Monday, November 25 - Castries & Sandals Adventure
Once again we slept in pretty late this morning enjoying the comfortable air conditioned room and privacy of the Hidden Treehouse Villa I. We ate leftovers from the night before for breakfast, showered, and prepared for a trip to Castries.
Without GPS, we headed north up the main road, passing through Canaries, Anse La Raye (where we always get hollered at, this time it was “Romeo and Juliet! Romeo and Juliet!”), and Soucis. It was a pretty pleasant drive. Everyone drives fast, and as far as I can tell there are no enforced speed limits. Sometimes I will see a sign that says 20 or 40 or sometimes “64 kmh / 40 mph”, but everyone simply just goes however fast they can. I’ve not seen any cars pulled over, either. From what I can tell, the police all drive pickup trucks here.
We eventually reached Castries, and pulled off to take out the GPS and decide where we actually wanted to go within Castries. We were pretty close to The Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception (a cathedral in the city), so we headed there. For being around all the resorts, the city was not at all what we expected. It was very crowded with foot and street traffic. From what we could tell, everyone was a local. We saw our first streetlights in the country, and the majority of them didn’t even work.
We eventually made it near the Cathedral and parked. We were not certain where we could or couldn’t park other than obviously not parking in loading zones or blocking entryways. After getting out, Ruby said she wasn’t sure we could park where we did, so I asked the first local that walked by whether or not we could. She was right. Double yellow lines by the curb = no parking.
We got back in the car and said forget the Basilica, we’ll head to the next place. This happened to be the Howelton Estate. All I had heard about it is that artists sell their work there, the prices are fair, and the entry is free.
Upon our arrival, we went downstairs to the restrooms and then onto the covered outside portion on the back side that overlooked Castries. There was a small bar and three little artists studios, all for batik, wood carving, and painting.
A man down there asked if we were there for the chocolate making class. I asked how much it was. He said $60 a person. I said “…is that in EC?” “(laughing) no” “(also laughing) dangit”. When we were walking away, a huge group came in, presumably from the Viking cruise ship in the bay. I’m not sure they would have had room for us even if we felt like spending $120 USD on the class.
We went upstairs, where there were all sorts of crafts for sale - soaps shaped like what they smell like, paintings, Christmas ornaments, and lots of Batik fabric and clothing.
While inside, a heavy rain and wind passed over, making plenty of noise on the metal roof. I wondered how the open air chocolate making class was going.
I encouraged Ruby to shop. It is our honeymoon, after all. She tried on one dress, first way too big, and then only a little too big, and then one of a different style that was a free size that was flowy. We took that one home, because it’s so her.
I made some smalltalk with the people working there, and figured out where to head next — the Pink Plantation House nearby for dinner.
We had difficulty finding it, but when coming back through realized a gas truck was in front of the sign. We entered at 2:20, 40 minutes before close. We parked (on my second try, as the first Ruby would have exited the Jimny directly into a ditch), and went in. We could tell this place was very fancy.
We were seated at a small table by the railing that overlooked Castries and the Caribbean behind it. Before us were beautiful large handmade bowls, which were taken by the server almost immediately.
The menu was served on a clipboard, which had also been fancily painted. It was a really nice touch. Meanwhile, a plate with delicious fried bread and butter was brought out to us. It was amazing, which excited us for the rest of the meal.
The menu items were not cheap per se, but they were less than what you would see in America.
We ordered a the soup of the day as an appetizer (pumpkin soup). For our entrees, Ruby ordered the Catch of the Day (red snapper with the ginger sauce, as per the waitresses’ recommendation), and I ordered pork.
The soup arrived in the most ridiculous bowl that looked like an upside-down wide-brimmed hat. But heavens. It was perfect, and excited us further for our entrées.
When they arrived, they were also served with a separate platter with four side bowls: small beans, steamed mixed vegetables, fried plantains with fried bread fruit balls, and a cabbage and pumpkin au gratin, which was incredible.
And speaking of incredible, our entrées. Ruby’s red snapper was yummy, but my pork was without doubt the best pork I’ve ever had. I’ve never had pork that tasted so much like steak.
Around when we were finishing our meal, a lady at a table nearby eating by herself (a local) was seemingly complaining about everything — sending drinks back and claiming there was hair in her food. She eventually left (or was asked to leave). I felt terrible for the staff.
Although stuffed, there was rumor of dessert. If everything else was so good, the desserts must be just as good. We ordered a crème brûlée. We were correct. It was metal.
