Thursday, July 21, 2011

Hasta La Vista Baby!

This is the final word on my vacation.  Promise.  Because after today, I'll BE on vacation!  The newspaper delivery has been stopped and the housesitter is in place (gotta keep my patio plants alive ya know!) and today will be full of finishing the last minute details.

We've been going to this place, our home away from home for 10 years now, therefore, I have lots of photos! I thought I'd show you my boring vacation pictures now because who knows how long it will take me to get it together once we're back.  Did you know that St. Martin is also St. Maarten?  Spelled the other way means you're on the Dutch side.  (Hi Fran!  Maybe we should meet here!) The whole island is only 37 square miles and is the smallest land mass shared between two governments.  You can cross from French to Dutch and vice versa at will.  There are borders but no passport check points!

Here's a shot of the small resort where we stay.  It's one of only a couple on the French side.  We'll be in one of those 3 buildings on the right with the red roofs. This is a view from the beach side of "downtown" of the small village of Grand Case where we stay.

The resort is sort of V-shaped with most of the living quarters on one side with Grand Case Beach, and a beach called Petite Plage on the other.  This photo of the sign at the gate when you enter the resort shows the property layout really well.

An interesting fact about beaches in St. Martin:  even when they are on a resort, all beaches are open to the public and FREE to get into!  Love that.  This is Petite Plage and the downtown area of the village in the background across the bay:

Mr. Helen and I spend a lot of time captivated by sand gravity.  Even when we go visit one of the other gorgeous beaches on the island we always come back to Petite Plage for our last swim of the day.  That is Mr. Helen there on the left of this photo.  See the flag just behind him?  When you pull that flag up, someone comes out onto the beach from the Sunset Cafe (in the background) and takes your order for food and/or drinks.  Perfect for when you feel spectacularly lazy!

There's a reason the Sunset Cafe is named what it is.  I'm not sure all the various photos I've taken over the years can convey how gorgeous it is and what it's like to watch the sun literally sink away.

While we generally have found May to be our favorite time of year to go, this year we delayed our trip so that we could be part of our friend Nick's memorial.  Nick is Mr. Helen's best friend's dad who passed awy last fall.  He was born and raised in Grand Case and on July 24th the entire the entire village will participate and celebrate his life.  Before Nick got a bit older and came to the USA, he was a fisherman like many used to be in Grand Case.  His ashes are going to be spread at Creole Rock which is a well known landmark to the fishermen of St. Martin.

No explanation needed, other than to tell you that's Sandra in the background.  We love her and hope she's still working there!  And maybe I'll mention that both drinks cost us $5.  They charge the same for adult beverages as they do for "virgin."  Seriously, in downtown Phillipsburg (the capital of the Dutch side) there are Heineken Beer machines right next to the Coke machines!  Last time we were there I think it cost $1.

Then of course, there's the food.  Grand Case is known as the Gourmet Capital of the Caribbean. For good reason. There are fancy French restaurants and locally owned places.  No matter where you go the food is just beautifully presented.  It's like artwork!

Conch Salad

Basil Shrimp

Petite Filet with Potato Puffs and Harricot Verts

Lamb Chops

Curried Chicken

Chocolate Souffle with Cookies & Pot of Hot Chocolate 

As  I've looked through these photos, I've realized how good this vacation is for each of us as individuals and for us as a couple.  How do I know?  Because I can't find one single photo - even in the candids, where we look stressed, disgruntled or unhappy.  St. Martin really is our happy place (and not because of the three flavored sharing this photo with us!).

With apologies to The Terminator.... (unless I win the lottery) I'll be back!


  1. Helen you are going to have such an amazing time. I love this island, it's so beautiful!

    I'm all up for a meet there!
    You know, I didn't know that the island was divided in two parts. In my ignorance I always thought St. Maarten was a completely Dutch orientated island.

    I suggest you take a trip to the Dutch site and show me some Dutch words you learned there LOL.

    Helen I want to wish you and Mr. Helen a fabulous, loving and sunny vacation. You both deserve this so much after these past months.

    Enjoy, live, love, laugh!

  2. OMG I would posting about my vacation a lot too if I went to a place like THAT! Gorgeous, and the scenery looks as good as the food LOL!

    I would say have a great time but that seems like a given. :) We will miss you while you are gone!

  3. I can surely see why you love it so! You do look positively radiant and stress-free in that photo. And the food, well, let's just say I haven't had my breakfast yet and now I'm STARVING. Basil shrimp, please. Yes, for breakfast!!

    Have a wonderful time, Helen. Nick sounds like he was a lovely man. Embrace your friends and enjoy the memorial, as it is meant to be a celebration of your friend.

    Can't wait to see the new crop of photos.

  4. Gorgeous! That sunset picture could go in a frame.

  5. Oh how fun to see where you are going! And can I just say, that at this point in my diet career, that might be a very dangerous place for me to be. What gorgeous food!

    So is that how you found Grand Case in the first place? through your friend's dad? How nice that you are going to be there for the memorial.

  6. Love the last picture the best Helen!! So excited for you - have a ton of fun, drink and eat lots!!


  7. totally jealous :) looks gorgeous

  8. that comment also included "amazing place for a memorial"

    it got away from me. take care!

  9. Oh, Helen. It's so beautiful. I love that this paradise is somewhere that you are so familiar with that you know the bartender's name.

    I know you're going to have a blast and wish you could somehow sneak me in your luggage. Hey, I could be your personal assistant! Take me too! ;-)

    Can't wait to hear all about the trip and see pictures.

  10. I think you and the Mister might need to have a nurse along in case you fall ill - I'm available and can be contacted at ..................

    Have an awesome time. Looks absolutely beautiful.

  11. No wonder you love it there so much!!! Everything just looks amazingly wonderful.

    Have a great time, and raise that flag often!!!

  12. Have a WONDERFUL time Helen!!!!!!! Please have one of those frothy pink drinks for me! Safe journey!!!!

  13. that last photo of you and Mr. Helen!! And the photo of the two drinks and your two hands...the drinks match the hands! LOL

    Bon voyage!

  14. Enjoy your vacation...can't wait to see the photos from this go-around!!! (And keep that flag raised!!!)

  15. I have never been there but now I want to go! It's beautiful and looks like a great time. Of course I could really go for that food!

  16. Wow Helen! It looks fabulous! I want to go too!

    Love the photos, totally NOT boring. You're never ever boring.

    Have a grand time and can't wait to hear all about it when you get back (and more pics please!).

  17. Leave a little room in your suitcase so I can stow away in there!

    Have an awesome time and think of nothing but drinks, beach, and food (in whatever order) while you are there!

  18. OMG! Beach! Ocean! Holy! HOly!