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Trip Report June 27-July 4, 2009

Minneapolis...
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Trip Report June 27-July 4, 2009

I have been anxiously awaiting to write this and hope those that read it are some of the people that helped me so much before our trip. To all of you, your help was AMAZING! This was our first (but not last) trip to SXM.

Sat. June 27, 2009 - Left for St. Martin at 11:15 a.m. We flew into Atlanta (2-1/2 hours from Minneapolis) and 4 hours to St. Martin. We arrived at approximately 8:00 p.m. I was a little nervous about meeting someone from Unity Car Rental but got through customs within minutes and there was a guy (not Michael) waiting directly outside the airport door. We hopped in his car and a few minutes later arrived at Unity, where Michael was waiting for us. I had requested a car with French Plates and that is exactly what we got. It ran good, looked good and we loved it. We also got a cell phone from Michael. We then made our way to the Flamingo Resort. With everything being new to us we were sure we were lost but ended up driving directly there. We checked in and got our hotel room. What incredible rooms! It was a like a small apartments with a full size fridge, stove, dishwasher, microwave, all kitchen utensils, a king size bed, a separate living room and a balcony! We were not overlooking the ocean but rather kitty corner from the Red Piano Bar and we actually loved it. We went to the beach and discovered Toppers where we had beer and the BEST Black and Blue Burgers ever! We then proceeded to check out the Hollywood Casino and left them a little $$.

Sun., June 28, 2009: We went across the street to the darling French Restaurant/Bakery across the street. We had breakfast there. Spent the entire morning on the beach and in the water at the Flamingo. Got in the car early afternoon and went to Sunsets to watch the planes come in. What an incredible sight for first timers. We then got in the car and stumbled across the sign for Baie Rouge. What a gorgeous beach. We spent a long time there in the water and just hanging loose on the beach. We finally went back to the Flamingo and got dressed. Had another Black and Blue Burger at Toppers and wandered over to the Dolphin Casino. It was very dead in there but we played a bit anyway. I stayed "even" the whole time. As we were about to leave I put 50 cents in a quarter machine and won 10 credits. While playing those credits, I won 40 credits, etc., etc., until I cashed out $100.00! It was great. Upon the recommendation of fellow Travel Advisors, we went to Lee's to have Ribs for Dinner and they were quite wonderful. There was a huge benefit at the Red Piano Bar that evening for a musician with throat cancer. We listened to the music from our balcony for some time and then went over to see what all the excitement was about. We ran into two locals - Gail & Joe and their dog Benny. They filled us in on everything. We just enjoyed the rest of the night on our balcony listening to all of the music.

