From California to South Carolina and Back to California! For good! Yay!!!

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A gorgeous sunset on Mitchelville Beach on the north end of Hilton Head Island

LOOKING FOR ADVENTURE

Sometimes one feels the need for a new adventure! So last year in Feb. 2019, I drove cross country with my two cats and dog to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, to buy a cute little condo not far from the beach! I figured, hey, check it out! The prices for real estate and gas are much less than here in California, and I thought that I’d love to live near the beach for a change. Yes, I had heard of the hurricanes and alligators there, but…well, I decided I’d check it out, just the same.

I had also planned on getting my real estate license there, as well as keep the one I have in California, and so I accomplished that goal with not a lot of hassle.

Boy, oh boy, what a culture shock I felt after immersing myself in life in Hilton Head Island!

I had thought I might possibly stay in South Carolina for maybe even the rest of my life, but as the months went by, I sorely missed home sweet home: California!! In spite of all its problems, like some of the high living expenses such as housing and gas, the wacky politics, the homelessness problems, the sanctuary cities, frequent devastating fires and occasional earthquakes!

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It’s definitely a “Buyer Beware” kind of state in South Carolina when it comes to buying real estate! Buyers in California are much more protected!

REAL ESTATE PRACTICES IN SOUTH CAROLINA VS. IN CALIFORNIA REALLY DIFFER

First of all, the way they do real estate there is completely different than the way we do it here in California!

It’s very much a “Buyer Beware” kind of a state, where once an Offer is accepted, basically, you bought it! No easy way to back out, like here in California, where the contingency period is 17 days, and you don’t even have to give a reason for backing out, and you don’t lose any money whatsoever if you do.

Over in South Carolina, there are only a few pages of real estate documents you need to close a deal, whereas here in California, the stack often reaches 2 inches high or more! In South Carolina, buyers sometimes do not receive any disclosures other than one Seller Disclosure, IF they are lucky! Many times sellers do not bother to provide one, and a deal cannot be voided if none is provided. In California, buyers receive a Seller Property Questionnaire, a Real Estate Transfer Disclosure (with even more details and disclosures from the seller), and the Natural Hazards Disclosure. In South Carolina, home owners association documents are not current and you may not receive full documents until AFTER you close escrow. In California, HOA-related documents are provided usually within 10 days of acceptance of the offer.

While there are many more documents that California realtors must process in order to complete a real estate transaction, I think it’s worth it, because it truly protects the buyer, which is only right, since the buyer is often making the biggest financial decision of his/her life! In the end, I think it benefits everyone. It makes for fewer surprises, and let’s face it, when it comes to buying a home, no one wants surprises! Here in California, it’s best for sellers to “disclose, disclose, disclose” to avoid problems down the road.

In California, we use escrow companies that are very customer service oriented to handle the closing of the real estate transaction. The escrow company can be selected by the buyer or the seller, but both must agree on using the same one. Usually the seller is the one who selects the escrow company, however, occasionally it is the buyer who does. On the other hand, in South Carolina, they use attorneys. I found that to be very inefficient because it added an extra layer to the process. Having just one escrow company to deal with is far more efficient and saves time. The lawyers I encounter did not seem at all customer service oriented, and were often unaccessible. Generally, there is no need for a lawyer when it comes to closing a deal in California, and all the various disclosures that are mandatory help keep everything above board and on track.

As for real estate documents, in California, they are all standardized CAR (California Association of Realtors) forms. On the other hand, in South Carolina, they have a variety of options and ways to write up their contracts, which makes the process more confusing. They don’t typically include expiration dates which makes things seem so open-ended. In California, the documents are much more concise and detailed in the language. Again, I believe this takes out the guesswork and, even if there are more pages to a document, such as an offer to purchase, I believe it’s actually a much more efficient and clear, transparent way to practice real estate, that benefits all involved, especially the buyer.

I could continue on with this topic, but I think you get the idea! They really do things differently in South Carolina than in California with regards to real estate, and I am much more comfortable with the California way!

