Monday, March 3, 2008

Cruising St. Maarten

Okay, is it just me, or does each day seem better than the last? Today we woke up and we were already docked in Phillipsburg, St. Maarten. Since we knew we were going to be in port until 4:15 that afternoon, we had no sense of urgency about disembarking. So we put on our bathing suits, packed a lightweight beach bag, had a quick breakfast, and left the ship around 9:30. St. Maarten's Dutch province is the jewelry capital of the Caribbean, and I had a craving for some Mishima Opal (or Australian Opal) set in silver, either a bracelet or a ring, or maybe some earrings. So we took the water taxi from the pier over to the downtown shopping district. Whatever I'd been expecting...well, my imagination just didn't come close. Here's a picture of the main shopping road. It was so pretty, with cobblestone streets and shop after shop after shop, shielded by these gorgeous palm trees. Unfortunately, it was so early that many shopkeepers hadn't yet seen any customers and were like vultures when they saw us coming. They actually came out onto the sidewalks and tried to entice (or drag) us into their shops. When I told one shopkeeper that I was looking for opals, he nodded in excitement and then tried to sell me a HUGE diamond ring! This thing had five rows of diamonds, with three blue diamonds set into the center. It started out at $4,600 and by the time he finished his marketing spiel, it was down to $1,000.

My husband would have a heart attack if I came home with a $1K diamond ring that he hadn't bought for me himself. So we decided it was too early to shop, and instead caught a taxi over to the French side of the island, to Orient Beach, where we rented two lounge chairs and an umbrella, and watched the wind surfers and parasailers and topless sunbathers go by. Here's a picture of the beach from the deck of a little food cabana on the beach behind our chairs...

And here's a picture of Robin, sitting on the deck. We ordered a couple of beers, and split an order of nacho's, and a shrimp quesidilla that was fabulous. I didn't realize that the prices were in Euro's and not US dollars, so it was a little pricier than we'd thought, but so worth it -- totally delicious. We only stayed a few hours, and returned to Phillipsburg in time to do a little more shopping before we had to return to the ship. Robin bought a bottle of the local liquor, Guavaberry, which was really yummy and they didn't confiscate it on our return. We had plans to drink some of it when we got back to our room, but somehow we forgot!

Dinner that night was formal (again), but we weren't as into this time around and dressed a little more comfortably. Hmmm...I don't remember what we did after dinner, but I'm sure it was fun!

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