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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

Saline Beach

Entering Saline Beach…Ahhhh… 

 

 

 

 

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