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Unfortunately due to the sediment from surrounding rivers, lagoons, and marshland, the water is so murky you can’t see your feet! Scary when there are stinging jellyfish, stingrays and sharks lurking in the water!

DISAPPOINTMENT WITH THE CLARITY OF THE OCEAN WATER DETRACTED FROM THE ENJOYMENT OF THE BEACHES FOR ME

While I love the long, sandy beaches of Hilton Head Island, I was very surprised that the water is very murky due to the sediment of nearby rivers and marshes. You can’t see your feet even in a few inches of water! This is particularly troublesome if you, like me, are afraid of being stung, either by stinging jellyfish or stingrays, or bitten by sharks! I found that very disappointing because one of my favorite things to do is to snorkel and look at fish underwater, which is not possible there. Oops! I guess I should’ve researched that! Also, during the summer months in particular, there are a lot of biting bugs, such as “no see ums” (gnats so little that you can’t see them). So you had better have your bug spray handy at all times!

On the bright side, sometimes I almost felt like I was in St. Bart’s on the beach, because of the airplanes flying low over the beach on Mitchelville Beach, an incredibly beautiful and natural beach. I spent many an idyllic afternoon reading and studying on that beach, with Cupcake in tow. Dogs area allowed to roam freely on the beaches except during peak hours during the summer. I never tired of the gorgeous sunsets from the beaches and restaurants such as my favorites Skull Creek Boathouse, on the north end of the island, and The Ocean Club, at Sea Pines at the south end of the island, and Poseidon, in the middle of them.

CUSTOMER SERVICE IS LACKING IN MANY PLACES IN SOUTH CAROLINA

I love to shop at Ralph’s Grocery Store in the desert, for example, but its counterpart Kroger’s is another story altogether! While the great selection and competitive prices are there, the customer service was completely lacking! The cashiers and “baggers” would rather chat and ignore you than bag your groceries. Many of them were very unfriendly and they definitely were not trained to provide good customer service and a pleasant customer service experience! So I am so happy to be back where excellent customer service is commonplace everywhere! California seems to be a happier place in general than South Carolina to me. Maybe it’s just me!

By the way, apparently South Carolina is a so-called “Right To Work” state, where there is no mandatory minimum wage, and so many people get much less wages than people in California for the same kind of job. I heard many of the restaurant food-servers only make $2.50/hr and must rely almost completely on tips to make any money! Due to this fact, the service when tips were involved was almost always great. However, in general, workers did not seem to provide very good customer service resulting in a bad customer experience. This even included real estate attorneys, in addition to cashiers and baggers at grocery stores and moving company employees! The concepts of customer service and customer satisfaction seem to be lost on many, although there were definitely notable exceptions.

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Beachfront properties on Hilton Head Island do cost over a million dollars, however, beachfront properties like these will likely cost five times or more along the California coast!

 

HOME PRICES AND GAS PRICES ARE UNSURPRISINGLY LOW IN SOUTH CAROLINA

I do miss only paying about $2.24 a gallon at the gas pumps, that’s for sure! And home prices are much less in South Carolina (and most places!) than in California. I hope that somehow we Californians can find a way to pressure our politicians to not tax the gas so much. It seems like the gas prices are unnecessarily exorbitant! There’s not pollution in many states I drove through, in spite of their low gas prices!

Home values are great in South Carolina, and it is a fast-growing state. Towns like Bluffton, for instance, are rapidly expanding in population and amenities!

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This was one heck of an alligator, looking almost like a statue. But it wasn’t.

WHERE EVER THERE IS WATER, THERE ARE ALLIGATORS IN HILTON HEAD ISLAND!

I knew that there were alligators in Hilton Head Island, but I didn’t know they are everywhere there is water! And there is a lot of water in Hilton Head Island: a zillion lagoons, creeks, rivers, marshes… occasionally alligators can even be found in the surf at the beach! I almost ran over a 9-footer about to cross the street at night! Apparently alligators are mostly nocturnal and like to jump from lagoon to lagoon and socialize during the mating season! About 6 months before I moved there, a lady named Cassandra Klein was attacked while walking her dog near one of the ubiquitous lagoons, and sadly, she did not survive, while her dog, whom she valiantly tried to protect from the gator, did survive unharmed. While I was there, a woman was walking her dog at night and tripped on an alligator in her side yard, and was attacked by the creature on her wrist and calf, but she survived, fortunately!

