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Trip Report (7/13-7/23) Day one: Getting there is half the fun

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Trip Report (7/13-7/23) Day one: Getting there is half the fun

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(@ccasebolt)
Posts: 323
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We returned just over one week ago from was an awesome, amazing, wonderful, fantastic (you get the picture) vacation to STJ, one of our favorite places in the world. Things are pretty much back to normal now, and I'm sufficiently over my post-vacation blues, at least for the most part, so now I'm ready to re-live our experiences via this report.

Before I begin, let me introduce the players. We are a group of four adults; three early 40-somes and one in her late 20s (hint - not me :)). This was hubby (John) and my (Chris) 5th trip to the VI, the first being to STJ for our honeymoon in '95. Needless to say, we have been hopeless addicts since then. Rod and Amy were both newbies to the VI. Rod has been one of my husband's closest friends since childhood, and someone we both knew would absolutely love the islands, which he did. Neither hubby or I had met Amy before this trip (and it was truly a pleasure), but Rod assured us that she would love it as well. He was right. Both have since decided that this was by far the best vacation either of them have ever had. I think they'll be back.

So without further ado, here is a recap of our adventure:

It was 4:20 AM and the alarm clock didn’t even have a chance to go off - I was already awake. This is it! The long-awaited first day of our ten-day visit to St John. After all the planning, excitement, and anticipation leading up to this day, it was finally here! Up and dressed, coffee, and kiss the kids one more time before departing the house at 5:30 for a 7:30 flight. Given the Big Dig tragedy two days before, we were planning to leave the house even earlier. As we neared the Callahan Tunnel, we realized that we should have. Traffic was backed up everywhere as people from all directions were slowly funneling toward Logan Airport - yikes!. At 6:30 we were still backed up - now I’m starting to get concerned.

As we pulled up to Terminal B at 6:45, I breathed a sigh of relief. Thankfully check-in was quick and the security lines were short. My $31.50 tickets worked - seat 7F was mine from BOS to PHL, and 1F from PHL to STT! Awesome! Ironically, my husband’s FF tickets were the only problematic ones in the bunch. Apparently they were booked before several flight changes went into effect and had to be re-issued. No biggy, and we were good to go.

The weather in Boston was overcast with showers. There were a lot of cloud layers, but winds were calm, and nothing weather-wise appeared to be a threat to the arrivals or departures this morning. We boarded on time and kicked back from the gate 10 minutes early only to taxi for what seemed like forever. From one end of the runways to the other - and the runways at Logan are LONG - we taxied. As we made our way back toward the terminals, I thought “Oh no, there’s a mechanical problem and we’re going back! We’re going to miss our connection!”. Then the pilot came on (gulp!) to tell us that the wind direction had changed while we were waiting to make a SW departure, so we had to taxi back for a E departure. Whew! So after a 3-mile scenic runway tour, we were finally airborne.

The flight to PHL was a bit bumpy due to the upper cloud layers, but we made good time, at least until they put us into a hold for about 10 minutes. We arrived in PHL at 9:05 - a bit late, but still with plenty of time to make our 9:55 connection. Boarding was already in progress when we got to the connecting gate, so we walked right on. Rod (another beneficiary of $31.50 tickets) was already on board and waiting for me in the first class cabin. We looked at each other and just laughed out loud - this just seemed way too good to be true!

We kicked back from the gate about 10 minutes early (which was appreciated at the time, but proved to be annoying later on) and enjoyed a smooth and very pleasant flight. Every now and then, Rod and I would look at each other and say something like “makes you wonder how the other half lives, doesn’t it?” or we would just giggle. About 1.5 hours before our scheduled arrival (1:57P), the pilot came on to tell us that we were scheduled for an early arrival; giant thumbs up! About half an hour later he came on again to say that he’d been cleared to take a short cut and we would be arriving about 40 minutes early. “It just keeps getting better”, Rod said; precipitating another round of giggles.

