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30 minutes ago Bird Park [by mstngal]
Has anyone been to the Bird Park? I’m assuming it is open these days… I heard good things about it a few years back and curious if it’s worth the stop…
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Yesterday at 09:54 PM Coming back! tomorrow...yeah! [by hallucination]
After a hiatus in Maine/Annapolis (eastport) we are heading on down since the june after that B*ch Irma messed us all up. We found a Bav46 Vision...same as ours down there. Her name is Xenia and we will be traipsing around for the next few weeks. Stop by for a drink or something else if you run into us. Any pertinent stuff we should know?

-robert, linda, chris, ashley.
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Yesterday at 03:04 PM Final Day - Thursday May 19 [by jomarc]
Awoke early and packed our stuff up. Leftovers for breakfast, then one last relaxing soak in the pool. Checked out around 11:45 AM.

Drove to Simpson Bay for lunch, and on the way nearly got hit by a crazy old scooter driver. He just raced out of a parking lot. Thankfully he had good brakes, or else he would’ve ended up crashing into one of our passenger side doors. Yikes!

Lunch was at Vesna Taverna. I had the Greek Trio Appetizer and March had a Ham and Cheese Sandwich with fries. Both plates were very good. Sally, our waitress, was quite the character and had us laughing a lot. No service charge was added to the bill.

Returned the car to SAX Car Rental and arrived at the airport around 1:30 for a 4:00 flight. As you entered the American ticket counter line, two tables were set up, and once we showed our completed VERIFLY information and negative Covid paperwork, we were good to go. The line was somewhat long for those checking in bags, but we only had carryon bags, so no waiting there at all. That process took us all of five minutes. We headed outside for one last beer. Once back in the airport, we breezed through the final passport and security checks in about 10 minutes.

For those who are questioning the timing of Covid testing to leave the island: our tests were completed at 8:19 AM on Wednesday and our check-in at the airport was on Thursday at 1:30 PM, (more than 24 hours later). We had NO issues.

Once in Charlotte, we learned that our flight to Boston was delayed one hour. One of my bags was pulled by Security. Juggie's Magic Spice containers were swabbed thoroughly. LOL We relaxed in the Members Club until they closed down at 10:30. Our flight left an hour after that. Landed in BOS around 1:20, took an UBER ride and arrived home around 2:45 AM. It was a long day, but so worth it!

That a wrap! Thank you for the kind comments on my sometimes cryptic and convoluted reporting!
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Yesterday at 09:36 AM Wednesday & Thursday [by cruzer]
Wednesday I had another one of my split session sleeps, being awake from 1-4 am, returning to bed until 7. So, we cut a trip to La Samana to view the Richardson gallery out of the day's plans.

Mrs, Cruzer had unfinished business with the "bag lady" at the Marigot Market Silly me thought she might exchange the batik patched bag she bought last time, but she purchsed another one very similar in design, but more colorful, plus a lightweight fabric shoulderbag. At least I got a Presidente out of the trip, though I had to share that. MC also bought some black seeds and black seed oil, which is supposed to be nigella, a fairly tasty seed.

Market purchases completed, we head to Orange Grove for our lunch at Le Champagne and a visit with Sylvain. I had requested he put a bottle of Weinbach Pinot Blanc in the cooler earlier, which is our go-to wine there for lunch. Turns out, that was the last bottle and he was saving it for me, as he only orders 2 or 3 cases once a year, and the supply lasts all year.

We started off with beef carpaccio, which was the best yet this trip. Drizzled with a mild pesto sauce, with shaved parmagiano and pine nuts, it was a great start to the meal. But by this time over half the wine is gone. Have to slow down as there is no more available.

My lunch was a duck shepherds pie, ample duck slices in a cream sauce that surrounded the potatoes, topped under the broiler with a cheese crust. Excellent. MC had a grouper filet on a bed of leek fondue. We finished sharing a creme brulee, and Sylvain treated us each to a glass of Monbeziallac. Overall, a very satisfying meal, and well worth repeating.

For some reason we never got in the water Wednesday, but did make up for it Thursday. My cramps seem to have gone away, which I attribute to a Potassium shortage, an element found in bananas, so I've been partaking of bananas in the form of medicinal BBCs, which I'm sure is covered by Medicare. BBCs can easily kill my appetite, so I have to go easy here.

Thursday was a laze about the resort kind of day, but we managed a return visit to Nice for lunch. MC had the usual beef carpaccio with fries, and I had the onion tart with a nordic salad--smoked salmon, barely seared tuna slices, and marinated shrimp over a bed of greens. We do manage to consume a bit of raw protein when we're on this island.

