Spring 2010 Trip Report - 4/28-5/5
Date: May 09, 2010 08:10AM
We returned from our vacation tanned, refreshed and already looking forward to trip number 17. Nothing like returning to work the following day and having all that â€œrefreshed and rechargedâ€ feeling go right out the window! I really need a day off before returning to work so going forward our trips will be on the weekends.
JETBLUE â€“ Flights were on time with a minimal amount of turbulence both ways. Outbound flight was sold out but inbound flight had a few open seats. We flew Wednesday to Wednesday direct from JFK. You are allowed one checked bag each so we had to pay $30 for our third bag. As a side note the Jet Blue counter at Princess Juliana doesnâ€™t open until 12:30 PM on the week days and 11:30 AM on Saturday and Sundayâ€™s. Needless to say getting to the airport at 11:30 AM was disappointing because we couldnâ€™t check in until the desk opened. Luckily we were the first on line because they had problems with the computer and printing boarding passes which dragged our time there even longer.
Immigrations/Customs in SXM â€“ not fun. We arrived along with 3 other large planes so it took almost an hour before we could get our luggage and leave the airport. That doesnâ€™t sound like a long time but the a/c didnâ€™t seem to be working and it was aggravating because all the lines were open and filled with agents yet still took a while to process us through. God Bless â€œisland time.â€
Accommodations â€“ this was our second stay at Paradise Bungalows. We like it so much we are booked for another week on our return visit this Fall.
Bruno is such a gracious host and available should you need anything. He provides you with his cell phone number making him easily reachable either by phone or walking up the driveway to his home. We initially stayed in the one bedroom, â€œTintamarreâ€ room but the a/c was pretty loud so after two days I left him a note explaining the problem. When we returned from the beach he had the a/c guys working on it. Howâ€™s that for quick service! He apologized and said because theyâ€™d be working on it for a while longer he moved us to the large two bedroom loft bungalow, â€œPinelâ€. We loved the easy access to the pool from this room and that we could take advantage of entering or exiting from the front or back. We have now stayed in 3 of the four bungalows which are all well furnished, large with lovely views of Orient in the short distance and a great large deck. We would highly recommend his lovely cottages.
Phone â€“ We continue to rent from Sharon, easy pick up/drop off and affordable with no problems to phone service.
Car Rental â€“ our 15th rental with Unity and fifteenth time having what my husband refers to as his green â€œRaver!â€ I did most of the driving this trip so my husband could enjoy the scenery. I donâ€™t mind driving from Orient to Grand Case and back otherwise I leave the driving to him. Either people are driving painfully slow so I want to pass them or they drive like a lunatic practically on my bumper. I easily accommodate them and move to the side. Our lives are too precious for me to play â€œchickenâ€ with them.
We did not encounter any traffic to or from the airport or in our travels this trip although we didnâ€™t do much driving. â‚¬20 was all it took to refill the gas we used before returning our Rav 4.
Since we initially had a small refrigerator we did not pick up many supplies. Stopped at the mini market next to Royal Palm to pick up a few things. After a short ride we noticed the new supermarket Market Garden or is it Garden Market? I ran in while David stayed with the car and picked up a few more items. Nice store.
Food, glorious food!
â€“ Andy & Cherylâ€™s twice. Our favorite is the Philly cheesesteak omelet although we tried the chili cheese omelet for the first time and well, fuggettaboutit! OMG it was equally as good and huge. On both occasions we split breakfast. The only other breakfast we ate was croissants from Tap 5 one morning otherwise we skipped that meal. The regular croissants from Tap 5 were quite flaky and tasty, better than theyâ€™ve been in the past. Iâ€™m partial to the ones at La Crossanterie and Zee Best which we did not get to this trip.
â€“ Andy & Cherylâ€™s several times. My absolute favorite dish is the Margarita Buffalo shrimp which you can get served over salad so itâ€™s a very satisfying meal and absolutely â€œlip smacking good!â€ David and I shared a plate of ribs on another day with onion rings for $14.50, yum-o. David had a hearty burger on another visit, which was very good and I had the Margarita buffalo chicken. A must stop for us to visit with them and hang out at their beach relaxing and eating.
â€“Palm Beach â€“ still doing 1 to 1 at the beach bar for cocktails only. Restaurant and beach service is â‚¬1.25 to $1 for food and cocktails. We had surveyed several beach bars on Orient and while Orange Fever posted their food prices in USD and had a very interesting reasonably priced menu; Sun Beach looked great and lemonadey along with an advertised bathroom we opted for Palm Beach for the large beach area away from everybody else along with TTOLers past recommendations. While pricey we were not disappointed and spent two days on their beach. On our first visit we ate at the beach bar which is very convenient and has a great view. I had a goat cheese chicken burger served with salad, pickles and fries and David had the mahi-mahi burger. We enjoyed our lunch. With one cocktail the bill was â‚¬34 - $43.
