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26,27July2017 again long. mea culpa #139400
09/03/2017 11:33 AM
09/03/2017 11:33 AM
Joined: Sep 2014
Posts: 334
Pittsburgh, PA
jerber160 Offline OP
Traveler
jerber160  Offline OP
Traveler
Joined: Sep 2014
Posts: 334
Pittsburgh, PA
Wednesday Day 1
It was more expensive than usual to spend the night at the Pittsburgh Airport, over $200, so we got J to Uber us. He arrived early but we picked M up at about 5:05 and I think we were at the airport by 5:35 where we breezed through check-in. I slept on the flight to Charlotte then we hied it from Concourse B to D-not so far after all and instead of immediately boarding encountered a half hour delay so we had time for an expensive Mimosa at The Rum Bar. M felt inclined to sample the rum! Despite the delay we landed around 2 P.M. where we disembarked on the tarmac. I love being greeted by the island at the top of the plane’s stairs and they’d opened the back doors too, facilitating our exit from row 25. There was a bit of a line at immigration and sadly no one eased our queueing up by greeting us with Rum Jumbie as has happened in the past. I heaved that sigh as our luggage appeared, we snagged a cab and were in the sand at the Flamingo Beach Resort by 3 P.M., storing bags until our room was ready since we’d arrived before check in time. M fought to secure a ground floor studio for us and due to a premature check out one mysteriously became available, three doors down from the towel stand near the Shipwreck Shop. This pleased us greatly as ground floor ocean view makes life so fine.

As check-in wasn’t until 4ish I think, we did a quick change, slathered on a bit of sunscreen and headed to the Far Bar. We had one drink and this was our only stop at this once-favorite place as they were playing oldies pop like Lionel Richie and had taken conch off the menu. We never returned however, Toppers is now The Pelican Grill and I got my aloha fritters there with some rice and beans and our first Presidente. The fritters were fine and we discovered the new Pelican frequently played island music throughout our week! I have to say The Pelican Beach Grill has the best shirt logo. They had none for sale and I spent too much time over the next few days importuning one bartender, Daylon to sell me one of his. Even used I’d offered him $40 for it thinking it would be easy for him to replace. On Jamaica I would have easily scored a win but not here. Daylon wouldn’t budge. His signature drink was a Pain Killer however and it rocked.

There have been other changes at the Flamingo.
Upon check-in desk clerks no longer provided gift packets with maps and discount coupons and gold cards promoting local businesses. There were no longer racks of Discover magazines in the lobby nor fliers displaying available activities, attractions and water sports but there was a big board publicizing some 4 night Diamond freebie thing. The old flamingo mosaic behind the check-in counter is long gone, but the new artsy-wally blue/gray thing was just generic. Thus, the atmosphere seemed a bit colder, lacking an island vibe with the promotion of Diamond Resorts taking precedence over advancing a varied St. Maarten experience to guests, but the staff was friendly and helpful when needed. The water sports desk has been removed so kayaks and snorkel gear and stand up paddle boards were no longer available for rental. I was looking forward to attempting the stand up paddle this trip. Our suite was as usual fine and clean but the sliding door opening to our patio had been sealed shut so we couldn’t fall asleep listening to the ocean nor enjoy the evening breeze. This also meant we had to use our key any time we entered our room, a minor annoyance. (On the ground floor, I sort of understand-maybe they’ve had break-ins and I don’t know if upper level doors were inoperative.) Things seemed just a bit off.

So there was mild boozing and swimming and a run to the Peli Deli- you know, for coffee, mangoes, cantaloup, Gouda, pineapple, prosciutto, guava juice and beer: the bare necessities, then we were off to the adjacent Bon Appétit for dinner where a superb first meal was consumed. As the sun went down, we’d both opted for succulent and delicate crab-stuffed grouper in a light sauce that was accompanied by a very subtle guitarist, understated, and delicious rice and an awesome vegetable succotash of corn, green and lima beans and peas all of which added to our general feelings of satiation and serenity. A simple caramel crepe topped with iced cream, whipped cream and strawberries topped me off and I couldn’t have wished for a more perfect meal.

M chilled in the room as I took my only night swim, showered then had a guavaberry colada for $12 at the Pelican as 3 guys with sound machines and a mic were playing the reggae. They finished at 9 with Funky Music and since our day started so early I was OK sitting on our deck for a while longer before turning in.


Thursday Day 2
I’ve enjoyed at least one yoga class at SBRM on recent trips to the island but could not reach my usual contact at Breathe Yoga (whom I adore). As the website announced classes were now M-F at 8AM rather than M-W-F, I popped over. Whilst waiting, two very beachy and fit women who seemed to be hard core yoga type people arrived but no instructor appeared. Does anyone remember waiting in the freezing cold for the school bus to appear, discussing how much time we had to give before taking the day off? Rats. M was awake by now and I believe we checked out the new Mexican restaurant at SBRM, La Patrona. We walked the breakfast buffet which seemed expensive for basic fare, we read the menu and decided to go back to Bon Appétit where I had a simple (and simply lovely) cheese filled crepe and and an insane almond-filled croissant, forgoing a mimosa in lieu of killer coffee. This was strange behavior! M did a death-defying bloody mary, fried tomatoes, and a flaky, buttery croissant and there was reggae with breakfast. I was at peace!