I am so glad that me and my little doggie Cupcake (and my cats!) survived South Carolina’s alligators (and hurricanes) for sure!

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Me and my furry family were holed up in a Comfort Suites hotel room in Columbia, glued to the TV watching the news about  Hurricane Dorian, praying it would pass by Hilton Head Island leaving it unscathed. The lump to the left is my cat Mr. T hiding under the covers.

HURRICANES ARE PSYCHOLOGICAL TERRORS

Everyone was forced to evacuate ahead of Hurricane Dorian. It was terrifying to have to constantly watch the news and see the way the hurricane devastated the Bahamas! Hoping it wouldn’t do the same to Hilton Head Island!

So I packed up the furry family and we spent the night at a Comfort Inn and Suites Hotel in the state capital Columbia, which was full of evacuees. It really wasn’t fun because I was too worried about what might happen. It was exhausting!

Fortunately, word came early the next day that Hilton Head Island was spared, and a neighbor told me by phone there wasn’t any damage. So we rolled home and were relieved to see just a lot of branches and pinecones littering the ground. Whew! That was a close one!

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A winsome statue is one of many along El Paseo, “the Rodeo Drive of the desert!”

THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME! CALIFORNIA IS TRULY MY HOME!

It’s a well known fact, that sometimes you just don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone. And, as the saying goes, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder”. This was certainly the case with me, and fortunately California is still here, and I am so glad to be back here, for sure!

I will cherish the great times and beautiful vistas that I witnessed in and around low-key Hilton Head Island, glamorously charming Charleston and entirely enchanting Savannah, and learning about the rich history.

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One of the magnificent historic homes along the Battery in Charleston, this is the Roper House!

I love the historical buildings and architecture, especially the Greek Revival, surrounded by majestic live oak trees festooned with hanging Spanish Moss.

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The historic district in Savannah has around 24 park squares and surrounded by gorgeous historic homes, including this one, which is now The Old Pink House Restaurant, a very popular place, and deservedly so!

I truly enjoyed Southern Cuisine, such as Shrimp and Grits, She Crab Soup, local fish cooked in a variety of ways, the myriad varieties of oysters, fried green tomatoes, and the libations were great too, such as the many local beers and the Dark And Stormy cocktail, so popular with sailors, made of Gosling Dark Rum and Gosling Ginger Beer.

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I truly enjoyed this masterpiece at The Old Pink House Restaurant! Soft-shelled crab and rice deluxe! The service and ambiance was fantastic here!

Of course, the local wines there don’t compare to California wines!

BOTTOM LINE IS…

I’m so grateful I had the very interesting experience of living in the Deep South, which has always fascinated me, and yet, to be able to come back to my beloved California! I rolled back into the desert on December, 22, 2019, just in time for Christmas and ready to begin a brand new year.

It’s so great to be back, reunited with friends and my favorite places here. And to see the mountains again! They don’t call South Carolina the Low Country for nothing!

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Hiking with the dogs up at Idyllwild!

I’m happy to be back at my favorite restaurants and discovering the new ones that opened while I was away, hiking the mountains, strolling the world-famous El Paseo of Palm Desert, and all the fun events we have here during our high season!

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Enjoyed a spectacular property in Palm Springs while sampling appetizers and wine at a chamber of commerce mixer.

This truly is a great country, so full of beauty, variety and great people. Here’s hoping 2020 will be one of the best years ever for us all!

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A beautiful view of Mount Jacinto from Rancho Mirage, CA

Written Feb. 4, 2020 by Wendy Campbell

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dreams Do Come True, Including Meeting Sir Paul McCartney!

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Flying towards the airport of St. Barts was exhiliarating!