Monday, June 29, 2009: Woke up and while hubby was sleeping took a long stroll on the beach along the La Vista Condos side. I love looking for shells and was not really having any luck until I met "Carol." Carol told me where to go which was at the very far end. I found several great shells and on the way back ran into Carol on the front porch of her room. Her and her husband had a timeshare and they are from Queens, NY. They became great friends that week and gave us a lot of good advice. We went to Phillipsburg shopping where we saw our first ever Cruise Ship up close! My God it was HUGE! Bought some linens and misc. souveniers and then fell in love with a 3-1/2 carat diamond ring. --dang it all-- LOL. Bargained endlessly to no avail. Did not get the ring. We ate at a little seaside place in Phillipsburg (don't remember the name) and food wasn't that great. Tried to go to a show at the Flamingo Pool but we were too late. We did, however, meet Topper of Topper's By The Sea. Great, Great Guy! In the course of conversation I told him my maiden name is Saba (that is true) and he then learned I am Lebanese. He is lebanese also. We had wonderful conversation and I really enjoyed him. We then went to Atlantis Casino in Maho. We discovered all drinks are free like in Vegas - tip only and got a little tipsy. Hubby won $100 playing blackjack so overall, not bad. Upon our return, the bridge was closed and it took about 45 minutes to get across. Went back to hotel and passed out.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009: Our 25th Wedding Anniversary! Woke up a little bit hung over. Drove the car up to Marigot and caught the ferry for a day of sun and snorkeling on Anguilla. The boat ride was wonderful. We caught a cab and went to Shoal Bay. Rented Chairs and snorkeled all day long. The beach is beautiful and the water is like glass. We sunscreened like crazy but somehow burned anyway. Ouch! When we returned to the Flamingo, we were wiped out. We were going to go to The Hideaway or Halsey's for a very nice anniversary dinner but we did not have it in us to get dressed up for a fancy meal. We walked across the street to Alexander's which is above the French Bakery. What a SURPRISE AND DELIGHT. The food was incredible - husband had Mahi Mahi and I had Chicken Lasagne - huge portions and several Caribs later, our bill was $29.00 TOTAL! I very highly recommend this place. At that point our day had been very long so we just went back and relaxed in our spacious room at the Flamingo.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009: Breakfast at Toppers. Took the water Taxi to Marigot. I have been to Paris twice but do not really speak the language. I was delighted, however, to be on the French side. I realized when I got there (hubby stayed behind at the Flamingo) that I hardly had any cash...yes, stupid. I found an ATM at the post office (there are two) and they were both broken! So much for my big shopping day. I asked about getting to a bank and was told it would be a 10 minute walk. I didn't know what to do because I really wanted to shop the market and needed $$ and Euros. I suddenly noticed people were lined up at the previously broken ATM's and they were magically working. Hooray for me but not for my husband :) I shopped till I dropped and loved every minute of it. Returned to Flamingo. Wednesday afternoon we went back into Phillipsburg by my request. I went back to the jewelry store where the ring of my dreams was waiting to be purchased. The people were very exciting to see my come back. After much wheeling and dealing on this 3-1/2 carat ring (19 diamonds total), I talked them down $7,000 from what was on the tag and they finally accepted my bottom line offer so I got the ring :) I am not stupid and know they have things terribly overpriced to begin with but am very happy about the price I paid! We then bought some Absolut Vodka and went back to the hotel. That night we found Karakters (also per the high praises on this website). What a fun place! We had dinner there -- more of a lunch-sized meal, but it was very tasty. We had drinks on the beach and met a circle of locals who all invited us to sit with them. One of them was Tamara - the owner of Ric's Sports Bar near the bridge. We truly enjoyed being a part of their group. We returned to our little area and decided to go to the Red Piano Bar. We were asked where we were from and although we are from Minneapolis, Minnesota, my husband yelled out "Arizona!" The whole time, the piano player was calling us "Arizona!" We requested a song for our 25th anniversary. Everyone toasted us. It was really fun and when we left, everyone was high fiving us out the door. What a blast! My gosh, we were wiped out by the end of the night. How does one keep up with St. Martin???

Thursday, July 2, 2009: This was our day to drive the island. Got as far as Philipsburg and could not get out - LOL. Did not have a good map and had a terrible time finding the highway towards Orient Beach. We saw a lot of interesting things while being lost, however. Finally on the highway... We tried going to a coffee plantation that was recommended to us. We found it but it was closed. We drove to Orient Beach - WOW! WOW! WOW! How gorgeous!! We did not want to spend much time there but we did walk almost entirely from one end to the next. We met a great couple from Seattle that were on a cruise ship. From there we went to Grand Case. We somehow turned into Grand Case too early and were in a very freaky, strange neighorhood that we had a terrible time getting out of. We almost gave up on Grand Case entirely. So...now we are finally out of the freaky neighborhood and stumble across the right neighborhood. I could not wait to eat at one of the lolos. We ate at Sky's the Limit. I had Ribs and my husband had the Garlic Shrimp. We also had a Crab Back. I am not a seafood lover (other than lobster). My husband's Garlic Shrimp has forever made me a Garlic Shrimp Lover and my Ribs were to die for! We loved this place and truly enjoyed our meals. Continued around the island. Just took it easy stopping here and there but no where too specific. Returned to Flamingo for a Sunset Cruise on Lombada. What a blast! We met great people and truly enjoyed every single minute. We would like to do this twice next time. Returned from cruise and went to Toppers where we had reservations for the Caribbean Show. It was kind of a "cabaret" on the Beach. We ordered the Beef Brisket which was "Melt in your mouth" Perfect! After dinner and the show we went over to the Hollywood Casino for awhile and then back to our room for a nightcap.

