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39 minutes ago Trip Report Oct. 16-24 [by Jaybird]
Carol, I usually don't do these as I do not possess the creative writing skills of board members like Pat, IslandGem and many, many others whose reports I have enjoyed over the years. However, because you asked, here it is. Sorry it is so long. Please excuse any grammar or spelling errors and feel free to edit as necessary. My wife took a lot of pictures but I do not know how to include them with this report. Maybe I will try to post them later.

We flew DFW-MIA-SXM. You can read about our flights down to SXM on a previous thread entitled “AA Experience”. We have been traveling to SXM twice a year since 2007 except post Irma and this pandemic year. While not nearly as long as many on this board, we have found the restaurants we like, dishes we like and beaches we like. Since we only go for 7-8 days we don’t experiment anymore. Therefore, I am afraid many of you will find us boring and repetitious. C’est la vie.

We arrived Friday the 16th. We have to leave our house at 1am to drive to DFW to make it to the island in one day. It makes for a long day. Upon arrival we are tired and hungry. Michael from Unity was waiting for us and we were quickly off to his office for the paper work and to pick up a relatively new Toyota with 14k miles on it. We stopped at Abu Ghazi in Simpson Bay for a shawarma, fries and beer. It hit the spot and we were off to Carrefour on Bush Road for supplies and to Oyster Pond on the French side to check in to Les Balcons. We have stayed here 15-20 times. The accommodations are bungalows that over look Oyster Pond. The units are all owned by different individuals and are decorated to their individual tastes. We have stayed in several different units and have 2 or 3 we always request based on availability. There are 20-25 units in the complex and we were the ONLY guests until the last night when two guests checked in. Our first and last nights dinner is always at Yvette’s in Orleans. It is one of our favorites. My wife had the conch salad and I had the creole snapper filet. Both were delicious as usual.

Saturday the 17th it was pastries from Bread and Butter then off to Orient for the day. We arrived to cloudy skies and a light rain. Cedric had only 5 sets of chairs and umbrellas set up and none were occupied. We decided to leave for a while and drive through Grand Case. As others have said it still looks terrible 3 plus years after Irma. We stopped at Super U in Hope Estate to pick up a couple of things we could not find at Carefour. We really liked this store and plan to get our provisions there next trip. We went back to the beach and had lunch at Orange Fever. I had the Mahi with Chef Christof special sauce and my wife had the shrimp salad served in a half pineapple. Both were very good. Orange Fever is one of our go to restaurants on Orient. After lunch the skies cleared and we spent the afternoon under the yellow umbrellas. There was less than 20 people on the south end of the beach. Dinner Saturday night was at Mark’s. I had the grouper filet with rice & peas and salad. My wife had then seafood salad. The seafood salad is huge and she took half of it home.

Sunday the 18th. Breakfast in the bungalow consisted of slices of baguette with melted gouda, bacon and raspberry jam. Simple but tasty. The day was spent at Orient. The busiest day of our trip with visitors and locals. For a while it was as close to pre Irma as I can remember with 20-30 people in the water in a big circle visiting. I estimate 75 people on the beach. Lunch was left over seafood salad. Dinner was at Lee’s in Simpson Bay. We go there once or twice each trip for the grilled mahi. We love it. The fish is grilled with a garlic sauce and I order extra on the side. Prior to dinner we met Andy Siegers of DAS Cigars for a drink and to pick up some cigars for a friend. Andy was born on SXM and it is always fun to visit with him.

Monday the 19th. Breakfast was the same as yesterday and off to Orient for the day. Brought snacks for lunch. Beach was slow again. Maybe 15-20 people. Dinner tonight was at a Lolo in Grand Case. Only two were open. Sky’s the Limit and the one on the water behind Talk of the Town. I don’t know the name of it but that’s where we ate. I had the shrimp creole and my wife had the grilled mahi. There was so much food on the plate there is no way we could eat it all. We gave it a hell of try though!!

Tuesday the 20th. See the last two days for breakfast. It was Orient again today. It was sunny and beautiful and we got a lot of sun. We brought sandwiches from the bakery in Orleans for lunch. Some friends who live in Cupecoy met us today and we had a lovely day catching up with them as it had been 2+ years since we had seen them. The Perch came to them with menus and let them order and served them in their chairs. While that is normal at some places, I had not seen the Perch do it before. The beach was busier today with 30+ people. The fish were very aggressive today. I mean VERY aggressive. Dinner tonight was at Mark’s again. I had the grouper again but with scalloped potatoes this time. My wife had the shrimp marinara. The food here is good and very consistent.

