4/29/2012

Guest Post by Clare of C Squared W


Hello Priceless Adventurers!

I'm so excited to share photos from my trip to St. Maarten with you while Katie is off enjoying the island herself. I've been lucky enough to visit St. Maarten twice and have loved it both times.  I mean, it's a Caribbean island, what's not to love?

I first went to St. Maarten with my neighbor and best friend growing up, Susanna, and her family.  I have fond memories of red-roofed buildings, clear water, and green mountains.  We rode horses on the beach, and saw parrots, goats, and monkeys.  We were lucky enough to get half of our hair braided and beaded with corn rows (we were 11!) and to buy shell jewelry.  It was magical.

This past May, I visited St. Maarten with my sister, Frannie.  She visited my husband and I in Dominica, and then we flew to St. Maarten together enjoy a few days of luxury.


Frannie and I stayed on the Dutch side of the island at the Holland House in Phillipsburg, mainly because it was right on the beach.  Hotel guests were also allowed to use complimentary beach towels and beach chairs (many hotels in the area charge extra for this), so we took full advantage of that.  For our few days we had the entire beach to ourselves, which was absolute heaven!


Our hotel room was nice and my only complaint was the bathroom, which seriously needed a facelift.  The hotel restaurant and lounge, however, was especially awesome.  It was the perfect spot to enjoy morning coffee or cocktails before dinner with an amazing view.  


We were also just steps away from Old Street, which had several fantastic French cafes where we enjoyed breakfasts and lunches daily.  There was also a ton of good shopping in the area. 

{Please disregard the extreme awkwardness of this photo.  Please.}

One day Frannie and I took a local bus to visit the French side of the island.  We went to Marigot, the French capital, and enjoyed the shops and good restaurants.  Our favorite part was visiting the the art gallery of Roland Richardson, a well-known painter from the island who paints in a colorful, Impressionistic style.  The art gallery is a beautiful old building which was actually Richardson's childhood home.


I loved Richardson's artwork so much that I ended up purchasing one of his etchings as a gift for my husband!


We also loved this beautiful view from the waterfront in Marigot:


Another afternoon Frannie and I went on a boat tour and went snorkeling at a nearby reef.  The resort with the red roofs is actually where I stayed back in middle school, so now I've actually gone snorkeling in these reefs on two separate trips.  Pretty cool! 


Saba, St. Barth's, and Anguilla are all just a quick ferry ride away from St. Maarten!  If we'd had extra time, we'd love to have visited one of these islands.


A trip wouldn't be complete without a weird photo beside some sort of mural, sign, or statue, right? 


We had a great trip, and I'd love to go back sometime!
A few favorites from Phillipsburg, St. Maarten:
  • Coffee and pastries at a French cafe on Old Street. (My fave was the cute one close to the street.)
  • Shopping in Phillipsburg.
  • Homemade chocolate treats from the chocolate shop on Old Street.
  • A boat trip and snorkeling, we went with one of the companies located on the dock in Phillisburg, it was great. 
  • Evening cocktails on the Holland House patio lounge.  The guavaberry-coladas were so great!
  • Dinner at Shivsagar Restuarant.  This was an awesome Indian restaurant in Phillipsburg where Frannie and I feasted on an amazing meal! 
  • Ice cream at Haagen Dazs (right next door to the Holland House on the boardwalk)
  • Visit the Roland Richardson Art Gallery in Marigot if you love art. (Look for one of his huge, colorful paintings in the St. Maarten airport, too!)
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Thank you Clare for sharing your trip & the wonderful photos! I hope you are having an awesome time in Rome today :) For those of you who haven't met Clare yet, take a second and go visit! 
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4/27/2012

Guest Post by Kate of Kate Sullivan Blogs



Happy Friday!! My name is Kate and I'm visiting Katie's blog today to share some pictures from my trip to St. Maarten.

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 I was lucky enough to visit St. Maarten in 2008 as one of the stops we made on the Spring Break cruise I took with my roommate and two other friends. We got off the ship in a brightly decorated section of town. There were tons of little shops and restaurants here but we had one destination in mind: the beach.

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 There were plenty of beach options, but we selected one that wasn't already being swarmed by the other passengers on our cruise. Of course, we did this based on a map and the crowds at the taxi stands so we had no idea what we were getting into. The friendly drivers whisked us away and we were off. We quickly left the charming part of town and wound our way through the island.