I’m 66 and I have a Bucket List, like many people do. One of my dreams was to go and experience St. Barts for myself. I had read about its glittering people, yachts and beaches for years in my Vanity Fair magazines and other magazines. I had even bought a book about it and had it on my nightstand for a few years. So I made the decision, in September, 2017, to arrange a trip during the very peak of the height of the season there, which is from late December until just after New Year’s Day. I told myself I was going to go there “come hell or high water”! Nothing could stop me! “YOLO” as the saying goes!

Then Hurricane Irma raged through the Caribbean Islands, and St. Barts was ravaged by it! “Come hell or high water” indeed! At that point, I told myself that following through with my plans to go to St. Barts would be a downright philanthropic endeavor! Because after all, the people of St. Barts would be losing a lot of tourists during their usual high season, so I vowed to go just the same. To help the people of St. Barts and their economy. Truly a noble cause, right?

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Looks like the Yellow Submarine is in Gustavia Harbor!

By the way, there are many ways to write St. Barts: St. Bart’s, St. Barths, or St. Barth’s. Without the “h” is the Anglicized spelling, and with the “h” is the French way to spell it. Just in case you were curious.

I had booked my lodging through VRBO.com, where there is a wide variety of options, including the most popular option for many who go there, which is renting an entire house, or as they call it in St. Barts, a “villa”. They sometimes even call a condo a “villa”! As a single traveler, I opted for a penthouse condo in the Anse de Cayes neighborhood. It offered great views of the bay, with views of crashing waves and islands in the distance. It was economical by St. Barts standards! Fortunately, it was going to be totally repaired, my host told me, by the time of my arrival. I was very happy about that, because many hotels, including all the 5 star hotels and 75% of the villas were closed for repairs due to the damages from the hurricane.

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The view from my balcony overlooking the bay at Anse Des Cayes

I kept a close eye on-line for any news about the Princess Juliana Airport in St. Maarten, where I was going to be flying into, as it was totally devastated by Irma. Fortunately, around Thanksgiving, it was repaired enough to accommodate most flights. The airport was still obviously damaged when I arrived on Dec., 28, 2017, and the process of getting from the JetBlue jet to my connecting 9-seater plane operated by Saint Barth Commuter was a wee bit of mayhem under a series of tents, yet somehow it all worked out: no lost luggage, no missed flights!

Being on my own, I got to sit next to the pilot of the small plane, and had the opportunity took some great shots of the island. I eagerly looked forward to one of the world’s most dangerous landing strips in St. Barts, where the planes fly close to cars and people as it makes its steep descent over the hill and onto the airstrip! As it turned out, I had watched so many Youtube videos of it, it seemed like second-nature!

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My iconic shot of a plane about to land in St. Barts

After I landed and got my little white KIA hatchback, the most common car on St. Barts by far, I drove to my condo, following the owner’s directions. Please note, addresses are not used in most parts of St. Barts! I was advised by the owner that the driveway was “adjacent to a large cream-colored electrical box”. I had missed the blind driveway a couple times, due to the fact that the extremely steep and narrow driveway was hidden to the left of the electrical box! I had a sense of intense dread then and every single day I was in St. Barts, as I navigated the car down and up this driveway, praying I would make it in and out without getting hit or hitting anyone. I swear to God, having to go through this anxiety twice a day was the worst thing about my trip there, along with the super-cramped parking spots. Other than the precarious roads in St. Barts, and the crazy drivers, I totally enjoyed my trip to St. Barts!

No wonder there are no exotic luxury cars in St. Barts! Most of the cars in St. Barts have numerous dents and scrapes on them. Almost all the road and driveways are extremely dangerous: very narrow, sharp turns, blind turns, very steep, and no guardrails on cliffsides! Oh my!

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Scary roads and drivers aside, St. Barts fulfilled my dreams of what I envisioned it would be like, from my magazine and book readings, and my favorite reality TV shows like “Real Housewives of NYC” and “Below Deck”, and on-line research.

