A Travellerspoint blog

Day 14 - Basseterre, St Kitts

30 Nov 2010

The island was originally named St Christopher by Christopher Columbus and is now known by either the official name (St Christopher) or a more common shortened version, St Kitts.

The morning was spent roaming the streets of the capital, Basseterre. These streets are very similar to St John's, many one way, others dual, all in poor condition giving the town its relaxed character. The town felt even more relaxed than St John's.

The afternoon was spent on a cruise tour called “Scenic and Historical St Kitts”. This included a drive half way around the island to the north through some picturesque rainforests and included two stops.

The first stop was Romney Manor. The 350 year old estate is home to Caribelle Batik – where locals use local sea island cotton, wax and dye prints to create wraps, scarves and even ties (I'll pass). The gardens are well kept filled with many tropical plants and flowers.

Next stop, situated 250 metres above sea level, was Brimstone Hill Fortress - a World Heritage Site. Two things make this site amazing - firstly is the stunning views; second is the level of fortification. The first cannon was mounted in 1690 by the British. The fort was taken by the French in 1782 after the British had to surrender after a month of fighting. It was returned to the British the following year, eventually abandoned in 1852 when the British troop were redeployed.

The main road of the island is a rough narrow road with what appears to be no speed limits (and very few rules), locals all along the sides, that can barely hold two-way traffic, it does, and with the odd car parked at the side makes for an interesting ride.

It's been an interesting day.

Posted by dpedler 20:06 Comments (0)

Day 13 - St John's, Antigua

29 Nov 2010

It has been 6.5 days since leaving Madeira to cross the Atlantic Ocean and we haven't sighted another vessel. It was just after 1pm when I stepped back onto land, heading out on the ship's “Historical Island Tour”. My first island of the Caribbean is Antigua with a population of 76,000, measuring only 276km2 and was a former British naval bastion in the 18th century.

On the way we saw the fancy new cricket ground, donated by the People's Republic of China. The ground was used in the recent cricket world cup. Antigua is the home of Sir Viv Richards and they are very proud of him. There is also a lovely new hospital on the hill near where we docked, also sponsored by China.

The first stop was at Dow's Hill Interpretation Centre for a short history of the island and a photo shoot over English and Falmouth harbours.

The tour included photo shots at Blockhouse and the most southerly point called Shirley Heights (which directly overlooks English Harbour). Both having wonderful views of the inlets, bays, cliffs and mountains. There are 365 beaches on the island. The next stop was English Harbour, the home of the historical dockyard area of Nelson's British fleet during the 1700's. We all enjoyed a very strong rum punch, which made for a very jolly trip home in the bus.

It was just after dusk when we arrived back at the ship and I took, what I expect to be, a few lovely photos of MV Discovery. Dropped my gear off and straight back out for an hour around town in the dark.

St John's is a vibrant capital with locals roaming the street and traffic jams around almost very corner. The streets are very narrow, most appearing to be one way to traffic. I can't be completely sure as the traffic was so chaotic and there was people and cars everywhere. The buildings are all old and in poor condition, but this adds to the character and colour of the city.

It's been a great introduction to the Caribbean and the West Indies.

Posted by dpedler 19:31 Comments (0)

Day 6 - Funchal, Madeira

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22 Nov 2010

Today I took the “Island Discovery” tour, a full day trip around of this stunning island - consisting of rugged coastline, amazing landscapes and views everywhere we went.

A little rain in the morning and fogs at high altitude meant I wasn't able to get that perfect set of photos. One pass we travelled over was over 1,000m high. This is a small island easily crossed in a few hours – including stops.

Many of the slopes were covered by banana plantations and vineyards, all between homes built into these steep maintains.

The major road system on Madeira is excellent. There seemed to be hundreds of tunnels dotted across the island – some very impressive infrastructure and engineering. The other roads are very narrow and the bus driver did an excellent job not side swiping anything.

Another visit included the second highest sea cliff in the world (at 580m). It was interesting to see all the eucalyptus trees imported from Australia. Even the quaint little fishing villages dotted around the island were picture perfect.

Lunch was at Restaurante Cachalote which is located on the other side of the island from Funchal. I ordered the Scabbard fish. It's worth looking this fish up on Wikipeadia as it is a very ugly black fish and I'm so glad I tried it before I saw what it looked like. The fish came in a very light batter and was served with potato and salad (complete with an unintentional live snail) – it was still not bad. The local beer, called Coral, was also very enjoyable.

The ship was delayed a few hours whilst undertaking a few scheduled repairs which meant I was able to visit the city centre of Funchal – only a very short walk from the harbour. The name Funchal comes from the fennel found on the island. Like the rest of the island, it is a beautiful little city.

Posted by dpedler 16:00 Comments (0)

Day 4 – Cadiz

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20 Nov 2010

This morning I went on my own walking tour through the narrow cobble-stoned streets of old Cadiz City. There was four possible walks to choose from – each with there own colour line painted on the ground to follow. The lovely old architecture of the city is truly charming.

A great surprise was to turn a corner and find seven Rodin statues from the Musee Rodin – including The Thinker.

That afternoon I went on a tour to the city of Jerez de la Frontera, visiting the Alcazar (a former Moorish fortress) and the Gonzalez Byass winery (makers of Tio Pepe). The region is the home of sherry – the locals advising it is the only true sherry. The tour finished with a tasting of a very dry sherry and a sickly sweet sherry. I soon discovered combining the two makes a lovely blend – but don't tell anyone! Hehe.

Posted by dpedler 16:00 Comments (0)

Day 3 - Gibraltar

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The ship is spending a full day in Gibraltar, 8am to 8pm. I decided to join the “Second World War & Northern Defences” tour, a half day tour of the tunnels. There are 53 km of tunnels inside the rock - more roads inside the rock than out! Gibraltar is only 6.5 square kilometres with 29,500 people.
The tour also included crossing the airport runway to the frontier (border to Spain), a stop at Europa Point (home of the Trinity Lighthouse and a large mosque) and a visit to the Apes' Den. They are actually tail-less macaque monkeys and are very cheeky as they jumped across the bus. Tradition suggests that if they die out, the British sovereignty will end.
The afternoon was spent wondering around the town – with more monkeys in the streets. One large monkey jumped onto a man stealing two of his apples.

Posted by dpedler 16:00 Archived in Gibraltar Comments (0)

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