We wanted to explore the garden outside a bit, but the falling rain declined. We could formerly see all the way across Choc Bay, but with the rain we could hardly see the edge of the property. On our way out, we went through the gift shop. It was then that we discovered that the owner of the restaurant was Michelle Elliot, the creator of all of the fine artwork inside. We recognized her work from our AirBnB, where several of her pieces reside.
We hopped back in traffic and headed north with no real destination. Eventually, we reached the inlet where Fort Rodney is, as well as a Sandals resort. I used this opportunity for some photo ops with the Jimny.
At the end of this road where the foot path to Fort Rodney begins, there’s the beautiful Pigeon Island beach (my theory is that it used to be an island, until the Sandals resort was built which connects it to the mainland). We had brought our bathing suits (just in case!) so we made the most of the opportunity. It wasn’t the best view, but the beach was the nicest we had come across. The water was excellent, and we stayed past sunset.
We started having bad ideas related to the neighboring Sandals resort. All beaches on Saint Lucia are public…right? We managed the walk right through the gate, and the guard woman didn’t bat an eye.
I observed other couples there, and there was no special indication like a wrist band or anything implying they belonged. We blended right in, as we’re a young white couple, the most stereotypical Sandals vacationers.
First, we just walked the beach. Then, we sat on the big plastic blue thrones. This naturally led us to sitting in the big comfy hanging semi-circle seats.
Could we hop in a pool? Absolutely! So we did. They were pretty nice.
We dried off by a fire, where another couple joined us. Not in a rush to get into a discussion about where we were staying, we got up not long after.
Nearby, there was an outdoor party with people eating by the beach and some other festivities. After seeing a guy walk by in flip flops and no shirt, I figured they wouldn’t care at all that I was in a shirt, swimming trunks, and no shoes. Ruby was wrapped up in a towel over her swimsuit.
We walked through. Ladies tried to sell us wooden souvenirs. Another worker enthusiastically handed us cocktails. A photographer was taking photos of couples and beckoned us to pose under an arch. Of course! As he finished with the previous couple, he got their room number and when they were leaving. Room 7030 and 3:30 on Saturday. Easy enough.
We got our pictures. Upon asking for our room number, I answered 7060. Big mistake. He knew that didn’t exist. We stammered around, playing the “we don’t remember, we just know how to get there” card. Another room number was made up, and we moved on.
We didn’t want pictures, we didn’t want cocktails, and we had our own personal pool back at our AirBnB. We just had to know how well we could play the part.
I picked up a roll and Ruby and I ate it on the beach. Hungry for another roll, I went back into the serving area. I came back to Ruby with another roll. This one just happened to look an awful lot like a steak with horseradish on top and ketchup on the side. It tasted like neither a roll or a steak. It was edible, even “ok”, but a D as far as a steak goes, and leagues below our lunch at the Pink Plantation.
We headed back to the gate where we entered to make our way out, knowing the guard would be an obstacle. We slipped out when she had wandered off a bit, but she still saw us. She called after us, and I kept walking a little bit, but Ruby turned around because she’s nice. The guard woman recorded our last name (we said “Dinnie”) and our room number (7030 this time because we knew it was real) and she let us return to our Jimny.
Back to Soufriere! First, however, we stopped at a supermarket before we even got back to Castries to pick up some things to make meals our last two days here.
The trip to our AirBnB was shorter than we expected — probably because Google Maps doesn’t assume that everyone drives like they’re on a rally stage here [As an aside - it turns out OpenStreetMap has Saint Lucia in much more detail than Google Maps.]
Upon our return, we made our signature brownies and drifted off to sleep. We were exhausted.
- Day 1: Monday, November 18 - Traveling to Saint Lucia
- Day 2: Tuesday, November 19 - Enjoying La Batterie and Some Light Exploration
- Day 3: Wednesday, November 20 - Rainforest Hike with Terry
- Day 4: Thursday, November 21 - Choiseul, Font Deux Plantation, and the Balenbouche Estate
- Day 5: Friday, November 22 - Grocery Shopping, Tet Paul Trail, Volcano Sulfur Baths, Diamond Botanical Garden
- Day 6: Saturday, November 23 - Anse Ivrogne and Asa’s Nature Trail & Parrot Watching
- Day 7: Sunday, November 24 - Gros Piton and New Jerusalem Hot Springs
- Day 8: Monday, November 25 - Castries & Sandals Adventure
- Day 9: Tuesday, November 26 - Snorkeling and Board Games
- Day 10: Wednesday, November 27 - La Maison Creole and Flying Home