We made reservations for lunch at 12:30 PM for our second day although it was unnecessary. Both days were quiet on that side of Orient where we thoroughly enjoyed â€œalone time.â€ I had a glass of Chardonnay and shared a fabulous shrimp cocktail (â‚¬14) served in a martini glass with a few pieces of mango and salad. Drizzled on the plate was a balsamic glaze and a flavorful curry aioli. I ordered the Pasta with Shrimp in cognac with tagitalle pasta (â‚¬17). It was delicious with an enormous amount of pasta. Too much for lunch and even dinner that is how big the portion was! David had chicken in a creamy mushroom sauce (â‚¬19) served with potatoes gratin, a broiled tomato and a large piece of PlÃ¡tanos maduros (sautÃ©ed sweet fried plantains). He loved his dish which I agreed when I tasted it. You could not see the mushrooms in the sauce but it was definitely infused with the flavor and very good.
Additionally we had 2 sodas and 3 vodka cocktails at the bar which total â‚¬80, $100 butâ€¦ The server charged my card â‚¬100 instead of â‚¬80. He apologized and handed me a â‚¬20 bill back. David and I felt the refund was a little short but since we were unsure what the currency rate was we squashed it. When I got home the $100 withdrawal from my debit credit converted to $129 so there was a difference in their favor. All receipts stated the service was not included? We had good service and a sweet waitress so we left her a nice tip. We did not leave 20% but a healthy tip to her. We also tipped the beach boy and bartenders each day so both days turned out to be pricey but we enjoyed ourselves. We really liked the chairs, beach area, service, clean bathrooms and food. Our beach of choice in the past was Waikiki but at â‚¬1.40 to $1 they lost our business.
â€“Chez Laundra (sp?) â€“ (late lunch/snack) on the advice of a friend for a delicious BLT on a hero we had a late snack one afternoon and he was right â€“ very good at $10.00 with $2.00 for beer. On another occasion toward the end of the day I drank a mango colada ($7) tasty and huge. I watched the woman make my colada with a fresh mango that she cut up and put in the blender. Weâ€™ve had wraps in the past but not on this occasion. Would like to try eating there again. They told us they stay open until 5 PM.
â€“Buccaneerâ€™s beach bar. We had intended to spend the last hour on the island at Sunset watching the planes and eating but a friend who really likes SBAG burgers said it was awful so we changed plans and went to BBB. David had the burger with fries and I had the teriyaki chix burger/fries and a BBC. We made a good choice for food and drink. The BBC was yummy and was my first and last this trip. Both the burger and chicken were delicious and very satisfying. Did not mark down the price.
â€“Rancho del Sol â€“ â‚¬1.20 = $1. A chicken burger with fries, and salad for David. Scallops (6) served with veggies and garlic potatoes. Meal was only OK. Fries were undercooked and all my veggies were less than lukewarm. Scallops were flavorful but they too were on the cold side. We ate here our first night so were hungry otherwise I may have been tempted to send back some of my meal and also ask for better cooked fries. Our total price was $58 with a note that the tip was not included. They left a bottle of passion fruit/ginger rum on our table which was very good. I highly doubt we would return.
â€“Dinghy Dock â€“ still have â€œpour your ownâ€ drinks for happy hour from 5-7 PM. David had the ribs which are fall- off- the-bone and extremely tasty. I opted for something light and was very disappointed. I had a shrimp salad. Shrimp were small and not very flavorful and a bit â€œflat.â€ Drinks plus 2 dinners was only $31 and we had fun so my poor choice for dinner was my own fault.
We found out that the bar/restaurant was sold 10 days prior to our arrival. The new owners are expected to keep the same format and not change anything according to the bartender we spoke too. We missed the new owners by a few minutes and did not get to see the previous owners Matt and Cara who ran a great place and also accommodated very well the two TTOL parties we hosted there. We wish both parties much success.
We went to Bikini Beach the same night as Dinghy Dock and ordered shrimp wontons and Vietnamese rolls. Both were more than adequate in taste but with two drinks the cost was on the high side. â‚¬37.50 which came to $50. The conversion was not in our favor so going forward we only stopped by for drinks during happy hour (6 â€“ 7 PM â€“ 2 for 1 with lower cocktail prices during that time.) To our delight Carina was bartending a few nights as well as Laura.
