Saturday, March 31, 2012

St. Lucia- our favorite secret beach!

St. Lucia has become one of our favorite islands to visit in the Caribbean.  We've found a little hide away there - a secluded beach-  away from the cruise ship crowds - a place for total relaxation - a place that we have come to LOVE~~

Should I tell you where it is?  Can you keep my secret?  

We met our taxi boat at the pier and were whisked away on a 30 minute ride across the beautiful deep blue ocean~

 Out of a cruise ship population of 2000 people -
 only our group of 4 and another 2 couples
 were with us on this great 
(In this photo - the Gardener and our friend Bob 
are getting ready to be drenched
 by a huge boat wave!)

Here I am on the boat with my friend Robert.  If you want to plan a visit to TiKaye Village - Robert is the guy to talk to.  He will take good care of you!   We each paid $75 for our fabulous day at TiKaye.  Our trip included round trip transportation, lunch, 2 drinks, snorkel equipment and the opportunity to go out on the boat with the snorkel excursion. (or you can snorkel on your own from the beach).  You can also go on a diving expedition - however there is an extra charge to go diving with the group.  We made our reservations about 3 months in advance of our trip.  You will need to keep that in mind when making your plans. 

Remember our previous discussions about the type of camera I use for photo taking?  Here you go - proof positive.  Caught in the act.  Kodak Easy Share - (I rest my case.)  Like I told you - I'm a total wimp when it comes to fancy cameras!

Arriving at TiKaye Village.

Here we are - 
can you even believe the crowds?

 The Gardener and Bob 
are preparing
 to leave on the dive boat with Robert.  
(The Gardener went snorkeling and Bob went diving.) 
Me - 
I've got other plans!!

The hotel actually sits upon the cliff that over looks the beach.  There are a series of stairs that lead from the beach to the hotel area on top of the cliff.  I have this thing about stairs~~ I love to climb them!    Come on up with me~~

The view from mid way up the stairs.
Come on - keep climbing!

Here we are at the top of the stairs!

It's so beautiful up here!

Another beautiful view from the top of the cliff!

Looking out towards the beach~

Don't you wish you were here right now?

The hotel restaurant at the top of the stairs.

Such a beautiful view for a restaurant. 

You don't HAVE to climb the stairs~~ 
Here is the view from the beach bar restaurant where we ate our lunch. (for those of you who don't have my obsession with stairs -- you CAN request that the hotel shuttle drive you from the beach to the hotel at the top of the cliff.)  I'll meet you at the top!

 There are so many wonderful things that we love about cruises~~
but the downside to all the great places that you get to visit - is that time passes all too quickly and at the end of the day - we have to pack up and leave~~

      Headed back to the ship~
Our motley windblown group!

Our view of St. Lucia 
as seen from the top deck of the cruise ship.
Next to Venice, Italy - the sail out from St. Lucia is one of the most scenic that I have ever experienced. 
 It is truly beautiful.
   Have your camera's ready!

We left St Lucia with some wonderful memories and a few of these sea shells!

Are you tired of cruising with me yet?  We still have Aruba and Curacao left - I want to take you there also!  (I promise a reward for you all at the end of the cruise photos - a little tropical give away!)  And~~ I can hardly wait to share with you the photos that the Gardener took when we went swimming with sea turtles~

But first-- I want to take a little break from travels and share with you the incredible spring that we are having here - it is so unbelievably beautiful~~

May I share something with you that is heavy on my heart?
I have a dear blogging friend who is just beginning a journey to places that none of us ever want to go.  She is fighting cancer head on in a battle that I KNOW she will win. Please pray for my friend and for all those that you know and love who are staying strong and not giving in to this retched disease.  I love you Donna~


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Grenada-The Spice Island (and my search for a new career!)

Grenada - the beautiful island known for spices~~

This was our early morning view of the island just after we docked at the pier.  This photo was taken from the top deck of the cruise ship. 

 The morning started out a little rainy - so we all walked into town to visit the spice market. 

The market was a blend of bright colors, vendors selling spices of every variety, and beautiful fresh fruits filling tables,baskets, and the back of rusty old trucks.  For me- this was a photography paradise.

  The incredible aroma of fresh nutmeg permeated the air. 

Fresh - (as in just picked off the tree)- bananas.


