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Trip Report, Jan 28- Feb11 (Long)
Posted by: BrucenSusanMN (
Date: February 19, 2011 05:23PM

Flights:Sun Country flies non-stop from Minneapolis for about $600 departure tax included. The flight was moved to Friday (from Saturday) this year which was only a minor inconvenience. A rare occurrence happened with our flight down, we left EARLY, arrived in SXM early and they let us land early. Pleasant surprise.

Car rental:We used Marius Andrew of St. Louis Car Rental for the 8th year. He met us at the airport, walked across to the parking lot, got the car, and we were on our way in 15 minutes. He met us at the airport when we left, we handed him the keys, he didn’t even look at the vehicle, and off we were. We don’t even know what we paid yet, but he has always been fair and it is all about mutual trust.

Lodging:Our home away from home has become Les Balcons on Oyster Pond. We had a bungalow on the top level with a large deck, great view and great breeze. David & Carine, the managers, are very accommodating hosts.
Some feel the Oyster Pond area is too isolated, but there are a fair amount of good restaurants right in the area, and you are only 15 minutes from Philipsburg, Orient and Grand Case.

Most were on the deck at Les Balcons (French pastries, bread, etc., delivered daily).

Bonita’s Cantina: Their stuffed French toast was great. Bananas and cinnamon on the inside covered with a strawberry and blueberry glaze.

L’Ile Flotante: Grand Case at the Y under the tree. Mostly locals eat here, Lopez is the owner, Ana’s been cooking there for 22 years. Great crepes, croissants, coffee $22 + tip.

Lloyd’s B & B, Anguilla. Coffee, juice, eggs cooked to order, toast and meat. Very relaxing,…Priceless.

Marigot Market: Very tasty quiche from some young adults doing a bake sale/fundraiser. A fruit tart from Sarafina’s. Yum.


Orange Fever;
1-1 exchange. Large pizzas for $11-14. Great warm goat cheese salad, grouper burger, etc. Large portions for reasonable prices. Luc, Olivier, Alex and Beatrice are all great.

Chez Leandra: Chicken sate wrap with fries $7. Very large, can easily be shared. Excellent.

Cheryl’s Rib Shack: Lolo on the water. Ribs, chicken, and all the typical sides + beer. Lots of food for $20 + tip. (I think early lunch is better, everything is right off the grill—rather than the “warming” area).

Rosies: Typical beach food, good ribs and chicken. Second year in a row my beer was not very cold. (Not a crisis)

Beau Beau’s: Chicken filet sandwich, tilapia sandwich, fries + beer $6 X 2.
They add 15% and 3%. Good food, nice setting, cheapest lunch on the Island.

Island Pizza (next to Busby’s): Pizza was pretty good, quick service. $15 including tip. Orange Fever is better.

Uncle Ernie’s Anguilla When you are sitting on Shoal Bay with your toes in the sand, with great friends, cardboard would probably taste good, but the ribs were great, the beer was cold. (Prices similar to SXM)

Lee’s: Stopped here on our way to the airport. Parking available right in front so we could watch our bags. Creamy conch chowder was very good with big chunks of conch in it (a little pricey at $9). The ribs were also some of the best we had all week. They were the first batch off the grill for the day, large portion with 2 sides $14. Finished it off with key lime pie $8.


The Bridge Sandy Ground:,
Our first night on the Island we decided to try the Friday night buffet. It might have been one of our most enjoyable nights. The setting is very nice right on the canal, with tarpons providing table-side viewing. The place was packed with the majority of people being local residents. There were several large tables celebrating special occasions. Enoch (of Marigot fame) owns the place and his daughter, Nadia Hodge, was the hostess. She is a very energized, beautiful young lady with a personality to match. They start you out with a complimentary bottle of wine. The buffet consists of four salads (lettuce, beet, shrimp and pasta), scalloped potatoes, rice & beans, and blood & conch boudin. It also included four meat entrees, a chicken dish, mahi mahi in a creole sauce, extremely tasty, tender pork in a light curry sauce, and grilled shrimp skewers. The dessert table included banana, chocolate, date and carrot cake, fresh fruit and strawberry cheesecake. The service was very good and everyone was very friendly.

