Sunday, June 6, 2010

St Croix

Probably the best kept secret of the US Virgin Islands is St Croix and you still don't need a passport if you're a US citizen. American has a non stop daily from Miami and US Airways and Delta offer flights, as well as American connectors through Puerto Rico. I'd advise on renting a car as it's the easiest way to get around the island regardless of where you're staying. They drive on the left side over here but you get used to things in a hurry.

This island doesn't have the hustle and bustle of St Thomas so if you're looking for the loud bars, T Shirt contests, or big drink crowds, this is not the place. But if you know the right places to go you can have a pretty good time here. The only casino in the USVI is located on the island so you do have some gambling action if you wind up with a slow night. I prefer the city of Christiansted as far as shopping and dining go as there are a variety of options here and its easy to spend a full day doing both. There is a board walk along the water which goes from the fort to the sea plane terminal and there are a few places to stop in for food and drink. Gold prices are fairly good here and negotiating is possible for an even better bargain. The Crucian hook bracelet is one of the most popular jewelry items and all of my daughters are constantly getting comments when they wear them. Rule of thumb if you buy one, the open end of the hook points away from the heart if your are available and towards the heart if you're taken.

One of my other favorite places to stop in is at the domino club bar in the rain forest. They'll offer you a mamawanna, which is a concoction of rum, honey, and secret herbs which are steeped to make a potent concoction. Be careful as these definitely creep up on you. This is an open air bar and restaurant and it closes before dusk. After you've had a mamawanna and a cold beer you may want to visit the beer drinking pigs. That's right, they keep a few rather hefty pigs, that actually drink beer. The beer is non alcoholic but you've got to see these things gobble it up. They'll take the can from your hand and crush it in their mouths as they guzzle down the beer. Then they'll spit it back on the ground when they're done. Pretty wild.

Plenty of water action down here. Great fishing, boating, and exceptional snorkeling and diving. There is a wall down here that some say rivals the wall in the Caymans for those experienced divers. A great day trip to Buck Island, off the east coast of the Island, offers phenomenal snorkeling. For the most part though, you can snorkel off almost any beach here as access to the reefs is not that far off. When you're looking for a cold one after a hot day try Off the Wall, an open air bar located directly over the ocean. One of our favorite hangs as well as a lot of the locals. Food is not bad either. You'll find some other good hangs in this area also.

Some of our favorite restaurants on the island are savant, Villa Morales, Tuto Bene, Rowdy Joes, Kendricks, and the Pirates Buffet at the Carambola Resort. There are many options as far as hotels go but we prefer the Carambola Resort. I'm a little biased here as the company I work for has a management contract with the hotel, and this is the main reason we come to St Croix. Every time we visit it gets better and it's about to become a Renaissance Hotel by Marriott, so even nicer things ahead. Great beach there as well as a nice hiking trail through the rain forest. If you follow the trail it will take you down to the tidal pools where you've got the ocean all to yourself. When you're done there you can play a round of golf at the Carambola golf course, which, by the way, is a Robert Trench Jones design, and the best the island has to offer. I'd also recommend a tour of the Cruzan Rum distillery. they brag the only rum that won't leave you with a hangover. very tasty and available for sale in their store.

All in all, we always have a great time when we come here and always regret leaving. When we do, our batteries are fully recharged, and we're thinking about how soon we can get back. Check it out as you won't be disappointed.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Treasure Island, Fl

Another one of my favorite places to hang. Checked in to the Residence Inn on the beach and what a great place this is. There was a managers reception this evening and they had food and comp beer and wine to get things started. I had worked all day so it was a perfect way to get the evening going and the Hotel GM was pouring drinks and doing some pretty good magic tricks.

There's a lot to do here and you can leave the car at the hotel for my favorite round. Walk down to Sloppy Joe's on the beach and have something light maybe and a drink or two. I now compete in the Hemingway look alike contest in Key West so we had o go to Sloppy's. Friendly staff and some locals but mostly tourists come in. Food's decent. Next cross the street and have a couple at Ricky T's. Usually live entertainment. There's another option right next store at VIP Mexican Bar. Great Mex food if you're in the mood but the Rita's and the beer are both excellent and cold. Fresh servers make it half the fun.

For a more serious dinner or a fine wine walk back towards Middle Grounds Grill. Family owned and it shows. Everybody helps and service is excellent. I eat here every time I come to town and have never been disappointed,\. Nightly specials and good sized portions. Breakfast at the hotel is free and bountiful including make your own Belgian waffles. Great walk along the beach and they have walking paths. You can do an easy 3 mile walk and stay on hard ground or beach. They also have a great gym if you need to stay in.

Tons of stuff to do in area and so close to St Pete museums and fine arts. Water sports abound. Just ask the desk and they'll point you the right way or just relax at the pool or the beach and start all over again. If you get hungry for lunch give Dockside Dave's a try as they have the best grouper around. John's Pass is a little touristy but still worth a stop to walk the docks and maybe catch some dessert. Enjoy!

Lido Beach

What a great place to fun, sun, and dine. Stayed at the Lido Beach Resort as was in town on business. Had a couple of drinks at the Tiki bar as we watched the sun head down. Two great pools and a gorgeous beach complete the experience. It got a little cool so we decided to grab the complimentary shuttle and to head over to St Armands Circle for dinner. Very crowded this night as March is in full swing and the tourists are a plenty. Stopped in for one quick drink at Tommy Bahamas and live entertainment was just getting started and sounded pretty good but we were in the mood for some seafood so we moved on.

Headed over to the Crab and Fin and a 45 minute wait. Ordered a bottle of wine at the bar and the time passed very quickly. By the time we sat down we were told the last order of stone crab just went to the table next to us. We ordered some Oysters instead and were not disappointed. Our fish selections were outstanding and perfectly prepared. We were stuffed and there was no room for dessert this night. There are so many good choices on the circle you can find a better one each evening. And don't leave without a trip over to Kilwin's for some Ice Cream or some Chocolate. Plenty of music and places to have a drink if you're in to the late night thing.

The Resort makes an awesome breakfast if you want to get a good start and there's excellent walking along the beach or the sidewalks through town. Head out Washington and you'll go through some pretty cool neighborhoods. A walk to the bridge and back is about a 4 mile jaunt. The Resort also has a great Gym if you'd prefer to stay in. Concierge will help you with anything else you need from kayaking to fishing, etc. Enjoy this great part of Florida.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Welcome to my world

OK so here's the deal. We all love to travel, dine, and enjoy all that life has to offer. I'm no exception, except that from time to time, some unusual things happen on the way to the Forum that don't seem to happen to other people. Perhaps it's a little more of a discerning eye, Murphy's law, or just the scrutiny of middle age. Either way it's always been fun and I'm looking forward to sharing experiences of this journey with others as well as hearing from theirs.