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January 15, 2008

The U.S. Virgin Islands

P1010878_editedHaving had loooong plane trips last spring, we decided that we wanted a short one for a mini vacation in December.  Our December 9th flight to the U.S. Virgin Islands for a week, fit the bill.

St. Thomas is a very pretty island with houses dotted all over the rocky hills that rise out of the ocean.

P1010809We stayed at Bluebeard's Castle which is on a high hill overlooking both the town of Charlotte Amalie (Ah-MAHL-yah) and the Cruise ship harbour.  We walked most places so we certainly got our exercise on the hill.  In this picture, our room was in the top right building, second room from the end and second floor down.

Columbus arrived in 1493 and claimed the islands for Spain, but by the late 1600’s the Danish flag was flown (under the management of the West India Company).  The United States purchased the islands for $25 million in gold from Denmark in 1917.  It is now an unincorporated territory of the U.S.

P1010853P1010854There seems to be careful attention to the preservation of historic buildings  – although most of them now house retail establishments. 

It is a luxury goods shoppers’ paradise.  We took a guess that there could be 100 jewelry stores in the main shopping area downtown. 




A trip around the island took us to one of the overlooks where we could get a birds eye view of Charlotte Amalie. 

One day we took the ferry to St. John – about a 45 minute ride.  It was interesting seeing the islands from the water.  The shoreline was much more rugged than we had expected it to be.


In 1956 Laurence Rockefeller purchased and then transformed 2/3 of St. John into a National Park.  We went hiking on one of the shorter trails.  It was very hot & steamy. 

This idyllic beach was about a mile along the trail.   

We met Bob & Claire at the Art Gallery in the bustling little town of Cruz Bay.  They live on a boat in the harbour.  We talked and compared our life styles.  Many, many similarities. 

On Friday night there was a Festival in town.  All the cruise ships had departed so the party was really for the local population.   The downtown streets were closed to traffic, stores stayed open until 9, local families had set up food stands with all kinds of island food and numerous steel drum bands played in the streets.  It was a festive time and we thoroughly enjoyed the whole atmosphere.



Speaking of cruise ships – this was the view from our window of the cruise ship harbour.   However, there is another harbour on the other side of town that can berth 2 ships.  Two days we were there both places were full.  There was never a day that didn’t have at least one there.  I would guess that there were 25 ships in, in the 7 days we were on the island.
There were too many people downtown when 5 ships we in and docked.    Well, I guess that is one point of view – I’m sure the storekeepers there didn’t think that.

Did we enjoy ourselves?  Yes.  Will we go back?  Probably not.  After having seen so many different places perhaps we are getting too hard to impress.  And maybe, other than being a tropical island, it wasn’t much different than the mainland.

We headed back to Charlotte, N.C. on December 16th to continue our winter journey.

Bernie & Ross


Posted by Bernice at January 15, 2008 09:49 PM


Well my friends, I don't know how long it has been since you were back to the old neighbourhood but boy have there been changes and more on the way. The Mall of course is gone. Where the Morningside Entrance, across from No Frills was there is now a light and right beside it is CIBC. Where the gas station was, there are several small stores, I have never been over so I am not sure exactly what all is there. I do know there is a Starbucks, a doctors, the Variety from the mall apparently moved in there, and there is the TD Trust. Down the middle they are putting apparently 2 stores only. There will be A Shoppers and a Basic Foods. Across the back, (rear entrance to old Wal-Mart there will be a Dollar Store, and a Bulk store, and a couple of others yet to be decided. From what I understand from Margaret from your old place, I think they are also taking that part of the mall. Margaret is moving the store over to the next little mall where the M&M Meats presently is (beside them) That is set for April, I believe is what she told me. No frills prices are closer to Dominion's at this point. Of course I never did like it. Well I won't keep you any longer, Just keeping you up on the hood. Take care, and Keep Well, If you haven't been to Barbados, You should take a peek, It is magnificent. It could only be a short trip unless you enjoy it as much as I did. It is truly beautiful. Sharon Smith

Posted by: Sharon Smith at February 17, 2008 02:10 AM