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 Now, I'd like to claim that we were mature tourists but when we started seeing the neighborhoods get rougher and rougher, we all got a little nervous. It didn't help that our taxi dropped us off in a random cul-de-sac with no sign of the ocean anywhere. Our taxi driver handed us off to another man (and we weren't sure if he was speaking English or if his accent was just really thick). That man handed us off to another man almost immediately. I was pretty sure we were done for when he led us to a random alley. Spoiler alert: I snapped this picture of the alley on our way back out:

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 At first we were all just giving each other worried looks but then we made it to the other side and were greeted by the most glorious sight.

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 The most pristine beach with crystal clear water was right in front of us - and it was relatively empty.

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 The sand was velvety soft and we spent several glorious hours basking in the Caribbean sun. Pretty soon we forgot all about the shady beginning of our beach day - and when I think back on it I feel silly for judging my surroundings just because they were different than what I was used to.

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 Did I say basking? I should have said burning. Can you tell that I almost match my bathing suit top? After we'd been lounging for a few hours the peddlers started to come around. This is something that happened to us on most of the beaches we visited since we were clearly in tourist areas. Most of the men flirted with us and invited us to move there and marry them. The offer was less appealing when they revealed their girlfriends were at home making jewelry all day while they were out selling it!

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 I know what the above picture looks like, but I assure you he's pointing and not holding a joint! The white is a charm hanging from his necklace. Sadly we were limited to only one day in St. Maarten but it was my favorite port of call and I definitely think of it as my "happy place" and picture myself back there whenever I'm feeling stressed out or worried. I hope I'll get a chance to visit there again someday! 

 I also hope that Katie is having a great time in St. Maarten right now! Thanks for having me, Katie! I can't wait to hear all about your trip and especially look forward to seeing your pictures of this beautiful place.


Rope Thank you Kate, for sharing your trip to St. Maarten. And dear readers, if you haven't met Kate yet, take a few minutes & get to know her!
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4/26/2012

Guest Post by Leah of Keep Your Sunnyside Up


When Katie asked if I would do a guest post while she was in St. Maarten attending a friend's wedding I was ecstatic. First of all, I think Katie's Caribbean adventure is amazing. Although I do know it would come with many challenges, I would love to have the opportunity to live on an island in the Caribbean. Second of all, I've been to St. Maarten a couple of times and I was so glad Katie wanted me to share my adventures with all of you!

The first time I was lucky enough to make it to St. Maarten I was 17 and in high school. I was on a cruise with my parents. While in St. Maarten, we went over to Orient Beach, which is located on the French side of the island. Orient Beach is part nude beach so that was quite an experience at my young age. Unfortunately I don't have any pictures from that trip, I think they are all at my parent's house. Those were the ancient days before I owned a digital camera.

Lucky enough, I was back in St. Maarten last April and I have lots and lots of pictures from that trip! Last April I went on another cruise and St. Maarten happened to be one of the stops on our itinerary. We came into port on the Dutch side. From the pier, we took a ferry to the main part of Philipsburg. 

Morning view from our balcony


Catching a ferry to town



Shopping around

We shopped around Philipsburg for awhile and decided to take a cab to Marigot, 
a town on the French side of the island. 

We had never been to Marigot before and thought we would explore someplace new. 
When we got to Marigot, we found marinas, flea markets and eateries.

View as we drove into Marigot






The flea markets were full of fresh fruits and veggies, spices and jewelry. 
It was one of the best island flea markets I've been to!

The views from Marigot were amazing. 


As we left Marigot to go back to port, the drive was very scenic.
I was quick enough to capture the harbor where the cruise ships were docked.



The color of the water in St. Maarten was incredible.
Before we caught the ferry to go back to the ship, we stopped for a drink on the beach.



As we sailed off into the sunset, I couldn't get enough of St. Maarten. 
I stayed on the balcony of our ship for what seemed like forever just staring and taking pictures. 
I didn't want to leave St. Maarten!


And for your reference, a small map of St. Maarten so you can see the places I've been:
Orient Beach, Philipsburg and Marigot.


I wish I could be in Katie's flip flops right now, enjoying some time on St. Maarten. 
I can't wait to get back there some day. 
St. Maarten is a great place to visit and I highly recommend it if you ever get the chance. 
Thank you Katie for having me and a big thank you to all of her lovely readers 
for letting me share my St. Maarten experiences with you!



Rope Thank you Leah, for being my first Guest Poster! I really appreciate the time & thought you put into this post, and will have a Carib for you tonight. Dear Readers, if you haven't met Leah yet take a second & go visit her!
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