24 Mar 2011

[Cruise News] Gustavia, Saint-Barthelemy (St Barts)

Wow, what a place.  We could very easily be in an exclusive port in the south of France - so different from anywhere else we've been out here, including the other French-owned islands.  

From reading the sailing guides on-board Pandora, I knew we were in for something different and I was looking forward to a bit of high-end retail therapy, a change from the usual "souvenirs" sold on all the other islands we've visited.  But having arrived, that thought has totally flown out of the window when I saw the calibre of the boutiques lining the waterfront .... Hermes, Bvlgari, Chopard, Cavalli, Gucci etc etc .... you get my drift. .... and I soon realised that they weren't aiming at the likes of me, more the Roman Abromavich, Philip Green's of the world who regulalry holiday here on their own mega-yachts.  I do wonder where the local people shop - maybe on the other side of the island - so we'll have to take a taxi over (nothing as common as buses here!) and see.

Before we sailed up to St Barts we spent a pleasant few days in Nevis, a quiet but beautiful island sitting just across the straits from the larger St Kitts, together which form one country.  We decided to visit St Kitts using the local ferry service rather than sail Pandora over there and so duly presented ourselves at the ferry terminal on Tuesday morning with the intention of spending a full day on Nevis' neighbour .... a wander around the capital (Basse-Terre), a spot of lunch and maybe a trip out to see one or two of the sights.  It's funny however when you arrive at a new island how quickly you get a "feel" about the place and I'm sad to say our "feel" of St Kitts was not a good one.  So after a cursory hour or so in the capital we headed back to the ferry port and returned to Nevis and an afternoon lazing aboard Pandora.  Not what we'd planned but I guess not everywhere is going to be a hit.

There aren't that more islands left for us to visit in the Leeward chain and so we've decided to sail across to the Virgin Islands after all.  Whilst we've sailed in the British VI before, we did enjoy it and a return trip is quite attractive to us, and we've not been to the USVI in the past so may as well give them a whirl and get to use our US visas to gain entry.  So after a couple of days watching the activities of the regatta here in St Barts we'll be heading to Anguilla for an overnight stay and then heading NW across the Sombrero and Anegada Passages to Virgin Gorda and on to Tortola.