Touched down on STT at 1:20P, had our first free rum punch at about 1:30, and proceeded to wait for our luggage. The good news is that the baggage carousel was working; the bad news is that hubby and I received 0 of 3 of our pieces of luggage (this is when we became annoyed that our flight kicked back early in PHL before all the luggage was aboard). Okay, perspective prevails; we’re here, we’ll just grab a taxi to Charlotte Amalie and catch the 3:00. And look at the bright side - we’re saving the ferry’s $2.00 per bag surcharge. Still in good moods, we checked out the waterfront shops near the ferry dock for a few necessities, such as shorts, t-shirts and a bathing suit. While in one shop, we saw the ferry pull up to the dock, so we grabbed a couple of items that came the closest to satisfying our needs: a pair of “I’m a tourist” shorts for me complete with “St. Thomas” spelled across the back side in giant letters, and a bathing suit and top set that was to become known as the “goober suit” for hubby. It’s amazing what a person will purchase under pressure. I don’t care, I’ll wear anything. I’m here!

The 3:00 ferry departed 20 minutes late, which is perfectly on island time. We sat back absorbing the sights on the way to one of our favorite places in the world. As we pulled up to the dock in Cruz Bay at 4:00, there seemed to be a commotion on the upper deck. It seems one of the seagulls (AKA rat with wings) that had been escorting us on the way from STT decided to shower the upper-deck passengers with his version of an island welcome. Given that I didn’t have a change of clothes except for my “I’’m a tourist” shorts, I’m glad I sat below.

Woody’s is traditionally our first stop on St. John, and wouldn’t you know, it was happy hour. I had a painkiller, and the guys has $1 Heinekens. We split an order of conch fritters, which turned into two orders. At that point we decided that before we get too comfortable, we’d better get to Courtesy for the car and then over to Starfish for a few groceries (breakfast items and rum!) to take to Concordia. Because we had a newbie (Rod) with us, we decided to take the scenic north shore enroute to Coral Bay. The foliage is very lush and green this July - more so than any previous July that we have visited due to the amount of rain this year. It is gorgeous! Many ooohhs and aahhhs as we passed the overlooks. Folks, I think we have another brand new STJ addict to add to the ranks.
We passed the familar “clam dip”, indicating entrance to Coral Bay, and continued on to Concordia. We arrived just before 7:00, checked in, and hauled Rod’s one small bag down the stairs to 1-BR loft unit 1A. If you’re interested in a 1-BR loft, unit 1A is THE BEST! The wrap-around deck has perfectly gorgeous views of Drunk and Salt Pond Bays. The Salt Pond (between the bays) appeared to be very full for this time of year; another indication of the amount of rainfall received this summer.

After getting settled (which, because we had no luggage, took all of 5 minutes) and taking in the view for a few more minutes, we headed to Island Blues for dinner. We sat at a table a few feet from the water’s edge, relaxed, and took in the sights and sounds of the evening. I had the Black & Blue burger and the guys both had Mahi Mahi sandwiches; all were very good. After finishing, we sat for awhile, had a couple beers, and enjoyed the live band that started around 9:00, I think (at this point I wasn’t paying much attention to the actual time, as I was now officially on island time). We headed back to Concordia to sit on the deck for awhile and chat about the day’s events. The view and the sounds were amazing as always, with the exception of four bright lights shining on the hillside road to the right of Salt Pond Bay; new since our last stay at Concordia in 1998, and a bit distracting from the beautiful view. We turned in shortly after. The nights sounds coupled with the surf from Drunk Bay were the most perfect lullaby - we all slept well.

 
Posted : August 2, 2006 6:04 am
(@landlockedbeachlover)
Posts: 285
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Great report! Can't wait for the rest! You are SO lucky for that $31.50 ticket - - even if your luggage was MIA.

