We arrived on schedule about 4:45 and were picked up at the airport by Duane from Unity Car Rentals. We rented a Sentra with French plates. Both door locks were operable. As soon as we got our car, we picked up a SIM card from Sharon Harris. A quick stop at Grand Marche for food and wine and then on to Les Balcons d’Oyster Pond.

This is our first trip to St. Martin during the off season. We’ve gone in January or February before. We heard that there was less traffic, but we did not notice it. Traffic seemed as bad as ever. I really like the new round-about on Pond Road on the edge of Philipsburg. It should help traffic in that area. The one thing both of us noticed is that there seemed to be a ‘younger’ crowd at the beaches during May and June compared with high season.

About a year ago, we purchased Studio 1 at Les Balcons. During that time we decided to update it because it was looking sort of tired. For a page with pictures of our remodeling see this page. As originally scheduled, our remodeling should have been finished by the time we got to the island, but we forgot about ‘island time’. We asked if there was anything we could do to help, so much of our first week on the island was spent on scraping and painting instead of enjoying the effects of sand gravity.

The first week we stayed in Studio 2 at Les Balcons which is right next to the parking lot on the top level. We finished the painting, so the second week we got to move into our unit: Studio 1. We were happy to be home.

Last time we stayed at Les Balcons, we reported on seeing the monkey there. This time, we again saw the monkey (le monkey?). one morning we were awoken by the sounds of cattle. Some pictures:

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It wasn’t all work. We met all the Bills <grin> at the TTOL get together at Baywatch on Tuesday. Actually the party was arranged by Rob and Sheri, and we met John and Jan from California and Bill and Trish from Pennsylvania. We had a great time and the NJ roast beef sandwich was great. Andy was in rare form. We were couple ‘F’.

We also attended the TTOL gathering at Shrimpy’s the following Monday sponsored by Jeanie and Roberta. We met Jack Rinaldi and a lot of nice people there. Mike had fish sandwiches sent over to the table and that was nice.

We talked with Joan from Ms. B’s. We brought back a quart of sauce. She is valiantly fighting to keep Dawn Beach free. If you stop by her place, please let her know we support her.

Pictures of the monstrous Westin on Dawn Beach:

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For food during our trip, we wanted to try different places. We had heard about the Dingy Dock from Bill and Elaine in one of their posts, so that was on the list. We went there on our first night on the island because they were within walking distance. I had the tuna steak special and Kathy had the barbeque chicken. Both were excellent.

We tried the Dingy Dock again a couple of days later. This time I had the ribs with a honey and lemon glaze and Kathy had the barbeque chicken again. We can see why Bill and Elaine like this place: great food at inexpensive prices. The price both times was $28 for both of us. How can you go wrong?

On our last trip in January, we met this very nice lady while walking around Grand Case during one of the Harmony Nights. She invited us to try her restaurant on Paradise View. She told us she was only open on Sundays when she has a buffet of foods from the island prepared as the locals do. So on our first Sunday on our vacation, traveled to Paradise View. As luck had it, it was Mother’s Day. We had lasagna which had the flavor of a chili spice, fried fish fillets in a cream sauce, and ribs. Dessert was something which tasted like a pumpkin square. Everything was great.

We had also heard of Yvette’s in Orleans so that was on the list. Yvette’s is in Orleans not far from Oyster Pond. The night we went to Yvette’s was the night of the brush fire on the mountain. The food was very good and inexpensive. Kathy had the Creole chicken and had enough left over to make chicken sandwiches for both of us the next day.

We saw someone’s picture of the garlic shrimp at Sky’s the Limit, so we had to try some. INCREDIBLE. We’ve eaten at Talk of the Town and like their barbeque lobster, but the Sky’s the Limit garlic shrimp is so-o-o-o good. We parked in the pay lot and took our $5 receipt to Sky’s the Limit, so our two garlic shrimp dinners with all the fix’ns and two beers cost us a total of SIXTEEN dollars.

We also cooked ‘in’ a couple of times. Each unit at Les Balcons has a gas grille, so Kathy cooked strip steaks one night and salmon another. Both meals turned out great.

This is the first trip where we got a chance to eat at Sebastino’s. This place is very deceiving from the outside, because it doesn’t look like much until you get inside where the ambience is very warm and charming. We almost had the place to ourselves. Kathy had the red snapper in a basil marinara sauce.

And we again went to Le Fish Bar in the Orient Beach area. Very fresh fish, tastefully prepared. I had the red snapper and Kathy had the salmon.

And another ‘first-timer’ for us was Ti Provencal. David recommended it to us as we had a taste for fish and wanted to try some place new. They had two specials that we wanted to try: I tried the Wahoo fish. The Wahoo came as a large grilled steak which was very good. Kathy saw the salmon with dill sauce on the specials menu, so tried it. What she did not realize when she ordered was the salmon was prepared tartar style, so it arrived raw and cold. She liked it, but just was surprised when it came to the table. I spoiled myself and had dessert, because Tiramisu was one of the specials. It was served in an on-the-rocks glass. Very good.

We went to Tabba Khady with David and Carine from Les Balcons. It was a weekday so the place was quite. William and Phillip were wonderful hosts. David and I had the fillet mignon that evening. Kathy had the snapper. Everything was great.

If we are on the island, we **have** to eat at Le Cottage. We saved it for our last night. I had the rack of lamb. Kathy had the filet mignon. Both were outstanding. The best part about going to Le Cottage is the wine. Stephan is amazing. Tell him the type of wine you prefer, and he will appear with a glass or two to try. And it is always just what you want. While we were there, Le Cottage was offering 1 to 1. I have never seen it there before. We were able to also spend some time talking with Bruno. We still feel with Bruno and Stephan, Le Cottage is still our favorite restaurant.

Goin’ home is never easy. Here are some pictures on our departure.

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--ChiTownHarry & Kathy