Friday, July 3, 2009. Oh my gosh -- our last day in SXM. Our plane takes off at 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning -- so very sad. Went directly to Mullet Beach which we had been wanting to check out. First we drove around the old Mullet Bay Resort. How bizarre is that! Do you know that it was damaged by Hurricane Omar and the owners did not have insurance? So strange to see this fabulous resort just sitting and rotting away. On the way into Mullet Beach, were were given "scratch off" cards by a guy and gal. Of course they claimed we were huge winners and could claim our prize when we took a tour of (I don't remember the name) the new area being built up next to Sunsets. We said "forget it" and they got kind of angry with us. Oh well! We went to Mullet Beach and truly enjoyed it. We only wish we would have had our snorkeling gear. There is always next time right? We then went to Sunsets to watch and record planes. One large one came in and as I was video taping I kind of freaked out and started running from it. I tripped and fell and rolled around on the beach and have it all on video - LOL! We ate lunch at Sunsets and it was good but I was not overly impressed. We walked around the shops in Maho and then set off to find Douwe Egberts Coffee. This is what they serve at Toppers and I really like it alot. We finally found a grocery store that sold it -- just a small store but I guess Grand Marche sells it as well. Went to Pineapple Pete's for Dinner and had Lobster Thermidor. Okay...Have never, ever, in my entire life had a better meal. For $36 (and if I was rich) I would have this for dinner every night of the week and never tire of it. Hubby loved it just as much! After dinner we went back to Topper's where they had Karoake night. We are not singers but did get up to sing "Down By The Boardwalk." Geez, it was our last night in St. Martin, we just had to make it special. Now, sadly, up to the room to pack.

Saturday, July 4, 2009: Up at 6:00 a.m. Checked out of hotel, met Michael at Unity. Arrived at the airport and took off right at 8:30 a.m. After flying through Atlanta, arrived home at 4:30 p.m. Goodbye SXM until NEXT YEAR. We will be back time and time again!

Side Note: Tons of Security Everywhere and we never felt unsafe. Don't lock your car at the beach. Don't leave anything in your car. Hello and many thanks to Sam & Chanelle at Topper's. You are the greatest! Thanks too to Michael at Unity for getting us a car with French Plates. Sorry this has been so long but hey...thanks for reading it!

Staten Island, New...
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1. Re: Trip Report June 27-July 4, 2009

Let me be the first to say great trip and great trip report - happy you all enjoyed your visit and glad all worked out to your satisfaction.

St. Maarten-St...
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2. Re: Trip Report June 27-July 4, 2009

Well, another WOW trip report!!! You had me drooling at times and laughing at others. You DEFINITELY have to share that video of you running from the plane!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thanks for all the tips and tricks and please tell me, where did you grab the water taxi to Marigot? I know there is one near our condo but I don't think I'll ever be in the mood to walk down the stairs to get there (near the Summit Resort). An easy boarding would suit me just fine.

Thanks again for taking the time to write this report. Many will appreciate your efforts.

AL
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3. Re: Trip Report June 27-July 4, 2009

Thanks for such a great report. We're in SXM now--staying at the Atrium. We also used Unity--very nice people. I'm glad I read this, gave me some ideas for the rest of the week--Topper's, here we come!

St. Maarten-St...
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4. Re: Trip Report June 27-July 4, 2009

Hey Traveling Teach...have a great vacation!!! Very jealous.

Raleigh, North...
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5. Re: Trip Report June 27-July 4, 2009

Very nice trip report. Thanks for sharing your trip with us.........

Cupecoy Bay, St...
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6. Re: Trip Report June 27-July 4, 2009

So many of our favorites listed here! Like many of our original vacations to the island, you need a vacation when you get home.

Making a list for next year? Thanks for posting.

Ohio
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7. Re: Trip Report June 27-July 4, 2009

I remember your posts during the month leading up to your trip. You really did your research well and am happy that your trip was such fun for you both. Great report - you really made your days (and nights)come alive in your descriptions.

tjackso
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8. Re: Trip Report June 27-July 4, 2009

Ahhh, Cinderbug, what a great report. I, too remember your reports leading up to your trip and glad to hear that all went well!

What kind of rental car did you get through Michael?

new england
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9. Re: Trip Report June 27-July 4, 2009

AWESOME!! Wow, I'm exhausted just reading! Loved the ring part. Girl you are tenacious! A very good trait. ;-) You did tons of stuff in a short time.

Thanks for sharing.

Contessa

Minneapolis...
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10. Re: Trip Report June 27-July 4, 2009

I was asked what kind of car I got through Michael. The car was a Toyota Yaris. I don't even know the year, although I'd guess 2006. There were lots of scratches on it but no dents or true dings. He said "No worries about the scratches" -- They would only be concerned with dents, break-ins, etc. I have seen posts about danger to Dutch Rental Cars as the plates are marked with an "R" for Rental. I have to say that our French Plated Car had some sort of "safety ties" on all four rims and noted other French cars with the same thing. We believe this was a "rental indication" and if so, much harder to see than the "R" on the Dutch Plates.

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