As an added bonus, around 8 pm the band started and they were great. They were called Mystic Roots and the lead singer was outstanding and really worked the crowd. He had his remote mic and recruited a few people to sing. He found one lady who had a great voice and got the place rocking.
We left our table and sat at the bar a long time with our first frozen drinks of the trip and took it all in. What a great way to start our vacation. This is most definitely an “Island” experience and we felt privileged to be a part of it. We will definitely go back next year.

The cost was 30E per person + 2% tax. Surprisingly, they only charged $71 total which is a very favorable exchange. We left a large tip. (We don’t follow the tipping “rules”. We do what we feel is right at the moment.)

Dinghy Dock: Always good. Fish (large red snapper filet) and chips may be the best on the Island $12 and reasonably priced drinks.

La Bamba: Ribs—we go for the music on Sunday, not necessarily the food.

Enold’s: Finally got here and it didn’t disappoint. (ate here twice). They had the best stuffed crab back I have eaten on the Island. It comes with a small salad and a seasoned oil/vinegar dipping sauce on the side. 4 E
Susan had mahi mahi and also a garlic shrimp dish which she thought was going to be more like a “scampi” but was shrimp in a creole sauce—which she loved.
I had whole red snapper both times. A large fish cooked perfectly. 15 E
Meals came with a large side of rice & beans (other choices also) and salad.
Complimentary rum shots after dinner. The service is a little slow, because they are very busy but everyone is very friendly. Water, beer, etc. 39 E –
$46.80 US. Again a good exchange and we left a nice tip. (side note—I think I am a pretty good judge of the “size” of fish. The size of the fish I had at Enold’s would have cost $26-32 at Lee’s according to Lee’s menu where they charge by the ounces as size goes up.)

Tuesday in Grand Case: Street vendors. Wraps, chicken legs, crepes, salt fish cake, cod fritters, sweet potato cake, etc. We love going there on Tuesdays even if it is a bit of a crowded “fire drill”.

La Oasis, Oyster Pond: A new one for us and a pleasant surprise. We had pasta carbonara 11 E and duck 19 E, French onion soup (best we had all vacation) and water. 42 E + 2% $57.80 + tip. Walking distance from Les Balcons and we would go back.

The Sand Bar, Anguilla: Very good tapas which we shared with 4 of us. Tried about 6 different ones. Creative drink list. Very peaceful setting.

Piazza Pascal (X 2): Everyone was right, very good food/value. 1-1 exchange. Started with bruschetta with melted goat cheese, roasted peppers, artichoke hearts and balsamic glaze. Six large pieces with a large salad on the side. Definitely enough for two and possibly one of the best appetizers we have had on the Island. Chilean sea bass with risotto (blackened with squid ink). Very good. Susan not so sure about the ink, but ate most of it.
Veal with artichoke hearts, capers and white wine –excellent. Susan also had a seafood dish with lemon flavored risotto, and Donna gave her all shrimp upon request. The tiramisu dessert was also one of the best desserts
we’ve ever had. Complimentary lemoncello shots to finish. They also offer 10% discount, the coupons are readily available and Donna would probably give you the discount without a coupon if you asked. With the 1-1 exchange and 10% off it makes for a very good value. The entrees are 20-26 E. It’s nice to be off the street a little bit and it seems very open-air especially if you are in the courtyard (which is what Piazza means).

