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Heading to SXM #250992
03/24/2021 08:35 PM
03/24/2021 08:35 PM
Joined: Mar 2021
Posts: 17
NY
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TravelReady Offline OP
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Hello all! We're headed to SXM for a girl's trip in a couple of weeks. We've never been to the island and aren't looking to be crazy. We are staying at Oyster Bay, looking to beach hop (we rented a car) each day and have breakfast and lunch on our own and then eat outside for dinner each night. We'd love any suggestions for best grocery stores, beaches, restaurants, things to do, etc. Thanks in advance! smile

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Re: Heading to SXM [Re: TravelReady] #250998
03/25/2021 12:16 AM
03/25/2021 12:16 AM
Joined: Oct 2017
Posts: 857
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SammyM Offline
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That's great you're coming to St. Maarten! You've come to the right site for info because many of the people who post on this forum are long time SXM visitors and possess a wealth of knowledge about this island. Renting a car is smart choice, especially if you are staying at the Oyster Bay Beach Resort which is a little bit off the beaten path IMO. Let's start with groceries and the closest place that I can think of is a place called 'Super 2-3 Market' which would be roughly a mile to the west of where you are staying near the McDonald's restaurant in the Dutch Quarter. It's been a little while since I've spent time in this area, but you would follow Oyster Pond Road west and then southwest until you hit Bishop Hill Road where you take a right turn. Follow this past Parrotville Bird Park (recommended -- really nice man runs this place) until you reach the traffic circle. You'll pass the McDonald's on the traffic circle and exit on to Illidge Road and the market will be on your left hand side with parking in front. As with any Caribbean Island, I would highly suggest going during the day light hours and lock your rental car at all times while leaving nothing of value inside it. Not trying to scare you at all, but just good common sense for visitors. This would be the closest place to Oyster Pond, but someone on the board might have a closer location. What I might suggest instead is after you land and get your rental car, there is a very nice Carrefour Market on Bush Road in Phillipsburg which would be on your way to the Oyster Bay area so you could stop there and load up on groceries en route to OBBR.

As for beaches, I have read where the ones in the Oyster Bay area have been in rough shape lately with lots of sea grasses washing ashore, etc. I would suggest a few beaches on the french side to the north starting with Orient Beach which would be a mere 10 minute drive. Lots of places to eat and drink right on the beach (Kontiki, Bikini Beach, etc.) and an abundance of beach chairs and umbrellas to rent. Of course, the southern end of this beach is 'Plage Naturiste' or a nude beach which is actually clothing optional. Worth a visit if that suits your taste, but if not stay north of the rocks that separates this portion of the beach. A little further north in the area known as Cul-de-Sac you can catch the Pinel Ferry which will take you over to Pinel Island (Ilet de Pinel) which makes for a nice day trip and also offers beach chairs for rental and a place to have lunch called 'Yellow Beach.' Other beaches on French St. Martin that I have been to and recommend include Grand Case, Anse Marcel, Friar's Bay, and the secluded Happy Bay Beach which may be the most beautiful beach on all of St. Martin.

Since you have a rental car, I would also suggest driving over to the dutch side and near the airport there is Simpson Bay Beach, Mullet Bay Beach (on calm days), and the famous Maho Beach where the incoming aircraft land directly over your heads! Adjacent to Maho Beach is the Sunset Beach Bar which has a nice restaurant and a nice little gift shop that my wife likes to visit.

For things to do there is the aforementioned Parrotville (in the Dutch Quarter), but another interesting place is Loterie Farm which is actually a nature preserve and offers some nice hiking trails and a place to have lunch along with some scenic views. There are also plenty of casinos on Dutch St. Maarten, but since I have never won money at any of them I can't provide a casino recommendation to you. In Phillipsburg, in the southeast corner of the island the sea port has ferry boat excursions that you can take to other nearby islands such as Anguilla and St. Barths. Both are beautiful, but the ferry ride on the Great Bay Express can get a bit choppy so we bring peppermints along if the ride gets a little harsh. St. Barth's is a very pretty but very expensive french island with lots of high end shopping, but it's hard to get around unless you rent car over there. Taxi fares are outrageous so don't do that!