Wanting to up my activity level I snorkeled in the bay, side stroked laps in the pool then plugged in my ear buds and hiked past La Vista until detritus stopped me. It really is beautiful on the rocky side of the Flamingo property despite the lack of beach. Stumbling around I didn’t get nearly as far as I thought and the heat took more out of me than I’d expected so I cut through a property and walked the road home, unwilling to put out the effort the shore demanded. M was reading under a thatched but permanent umbrella and I joined her, and we took intermittent dips in the bay. On this trip, the water was refreshing, not the least bit chilled: bath-like really and since there had been no recent storms, was piercingly clear. Oddly there was no major drop off as there had been in previous years.

After a while I got restless so I went looking for new swim trunks, first at the adjacent Shipwreck Shop then at the Lord and Hunter shop. I couldn’t find my size (leave it at that) but didn’t want to waste the trip so I popped into the Peli-deli for two more six packs-but I forgot the fresh baguette I’d planned on buying. Somewhere during our relaxing day M got restless too and went shopping gifting me with a noodle and parrot towel clips! I put them to good use. My reading choice this trip is Mamzelle Dragonfly by Raphaël Confiant, a harsh and sad, poverty stricken tale of life on Martinique. (I used to bring classics on vacation: The Hunchback, The Count of Monte Cristo, Gone With The Wind but lately have been doing Caribbean fiction. Mamzelle Dragonfly, like almost anything by Anthony C. Winkler fit well despite the bleakness of the story) There was more floating on my noodle and reading and tanning and abnormally at one point I moved into the shade, pronouncing this an awesome day but of course it wasn’t over. Better things were yet to come.

It saddens me reading the forums and Daily Herald to see LEE’S might be forced to close. It’s been on the verge for a long time now, with court dates being changed and I’m so thankful I got to eat here once again! SO thankful! And this time for free! It was remarkably kind that M’s step-father slipped her $100 for us to enjoy ourselves and feeling warm and fuzzy, we took it to our favorite restaurant, cabbing both ways even though I still couldn’t reach our go-to cab guy Juni! It’s a little bizarre to me but Lee’s conch soup is definitely my favorite food in the world. I’ve posted two Trip Advisor reviews even though I shouldn’t make my buffoonery public and on this visit I managed to maintain lucidity but my enjoyment level of this food is still in the stratosphere. I know, I get it, but it is so strange how Lee’s just stops me in my tracks. Lee’s conch soup really is my favorite thing in all the world. A dash of Matouk and I’m levitating! M wanted ribs and the 6 rib appetizer was grilled perfectly- crispy yet juicy and delicious. They were excellent. They came dry and sauce was provided in a squeeze bottle on the side next to said Matouk and they were just enough to propel our meal forward. I’ve concluded that Lee’s does grill right-unlike some other restaurants on SXM I’ve tried. Because I’d been disappointed before, I’d almost sworn off lobster, but, as J.F. had footed the bill, M talked me into going for it. My main course was $22 per pound, the going rate. The server girl kept pulling larger, lazier lobsters out of the tank but I spied my guy hiding under a rock. He came to two pounds of feisty perfection, split and grilled to succulence: firm but not tough, grilled yet not charred -dressed in butter and served with lime, I salute my lobster. I couldn’t finish him despite the fact my faith in island lobster has been restored. And this was strange! Like the conch soup this lobster demanded to be wrapped around my tongue so every taste bud would be activated. Slowly the taste spread to the sides of my tongue, and to the back but especially the sides (never the tip.) Saveur is the only word that comes to mind: that sensation that wrapped my sensory organ in loving tasty flavor thusly blotting the world out of existence. I apologize but no other food I’ve had anywhere provokes this response. Lee’s consistently stupefies me. So I’d added the predictable yet perfect side of plantain and I am just happy. Whilst I was rhapsodizing and food-philosophizing M quietly enjoyed the delightful Mahi Mahi, rice and really good side salad.

We leisurely finished our meal as day ended, enjoying the beautific view across the bay and laughed at the silly king and queen of the sea guarding the restroom doors and the irreverent instructions for said use. (Gentlemen Step Closer. It’s Shorter Than You Think. Ladies Please Remain Seated For The Entire Performance.) The sun left the day and new lights on the bridge danced some patterns, similar to ones installed at home but the Simpson Bay Bridge is so much longer.

GAAA did we have a nice day. I’d enjoyed my lobster so much I had to have another Lee’s Tee but the only one with a lobster on it was a ladie’s v-neck. Hey, it’s an orange color that offsets my tan, it’s got the lobster and I love it. After a few silly pics with the Marlin out front, we started home. Another oddity on this trip is that although we’d passed numerous times, we never actually had a cocktail and Buccaneer’s. Very strange! Back at the Flamingo we found that for two nights in a row, the Pelican Grill had reggae and tonight they even played some Eek-a Mouse. There’s been a lot of island music during the day and day two was brought to a musical close.

