Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Things I just learned about Savannah, GA

1. They were recently named the most haunted city in the US. I do not know who actually has the authority to make this call or why Salem, Mass. was recently stripped of the title, but a look around at all the companies offering haunted tours makes it clear that ghosts are big business.

It is such a draw that during our excellent free walking tour, our guide, Chris, told us about one of his guests asking where she could purchase ghost hunting equipment.   The fact that he could not easily answer this question tells me that there are not enough entrepreneurs in Savannah.  I would think you could attach a whistle to a flashlight, maybe add an antenna...and voila, you've got yourself the paranormal starter kit.  Add a helmet and you're a deluxe demon detector.

I asked Chris what the city planned to do to stay competitive in this field.  You know Salem is spooking it up trying to get their crown back.  If the people of Savannah have a plan, they're not talking.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Terceira: the island hopping continues

Another day.  Another island.  From the balmy breezes of the Caribbean to the "is it ever going to stop raining?" of the mid-Atlantic. Goodbye sunscreen, hello umbrella.  Adios, Mojitos. Bom dia, caipirinhas.

What I'm trying to say is that this was a pretty dramatic island hop..an island long jump, really. I had just gotten off a tropical southern Caribbean cruise and was now flying to Terceira. Located in the Azores, a remote Portuguese archipelago, miles and miles from anything,  this was certain to provide an interesting contrast to everything I'd just seen.

For starters, when I looked up the 5 day forecast, every single day showed an angry rain cloud. I appealed to the 10 day forecast and got double the pissy cumuli.  This was going to be a wet one.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

St. Thomas: the Final Chapter

Back when I began this blog in 2007, one of my first ever posts was about St. Thomas.  More specifically, it was about how badly St. Thomas sucked because of all those annoying cruise ship passengers.  Now, eight year later,  I was one of them, although as the only ship in town on this particular day, I prefer to think we were more of a benign nuisance.

First time around, I was able to escape the circus by taking a ferry over to St. John's but with limited time, this was no longer an option.  This was also our last port of call so if there was ever a time to adopt the "if you can't beat 'em..." philosophy, this was it.

We were initially signed up for an island tour with a well regarded guide that promised an informative drive around the island with stops at both scenic and historical sites.  Due to an snafu with our guy's PA equipment, we now found ourselves with the other island guide, the one known as the "party guide".  His tours are less "back in the early 18th century..." and more "Who let the dogs out?"

Monday, May 11, 2015

St Martin: Naked Beach or Airplane Beach

Our fourth stop, St. Martin, presented a question that I can only assume most people are not faced with on a regular basis.  Did we want to go to the naked beach or to the airplane beach? 

Undoubtedly, there are other things to do on this half French, half Dutch island but with no tour guide, very little research and a rental car, those were the only real options available to us.

We had maps, brochures, phone apps all within our disposal but try as we might, there were no museums, forts, historical sights or even largest balls of twine-type exhibits for us to visit.  Not even trying to crib from the ship's own excursions booklet was of any help.

In hopes of stumbling onto something, we played around with the car's pre-programmed GPS with its long list of other beaches we could choose from.  We picked one at random, pulled in and saw that it was indeed a beach. Sand, water: check.  One empty restaurant with a bored looking waitress: check.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Country #97: Antiguo en Antigua

Antigua: One half of the Caribbean island nation Antigua and Barbuda. Known as Waladii by the native population. Gained its independence from the British in 1981. Vacation home to Oprah Winfrey, Richard Branson and Eric Clapton (who has both a massive home and a rehab facility on site). Home to an alleged 365 beaches, a number that just happens to coincide with the marketing slogan "A beach for every day of the year". Pronounced An-tee-ga. But most importantly: my 97th country.

Antiguo:  (Spanish) Ancient.  Archaic. Antiquated. Prehistoric.  Elderly.  Old as dirt.

What's happens when you celebrate a good friend's 50th birthday there?  You have an Antiguo en Antigua.  This was the theme for our third port of call.