St. Barts is well-known for being a posh celebrity haunt, having some of the biggest and baddest mega yachts, luxury shopping, sixteen amazing beaches, people partying like there’s no tomorrow, great food, wine (especially rose!), rum (spelled “rhum” there!) and amazing views everywhere you look! I made sure to at least sample a little of almost everything I wanted to in this fantastic and fabulous smorgasbord of life on St. Barts!

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Almost all the people I met along the way, who are either visiting or living and working there, were friendly, out-going and relaxed, and the mood was contagious! Many people spoke French in a sing-songy cooing way.  Even the dogs are mellow in St. Barts!

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Perhaps the highlight of my trip was meeting Sir Paul McCartney and talking with him! He was with his wife Nancy Shevell. I ran into him inside a small juice bar/ restaurant called Kiki e MO’s. “And I Saw Him Standing There” and “he looked at me”, and… he actually said “Hi” to me first! After recognizing who he was, and my initial shock, I had a little conversation with him about how I saw him at the Wembley Stadium performing with Wings in 1979 and how I ran up to the front of the stage and waved at him, and told him that he had looked at me! He smiled at hearing my story, and joked, saying something like “Oh, I knew you looked familiar.” Very cute!

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The site of my encounter with Sir Paul McCartney!!! 

Then I took my serving of two scoops (“boules”) of gelato to the outside patio, and after I finished with gobbling those up, I went back inside to ask his wife if it would be “gauche” if I asked her to take a photo of me with Paul (I only had my camera, as I had left my cell phone in the safe in the condo, or I would have taken a selfie!). She shook her head negatively and said, “GAUCHE.” I really couldn’t blame her! I might be the same way if I was in her position! So, I sheepishly left and said out loud something like, “Well at least it’s in my mind now!”

To round it up, here are:

Wendy’s Top 8 Highlights, as in “8 Days A Week (I Looooove You!)”:

  1. Meeting Sir Paul McCartney, and talking with him!
  2. Seeing the fireworks blast off over the mega yachts as they honked their horns in Gustavia Harbor on New Year’s Eve!

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    New Year’s Eve in Gustavia Harbor!

  3. Eating a delicious Lobster Thermidor for lunch at La Langouste Restaurant, and enjoying incredibly scrumptious profiteroles for dessert, and then lounging on the beautiful Flammands Beach afterwards while reading a book.

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    A lobster is about to become lunch at La Langouste!

  4. Sitting on a lounge on the sand of St. Jean Beach at Tom’s Beach House, while being waited on by a super handsome and super nice young man named Teddy, as I watched the planes take off and land precariously close by. Glass of rose in hand and nibbling on a delicious pannini sandwich!

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    Loved lounging here at Tom’s Beach House on St. Jean Beach!

  5. Swimming at Shell Beach, and afterwards resting outside on a lounge at the Shellona Restaurant, while watching the sun set as yachts floated nearby, while enjoying a glass of rose and chatting with friendly people.

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    The view from my lounge on Shell Beach! Oo La La!

  6. Dancing the night away at the famous “Le Ti” restaurant and nightclub, which features burlesque acts and has a room full of costumes, many of them inspired by pirates, for partyers to don as they dance the night away! The food is delicious, too!
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    Le Ti is LE HOT SPOT in St. Barts!

    Dancing of tabletops is encouraged and actually expected! On the way to the restroom, I couldn’t resist buying a fun dress at the boutique strategically located next to it!

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    Me, making out like a pirate at Le Ti!

  7. Hiking down the steep path to the spectacular, secluded Colombier Beach, catching amazing views of the boats and yachts floating in the turqouoise bay on my way down to the perfect sandy beach. The best snorkeling around St. Barts is to be found here, too! Still, it doesn’t compare to places like Cozumel for snorkeling, but you don’t come to St. Barts for the snorkeling! That’s just a nice little extra bonus!
  8. Just driving around St. Barts is exhilarating (but not for the faint of heart!), seeing all the spectacular views all around and stopping for a picnic to take it all in! Just be careful on those roads!

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    Me, enjoying a picnic on Pointe Milou, watching seabirds fly!