 
Posted : August 2, 2006 8:44 am
(@bluwater)
Posts: 2026
Noble Member
 

ccasebolt,

$31.5 r/t and you were bumped to first class? Wow - good jumbies smiling on you for this trip....and Rod, too....with his 20 something yr old accomplice 😉

Can't wait for more.

 
Posted : August 2, 2006 8:46 am
(@byrequest1)
Posts: 117
Estimable Member
 

Chris, I've been dying to hear how your cheap ticket flight would turn out. Great report. I was driving into Coral Bay with you in my mind. Can't wait to hear the rest!

Lisa in CT

 
Posted : August 2, 2006 10:35 am
(@coco_de_mer_usvi)
Posts: 180
Estimable Member
 

I must of missed the story, but how did you get the flight ticket at 31.50?

 
Posted : August 2, 2006 2:45 pm
(@karrieb)
Posts: 163
Estimable Member
 

Chris, glad you had a great trip and that Concordia was great again! But the Big Dig tunnel,,,,hmmm, we better keep this in mind ourselves in November! I bet its cooler in STJ than it is at home today, eh? What are you doing with the goober suit now that you're back?

 
Posted : August 2, 2006 3:08 pm
(@ccasebolt)
Posts: 323
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CoCo - One Sunday morning in May I got up early to check fares for the flight my husband had already booked using FF miles. To my extreme surprise, what had been showing $524 was now showing $31.50. Needless to say, I booked right then and there. I never expected the transaction to process, but it did and I received confirmation. I called Rod immediately, and he booked it too. Being the worry wart that he is, Rod called three different USAirways agents and got the same answer from each of them - we were good to go. Kudos to USAirways for honoring the erroneous fare. I consider that experience once-in-a-lifetime luck.

Bluewater, I wasn't bumped to first class - that was the only seating available for $31.50. Boy, did I have a Candid Camera moment while I was booking the flight! Oh, and just between the two of us (and the rest of the bunch on the boards), Rod and Amy returned from the trip engaged! 🙂 Wonder where they'll go for their honeymoon???

Karrieb - yes, the Big Dig situation is a mess, and probably will be for quite some time. We really should have left the house 30 minutes earlier than we did. Again, we were lucky. I'm looking at 98 in the woods right now - much hotter than it was on STJ - I know where I'd rather be. As far as the goober suit goes, we'll keep it around for the nostalgic vibes that emanate from it, but you're welcome to borrow it any time 😉

 
Posted : August 2, 2006 4:00 pm
 Nick
(@Nick)
Posts: 1
 

Like you, we've gotten pretty good at shifting to Island Time quickly and easily. We've been to STJ enough that we know where things are and know that everything works out fine (although possibly quite differently than we'd expected). I thought of this while reading your description of going to Island Blues (which is something we also have done on our first night). And I recaptured the pleasant memory of having dinner that first night and already feeling like we'd been there for days (or maybe like we'd never left). There's something to be said for going to new places, but there's much to be said for returning again and again to favorite familiar places that just seem to fit us like a glove.

I look forward to your other reports.

 
Posted : August 2, 2006 5:56 pm
(@coco_de_mer_usvi)
Posts: 180
Estimable Member
 

Now that is luck, but all the best on your behalf. Wonder if you will see that price again, I sure would like to see that.

 
Posted : August 2, 2006 7:38 pm
(@ccasebolt)
Posts: 323
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Topic starter
 

I doubt I'll ever have that kind of luck again - it was truly once in a lifetime. From here on in I will look to USAirways first in appreciation of the fact that they honored their mistake.

 
Posted : August 2, 2006 8:45 pm
(@mike-from-newport)
Posts: 44
Trusted Member
 

I'm glad you survived the Logan Airport gauntlet. I'm always a bit paranoid about seeing my plane fly overhead while I'm stuck in the middle of gridlock on 93. Looking forward to your next installment!

 
Posted : August 3, 2006 12:07 am

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