St. Maarten has a plethora of great dining spots on both sides of the island. Whatever your taste is, you'll find it here. Some of my favorites from the past include Mark's Place (near the Carrefour Marker) in Phillipsburg, Chesterfield's (near the cruise port), Jax Steakhouse in the Maho area, Topper's (on Welfare Road in the Simpson Bay area), Zee Best Bakery (breakfast), Bistrot Caraibes in Grand Case, Spiga (also in Grand Case), and Le Piment in the Orient Bay Village. I have not dined in the Oyster Pond area in the last several years, but I'm sure some others can provide you with some recommendations near where you are staying. Keep in mind that most (if not all) of these places offer both indoor and outdoor seating so simply request that if that's your preference. Hope this is helpful!

Re: Heading to SXM [Re: TravelReady] #251002
03/25/2021 05:19 AM
03/25/2021 05:19 AM
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Sammy has provided some good information, but at present the ferries to St Barth and Anguilla are not an option for day trips due to COVID restrictions. As Sammy says, leaving nothing of value in your car is a good practice. If you stop at Carrefour to shop for groceries on the way to your resort then have one person stay with the car and luggage while the others shop.

Re: Heading to SXM [Re: TravelReady] #251003
03/25/2021 06:31 AM
03/25/2021 06:31 AM
Joined: Jun 2005
Posts: 1,050
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I would recommend to have Jenni do your groceries for you. Due to old age and bad memory, I can't provide website. Do your shopping online, pay for the items, and they will be delivered to your condo and will be there when you arrive. Cold beer in the fridge to welcome you is always a picker-upper. I'm sure someone will assist in Jenni's contact info (if she is still in business-we haven't used her since our last trip a couple of years ago).

Last edited by o2bnsxm; 03/25/2021 06:32 AM.
Re: Heading to SXM [Re: SammyM] #251005
03/25/2021 07:27 AM
03/25/2021 07:27 AM
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Wow! Thank you for all of this info! We realized that OBBR was a little far away but it seemed like a beautiful resort and since we were renting a car and planned to explore the island anyway it made sense since I could use the interval exchange for my timeshare. We can't wait to be in the sun and relax! We would love any info about having the groceries already at the resort if anyone does have that info.

Re: Heading to SXM [Re: o2bnsxm] #251006
03/25/2021 07:48 AM
03/25/2021 07:48 AM
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Originally Posted by o2bnsxm
I would recommend to have Jenni do your groceries for you. Due to old age and bad memory, I can't provide website. Do your shopping online, pay for the items, and they will be delivered to your condo and will be there when you arrive. Cold beer in the fridge to welcome you is always a picker-upper. I'm sure someone will assist in Jenni's contact info (if she is still in business-we haven't used her since our last trip a couple of years ago).


Jeannie's website is https://www.shopndropgrocerysxm.com/ excellent service and still in operation, great to have everything waiting for you when you arrive

Re: Heading to SXM [Re: Uksimonusa] #251018
03/25/2021 09:27 AM
03/25/2021 09:27 AM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 74,605
Central Florida!
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First, welcome to TTOL!! If you have any general questions about the forum, please post here or feel free to send me a private message. (Just click on my user name and then send me a note from there.

The times being what they are, I assume that you are all caught up with all the hoops you need to go through, just to arrive in SXM?? If not, please check out the official SXM travel website at this LINK to make sure what you need to do to arrive.

As far as after you finally arrive, Jeannie is a good idea for beginner, until you get your 'legs' under you, but I seem to recall that OBBR is one of the ones that won't let Jeannie pre-stock your unit, as they do something similar from the resort? Best to check on that.

OBBR is kind of isolated, especially since Irma and Covid, as a lot of restaurants in that area have not opened back up. Plan on either getting groceries delivered for the first night, or eating at the resort, because after a long day travelling, it would be a bit daunting to try to find someplace else to eat after night the first night. I'm very bad with directions, so will leave those to someone else, but actually I think the biggest large grocery store would be Carrefour. Mark's Place is right next to it, and is a great low key lunch and dinner place, with huge portions, suitable for leftovers, and favorites like ribs and fettucine al fredo.