On the last day that I was there, I was upstairs in the airport’s restaurant, finishing up my last lunch on St. Barts, and my waiter said to me, “Do you want to see Paul McCartney get on his plane?” Obviously, that was a rhetorical question since I had told him that one of the highlights of my trip was talking to Paul McCartney! So I jumped up and followed him to the side windows of the room, and  he pointed to a black Mercedes SUV (the ONLY Miercedes Benz I saw the whole time I was in St. Barts), which was parked near a small airplane. We both watches as Paul’s wife Nancy stepped out of the car first, wearing an elegant wide brimmed hat, and then Paul stepped out wearing a baseball cap. They walked over to the plane and boarded it. We watched as the plane took off, and I waved goodbye to Paul and Nancy, though I doubt if they saw me. I asked my waiter how he knew that Paul was in that car, and he smiled and said, “Oh, I have my connections!”

It was a magical way to end my “Magical Mystery Tour” of St. Barts where I spent “8 Days a Week”, and “I Saw Him Standing There”!  I look forward to my next trip to St. Barts some fine day! “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da! La La! How the Life Goes On!”

Some Tips About St. Barts:

Getting there: From LAX, I took a direct flight on JetBlue which stopped at JFK, then flew into St. Maarten. Then I took a small plane (no jets or big planes fly into St. Barts) on St. Barths Commuter to St. Barts.

Staying there: Of course, there are people who do stay on yachts, but most people rent villas via VRBO.com or SiBarth Real Estate (www.sibarthrealestate.com) is THE biggest local company where you can find villas and condos to rent, along with concierge service if you desire. You can even buy a property through them if you want to and have the big bucks (two million US dollars minimum is what I heard)! They are super nice! As a realtor, I checked in with them to inquire about what it’s like to be a realtor there! Just dreaming!

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Villa Grace overlooks Anse Des Cayes Beach

Tipping: Like in France, tips are already included in the pay of waitstaff in St. Barts. However, if you feel like giving something a little extra, for extra good service, that is obviously appreciated!

Water: Most people, even some locals, only drink bottled water, at restaurants and even at home. However many people do drink the tap water. I often did drink the tap water and had no problem with it!

Recommended Restaurants: For nightlife, Le Ti at least once is a MUST! For breakfast and lunch, and even dinner, La Cantina is a great choice, as it’s right on the harbor, and the prices are very reasonable!

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La Cantina is a great go-to place for breakfast, lunch or dinner by the harbor!

For the best lobster dinner, La Langouste is a must! 194Treat yourself to a dessert such as these totally delectable profiteroles! You’re on vacation, after all!195

For a Cheeseburger in Paradise, Le Select is a must! 030It’s what inspired Jimmy Buffet’s song of the same name! Best priced cheeseburger on the island!

For a delicious dinner on the beach, with great people-watching, Shellona Restaurant is divine!

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Make the scene at Shellona Restaurant on Shell Beach, the best place to watch the sunset!

For a casual lunch on the beach, along with great people-watching and watching the airplanes come and go close by, it’s Tom’s Beach House!

Shopping: The shopping is legendary in St. Barts! Most of the top designer brands are represented in St. Barts, along with other French brands not well known in the US, in Gustavia. There are also some great boutiques in the village of St. Jean, and some more boutiques in The La Savane Commercial Centre, which is across the street from the airport. Some good deals can be found! I got a beautiful pair of silver metallic sandals for only 20 Euros at one of the cute boutiques a few doors down from the Nikki Beach boutique near St. Jean! Amazing!

One night in Gustavia, I happened upon a fun night where there was a DJ and free exotic drinks being offered at the various shops on three levels of divine boutiques, for a lively party atmosphere. You will be delighted at the amazing array of shoes, caftans, dresses, tops and shorts (fancy pants!), cashmere shawls, lingerie, and even tee shirts and bathrobes you can choose from! As for jewelry, the most popular by far are South Sea Tahitian pearls that are strung on either leather or satin cords, in a variety of ways, for mostly necklaces.

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Gustavia shops stay open late! Music, drinks, shopping, Oh My!