Now that I think about it, Nice does not offer the complimentary infused rum after dinner. Good thing I have Ma Dou Dou back in the room.

We stopped by the chocolate/coffee shop on the way back to the room. We have now found our dessert place. Their sweets are way better than Bounty, so we'll get our morning baked goods from Bounty and our sweets here.

Back to the room, in the water, and off to the Guest Mixer, nee Manager's Cocktail Party. They do put out a very nice array of tapas, so this was our dinner snack.

It's interesting how many couples we have met--I want to say 5 or 6--who have been married 45-50 years. Not 44, not 51, but 45-50. We're coming upon our 46th shortly as well.

A couple of pix. The view from our room, Pablo T. Cat, and our meals at Nice for Carol who requested food pix, with these being practice for our Dinner at L' Auberge Gourmande tonight.

Now down to our final 5 full days.
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05/19/2022 11:52 PM Orange Fever today [by SXMScubaman]
After our dinner with island friends at our place last night we recouped at Orange Fever today. Calm seas and very little seaweed it was a wonderful relaxing day. Good food and front row padded loungers made for a nice day.
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05/19/2022 10:33 PM Turks and Caicos - Trip Report [by DavefromCA]
So, here is a rather lengthy trip report. I know there are not a lot of folks going to T&C but here it is.


Summary
We took a 10 day trip to Turks and Caicos. In short, great food, beaches and people. The downside were the bugs. We go to the Caribbean and other islands often and we are used to Deet routine but the only other comparable situation was on Long Island in the Bahamas.

And Provo is a busy little island. While there are no stoplights, there are a lot of cars and people (at least for us). I think it’s because it’s an easy direct flight from the East Coast, so it’s a very popular getaway.

Flights
We flew American overnight from SFO to Charlotte and then, after a short layover, to PLS. We bought Fast Track and thought it was well worth it. Several other flights arrived around the same time and there was a long line to get through immigration. It took us about five minutes to get through the Fast Track line, waited a little bit for our luggage, and then were escorted through customs to a waiting taxi. Easy peasy! We were at the Somerset and sipping a rum punch about an hour after landing.

The flight home wasn’t too bad…we flew through Miami. We got to PLS about two hours early. We used Fast Track again…I don’t think it was really necessary on the way home…but it gave us peace of mind. Once inside…go upstairs! Upstairs is much cooler, less people and there is a bar. The only problem with our flight from Miami to SFO was that American had split our seats so my wife was in 8E and I was in 30A and they refused to even try to address that issue.

Hotel
We stayed at the Somerset for ten nights. We chose the Somerset for a few reasons: beachfront, fewer rooms (53 rooms), a pool and onsite dining. I think it seemed quieter than other hotels/resorts which suits our style.

We had a second floor ocean view room with one bedroom, one and a half baths, a full kitchen with Viking appliances and a wine fridge, open plan dining and living area, and a balcony overlooking the pools and a great view of the ocean. We really enjoyed the accommodations. Daily maid service and turn down service as well.

The Somerset also has a small gym in the reception building as well as a spa. My wife’s massage was very good and they offer skin treatments, facials, etc. Bikes are free to use as well and the concierge(s) were really great to work with. We corresponded with Berry a couple of weeks before our arrival to set up restaurant reservations and excursion details.

I will reiterate…beautiful room, pools, and the fabulous staff including, but not limited to, Jenny at breakfast, Jason at Barbetta, Mr. Biggs and Nadine at the poolbar, and Colin at the pool. I apologize for not listing everybody!

Restaurants
We had dinner out every night. We had vouchers for breakfast at Barbetta every morning. Breakfast was basic: eggs, bacon/sausage, toast, fruit, pastries, coffee and juice. It was perfectly fine and if you wanted something else, you could order it…you just pay extra.