I see in the Daily Herald newspaper that they have procured a beach cleaner for Dawn Beach (which is the beach where OBBR is), so hopefully maybe they will keep the seaweed cleaned up there. If not, don't despair though, as you do need to check out the other beaches. Even if there is lots of seaweed at OBBR, it should be fairly clear at Mullet and at Simpson Bay Beach, both of which you should go to regardless, as well as to Orient. Orient is the famous nude beach on island, but you can go to the non-nude section of the beach, if you prefer. You should at least have one very nice lunch on the beach there, and take in the French flair. At Mullet, there is everyone's favorite rag-tag beach bar, Rosie's, with great ribs and chicken and fries, where you normally get carry-out and eat on your beach chair. It is not the case everywhere on island, but at Mullet in particular, you can take your own cooler, with your own liquid libations and sandwiches, etc., for lunch, if you're on a budget. , On Simpson Bay, you could check out Karakter and Mary's Boon (which are right next to each other), or at the other end, El Zafiro. I am partial to Simpson Bay, as the best beach on the island, but others will differ.

Since this is a girls' trip, I would like to address the question of security. Take standard precautions that hopefully you would anywhere, but try to be aware that just because someplace is heartbreakingly beautiful, that doesn't mean that bad things can't happen to you if you don't follow some basic rules. You say that you are not going to get wild, but I would say in general, there is not much good that happens after midnight. Try to avoid wearing lots of jewelry, flashing lots of cash, and lots of fancy I-phones, etc. ALWAYS lock your car when you're driving and always lock all the doors in your unit when you go to bed. I do want to reiterate what the others have said about stuff in your car, and even more strongly. Do NOT leave anything in your car, at ANY place, for ANY length of time. Period. Especially PLEASE resist any temptation going to and from the airport to stop somewhere and leave luggage in the car.

Please feel free to post any other specific questions and I'm sure there will be lots of people who will chip in to help Enjoy!!


Carol Hill
Re: Heading to SXM [Re: TravelReady] #251049
03/25/2021 11:48 AM
03/25/2021 11:48 AM
Joined: Apr 2001
Posts: 13,206
Brookfield, CT.
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Thanks to all the previous posters you’ve gotten some great island information. Take to heart what they’ve given you as it really is good info.

My standard rules for SXM:

Leave the valuable jewelry home and concentrate on wearing the costume stuff.

Leave nothing in your car anywhere that you would feel bad about losing. And keeping it locked at all times is usually suggested by the rental agency.

Stay out of ‘iffy’ looking areas. Particularly at night. If it looks iffy, it probably is.

I choose NOT to carry a purse at night but if I must, I carry a small hand bag with a minimum of valuable items in it and I leave all my cc’s at home but for two I might use on the island.

With regard to Mark’s restaurant that Carol mentioned, we find the mussels there to be some of the best on the island though IMHO, it’s hard to find a bad restaurant on SXM.

Many places, offer free beach lounges with the purchase of meals so it pays to ask. We usually stay on the Dutch side and beyond Mullet Bay which is our favorite island beach even when it’s not swimmable and which does NOT offer free lounges, we enjoy ElZafiro and Mary’s Boon, both offering free lounges with meals. I believe Karachter does, too, but we haven’t been there for a while.

If you would like a really high end beach day with comfortable beach furnishings and incredible dining, try the Anse Marcel Beach Resort. But beware, it can become a VERY expensive day. We usually rack up a hefty day charge and use a cc, charging it in EUs for the better exchange rate.

I think our favorite beach restaurant is Friars Bay Beach Cafe. Where else but on Friars Bay? The road to it is horrendous but the restaurant is lovely. Note, though, they do NOT accept credit cards. You will find that many of the best places are hidden away on lousy access roads but they’re worth the effort to find them.

If you plan a party evening around the island, it pays to hire a driver even if you have a car. Chances are your resort has preferred people they can recommend. My suggestion is negotiate a price and a pick-up time and arrange to pay them at the drop off at your home resort. Get their cell phone number, too.

I didn’t mean to become so long winded but after almost fifty years of annual visits I’ve found these things to work for us.

Wishing you a wonderful trip


Respectfully,

pat



"Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat
them."
Re: Heading to SXM [Re: TravelReady] #251052
03/25/2021 11:55 AM
03/25/2021 11:55 AM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 13,689
Auburn, WA
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Ditto what Pat said. I would mention US dollars are accepted on both sides but at Friars your best to pay with Euro instead of US currency as they inflate the conversion rate pretty high in their favor. That is the only place I've run into that do that.