Our friend Bob and the Gardener - making some spice purchases.  We came home with some incredible spices!

 A fellow knitter!  This little guy was way cool!  We talked about yarns and such for a bit.  He offered to give me a pattern for his "rasta" hats!

Jan made a new friend at the spice market.  Her sweet friend loaded us up with some special goodies to bring home!

Our dear travel buddies, Bob and Jan.  This cruise was Jan's first big adventure since having her knee replacement several weeks ago.  She has shown amazing spirit and determination in her recovery.  I'm so very proud of her.  

The Gardener made some new friends too!  When we go someplace like this - and I lose him in the crowd -- I usually find him later on chatting with some of the vendors.  

 The morning continued to be cloudy and it just didn't seem to be a great "go to the beach" sort of day - so we all climbed into a taxi for a tour of the island.  On one of our stops - these ladies posed for a picture. The girl on the left was clearly the "manager".  She wanted to make sure that I understood that I was to give them each a dollar after I took the picture! 

They smiled really big when I gave them an extra dollar.  I thought their bright clothes and flower baskets were beautiful.  To me - it was worth the money to be able to take this picture.   

Our taxi tour included a stop at the highest point on the island where we were rewarded with some incredible views of the coastline and the harbor.

That's our cruise ship wayyyy over there!  The island was lush and full of beautiful blooming flowers.  The air was filled with their fragrance.  

Our taxi tour lasted about 2 hours and cost us $20 each plus a small tip.  You can take similar trips through the cruise lines- but we think it is so much more fun just to go out on our own rather than with a crowd of 20-30 people.  Our driver was as sweet as can be and was willing to let us stop and take photos as long as we wanted.  (you know I am all about the photo taking!) 

 Just beyond where we stopped for photos, was an abandoned building that had been heavily damaged by storms many years ago.  I think that we probably were not supposed to walk over there - but~~~

 The view was incredible.  You know me - I'll go just about anywhere to take a great picture.  

This site had previously been a beautiful hotel situated high atop this hill- with astounding views of the island.  Now all that was left standing was some rusted and twisted ironwork that surrounded the remains.  I thought they provided a fabulous backdrop for these photos~~ 
(I'm so weird like that!)

Our next stop took us to one of the parks on the island.  There was a lovely waterfall there - and- my opportunity to embark on a new career~~

I always did want to be one of the "Spice Girls"!  Now tell me the truth~ can you tell which one is ME?  I'm still waiting on them to offer me a contract.  I'm sure I could do the job - well - maybe just a little worried about holding that basket on top of my head all day~~ 

After our taxi tour concluded - we headed UP the hill (What a climb!!) to this old church. This church has intrigued me for several years.  I would stand on the deck of the cruise ship and gaze longingly at this steeple.   After several visits to the island, we finally were able to find the time to make the climb UP the hill so that I could take these photos.   

Hikers beware!  It's a serious climb to the top of this hill to where this church stands - but for me - it was worth it.  I am passionate about old churches, seek them out whenever we travel, and this one was definitely worth the hike.  Heavily damaged, only a few walls and the steeple remained - but I was thrilled to be able to take these photos.  

I also love that windswept tree that stands next to the church.

A walk along the harbor as we head back to the cruise ship. 

Our rainy day in Grenada turned out to be a fabulous one.  The rain in the morning gave way to clouds in the afternoon and it was a perfect day for picture taking.  We had a wonderful taxi tour, hiked around the town, and - I tried out for a job with the "Spice Girls". 

These cool dudes were waiting for us when we got back to the ship's pier.  And - I had another great idea~~

I'm thinking that if my career with the "Spice Girls" doesn't work out -- I could probably get a job hanging out with these guys!  What do you think?

A few pictures from our good times on the ship~

 Hmm- I'm thinking I've never shown photos of us all dressed up before!

Our friends look so beautiful in this photo~

It's kind of fun to get all dressed up.  This is one of my favorite things about cruising!

Coming up next~
I'll take you to the islands of Aruba and St.Lucia.  We visited some beautiful beaches on both islands. I'll give you some more great tips on things to do and places to go when you visit these beautiful places.  
When we finish our island visits - we will most certainly be in an "island " frame of mind.  So- I think we will need a giveaway - a little something to complete our island vacationing and make it more special.  Stay tuned!! 

Thanks for traveling with me!