Going to AXA---Because of some physical problems my wife and I both had I ruled out climbing on and off a shuttle boat from St Martin which meant flying in to AXA. Scheduling flights with decent connecting times became the biggest problem of the trip. Flights from Orlando via Miami got into SXM too late to connect with AXA Air Services so that was ruled out. Finally settled on AXA Air Express from SJU which was about $200 cheaper round trip than Cape Air. We left home on 4 June and drove to Orlando to avoid the hassle and stress of an early drive the next morning. Stayed over night at La Quinta which was about 5 minutes from the airport. Good deal as we could leave our car there and take their shuttle to the airport thus avoiding paying for airport parking. The overnnight and 9 nights of parking only cost $125. Took the 8 AM shuttle to the airport for the Jet Blue flight to SJU
Flight was about 40 minutes late leaving but we arrived in SJU in plenty of time for the 2:45 PM AXA Air Express flight. We tried to use only carry on but the Jet Blue plane was smaller and the bins wouldn't accomodate one bag so it was checked. In SJU we were met at the arrival gate by two Air Express reps with a wheelchair. One went to get our bag and we were taken to the Air Express departure area. Was really impressed with the service we got. We were the only ones on the flight which left on time. Arrived in AXA a little before 4 PM and breezed through immigration and customs. Found the car Ronnie Bryan left in the parking lot and were off to Turtles Nest. All in all a rather painless and stress free trip. Got settled in at TN and Ronnie stopped by to do the paper work on the car. Gave him some gluten free pasta products we brought which he really appreciated.
After a couple of drinks on the balcony we headed to Straw hat for dinner. Great seeing all the old gang again. It was like we never left. The tuna flat bread was really good and I got my fix of goat curry. Sprocka played during dinner. We had neve seen him and he's an excellent entertainer Since we were there two years ago the bar at Straw Hat has been completely redone. The inside dining area which was never used now looks like a cabaret. The bar is now along the west wall and there are lots of tables and chairs with candles etc. Pretty cool
Day 2--Up and out to Gerauds for breakfast. Had a really good Brie, bacon and caramelized onion omelette. Picked up some sinful pastries for breakfast in on the balcony the next few days. Went to Mingz grocery store to pick uo some provisions. Interesting experience Had lunch at Trattoria Tramonto. Alan wasn't there. He was at Shoreline Villa --the old Diane Norris place-- which he manages. His son Johnny-19- said Allan is going into semi retirement and Johnny is being trained as the manager. Had two drinks and paninis for lunch. We were the only people there. Dinner was at Flavors. We had eaten at Flavors years ago and it was just as good this time. Definitely recommend it. Had never seen the new La Vue complex and it's very impressive. For someone who does not have to be beach front and had a car to explore I would recommend considering La Vue. There was no Jazz that night but a private local party with a very good singer. On the way out I even got to meet Miss Anguilla who is a lovely person
Day 3--Breakfast on the balcony. Why is it that breakfast always is better in the islands staring at the beach and water ?? Off to AXA Animal Rescue Foundation to drop off a soft sided pet carrier and some cute animal scarves. They have 24 dogs waiting to be adopted. Met Pamela Miller owner of Sea Spray who was there and we had a nice conversation. Stopped by Fat Cat Gourmet for a crab quiche and cole slaw for dinner. Ate lunch at Ocean Echo. Again we were the only ones there. Asked if they got much trade from Viceroy and they said no that most people go to Blanchards beach shack. Hard to access Ocean Echo form the beach because of the dune but they are fixing that. Wife had a chicken nicoise salad and I had a chicken wrap. Very good. The left over salad was taken back to TN for the turtles. There are 14 in residence
Day 4--Breakfast in again. Went to Sea Spray to buy a neat ARRF T shirt. Too early for a rum punch or smoothie. Next time Went to Blanchards Beach Shack for lunch. Neat concept and we were favorably impressed. Extensive menu and reasonably priced. It was about half full and quiet, they don't have a full bar but do have beer, wine, sangria, rum punch and rum smoothies. Went to a friends house for drinks and then to Big Spring in Island Harbour for dinner. Not a lot of atmosphere, just off the road with wooden deck wooden tables and chairs and excellent food. Among the best dinners we had on AXA and relatively inexpensive.
Day 5--Don't have to say where we had breakfast. Met some friends and we went to the Sunday Jazz Brunch at Straw Hat which was a benefit for the Comprehensive school in the Valley. Sprocka played. Buffet was excellent --all kinds of food. bloody marys. champagne, mimosas. Really a nicetime. So full from lunch we ate leftovers for dinner.
Day 6--Breakfast and lunch in. Mr Clean aka Kojak from Cleveland and his lovely wife took us to dinner at Roys for our 52nd anniversary. Hadn't been to Roys in years Needless to say I had fish and chips. Excellent food, great company and a good time was had by all.
Day 7--Breakfast in again. Lunch at Blanchards Shack again. Didn't make dinner plans in advance and since Picante and Jacala are closed Mon and Tues we ended back at Straw Hat I had shark which was excellent
Day 8--By this time I was craving a burger. Looked at the A burger menu and they only serve beer, no wine or liquor. Never saw a car at A burger all week. Didn't feel like driving to Ferryboat so we ended up at Straw Hat again. Geting to sound like a broken record but we really like Straw Hat. Had a delicious Hamburger with gorgonzola cheese and caramelized onion. Think their french fries are the best on AXA. Dinner--Mangos was closed and I couldn't get a reservation at Jacala so guess where we went for dinner. Had delicious tune and heard Sprocka again for the third time. Early night as we had to pack.
Day 9--Up early for an 8 AM AXA Air Express flight to SJU. Had a 10:20 AM flight on Southwest to Orlando. Again met by Air Express reps, this time with two whelchairs. They got our bags and we whisked thru immigration and customs. Security was a little slow but faster in wheelchairs. Had to laugh. Now if you're 75 you don't have to take off your shoes in Security but since we're 73 we had to. Wierd TSA rules !!!. Made the flight with 5 minutes to spare. Bags did go in the overhead this time. Brought some sandwiches from Gerauds for lunch which were great and better than the airline was offering which was basically nothing Landed in Orlando at 1:15 PM and home by 3:30 PM. Obviously it is more expensive splitting airlines and going the way we did but it worked with no long layovers. If we had used Jet Blue back the layover in SJU would have been 6 hours UGH!! Air Fare worked out to be $750/person. There has to be a better way to get to AXA. Oh for the good old days of American Eagle !!!
General Observations.-- Weather was great only a couple of showers. Since there was little rain no mosquito problems. Island was very quiet and Meads Bay beach in particular. No noisy water craft Still surprised at the number of people walking thebeach at night with out flashlights A lot of Mom and Pop "restaurants" bars popping up along the main highway. Also more vendors selling fruits and veggies. Klassic Cafe is out of business as is Olde House. For those of you who knew Pedro from Sapphire his new place Pedros Juice Bar and restaurant didn't make it and is reopening as a bakery/cafe. Hopefully it won't take us two mmore years to get backto AXA