Re: Heading to SXM [Re: pat] #251055
03/25/2021 12:36 PM
03/25/2021 12:36 PM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 74,605
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Echo Pat's comments regarding Anse Marcel Beach Club, as a really wonderful day, but echo that it is NOT a budget friendly day! Beautiful, quiet setting, just a really SPECIAL day, particularly if you reserve a cabana for your meal. You should be able to find a menu online, that will give you an idea of some of the prices. Beautifully prepared and presented French food, in a beautiful setting, with a couple of bottles of French rose'??? Can't beat it!


Carol Hill
Re: Heading to SXM [Re: TravelReady] #251058
03/25/2021 12:39 PM
03/25/2021 12:39 PM
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 676
Grosse Pointe, Michigan
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Since this a first rip, one word of advice. Don't plan to do a lot. "Sand Gravity" will take over. Plan a significant amount of time just to Chill.

Re: Heading to SXM [Re: TravelReady] #251060
03/25/2021 12:48 PM
03/25/2021 12:48 PM
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TravelReady Offline OP
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Thank you to everyone who has so much knowledge for sharing. I am looking into the grocery delivery and if it's allowed. We plan to really not do too much except explore beaches and relax. We will go out to dinner and most likely be back at the resort by 8-9pm. Is the water drinkable or should we order bottled water? Do most places take credit cards?

Thanks again!

Re: Heading to SXM [Re: Carol_Hill] #251061
03/25/2021 12:49 PM
03/25/2021 12:49 PM
Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 13,689
Auburn, WA
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Originally Posted by Carol_Hill
Echo Pat's comments regarding Anse Marcel Beach Club, as a really wonderful day, but echo that it is NOT a budget friendly day! Beautiful, quiet setting, just a really SPECIAL day, particularly if you reserve a cabana for your meal. You should be able to find a menu online, that will give you an idea of some of the prices. Beautifully prepared and presented French food, in a beautiful setting, with a couple of bottles of French rose'??? Can't beat it!

Exactly our sentiments. Only down side is that drive down after those bottles of Rose.

Re: Heading to SXM [Re: TravelReady] #251063
03/25/2021 12:59 PM
03/25/2021 12:59 PM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 74,605
Central Florida!
Carol_Hill Offline
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I usually drink bottled water at home, so I normally buy bottled water on island, because I prefer it, but the tap water is perfectly safe to drink. Most bigger places take Master Card and Visa, but NOT Amex. You do need to bring a fair amount of cash though, and some smaller bills, for things like the BBQ shack places, tips, etc.


Carol Hill
Re: Heading to SXM [Re: TravelReady] #251071
03/25/2021 02:05 PM
03/25/2021 02:05 PM
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If you have an opportunity you should spend one evening wandering the main drag of Grand Case. You can stroll along and look at all the menus posted outside each restaurant and TRY to make a choice on which one you should enjoy for the evening. Everyone has their favorites, but you can hardly go wrong with any of them.

I get hungry just thinking about it..............

Re: Heading to SXM [Re: TravelReady] #251072
03/25/2021 02:25 PM
03/25/2021 02:25 PM
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I found it a little humorous when you said "we aren't looking to get crazy", but after what everyone has been though with this dreaded COVID-19 thing you have every right to get a little 'crazy' as long as you do it in a safe manner! I know my wife and I are planning to do so when we return to SXM later this year. I can give you some tips if you're interested ...

Re: Heading to SXM [Re: TravelReady] #251134
03/26/2021 10:13 AM
03/26/2021 10:13 AM
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Maryland
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Great advice in the previous replies. I think you’ll like OBBR. We love the location because it allows easy access to beaches and restaurants on both the Dutch and French sides. While most of the restaurants in Oyster Pond were lost during Hurricane Irma, OBBR has its own restaurant and bar. In addition, Big Fish is good and directly adjacent to the resort. Mama’s also just reopened in Oyster Pond. It’s one of our favorites. Dawn Beach has historically had a seaweed problem. Hopefully the new equipment that they’re using will help mitigate that.

We’re actually heading to OBBR in about two weeks as well. First time back since Irma. Greatly looking forward to it!

Re: Heading to SXM [Re: Oldenuf2knowbttr] #251158
03/26/2021 02:56 PM
03/26/2021 02:56 PM
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Would like to hear review of Big Fish since Irma.
I believe the chef is the same, but owners Theresa and Michael have moved back to Canada and where the "face" of the restaurant.
Never thought the food was outstanding but enjoyed the hospitality more.
Restaurant is hip New York .