La Cas A Coco—outdoor spot, Oyster Pond: We ended up here by default. I wish them well, but this was probably our least desirable experience in 8 years on SXM. The ground is covered in crushed glass (and it’s not all smooth)? Susan asked the water (very limited English) what the favorite dish was. He told her the Aioli –popular in southern France. I had the paella. We got exactly what we ordered. Susan’s was cold vegetables, a boiled egg and a small piece of codfish with a strong garlic-flavored mayo dipping sauce. My paella had 3 mussels, one shrimp with shell and head on, one peeled shrimp and a boiled chicken leg. The rice was actually pretty good. They gave us 3 spreads for the bread to start which were ok., and rum shots at the end of our meal. About $50 with tip. I’d order something other than what we did if you go. Very nice people and appreciative of our business.

La Villa:
1-1 exchange. Christopher & Francois (wife of Luc at Orange Fever) do a great job. Gave us a comp glass of wine. Taste of great fennel soup to start, coconut shrimp and salad for an appetizer 15E, three- cheese penne pasta 19E, duck 28E. All very good. Rum shots at the end.

Mark’s. Everyone loves Mark’s. Don’t get the “all you can eat ribs”. They give you so much on the regular order, you won’t need more. $12.50 Their scalloped potatoes are the best on the Island and the portions are large.

Le Cottage. We don’t often go to this caliber restaurant , but wanted to try it. The service was perfect as everyone already knows. The whole thing is an experience, kind of like eating artwork. Susan went with basic onion soup to start. I had the “tasting” starter consisting of a foie gras lollipop, 2 cucumber crab wraps, 3 escargot, 2 cold tastes of soup, and a taste of shrimp with a milk/lemongrass infusion. 18E. I had the lamb, baked gorgonzola cheese and red beet foam. Susan had the steamed mahi mahi in a coconut emulsion. We shared a chocolate soufflé 13E and water. $122 + tip. It was a great experience, but we are not sophisticated enough diners to find ourselves going here often. In no way is that a criticism, just our preference in what we like. St Martin has something for everyone.

Beaches: Mostly Orient at Orange Fever, Dawn Beach (Ms. B’s chairs), Baie Rouge, and Mullet. We get lazy and go to Orient and Dawn the most because they are close. Parking is still a nightmare at Dawn due to the bureaucracy of Busby’s.

: We avoid the Dutch side as much as possible during peak travel times. It’s probably just me, but it seems like the roads are in pretty rough shape and lots of potholes and drop-offs on the non-shoulders. A lot of drivers are kind enough to let you in, and we return the favor. I was surprised how much traffic there was at 7:15 am heading to Philipsburg, etc. I’m afraid it’s only going to get worse.

Crime: 8 years without an incident. Knock on wood. We try not to think about it too much. Saw quite a few enforcement personnel on both sides of the Island.

Weather: Very good (we’ve never had bad weather in 8 years), minimal rain, never lost a whole day at the beach. A hair windy the second week, but nothing to complain about. No bugs the whole time.

Fun Stuff:

La Bamba is always fun on Sunday night. They get quite a group of people on stage and they all have talent. We met Dave and Britt and friends there, and also saw Bill & Elaine and Norm & Betty. Susan and I got out on the dance floor to “cut a rug” (or plywood), it was fun. I’ve never seen a larger crowd there than this year.

Dave & Britt asked us to join them on an overnight trip to Anguilla. They lined up everything and we had a great time. We stayed at Lloyd’s Bed & Breakfast which was very nice and affordable. We toured the Island, Dave as the chauffeur, spent a good part of the day at Shoal Bay, tapas for dinner and a night cap and dessert at the Pump House. We were too tired to wait for the music which starts on “Island Time”. GB Express provided the transportation and it was a great experience from start to finish. Thanks,
Dave & Britt!!!

Susan got to participate in the perfume class at Tijon Parfumerie. John and Cyndi made it a very educational, enjoyable and fun morning. Susan would recommend this special experience to anyone—it’s something out of the ordinary to find such an experience/facility open to the public. It is a very good value ($99)—especially considering the bag full of gifts you receive plus your own personal perfume. It was also fun for us to compare a few notes since John & Cyndi had a connection to Minnesota.

