Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Yum Mon!

Ah...waking up to island air is so refreshing. Plus the view outside our balcony is just phenom.

We stopped by the convenience store at the hotel to pick up some brekky. I noticed some distinct island food, mostly ones that evolve around bananas.

Banana-flavored nutrition drink

These are their local specialities...

Coconut patties...ya mon!

Of course you have your usual American fare (bo-ring!)

Hubby ordered a slice of carrot-raisin cake with frosting on top, which tasted really nice with a cup of warm aromatic coffee.
I got a blueberry scone, which also nice but after 5-6 bites it becomes a little hard to chew. I had to wash it down with a load of coffee. No wonder I felt so full afterwards.

We sat outside the patio of the convenience store enjoying our brekky treats. Only downside about it was the price of brekky - $16! Which could get you a nice stack of silver dollars, egg omelettes, hash browns and a pot of coffee plus tips back in the mainland. Sigh.

Afterwards we hurried to the ferry to purchase a ticket to Charlotte Amalie, which is the downtown of the island. The ferry boat ride is $10 per person one way, so it costs $40 for two people's two-way tickets.

These cute little bathroom designs were outside the ferry, in case you little pirates out there need to you-know-what.

On our way over we saw this huge disney cruise ship. The ship captain told us that there's a lot of these cruise ships from October-May, and when they come, that's when all the town is bustle with people and business.

Right when we arrived there, we hit the local flee market. It was actually just like a stand in Chinatown, with fake brand-name bags and jewelry. I actually bought two pairs of earrings with the local gemstone, which I bargained down to 2 for $12.

On our way over, the ship captain did joke that there was a direct correlation between the number of tourists and jewelry stores. Charlotte Amalie was absolutely filled to the max with jewelry stores, each with an overly aggressive salesperson trying to sell their goods.

These were the only things I really liked, and they were from Swarosky, which of course you can find anywhere.

This little statue that reminds me of the famous little boy peeing statue in Belgium is found in one of the many alleyways that connects the three main streets in Charlotte Amalie. I like these statues on the right a lot, but unfortunately they cost an arm and a leg, and I would need to waste two other limbs buying a larger suitcase to carry them =(

Guess what this store sells?

Hundreds and hundreds of tablecloths! I first read about this store in the travel magazine, which made it sound like an absolute must-go for any tourist. But honestly, who would buy tablecloths from an island?

Walking down the street, you can find a lot of small little restaurants with balcony seating, like Bumpa's.

There's also a lot of stores selling pirate-related stuff, with antiques that are proclaimed to be lost and found at sea.

After browsing through some jewelry stores, getting harassed by aggressive salespeople, and seeing some jaw-dropping watches, we decided to get some lunch. This was a funny sign on the ground of the stairs to Bumpa. Unfortunately 1. no one can see the sign until they descent (after hopefully not using the broken rail) and 2. Bumpa's only had sandwiches. We were more interested in local specialties.

So we went to Tavern, which looks like a decent seafood restaurant, as the salesman outside was talking about the catch of the day.

It was not that busy, but we didn't get a seat beside the window. It's a darkly lit place with the only source of light from the window, but that's enough for now.

We ordered some tea and gingerale, our usual.

I found that salt shaker pretty cool, because it's intermixed with rice bits to prevent it from clumping. I haven't seen this yet in the East side, but must be because of the moisture in the air. (honestly, I thought it was like bug larva or something at first glance.)

We ordered the house special perogies (they were a Polish restaurant), the coconut shrimp, and hubby got the island special of Jerk chicken, which came with a side of fries and guacamole.

Our order came about half an hour later. During that time, I could tell everyone around us was bored out of their minds. The family next to us even left just as their order arrived because they said the wait was way too long. Granted, the restaurant was filling up, but they couldn't take it anymore.

Thankfully, the couple who were seated after them were nice enough to take their food. The lady (presumably a little drunk) was commenting on the family's bad behaviour, and kept on saying how sweet the waitress was for putting up with it. This might never happen in New York.

My perogies were a little dry. I suspect they are home-made becuase they don't look like the normal prepackaged ones, but they were a little on the dry/flavor-less side. The outside skin was fried to a crisp and kind of dry, so it was hard to chew and digest. The mashed potatoes inside was alright, but need a dose of ketchup to wash it down.

The jerk chicken was pleasantly nice though. The seasoning was not overpowering, and it was really authentic. Even for a non-meat lover like myself, I enjoyed biting through the crispy skin.

The guacomole though fell short by a longshot. The avocados had already turned brown, and didn't taste fresh at all. They probably need to import those too.

And the fries, let's not even go there. They were so out of a pre-packaged shoe-string fries package, and fried until they tasted like biscotti.

But the coconut shrimp though was a pleasant surprise. It was crunchy on the outside, sweet, and tender on the inside. The shrimp tasted quite fresh, and was even better when you dip it inside the sweet and sour sauce.

In fact, the sauce was so good that I had to smother it over my perogies and fries to finish it. 

In the afternoon, we did a lot more swimming around in the ocean. This time I didn't get battered around like the day before. Afterwards we went to a jacuzzi for a while.

For dinner I wanted to go to Coco Joe's, which is the restaurant right on Morning Star beach, but it was buffet only night, and I happen to hate buffets (although it did look really good).

So we went to Aqua Terra Lounge inside the hotel.

Ginger-ale and iced tea

A note here on the iced tea - it was a little sour for some reason, possibly because she squeezed some lemons in there.

We ordered the spicy chicken wings, chili with tortilla chips and an iceberg salad. The food came on island time, which translates to waiting for 1/2 an hour. Although I was starving from the swimming session earlier, I was entertained by a guest who demanded lobster, and was really fussy in getting a cup of champagne or something. She was quite the character - asking for half a lobster, then lobster cooked a certain way....I felt bad for the bartenders who was working frantically to keep up with drink orders while trying to maintain sanity getting orders for people in the lounge. Seems like this whole place is quite understaffed (or maybe they're just chilling in the kitchen).

 Half an hour later! 

Chips with Chili

Didn't really like this dish. I was craving for chips with guacamole, but they didn't have any (only at Coco Joe's). The chili was a little too spicy and tasted just like mushed up beef. The chips - although they were probably in-house made - was a bit hard to chew. Probably baked it for a tad too long.

Island chicken wings 

This was an awesome dish. The wings were covered with sweet and spicy island jerk and mango barbecue sauce. The carrots and celery added a splash of tropical colors while cooling the heat. Didn't care for the ranch sauce because it was too creamy and lackluster. The wings were pretty spicy for me, but quite addictive.

Iceberg wedge

The iceberg wedge looks deviously simple, with two giant wedges of iceberg lettuce. But it's actually served with gorgonzola and blu cheese dressing topped with pancetta bits, which makes it incredibly tasty. The richness of the cheese and gorgonzola melts onto the crunchy freshness of the iceberg wedge, and comforts your guilty innards that it's okay, you can go ahead and indulge in this healthy deliciousness (although high-caloried as well with the blue cheese ranch dressing).

Another shot of this favorite!

Some salad to go with?

Carrot head (with ranch hat)

Needless to say, we cleaned up our plates to the last bone.

Sorry this was actually cleaned up too at the end.

At night we walked down to the pier to take a look at their night kayak, which is an evening ecotour where you row in lit up, bottomless kayaks that attracts all these lovely sea creatures like sea turtles and sting rays.

Then we went swimming under the stars in the pool, which was uber nice, because you get to flow on the waters and glance up at a universe of twinkling creatures.

Nighty-night Island!

** (2/5)
Kids-friendly, but slow service during peak hours

Aqua Terra Lounge
**** (4/5)

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