Wednesday the 21st. See the last three days for breakfast. Don’t worry as we are now out of gouda and the baguettes are gone. We took the day off from Orient as we have had a lot of sun. We decided to go to the Marigot market because we were told it was open on Wednesday and Saturday. It was dead. Maybe two shops open. We drove on to Phillipsburg and parked at Bobby’s Marina. The boardwalk and back street were almost vacant with most of the stores closed. It was sad to see. We drove back to Friars Bay to have lunch at Gutside. It is one of our favorite restaurants on the island. It is owned and operated by Ritchard and Lourdes. They are delightful people and it is so much fun to visit with them. Ritchard mans the kitchen while Lourdes runs the front. His creole dishes are some of the best we’ve eaten. The only downside is their irregular hours. Always call before going. We both had the creole mahi served with rice & peas, cole slaw, sliced avocados and plantains. It was delicious as always and a lot of food. So much food that we skipped dinner tonight. Lourdes sat at our table and visited while we ate since we were the only patrons. She recommended we try the stew conch next time.

Thursday the 22nd. We had pastries and croissants from Bread and Butter. The girls there always allow me to massacre my attempt at their language. It is fun to try and they laugh and correct me. It was off to Orient for the day. Still slow but the weather was beautiful. Lunch today was a homemade meat and cheese tray with crackers, grapes and olives we bought at Super U. Dinner tonight was Lee’s again. Our server was Lee’s son. He said they had gone from 20 employees to 5 since Covid. How sad. Lee and his wife were there and we visited for a few minutes. As you have read before the parking is horrendous but since it is slow we had no problems. We both had the mahi again.

Friday the 23rd. Croissants and pastries again. Orient was dead. Less than 10 people there all day. Today was our last day on then beach so we cleaned out the kitchen and had snacks for lunch. As I stated earlier we have our first and last dinners at Yvette’s. We shared a conch salad as an appetizer and both had the pan fried snapper filet with rice & peas, salad and plantains. Typical island creole food that we love. We visited with Felix and Corinthia for a few minutes then back to Les Balcons for an early night because we know tomorrow will be a long travel day.

Saturday the 24th. We pack and head to Mary’s Boon for a final lunch on the beach. I had the shrimp Cesar salad and my wife had the mahi burger. Both were good and washed down with a Carib and BBC. Then to Unity to turn in the car and to the airport. It is the first time to get mobile boarding passes for PJIA for us and since we did carry on only we went straight to passport control, security and the gate. Very easy. We arrive home the same time we departed, 1am. Didn’t even take the suitcases out of the car. Straight to bed. We booked Les Balcons for October of next year but hope to go back sooner if the pandemic subsides.
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8 hours ago Paradise Lake Lutz Florida [by doctorj]
Just wondering if this destination would be recommended by people reading this post. There are several condo/apartments for rent by the week near the facilities. Paradise Lake Resort appears to be closed on Monday/Tuesday during Covid so rooms are blocked off for those days.
Thank you in advance.
carib cheers,
doctorj
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Yesterday at 10:35 PM Captain Oliver's Marina - Oyster Pond? [by Rasputin]
I haven't followed TTOL very much lately. So what is the status of Captain Oliver's Marina post the hurricane and during COVID?
Is it open, operating, damage from hurricane cleaned up?

Thanks.
1 398 Read More
Yesterday at 06:55 PM Jet Blue has just announced...... [by pat]
....their latest flight schedule availability through September 7, 2021. Check it out .........
6 699 Read More
Yesterday at 03:23 PM Sailing vacation - clearing each country? [by Andiamo]
Looking into changing our BVI trip to St Martin for the first week of December. How does it compare to the BVI’s for those who’ve done both? We’ve done a few charters and enjoy the sailing aspect of the trip, but didn’t know how it was clearing customs at each county. Any changes with traveling between countries with Covid? We just want to get our sailing trip in this year...
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Yesterday at 02:18 PM PJIA reconstruction [by SXMScubaman]
https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/pjia-moving-ahead-with-terminal-reconstruction
2 414 Read More
Yesterday at 09:06 AM Turkey during the pandemic [by Sunset_Sammy]
I'm currently in Turkey with my favorite sailors. After a decade of her being my favorite vacation destination and Dan & Em's home they sold Skyelark shortly after she was shipped back from Tahiti. Good news is they have purchased an Oyster 62, Skyelark II, and we will be sailing her back to the UK possibly as early as Thursday.