Re: Heading to SXM [Re: mahokid] #251169
03/26/2021 05:40 PM
03/26/2021 05:40 PM
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I haven’t been there since before Irma but excellent recent reviews on Trip Advisor for Big Fish.

Re: Heading to SXM [Re: TravelReady] #251172
03/26/2021 05:46 PM
03/26/2021 05:46 PM
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We are very excited and again, thank you so much for the info! We can't wait to be in the sun and enjoy the warm weather. I checked with OBBR and they have suspended their grocery service but Jeannie at the Stop and Drop said she delivers there regularly so we are going to take advantage of that service. Keep the ideas coming! Thanks, all!

Re: Heading to SXM [Re: TravelReady] #251235
03/27/2021 06:51 PM
03/27/2021 06:51 PM
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WOW... never been to the island. If you are staying at Oyster Bay Beach Resort.. There is Mamas Pizza, BZH, Bread n Butter, L’Oasis and not sure if it is still open but there is a restaurant over looking Oyster Pond last time I was there had a good salads. The name escapes me. Safe trip.

Re: Heading to SXM [Re: TravelReady] #251358
03/29/2021 08:00 AM
03/29/2021 08:00 AM
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Any suggestions for a bakery to stop at and get croissants/pastries to have in the villa for breakfasts? Also, are roads well labeled when trying to get around the island? Thanks!

Re: Heading to SXM [Re: TravelReady] #251360
03/29/2021 08:14 AM
03/29/2021 08:14 AM
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East Texas
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Bread and Butter mentioned above has great croissants/pastries and is 5 minutes away by car from OBBR. I would not say roads are well labeled but the island is very easy too navigate.

Re: Heading to SXM [Re: TravelReady] #251384
03/29/2021 09:44 AM
03/29/2021 09:44 AM
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Even if Jeannie cannot pre-stock your villa, you should talk to her. She can't prestock at Divi.....BUT she usually meets us there and stocks the villa while we are there. A perfectly acceptable compromise in my mind.
Jeanne can also get you croissants and pastries. Her service is EXCELLENT!

Re: Heading to SXM [Re: TravelReady] #251408
03/29/2021 11:39 AM
03/29/2021 11:39 AM
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Thanks! Oyster Bay temporarily suspended their grocery service so Jeannie is allowed in! I'll place the order on Thursday for Sat arrival! Thanks for the info about her!

Re: Heading to SXM [Re: TravelReady] #251415
03/29/2021 12:02 PM
03/29/2021 12:02 PM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 74,605
Central Florida!
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OK, that's good news for you! Enjoy your trip!


Carol Hill
Re: Heading to SXM [Re: TravelReady] #251423
03/29/2021 12:47 PM
03/29/2021 12:47 PM
Joined: Jun 2003
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Upstate, NY
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OBBR also has fresh pastries and baguettes daily down at the marina (The Bodega).

Re: Heading to SXM [Re: TravelReady] #251426
03/29/2021 01:03 PM
03/29/2021 01:03 PM
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That's great to know! Thanks! Any thoughts on the duty free liquor at the airport as we arrive? Is it significantly cheaper than what we will find in stores?

Re: Heading to SXM [Re: TravelReady] #251427
03/29/2021 01:10 PM
03/29/2021 01:10 PM
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Central Florida!
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NO, definitely not cheaper at the airport than in stores. Liquor is available at regular grocery stores, like Carrefour, and even the little mom and pop Chinese grocery stores. Liquor is dirt cheap in SXM..


Carol Hill
Re: Heading to SXM [Re: TravelReady] #251429
03/29/2021 01:42 PM
03/29/2021 01:42 PM
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lcote Offline
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And you can ask Jeannie to get THAT for you as well.

Re: Heading to SXM [Re: lcote] #251431
03/29/2021 02:13 PM
03/29/2021 02:13 PM
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Yes, she can get it for you, but it will cost quite a bit more than you can get it yourself... Just get whatever you might want for the first day..


Carol Hill
Re: Heading to SXM [Re: lcote] #251432
03/29/2021 02:17 PM
03/29/2021 02:17 PM
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Auburn, WA
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Joined: Mar 2009
Posts: 13,689
Auburn, WA
Originally Posted by lcote
And you can ask Jeannie to get THAT for you as well.

Which will be more expensive than the airport with her added service charge.


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