Today our port-of-call is St. John’s, Antigua. I am very excited because today I am spiriting Randy away from the ship to a day of sun, surf and sand at an Antigua beach.
This little island has 365 white-sand beaches. Can you imagine? I just had to set Randy and me up for an excursion; and, so I did.
Now imagine how excited I was to see the sun shining bright as I stepped out onto the balcony. We went up to the Concierge Lounge first to pick up some coffee and then made our way to the Windjammer to have lunch with our friends.
We had to hurry because our tour was leaving at 9:30am. Our friends decided to spend some time walking around the port town of St. John’s. As we walked down the pier we were entertained by a local band playing familiar music with a distinctive island sound on steel drums. It was nice to see so many people pass by and drop money into their bag showing their appreciation for their music. I loved it.
The bus ride to Ffryes Beach was not very long and uneventful with the tour guide explaining a little history of the island and bringing our attention to various points of interest along the way.
I had read a little about the island’s history in the ship’s Cruise Compass before leaving on the tour.
I read that, like many of the islands of the Caribbean, the island has an interesting history starting with Christopher Columbus seeing the island, naming the island and then moving on. A hundred years later English settlers arrived in 1632 with a plans to grow tobacco. A man named Sir Christopher Codrington thought sugar would be a better source of income and trade and eventually sugar mills popped-up all over the island and Antigua became a thriving sugar-making machine.
Another man who changed Antigua’s history was Admiral Horatio Nelson. in 1784 Admiral Nelson had a mission to establish a British naval base in the Caribbean. Nelson’s Dockyard became home to the British fleet, and is now one of the biggest attractions in the Caribbean. Antigua is part of the British Commonwealth.
Once we left the bus and walked up a little hill and saw the beach I was elated. We walked the few steps from the bus to the beach and my eyes took in the beautiful sight just a few short feet from where we stood. I stood at the top of the hill and look out and what did I see? Before me was a long stretch of beautiful white-sand beach, crystal clear turquoise green water and an azure blue sky dotted with drifting white puffy clouds. “It is going to be a wonderful day,” I thought.
There were cliffs on either side of the beautiful bay. On one side atop the hill was a resort; on the other side was a cliff that seemed to be a perch for the high-flying cranes that constantly circled the waters below looking for food.
First things first, we found just the perfect spot and laid claim to two padded beach chairs. We only had to wait a few moments to catch the attention of someone to put up an umbrella. As soon as the umbrella was set, I went down to the surf to toe-test the water. It was cold and the current was very strong.
I returned to my chair and settled down for a lovely time reading my book. Randy did the same.
It is very hard to read a book when surrounded by such beauty. I found myself constantly putting my book down on my lap as I watched a group of pelicans dive bombing into the waters in search of food, beach goers squealing as they walked into the cold surf and watching as local vendors walked up and down the beach showing off their wares.
Every so often I would ask Randy if he was going into the water. He would look at me and say, “I don’t think so; I am so relaxed I don’t want to move”. That made me very happy. While he was relaxing I took a stroll down the beach. I spotted the restaurant were we would be having lunch and looked around. It looked wonderful. The restaurant was open-air with a beautiful view of the beach.
We were told that when lunch was ready someone would ring a dinner bell up the hill at Dennis Cocktail Bar & Restaurant. Our tour included the lunch and two drink tickets each. As is our habit, we decided to try the local beer Wadadli. Wadadli is the flagship beer of the Antigua Brewery. We both liked it very much.
The lunch included an array of Caribbean specialties and all were delicious. We feasted on red cabbage slaw, pasta salad, red rice and beans, green salad, pork ribs and the most delicious, moist chicken.
We sat at a table close to the railing and enjoyed our lunch while enjoying a beautiful view of the beach. I looked out at this beautiful sight and thought, “Pinch me, I think I am in heaven”.
After lunch we returned to our chairs and spent the rest of our time just enjoying the day. Every so often threatening clouds would roll by but would quickly disappear. Sail boats and catamarans would slowly sail by creating an idyllic picture. Once in a while someone on the beach would rent a jet-ski and race across the bay creating quite another picture.
I know when I have had a great day; I do mind when it is over because I know the memories of that day will linger for a very long time in my mind and heart. This day will linger for a long time. What made the day even more special for me is watching Randy just sit back and relax.
By the time we returned to the ship, we had just enough time to prepare for the evening. We went up to the Concierge Lounge for cocktails and then down to the dining room to join our friends. Dinner was as every other day; lively. Everyone wanted to share what they had done during the day. Dennis, Connie, Bob, Sandy, Marty and Caryn had a wonderful day visiting St. John’s.
After such a large and satisfying lunch I was not particularly hungry so chose to each an appetizer size Caesar salad and sweet baked potato. I decided not to order a dessert this evening opting instead to enjoy an after dinner drink at the one of the lounges.
We retired to our cabin and after changing clothes settled into our chairs on the balcony quietly listening to the night sounds and talking about our day.
“So,” I asked Randy, “how did like our day at the beach?”
“For me, the trip to the beach was a pleasant combination of history, fear and beauty. The history included the information about the sugar cane industry and the fact that they originally used the wind to process the cane. The tour guide pointed out that the island is dotted with the remains of these old windmills. I noticed that they were similar in shape to those we saw in Holland.
Fear, the way they drive on this and other islands in the Caribbean using their horns and flashing their lights to signal others, speeding on roads that we would only creep along in the country. I also found it interesting the way each community had their own school and different uniforms.”
Continuing his conversation about the day Randy said, “Arriving at the beach, I liked that the beach chairs were neatly arranged and we were able to pay for an umbrella to keep us out of the sun. The water was pretty rough and from the signs of it as the people went into the water; it was pretty cold keeping us out of the water.
I liked the restaurant up on the bluff overlooking the beach. As with all of the other beach escapes we have participated, the lunch was very good. The local beer was excellent.”
After listening to Randy I was glad we scheduled this excursion. It was a perfect day for both of us.
Tomorrow we dock at Philipsburg, St. Maarten.