Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Passing Round the Snaps.

A picture from the balcony of our cabin showing Castries in St. Lucia.

A different view every morning.

Well, my bloated yeomen, let me share with you a family tradition. On Boxing Day, after over indulging on the cold turkey, pickles, pease pudding, ham, sausages, various salads, mashed potato and anything else unwise enough to be lurking in the fridge, we collapse in the comfy chairs. There tends to be a period of minimal movement until the digestive processes reach a fairly advanced stage and the turkey sandwiches and mince pies make an appearance.

Quite early on, someone produces a strange shaped bottle of lurid coloured liquid and invites us to sample something they discovered on their holidays. (Note 1) As the liqueur destroys any brain cells stupid enough to be out and about during the festive season, someone produces their holiday snaps.

So, gird up your loins bold yeomen. It is time for the next instalment of ’What I did on my holidays.’

A view of our cabin aboard Arcadia. Looking the other way up the cabin.

The first proper full day of the holiday saw us arrive in St. Lucia. (Note 2)

To state the obvious – a map of St. Lucia.

We docked in Castries, the capital of St Lucia. The harbour is a real contrast to Barbados and certainly is smaller. It became a habit with me on the trip to go out on the balcony every morning and to take a few pictures. The ones below are of Castries harbour (as is the title photo).

Castries harbour, St Lucia. The shadow across the bottom of the photo is that of the ship. A close up of the harbour buildings.

It is difficult to describe in words the sheer scale of the cruise ship. One turn around the promenade deck is one third of a mile. The ship is twelve stories high from dock level (amazing how easily you get into the habit of discounting those below decks).

A view of the Arcadia stern (the blunt end). Passengers spewing off Arcadia – a scene repeated in every port.

We spent our day in St. Lucia on a tour of the island. Our chosen mode of transport was a catamaran – and judging from those who took mini bus tours we made a very wise choice given the state of the roads and the terrain of the island. (Note 3). For a small portion of the tour we did transfer to mini bus so I am talking from experience here!

Canaries, St Lucia from the sea. This picture gives you an idea as to the terrain.  Gros Piton and Petit Piton on St Lucia. These mountains used to be part of the volcano cone before it blew.

Our first stopping off point was Soufriere. The town itself is built on the floor of an active volcano and has some interesting links to the French Revolution and to Napoleon. However, the tourist industry isn’t that sophisticated yet and this wasn’t really explored by the guides. Soufriere was quite a contrast to Castries. As soon as we arrived we were pestered by young boys begging. They dived from the dock and swam out to our boat offering to dive for coins. Wherever we went we were followed around by peddlars who all sold the same jewellery at the same price. As I said, the St Lucia tourism industry is unsophisticated. (Note 4)

Soufriere doesn’t show many signs of benefiting from tourism. Soufriere church, like the rest of the town, is built on a volcano.

Transferring to mini bus, we had a guided tour of the drive in volcano (tipping very much encouraged) and the botanical gardens.

Inside Soufriere volcano. The black stuff is boiling mud and it is that stains the beaches. St Lucia Soufriere gardens diamond falls

After the tour it was back to the boat. We headed off to a beach for a Cajun meal and a swim. Oh and all the while, the crew served up free rum punch. Not that we could take much advantage of this as the delays in arriving meant that the Captain’s Reception had been held over so when we returned to the ship I would need to squeeze myself into my penguin outfit.

A St Lucia beach – can you see the name of the water taxi? St Lucia beach peddlers ambush another tourist boat as it arrives at the beach.

On the way back to the cruise ship, the catamaran did a quick tour of MARIGOT bay. This only served to reinforce my view that the people who really benefit from tourism in St Lucia are the foreign hotel chains.

Marigot Bay in St Lucia. St Lucia. Arcadia dwarfing another cruise ship

There are no pictures of me in my penguin attire or of the Captain’s Reception. So here endeth Day Three of what I did on my holidays. TO BE CONTINUED…

From 14th June, the industry standard Crozzy Standard has been applied to footnotes.

NOTE 1: The really sad thing here is that the liquid is delivered with a strange haze rising off the glass. If you are unfortunate to get some on your skin, it goes a funny orange colour. It invariably tastes foul and reacts with one of the gherkins you ate earlier to produce the vilest wind. Yet the person with the bottle (and the one wearing the protective goggles and asbestos mittens) insists that it is an absolutely ‘wonderful’ concoction that the discovered in the most ‘delightful’ bar overlooking some church. They would have gone back, but they couldn’t remember their own names for 48 hours and when they did someone had moved the church. Click to return

NOTE 2 : I’m not going to recap why this was the first full day of the holiday. For those of my yeomen who don’t know, the reasons, they can be found HERE and HERE. Click to return

NOTE 3: I should point out that I have only included the small sized photographs from my Flickr account. Should you wish to see the larger pictures, simply click on the photographs and you will be magically transported! Well to Flickr if not St Lucia.Click to return

NOTE 4: The same cannot be said for foreign companies who have been quick to set up their brand of resorts on the island. There is one resort between the Piton mountains which is very exclusive charging thousands of dollars a night and importing white sand for its beach. There are no natural white sandy beaches on the island because of the active volcano which turns the sand gray. Click to return

And I was going to write my postcards in the tea rooms.

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Jane said...

Just come across your blog in a search for a monument on the M42! It was such entertaining reading I forgot my search. I'll be back!

Simon said...

Thank you Jane. I'll be interested in finding out the results of your search for a monument to the M42.

I never realised that people so so pleased to have a motorway that the erected monuments in celebration.