â€“Safari Grill â€“ ate dinner with Donna and Scott (mscottc). We had a very enjoyable time with them. I had the red snapper with rice and salad and David had a small steak with potatoes and salad. One wine and Vodka & Tonic was $69 for the two of us. Iâ€™ve had the same dish before which is OK. Nice piece of fish served with a sauce on the side just doesnâ€™t ring my bell but there isnâ€™t much else on the menu that appeals to me. David said his steak was delicious as well as his potatoes. Convenient being right in the village but otherwise I wouldnâ€™t make the effort to eat there again.
â€“Le Cottage â€“ trÃ¨s bon. Our meal was absolutely wonderful from start to finish. We dined again with Donna and Scott at a very nice outdoor table I had asked for in my reservation request made through email with Bruno directly. Bruno welcomed us at the entrance with kisses for the woman and handshakes for the men. It really was an impeccable meal. David and I shared the tuna sashimi appetizer. My main course was a large piece of sea breel which was flown in from France that day. It is similar in texture and flavor to Chilean sea bass and was served with a mÃ©lange of veggies; a very unusual cup of rice foam that topped several different pieces of fruit in a sauce. It was to die for!
David and Scott both had the duck which was superb tasting and Donnaâ€™s filet mignon looked amazing. David and I shared the Grand Marnier soufflÃ© served with a vanilla sauce on the side, two French macaroons and a small cone with sherbet in it while Donna and Scott shared the chocolate soufflÃ© with chocolate sauce on the side. A magnificent meal.
If you stay at Brunoâ€™s place you receive 10% off your bill. The exchange rate was very favorable. â‚¬113 - $129. We more than enjoyed our meal and the service so we tipped at 20%. As a side note, Brunoâ€™s menu changed this past Monday. We did not have a chance to see the new menu but did run into one of his staff at Sesame Kafe who told us the menu will be more international? We wish him the best of luck.
â€“Caribbean Creole Food â€“ best find this trip! Our friends stay next door and have been eating at this local establishment on Grand Case de Blvd for years. We ate there twice but visited three times. We found the meals well priced and tasty. Upon first glance the front bar tables donâ€™t look like much but there are two dining rooms behind as well as a second bar, and a few tables on the beach. Place is quite large with two bathrooms. The owner is a sweet man who dropped by our table several times to make sure we were happy with our meals and to ask if we needed anything else. Very good customer service.
On our first visit I had the shrimp, mahi-mahi, swordfish kebob served with salad and a choice of white rice, rice/peas or fries. I had the rice and peas. There was a sauce on the side but the fish was so flavorful it didnâ€™t need it. Enjoyed my dish immensely, priced at â‚¬14. David had Â½ bbq chicken with salad and fries -- â‚¬12. There is music on Saturday nights, a male singer and woman who backed up and danced, excellent entertainment. Conversion was â‚¬1.25-$1.
On our second visit we shared the flank steak/chicken kebob with salad and rice/peas and split the cod fritters. We were served at least 10 small cod fritters â‚¬5and the kebob was â‚¬15. Our total bill was very reasonable which included several drinks to help celebrate Marieâ€™s birthday of the famous duo â€“ Marie and George. They have a full menu some of the other items that interested me to name a few were the creole shrimp, whole red snapper, steak. Looks are deceiving so if youâ€™re looking for good food at a reasonable price overlooking the ocean give this place a try. The restaurant/bar is located south of the new Rainbow CafÃ© on the water side right before the STOP sign.
â€“ Sesame Kafe â€“ ate their last year (off the beaten path in Grand Case) across from the supermarket on side street down from Bistrot Caribes. Our friend Dave Morris was playing that evening so we went to listen to him sing and play guitar. Unfortunately the chef was hospitalized so they were not serving food until he returns. We met friends there and had a great evening listening to Dave play some solid old rock, new stuff and original stuff. He plays from 7 â€“ 10 PM every Monday and plays non stop. His gig is up at the end of this month when he returns to Europe but will be back in mid October. We ended up eating a quiche and Croque Monsieur at the bakery across the street. Both were just OK although the breads and desserts looked good. We returned to Orient Village hungry so a quick stop at Tap 5 (they close at 11 PM) to pick up yet another Croque Monsieur which did not heat up well in our microwave. The crab in our second sandwich was almost non existent but since it was a baguette it was substantial. We were very hungry so with a small can of Pringles we were happy just to have eaten.
We are grateful once again to have had a wonderful time, were safe and got to do most of what we laid out for ourselves. Our priority is always to spend quality time together as a couple, along with sun bathing, dining and spending time with old friends and making new ones. We accomplished all of it and then some. Looking forward to our Fall trip.
Edited 8 time(s). Last edit at 05/09/2010 12:56PM by fabila.