In order of our favorites for dinner (these were our experiences, other experiences will vary!), we visited:
1. Seven – the priciest of all the restaurants, but the food and service was superb. This was our last night and we wanted to go out with a bang and we did. Thank you to Luz and Jean for their wonderful service.
2. Magnolias – the view is to die for. The drinks were spot on and the service was just right. And the calamari was probably the best we’ve ever had. I grew up in Monterey where calamari is a birthright and it was better than any I’ve eaten there.
3. Mango Reef – this is a delightful restaurant right on the marina. The food was really good! Our server was really fun and helped us run through the menu. This was our first night “out on the town” and it was an excellent choice.
4. Indigo – probably the most beautifully designed of all the restaurants. Again, this was an expensive dinner. But again, the food was delicious. This was my wife’s favorite grouper she had (and we had a LOT of grouper).
5. Cocovan – what a great idea. This food truck is the bomb. Duck tacos and a burger with rum punches? Sign me up! And Patrick, the manager/host/cashier is great!
6. Coco Bistro – the only reason this restaurant is this low were the bugs. Oh, we got eaten alive! And I almost never get bitten. We had sprayed DEET on before we left as we always do…it did not matter. And it’s weird because the night before we ate at Cocovan and had no such issue. But the food was really good and the servers were excellent. And we did get to meet Coco, the cat, who sadly passed away a couple of days later.
7. Mr. Grouper – we had to have grouper at Mr. Groupers, so we had grouper. It was good, not great. Service was good, not great. Drinks were good, not great. And it wasn’t “cheap eats”…pretty comparable in price to some of the other mid-priced restaurants on this list.
8. Barbetta – Maybe this should be higher. The paella for two that we ordered could easily be for three and maybe four people. We took our leftovers home with us and had them for lunch. This was our very first night on the island and we were exhausted so my recollection may be off. But one of the downsides was that we were the only people there, so it made for a VERY quiet meal.
9. Hemingway’s – we REALLY wanted to like this restaurant. But the hostess was kind of rude, the service was just ok, and the food, while it was good, I think our expectations were higher. For example, we ordered a bottle of wine and the food came before the wine. I know it’s a first world problem, but after the hostess was abrupt, it just left us with a poor reflection of the service.
10. Somewhere – great location! I mean, a GREAT location! But, $18 margaritas that weren’t that tasty? After reading about it, our expectations were high. And the food is more Tex-Mex, not truly Mexican. Maybe we were expecting something else, maybe it was an off night, but we came away very disappointed.

Lunch restaurants, NOT in any particular order:
1. Omar’s – we were there on a super windy day. It didn’t matter…jerk chicken falling off the bone, crispy conch fritters, rum punch and beer…all hit the spot! One of our all time favorites.
2. Las Brisas – beautiful restaurant, good food, great view of Chalk Sound. A winner!
3. Turks Kebab – really good Mediterranean. We got the food to go. So tasty: curry chicken wrap and shish chicken salad. Great portion size and authentic flavor.
4. Seaview Café – a small place on Conch Bar Beach on Middle Caicos. This was part of our tour with Desmond Missick. A great local place close to the beach.
5. Bay Bistro – right next door to the Somerset. Lunch was good and the view was nice. Just your typical Caribbean beach restaurant…absolutely nothing wrong with that!
6. Somerset Pool Bar – poolside service. Mr. Biggs is awesome and Nadine is sweet. Both from Jamaica (as is Omar, I learned). We loved their jerk chicken wrap. And when the thunderstorm hit, it was a great safe haven.

Activities
Our day trip to North and Middle Caicos was a definite highlight of our trip. We booked with Desmond Missick. Took the first ferry over and met him on the dock along with another guest, our new friend Santiago! Desmond is a veritable fount of knowledge of Turks and Caicos. We hit a bunch of beaches, the ones you read about and a couple that you don’t, and won’t unless you are intimately aware of the dirt roads leading the way there. I imagine that Provo looked like this 40 or 50 years ago. Gorgeous. Oh, and drinking rum and coke out of the back of his van is an experience I won’t soon forget.

Snorkeling at Coral Gardens was so much fun. Lots of fish, turtles, and coral. It’s great to be able to snorkel right off the beach. We walked there from the Somerset, but we also drove down to the public access lot.

Taylor Bay is beautiful as well. Super shallow and really warm water. Once you figure out how to access it, it is well worth it. The only downside is that there are a lot of rocks so if you have water shoes, definitely wear them.
We walked Grace Bay Beach almost every day. And it’s a really nice walk. But here is my “shocking” take. This is not my favorite beach. It is lined with resorts and hotels. The sand is nice, but not the softest I’ve been on. And it can be crowded. Walking in front of Beaches or Club Med means you are dodging families for a long stretch of beach.

Rental Car/Taxis
We rented a car from Grace Bay Rentals for a week. A four door sedan cost us about $400 after taxes and fees. It was a perfect car for us although I had to get used to driving from the right side of the car again. I’d done it for a couple of weeks in New Zealand, but I still had to stop turning on the windshield wipers when I wanted to hit the turn signal!

