Monday, August 30, 2010

St. Martin (Last Day on the Island)

The continuing adventures of the gnome and his S.O. in St. Martin last winter.

Our last full day in St. Martin started pretty easy. We slept in.

We had a late breakfast at the French bakery on the property. Did the pre-checkout. Packed some for the trip home. The S.O. downloaded email to her laptop.

For lunch we packed up the goodies we had left over from the night before and drove out to Baie Longue. This was a very long and almost totally deserted beach just over the line on the French side, that you access down a "private road" which is closed between 6:00 PM and 6:00 AM.

There is a large hotel at one end of the beach where most of the people on the beach were congregated. The rest of the beach fronts a lot of very high end villas, some for rent.

There is no shade on this beach unless you bring your own or are staying at the hotel and get an umbrella from them. No helpful natives renting chairs and umbrellas. No beach bars to sell you beer and food.

It is a beautiful beach and we enjoyed walking along it for a while. We put a towel down and had our picnic, but it was too hot to stay for long, so we returned to the resort.

A lot of people we met at the resort stay here for three weeks or more in the winter. Some people originally bought one week and then decided they wanted more and purchased an additional week, but not in the same unit. So they have to move from one unit to another in the middle of their stay. The resort does send a porter to help you move if requested.

Some people live in their swim suits. I never saw them in anything else. They spend most of their time at the beach or the pool. You can do or get most anything you need at the resort without getting dressed up.

For dinner our last night we went back to Grand Case. The traffic was very heavy and I apparently forgot everything I had learned about driving on the island, taking two wrong turns that required me to turn around and back track to find my way out of the Dutch side.

We ended up at Le Pressoir, the S.O.'s favorite restaurant in Grand Case. Their main dining room was crowded, so they put us in the adjacent room which we had all to ourselves for a while.

Neither of us were up to elaborate, foodie dinners so we scaled it back a bit. We had had a glass of wine in our room before heading out (can't take open bottles on a plane!) so we ordered a half bottle of Chateauneuf du Pape. They brought us the 2005 vintage rather then the 2004 that was on the wine list. I didn't object because happens all the time in restaurants, and besides, 2005 is a higher rated vintage.

I had fried frog legs, Provençal style with mirepoix and a mild sauce, to start and the S.O. had a mixed greens salad. For our entrées we both ordered tagliatelles (pasta), mine with seafood, the S.O. with vegetables. My pasta was rich with a lot of peppers, green onions and broth. The S.O. said her pasta had too much cayenne pepper in it. Neither of us finished our pastas. There were just too many carbohydrates.

For dessert we ordered Le Dessert du Pressoir: Poire Belle Hélène destructurée & son coulis fondant au chocolat Jivarha, Special Dessert of The Pressoir : Crispy warm marinated pear with vanilla ice cream served under thin chocolate shell with Jivarha chocolate sauce. (Sorry, no picture on the dessert.)

I believe that fruit can be an integral part of many, fine desserts. The S.O. adamantly maintains that fruit is not a dessert. Ice cream and chocolate are desserts, but not fruit. So while I enjoyed the wonderful harmony of the various textures and flavors, she contented herself with chocolate and ice cream.

The next day was Saturday, time for us to fly home. We spent the morning relaxing at the Marina Residences' pool, reading and resting. Then we turned our rental car in and boarded our US Air flight back to the states.

And then we sat on the plane for an hour while we waited for clearance from San Juan Flight Control to let us take off. We worried the entire time coming home that we would miss our connection. We barely had an hour layover and the flight was already more than an hour late. We had a Colts playoff game the next day! What would we do.

We needn't have worried. All the flights to Charlotte, our transfer point, were delayed. All the flights were US Air as well. In fact, when we arrived at the airport, everything was shut down, all the lights were turned off, except for the part where arriving Caribbean passengers disembarked, cleared customs and immigration, got their bags, rechecked their bags, went through security, and boarded their next flight. That was a lot to do, but when that is the only going on, it moves pretty fast.

None of the connecting flights were going to leave until all the Caribbean passengers had gotten on board. It was a mad rush with several flights arriving at once, but we happily arrived in Indianapolis about the time we were scheduled to. Only to find that it was still winter in Indiana. Even the prospect of attending a Colts playoff game was not enough overcome the bone-chilling disappointment of our return to winter.

We could have easily gotten aboard the next plane and gone right back.

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