Best Time To Go: The height of the season is between Christmas and New Year’s Day, with New Year’s Eve being the peak party night, of course! This is the best time to go, to run into celebrities, like Paul McCartney, for instance! I met alot of people who saw Paul and his wife, including a couple who sat next to them while eating dinner at Isola Restaurant! Paul and his family go there at least once a year or more! Apparently he was ubiquitous there, when I was there! Lucky for me!!! It’s less expensive and nice and warm in the springtime, so that’s also a very popular time to go.

My Favorite Beaches: For socializing, my favorites are Shell Beach, with its Shellona Restaurant, and StJean Beach, with its Tom’s Beach House, both great spots for prime people-watching and where you can have some delectable food and a glass of whatever with your toes in the sand. There’s also great yachts-watching at Shell Beach and planes-watching at Jean Beach. For drop dead gorgeous, quiet privacy, and calm waters as well as good snorkeling opportunities, it’s Colombier Beach. Saline Beach is so beautiful but it was a little too windy the day I was there, as was Flamands Beach. For hanging out and enjoying the quiet and calm waters, I really enjoyed Governeur Beach, with the extra added bonus of seeing Russian oligarch and playboy Roman Abramovich’s gates to his compound near the entrance of the beach. He also owns the mega yacht, the “Eclipse”. Just a fun fact!

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Governeur Beach is a delightful place to relax!

That about wraps it up for now, until my next fantabulous adventure! In the meantime, for me, I think my trip to St. Barts really tops the charts!!!

🙂

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All photos taken by Wendy Campbell.

Copyright 2018

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Entering Saline Beach…Ahhhh… 

 

 

 

 

My Trip to China with Palm Desert Chamber of Commerce 2010

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Me on the Great Wall of China

  
With China being in the news so much, coupled with my longtime interest in China as an intriguing destination, I could not pass up the great value offered by the Palm Desert Chamber of Commerce for the trip there for only 9 days on the ground in October 2010. The PDCC sponsors many trips for great prices around the world, so if you are interested, you should definitely check in with them.
 
The trip to China is not for the faint of heart or mind! From the first day of our 9 day intinery, starting early in the morning, our intrepid tour guides had us constantly moving from one interesting site to another, all the while giving us a steady stream of information about what we were seeing and what life is like in China.
 
When our action-packed days were through, typically we would be exhausted, although one night many of us found the energy to go to a couple of bistro/bars in a very hip and popular section of Shanghai called Xintiandi, a renovated cluster of beautiful historic buildings and outdoor cafes with a European flair. 

Xintiandi by day is almost like being in Paris or Italy, and at night it's hopping with nightclubs and music

 
Seeing the Great Wall, and climbing up and down it, was a big highlight of the trip. It is over 4000 miles long as it snakes its way over hilltops and valleys. The stone stairs are steep and pitted, but it sure beat the monotony of the Stairmaster back at the gym!

The Great Wall of China is an awesome sight!

 
It was fascinating to learn about China’s traditional industries at the sites where the products are manufactured, including jade and pearl jewelry, silk, embroidery and even a green tea plantation.

Green Tea Plantation

 
One hilarious memory is of all of us being paired up riding in a caravan of rickety rickshaws through the backstreets of an ancient and picturesque section of Beijing, while being hotly pursued by the amiable street vendors who followed us on their bicycles hawking their wares, such as colorful shawls and scarves. After our home-made meal in a chef’s humble home, the vendors cheerfully and persistently awaited us. I finally gave in and bought some, at a great price, of course!

What a joyride we had in an ancient neighborhood of Beijing!

Shanghai was truly astounding! It is said to be the largest city in the world, and after riding on the bus by thousands and thousands of high-rise apartment buildings and condos, I believe it! It’s almost overwhelming! We did not spend as much time as I would have liked in Shanghai, so perhaps I will make a return trip someday.

Spectacular skyline of Shanghai at night!

We stayed at four and five star hotels, and all our meals were included, as well as the tours, except for we had to pay for some sidetrips and for tips to our guides.  At under $2000, what a deal! It was a trip of a lifetime!