When we didn’t have a car or I didn’t want to drive to dinner, we used Cameron Taxi and VIP Services. He was awesome and services the Somerset a lot. I got his card and texted him whenever we wanted his service. Prompt and reasonably priced.
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05/19/2022 09:13 PM Trip Report May 11-15 [by DougP]
We had a quick 3 night return trip to St Martin before continuing on to Anguilla for a week. This is our 9th trip to St Martin, all to French side.Another couple with us on their first trip.

Arrived at airport in Tulsa 4:30 AM on the 11th. On time 6 AM departure to Atlanta. 48 min connection required some running but made the on time departure for SXM. Flight uneventful, flew economy comfort,service excellent, just wish they would bring back some food options other than crackers etc. Early arrival, just ahead of AA and Air France. Through customs in less than 10 minutes, then on to meet Leslie waiting for us with our car. Leslie never has disappointed us. Off for a 20 min drive with minimal traffic to Grand Case and Le Temps de Cerises Hotel. We have never stayed in the middle of Grand Case, so this was different for us.

Le Temps de Cerises is a small 8 room boutique hotel just past the Catholic church but before Rainbow on the beach side. They offer valet parking during the day, however they have a dedicated parking lot about 100 feet down on the beach side, so valet is not really needed. We had 2 rooms on the lower level right next to the restaurant/bar. We were concerned about noise but it was never a problem as they close things up by 10:30 and we were never bothered. The rooms are small but well laid out and functional. We had the “base” rooms, there are also some rooms about 50% larger and if I was going to stay for a week I would get the larger room. This is a very “French” hotel. I was concerned about the slow / bad service we have experienced at a few French locations over the years. We were all pleasantly surprised that the service from the check in onward was top notch. Restaurant and Bar great, beach great. Front desk will help with any questions. I would absolutely return.

The hotel had a movie night on the beach Wednesday. They set up a giant inflatable screen and had about 100 people for the movie. It was in French and reminded me of how poor my French is, but it was fun.we had great seats on our balcony.

Dining: Had a snack and drinks at bar upon arrival. Great service ,great food.
Wednesday night went to Nice, which is a newer(to us ) restaurant down by the public parking lot. The entry does not look great, but the food was excellent. The atmosphere and presentation on the food not as great it could be, but the food is worth a try
Thursday night went to Le Gastronome, which is near Le Pressoir. This is run by Chantal and Alexandre who ran the restaurant at Grand Case Beach Club for years. This was spectacular and would now be my new favorite restaurant in St Martin.
Friday night on to Ocean 82 which as always was great. Table right by water and excellent.

We went to Parrotte Ville Thursday morning when it opened at 9:30. Our guests are professional photographers and had a great time photographing the beautiful birds. If you have not been you should go. The owner has devoted his life to these birds and you just have to see it. After that we went to get our covid tests for Anguilla. Testing site just outside of Grand Case, slightly before the basketball courts. You must park across the street and walk in past the vet office. In and out in 15 minutes for 4 of us. $30/person cash or credit. It was an antigen test. This was about the only place masks required. Went on to Friar’s Bay for lunch. $10 a person for chairs and umbrellas when eating lunch. Lunch was excellent as always.walked to Happy Bay. Only a few people there.. Road to Friars still full of holes.

Friday went to Breakfast at GCBC. Was not thrilled that they would not let us in the gate , but we parked on the road and went down the public access to the beach.Food was good, service was so-so. They have remodeled the restaurant in the past few years. While it is nice it has lost a little character from the old days. They were understaffed and that was probably the reason for the slow service. Went onward to Anse Marcel beach restaurant. This is our favorite beach restaurant. Great service on the beach, lunch was excellent, beach was free from seaweed. Secrets appeared to be open but did not seem busy.

Saturday morning early breakfast at Le Temps de Cerises and the met Leslie at Ferry terminal to drop off car and then off to Anguilla.

Regards to all
Doug
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05/19/2022 08:59 PM Water on French side off [by SXMScubaman]
A power outage last night caused a problem with the water supply and Collective is advising not to drink the water till further notice. Schools closed at noon because of this too.
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05/19/2022 06:59 PM Arena Base Cafe & Consomme Creole [by cmh2sxm]
These two restaurants show up on a google search as being on Billy Folly Road past the LaVista. I thought this area was all residental. Do these restaurants exist? Arena Base doesn't appear to have a web-site and Consomme Creole directs you to Facebook and I don't use Facebook. Any info on them would be much appreciated.
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05/19/2022 02:50 PM Pizza [by DRich]
For many years we have got a takeout pizza from a restaurant in Orient Village. It was a very nice thin crust pizza perfect for two people. Does anyone know the brand of the little packets of chili oil they give you with the pizza? I would like to try and find it in the U.S.
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