Thursday, February 14, 2013

My Tropical Birthday Vacation!!! - U.S.V.I Part 5

January 22, 2013
We’re lucky enough to get seats on the upper deck of the ferry to Charlotte Amalie, so we’re treated to sunshine, a warm breeze, and a good view of St. Thomas’s coastline - rocky cliffs with multi-million dollar homes and resorts scattered across the hillside. As we approach the port, two looming cruise ships dominate the view, and it’s clear that this island is definitely more developed than St. John’s. It also has a much different vibe than St. John; it’s crowded with bustling cruise-trippers and barkers trying to entice you into their shops (at least in downtown). Charlotte Amalie is considered downtown, and it’s streets are full of stores. When we kept passing jewelry store after jewelry store, we began to wonder why, until we realized that St. Thomas is duty-free - a lot of money can be saved by not paying taxes on an expensive purchase. (I wasn’t in the market for any glittery, posh jewelry, so we didn't enter these shops, but I did find a nice pair of locally made metal earrings at the open market near the dock.) 

Merchants sailing to the islands for sugar cane would need weights in their boats for the journey. When they reached the islands, these weights would be unloaded to make space for the heavy sugar cane. Islanders used the rocks, shells, and coral to build walls. 

We seek out Blackbeard’s Castle, which includes climbing a flight of 99 stairs, but it’s really just a hotel. 

It’s late afternoon, so we decide against taking a taxi over to Magen’s Bay, even though I would have liked to see it. Instead, we relax on the patio of our hotel and wait for the sun to set over the islands in the distance.

Ahhh, to have a warm shower! Unfortunately, it’s still not enough to rinse all the sand from my hair. :(

Charlotte Amalie definitely quiets down after most of the tourists have returned to their cruise ships. Because of this, most of the shops and many restaurants are closed, too. We enjoy a pleasant dinner on a tiny patio that we have all to ourselves.

In bed, the nighttime sounds of waves and frogs and rain are replaced by the loud and constant hum of an air-conditioning unit. I appreciate the bed big enough for two and the shower with warm water, but I think I appreciate nature’s cacophony more.

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