinghy Poker Run this year on Monday the 31 from Blunder Bay, and visiting the Sandbox, Saba Rock, Bitter End, and Leverick Bay. It finishes at North Sound Bistro and there is a costume contest as well. Just about everyone I spoke with about it mentioned 'SailDoggie' and of course Nick and Monica who were all part of the first one several years ago so we are doing this with them in mind. Its for a charity, Animal Rescue of Virgin Gorda, and we look forward to having a great time raising money for a worthy cause. It's on Monday the 31 which might be tricky for some I know, but we wanted to have it in the actual day of Halloween, and leave room for Foxy's Catfight earlier in the weekend. They are, after all, my previous employer.
So we hope to see you there, if you are just starting your week charter on Sunday you can hustle up to North Sound by 2 pm on Monday and be a part of a fun event.
2 188 Read More
09/24/2022 12:25 PM Sunsetbeachbar [by Richie]
Is it true sunset beach bar has closed 🤷‍♂️
25 1,732 Read More
09/23/2022 02:54 PM Northern ITALY 9/22, part 2 [by BEERMAN]
Northern Italy 2022, (September 3-14)


We went to bed around 11pm and set our alarms for 7:30 am. I usually survive on 5-6 hours of sleep, but I slept a solid 7.5 hours this night! Our check out was at 10am and check-in wasn't until 3pm in Santa Margherita Ligure, so we spent a couple hours walking around Milano. I put some of those pics in the last post, but boy did it feel wonderful to wake up in Italy!
Fyi, we did keep one Verizon cell phone on the entire trip costing $10 per day, money well spent in the end. We checked train schedules during breakfast and realized our options were thin and departure times one hour apart, most trains had multiple stops taking 4-1/2 hours! With a little patience and research our daughter found a train leaving at noon that was DIRECT, 2 hours 4 minutes to Santa Margherita-Portofino. I believe she used the Omio app, the site said 4 ticket remaining, we purchased immediately! I think we paid around $70 for 3 tickets, bargain if you ask me! We didn't unpack much, so it was easy to get ready to walk to Milano Centrale. Knowing we had 2 hours before the train it allowed for a relaxing walk to the station. Thank you daughter!


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The train ride was pleasant with only one disappointment, there wasn't a beverage car, I was just happy to be on this non-stop train! Masks were mandatory on this train, but most people seemed to disregard policy, letting the mask hang precariously from one ear or perhaps just warming ones chin. Our airbnb host kindly asked that we send them a text when we were 30 minutes out, we did. 2 hours and 10 minutes later we exited the station greeted with the most amazing sight, the Mediterranean/Ligurian Sea!!! With the wheels of our luggage bouncing along the well worn cobble stones we joyfully worked our way down to city center, absolutely beautiful.



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We chose an airbnb in the center of town. I read that our location could be noisy, it was, lots of scooters racing around, there were. But once we were in our airbnb it was surprisingly quiet especially at night, great windows and air conditioning. We stayed just a few meters from the ferry dock, perfect central location for us ( I circled our apartment windows in red below).. 2 bedroom, 1 bath, well equipped kitchen, large private back yard with stone walls and lemon trees, and from the front of the apartment a view to die for. The host left us with an amazing amount of fruit, crackers and beverages, the unit was very well equipped with most things we would need.


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After unpacking for our 3 night stay we walked to a charming side street to grab a late lunch, basically just a really good panini sandwich! Sitting outside at a picturesque cafe on cobblestone is perhaps my favorite thing in the world. To be honest we really didn't need the panini with the generous snacks this place provided.


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With our bellies full we walked around the town, venturing beyond the marina loaded with amazing boats and yachts. Found a COOP close by and grabbed a few provisions, including inexpensive beer and wine. We dropped off the provisions and wanted a drink. decided to try a small wine bar, Bar il Vernissage. It sat conveniently right next to our apartment, this would be our regular go to spot! Friendly staff, great drinks and another generous snack of olives, meats, cheese, ripe cherry tomatoes with mozzarella and chips! They had a few tables with excellent views, but they also put large pillows along the ancient walkway giving it a little "bohemian" feel, awesome.


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Around 9pm we were looking for a restaurant and found a table at Da Michele. It was in a little square off the main drag. Just enough room in the square for maybe 3 restaurants to be nicely separated. We enjoyed gnocchi, pasta, prawns and filet smothered in porcini's, love porcini's! Our waiter was very personable, liked this guy. After dinner we poked around the corner and found the wine bar closed at midnight, good thing I was exhausted. Off to bed to be rested for our first hike of the trip....ciao!


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