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Re: 26,27July2017 again long. mea culpa [Re: jerber160] #139401
09/03/2017 12:27 PM
09/03/2017 12:27 PM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 74,958
Central Florida!
Carol_Hill Offline
Traveler
Carol_Hill  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 74,958
Central Florida!
Thanks for the report! Sorry, I don't get it, sliding door to patio sealed shut??? I would have raised holy you-know-what about that!!


Carol Hill
Re: 26,27July2017 again long. mea culpa [Re: Carol_Hill] #139402
09/03/2017 12:31 PM
09/03/2017 12:31 PM
Joined: Sep 2014
Posts: 334
Pittsburgh, PA
jerber160 Offline OP
Traveler
jerber160  Offline OP
Traveler
Joined: Sep 2014
Posts: 334
Pittsburgh, PA
Quote
Carol_Hill said:
Thanks for the report! Sorry, I don't get it, sliding door to patio sealed shut??? I would have raised holy you-know-what about that!!
It was weird. Some of the units at the Flamingo only have one key-lock door into the suite and that's the beachfront one, next to the sliding glass doors. This time, yep, sealed solid. If there have been incidents to prompt this, I haven't heard. It wasn't horrible, just different, less welcoming somehow.

Re: 26,27July2017 again long. mea culpa [Re: jerber160] #139403
09/03/2017 01:03 PM
09/03/2017 01:03 PM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 74,958
Central Florida!
Carol_Hill Offline
Traveler
Carol_Hill  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 74,958
Central Florida!
So I'm confused, there was a door to go directly out toward the ocean, or you had to go out the front door and walk around?


Carol Hill
Re: 26,27July2017 again long. mea culpa [Re: Carol_Hill] #139404
09/03/2017 01:35 PM
09/03/2017 01:35 PM
Joined: Sep 2014
Posts: 334
Pittsburgh, PA
jerber160 Offline OP
Traveler
jerber160  Offline OP
Traveler
Joined: Sep 2014
Posts: 334
Pittsburgh, PA
Quote
Carol_Hill said:
So I'm confused, there was a door to go directly out toward the ocean, or you had to go out the front door and walk around?
from the sand, a key lock normal door on your left and to the right sliding glass/screen doors sealed shut. We didn't want to leave the left door cracked because we didn't want bugs and mosquitos in the room. in essence, 2 front doors,one functional. we had to use key every time. not a big deal really.

Re: 26,27July2017 again long. mea culpa [Re: jerber160] #139405
09/03/2017 02:29 PM
09/03/2017 02:29 PM
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 74,958
Central Florida!
Carol_Hill Offline
Traveler
Carol_Hill  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Aug 2000
Posts: 74,958
Central Florida!
OK, thanks. Still sounds like a PITA..


Carol Hill
Re: 26,27July2017 again long. mea culpa [Re: jerber160] #139406
09/03/2017 03:30 PM
09/03/2017 03:30 PM
Joined: Nov 2009
Posts: 3,047
Maryland/DC Metro
BeachKitten Offline
Traveler
BeachKitten  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Nov 2009
Posts: 3,047
Maryland/DC Metro
Nice!

Yowsa, for a while there I thought you and your lobster might need to get a room! <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/jester.gif" alt="" />


"It is good to do nothing all day, and then to rest" wink
Re: 26,27July2017 again long. mea culpa [Re: BeachKitten] #139407
09/04/2017 08:10 AM
09/04/2017 08:10 AM
Joined: Sep 2014
Posts: 334
Pittsburgh, PA
jerber160 Offline OP
Traveler
jerber160  Offline OP
Traveler
Joined: Sep 2014
Posts: 334
Pittsburgh, PA
Quote
BeachKitten said:
Nice!

Yowsa, for a while there I thought you and your lobster might need to get a room! <img src="http://www.traveltalkonline.com/forums/images/graemlins/jester.gif" alt="" />
I can't explain it. I really can't. I love Lee's

Re: 26,27July2017 again long. mea culpa [Re: jerber160] #139408
09/04/2017 08:40 AM
09/04/2017 08:40 AM
Joined: Dec 2010
Posts: 352
Detroit
bluejacket Offline
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bluejacket  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Dec 2010
Posts: 352
Detroit
Great report. Thanks.

Re: 26,27July2017 again long. mea culpa [Re: jerber160] #139409
09/04/2017 09:00 AM
09/04/2017 09:00 AM
Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 7,116
St Louis, MO
SXMNorm Offline
Traveler
SXMNorm  Offline
Traveler
Joined: Jul 2001
Posts: 7,116
St Louis, MO
Thanks for taking time to post.


Next SXM visit - January/February 2022
Re: 26,27July2017 again long. mea culpa [Re: jerber160] #139410
09/04/2017 09:04 AM
09/04/2017 09:04 AM
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 704
Western MA
S
SandS Offline
Traveler
SandS  Offline
Traveler
S
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 704
Western MA
Loved the report. Sounds like a wonderful start to your vacation. I agree with your observation about La Patrona's buffet. What's with the $12.00 colada? Are all their drinks that expensive? Does the lobster at Lee's still have the garlic butter? Love your writing style.


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