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3 hours ago 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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Yesterday at 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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Yesterday at 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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Yesterday at 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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Yesterday at 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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Yesterday at 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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Yesterday at 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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Yesterday at 12:51 PM EHAS Application [by obgirl01]
Hi everyone,
Just wanted to give my experience in completing the EHAS application and getting approval. I submitted my husbands and my application yesterday around 11:30am. We both received the acknowledgement that our applications were received and in review about 10 minutes after I submitted them. My husbands was approved about 5 minutes after that. Mine took about two hours even though we have separate emails. After 2 hours I
sent an email to the contact information on the website just to inquire if they had received my application. Within about 15 minutes after that I received my approval. I noticed last night around 10:30pm that I received a very nice reply from the contact person who said she apologized and that my application was approved but it did not go through and sent me another copy....At any rate...we are approved and will be there Saturday!!! banana
Just wanted to share my experience. Doesn't hurt to send an email of inquiry after a few hours if you have not gotten approval!
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Yesterday at 11:32 AM Wednesday May 18 [by jomarc]
It’s our last full day…

We left BSV at 7:25 a.m. and drove to Sun Pharmacie in Marigot for Covid testing. Arrived at 7:40 and, although they weren’t open yet, a nice man checked us in (using passports for information). We crossed the street and waited until 8:00 for the Pharmacy to open up. Once it was open, we paid the pharmacist $22.00 each for the tests, and crossed back across the street for testing. We received printed results at 8:19. It was a very easy, efficient and inexpensive process!

We eat most of our breakfasts in, but always make a trip to the Sint Maarten Yacht Club for breakfast. The staff is wonderful and the food is good. Love their Bloody Mary's too. This visit did not disappoint.

We soaked in the pool for the rest of the morning. There were 10 of us in the pool area. Nice people and conversations,

At 1:00 we met Bill & Elaine at the Marigot Marina for lunch at La Main A La Pate. All meals were fantastic, especially the Mussels. The company was even better!

Relaxed in the beautiful BSV pool again.

Time is running out…

We normally don’t eat out three meals a day (getting old), but it’s our last full day in SXM. Headed to Sublime and enjoyed a great Happy Hour there that consists of half priced drinks and 30% off appetizers. Arrived at 5:20 and It was not busy at all. The lovely bartender, Bee, spent a bit of time chatting with us. Drink for Jo was a Porntini (thanks for the recommendation Louise), and Marc ordered Grey Goose vodka on the rocks (generous pour). We weren’t very hungry, so shared 3 delicious appetizers – French Onion soup, Lamb Sliders and Spinach Ravioli in a Mushroom Sauce. We highly recommend Sublime!

And so ends our last full day in paradise!
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Yesterday at 11:27 AM Trip Report May 16-17 [by BenP]
Monday, May 16, was our last day on the French side. We had a week here and finally decided to try the Dutch side to see if that might be a future option for longer stays.

We spent another perfect day at Orange Fever, had my usual Tuna Tartar with fries and said our goodbyes to JC.

We struggled where to have our last French side meal about whether to go back to Grand Case or stay in the village but laziness won out.

Dinner was La Trattoria in Orient Village. I had the ceasar salad with anchovies and it was large enough for two. The salad was lightly and appropriately dressed which made for a nice start to the meal. They had beef lasagna as a special which was a shallow plate of cheese and goodness. Definitely a different take on the dish since it was thinner than I was used to but packed with flavor. Dessert was the Tiramisu, light creamy and plenty of cocoa powder. The meal was accompanied by the house Bordeaux which paired nicely with the lasagna as well as the Tiramisu.

We had been to La Trattoria before and my wife didn't have the best experience with her veal dish. Fortunately, she tried the veal with a lemon sauce this time and was very pleased. The veal was moist and it was served with a side of pasta with olive oil and garlic that was simple yet elegant.

A good way to end our French side stay!

Tuesday was moving day. We've rented a AirBnb on Simpson Bay that is literally on the water about 50 yards from Mary's Boon. Check-in wasn't until 3pm but we needed to swap our newer Hyundai i20 for a older model car with Lesley. Evidently, this car is highly prized among auto thieves and our parking arrangements aren't secure here so we swapped it out for a older Nissan Versa, The car definitely blends in well with the other cars around the island. Joking aside, the car's a/c works and it gets us back and forth to beaches and dinners. I can honestly say I've never had a breakdown on any of the cars I've rented from Kenny's regardless of their outward appearance.

We arrived at Karakter's by 10:30 am and spent the day relaxing to surf and vibes that is what makes Karakter's a relaxing spot. It's much less windy over on this side of the island but the surf is still rough enough to knock people down as they try to exit the water. You would think I'd get tired of Tuna tartar but I just don't. Lunch was another fine rendition of my favorite dish along with excellent fries. Part of our morning ritual that I've been leaving out is our drink orders in the morning. I get a Bloody Mary (spicy) and my wife gets a Pina Colada. I've noticed over the years that what constitutes a Bloody Mary on the French Side is more tomato-ee and less balanced with other spices than I'm use to. The exception is the FBBC Bloody Mary. They get it right every time! The reason I bring this up is because the Bloody Mary I got at Karakter's is spot-on good and spicy!

Check-in at 3pm was self-service and easy. The place is very very nice! It's in a older two story building with I believe 6 units. Our rental is a one bedroom upstairs facing the ocean and very appropriately furnished. Nice little balcony overlooking Simpson Bay and waves crashing at the door step.....perfect! I'll share the address and link if anyone wants to see after we depart on Friday. I think it was $195/night but after you add the cleaning and service fees it becomes $275 a night for a 3 night stay.

My wife was feeling a little over-done-in-the-sun this evening so we had a pizza delivered from Pizza Del Sol. Thin crust pepperoni and mushroom, good balance of sauce and toppings but not charred enough for my liking. What I did like was it literally arrived within 10 minutes of me making the phone call. It was a good way to end our first day on the Dutch side.
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