SXM Lovers Party:
As usual, Norm puts together a great party and gets a great turnout. There were over 60 people there. We always appreciate when so many Island residents and business proprietors show up to join us. We consider that a
compliment, and there were a lot of them there this year. Philippe put out some nice hors d’oeuvres and the 2/1 drink prices are a real bargain. It was really fun to see some people we hadn’t seen for a while and meet new people. We all missed you, Barbara. We always feel bad we don’t get to talk to everyone as much as we would like. I love the t-shirt Norm gave me. He said it was because I was from a cold state I could relate to a “take-off” on The North Face clothing line. The t-shirt says “The South Butt”.” Maybe Norm was insinuating something else??? Hmmmm…

Tuesday in Grand Case: We went both times, unfortunately, we missed the Gunslingers Steel Band this year, but we always enjoy the atmosphere and tolerate the hassle of parking, etc.

The Blue Martini
in Grand Case has some pretty good music several times a week. A nice place for a nightcap, with no cover charge.

We celebrated our 40th anniversary days before we arrived in St. Martin. We went shopping for rubies to commemorate the occasion. After seeing a number of stones in a number of shops, getting a reality check on the prices for the higher grade stones, etc., we decided to reconsider. Britt told us of the guy at the Marigot Market who makes the garnet jewelry. I know garnets are a far cry from rubies, but Susan is very happy with her 3 pieces of garnet jewelry versus one small ruby pendant (for a fraction of the cost).

Closing Thoughts:
We sometimes wonder if we should try other places (we have and will again). We also wonder what it is that keeps us coming back. There are a lot of reasons (weather, food, beaches), but the one thing we have developed here and nowhere else is the friends and the connection with the people.
It really does add a lot to the total experience. We have already reserved at Les Balcons for 2012. See you then.

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Re: Trip Report, Jan 28- Feb11 (Long)
Posted by: photofun (
Date: February 19, 2011 06:22PM

Thanks for the trip report! Sounds like you had a great time, great weather and great food!


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Re: Trip Report, Jan 28- Feb11 (Long)
Posted by: WOW (
Date: February 19, 2011 07:32PM

Sounds like Norm has the paradigm for the perfect ttol party. Sounds like you had a great time!!

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Re: Trip Report, Jan 28- Feb11 (Long)
Posted by: pat (
Date: February 19, 2011 08:07PM

Susan and Bruce,

Thank you for sharing a great trip write up with us. I sometimes think it's only these trip reports that make the wait between trips bearable.

We'll be spending a few nights on Shoal Bay this year, too - what a great place to do some serious islin' limin'....... IMO. so much different than St. Maarten/St. Martin. Not better or worse - just different but equally wonderful.

Again, thanks for sharing.


smiling smileysmiling smiley

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Re: Trip Report, Jan 28- Feb11 (Long)
Posted by: double-D (
Date: February 20, 2011 07:59AM

Bruce....Great seeing you at the SXM Lovers Party...and thanks for the drinks....although...I think I was getting the second one on the two for one!!LOL
Your last paragraph sums it all up!!!
See you and Susan next Feb!!!

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Re: Trip Report, Jan 28- Feb11 (Long)
Posted by: BrucenSusanMN (
Date: February 20, 2011 05:55PM

Hi All,
Thanks for reading the report. Not only do I talk too much, I often write too much as well.

Dan, it was fun seeing you and Pam again.(How do you know I didn't order 4 drinks?) That's what we have two hands for.

Next year we will have to have another "meeting" at One Eyed Jack's or some other appropriate place. See you in 2012

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Re: Trip Report, Jan 28- Feb11 (Long)
Posted by: Barbara1 (Moderator)
Date: February 20, 2011 06:53PM

I enjoyed your report. sounds like a fun vacation:-)
glad you enjoyed yourselves

Sorry I missed Norm's party and seeing you.


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Re: Trip Report, Jan 28- Feb11 (Long)
Posted by: contessa (
Date: February 28, 2011 03:27PM

Wonderful seeing you at Norm's. It's been too long!
Be well......

smileys with beer Contessa

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