Turkey is open for business and considered a corridor country for Malta, our first stop and home port of the new yacht. Coming from the US I have to spend 14 days here to be allowed entry to Malta. It seems Turkey is a gateway to other countries as well; I met an Italian veterinarian who is supervising the construction of a horse hospital in Kuwait and coming from Italy he also has to be here for 14 days. Not a bad thing at all.

I spent my first week in Istanbul, a beautiful city that I won't ever tire of visiting. Tourist crowds are down but the streets are still lively and prices very reasonable with the exchange rate between the lira and out dollar, 7.9 to 1 at the Grand Bazaar. I stayed at a small older hotel ( the Basileus) in old town, just a 10 minute walk from the hippodrome. The ground level room was small but clean with lots of hot water and pressure in the shower, $17 US a night. I was hoping to enjoy a true Turkish breakfast, but since it is usually served as a buffet, they are not available at the restaurants due to the virus. I did find a great little place, just down the street from the hotel, the Three Partners Restaurant. The menu has a wide variety of Turkish specialties and portions are large. Both times I ate there, having an entree and salad, I could not finish the meal. Mezzies (appetizers) are complimentary even with breakfast. I wrote a review on trip advisor if you'd like more info. Service is fast and friendly and I met a bunch of great folks just sitting at the outside tables.

I took a dinner cruise on the Bosphorous 25€, included entertainment and transport from the hotel. Temperature checks were made prior to boarding and a health declaration had to be filled out. Individuals and parties are all sat at their own tables. Masks are required in public and when moving around the boat, the MC told everyone to keep their masks on the table as the marine police occasionally board the boats to check compliance, it's a 900 lira fine if aught without one. Covid standards are in place but not strictly adhered to dispute the threat of fined. Temperature checks are made upon entry to the Grand Bazaar, I only walked through quickly once as my strategy is to avoid large crowds.

My second week is in Marmaris, a resort beach town on the sea. I'm staying at the LaBranda Mares Marmaris, a highly rated all inclusive with 440 rooms. $53 US a night single or double occupancy. The food is typical of an AI, good selection but bland; I did have various lamb dishes for lunch on about half my days here. The staff follows the covid protocols diligently and the guest are encouraged to wear masks in public. Most seem to comply except for some Russians of which there are a lot of here. I would guess the hotel is at about 30% occupancy. One night when the dance floor got crowded the DJ had shut the music down early due to the lack of social distancing on the dance floor. The other night, after the Turkish dancing show they placed tables on the dance floor area and the DJ advised dancing would only be permitted at your table with your own party, no dancing with strangers.

It town the crowds are again smaller than I remember last time I was here, but it's probably like that everywhere.
The weather is great, mid 80's everyday, the sea is gin clear and calm for swimming.

The restrictions in place really haven't impacted my holiday, it does get sweaty with the mask on walking in the heat but no big deal. You do see people without them on the street, but on public transport everyone wears one.

I forgot my laptop so I can't do a proper report, but if you're looking for a winter getaway, without having to quarantine on arrival, Turkey wouldn't be a bad choice.

Stay safe everyone and enjoy your travels where ever they may take you.
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10/24/2020 08:46 PM Border Crossings [by candj]
Are there check points at the various boarder crossings between the Dutch and French sides? If there are check points, are there consistent procedures being followed or is one check point easier than another?
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10/24/2020 10:36 AM Draft Motion re Rapid Testing [by GaKaye]
I just saw this on a Facebook page. I can't share the actual post, but here are images of the Draft Resolution.
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10/23/2020 10:49 PM Trip Reports.. [by Carol_Hill]
Thanks so much to Jo and Marc especially for your recent trip reports and pictures from SXM!! clapping

Those of you that are lucky enough to be able to go to SXM soon, or now, please take pity on those of us that won't be able to go to SXM until at least next year. Please post a bit about your trip, even if it's only "We went to Maho Market and got sub sandwiches and took them to Mullet and ate them on the beach. "

Meantime, we have gone somewhere for the first time all YEAR, and spending a weekend on the beach here in Florida. Check out the Worldwide Forum for my tongue in cheek very brief photo report from here. Link
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