Wednesday, June 26, 2013

St. Martin Honeymoon: Day 1 & 2

I'm going to divide up our honeymoon into a few different posts, because we took tons of pictures and I don't want to overwhelm y'all! You are welcome.

It took us a while to plan our honeymoon. Our top priorities were:
  • Direct, short flight from Charlotte
  • Tropical
  • Beachfront
  • Private Pool
  • Nice kitchen
We heard a lot about Anguilla, St. Lucia, Aruba, St. John, & St. Thomas, and definitely researched the devil out of them. Then we narrowed our focus onto Anguilla and decided to look at St. Martin, since it was a bigger island and it was a direct flight (you have to fly to St. Martin "SXM" and then take a ferry to Anguilla, not ideal). We started reading on Trip Advisor about all of the different things to do in St. Martin, and were excited about it being an option. There are lots of beaches, restaurants, and activities on and off the island.

Once we decided on SXM, we got our flight booked and then started looking on VRBO for property rentals. We definitely did not want to do the resort thing, since we have already done that. We knew being on a resort for 10 days would get old, REAL fast. We wanted the freedom to cook our own meals when we wanted, and eat out when we were sick of cooking. We read about the market in Marigot, which is the capital of the French Side...there was supposedly a fish market 2 days a week, and then every day except Sunday was the produce market. We knew we would be able to fend for ourselves pretty easily!

I found 2 places, one on the Dutch side and the other on the French. I contacted the owners and booked them about 2 months out. Since late May/early June is the off-season, I knew we would have no problems booking. Luckily we didn't, and we were able to secure our top 2 spots.

In regards to picking the dates, we knew we would want to spend the day after our wedding in Charlottesville with our friends & family, and drive back to Charlotte on Monday. We thought flying out Tuesday morning would be best, and we knew we wanted to be back by Friday so we would have the weekend to get back into the swing of things (read:CLEAN). This gave us 10 days in paradise, which was a perfect amount! We definitely lost track of time most days. Heaven.

:: Day 1 ::

We had something like a 9:30 AM flight from Charlotte, and we got in around 1:00 PM. We rented a car through Avis, and getting it was painless. There was a booth at the (very nice, big, clean) airport and then a shuttle picked us up and brought us to get the car less than a mile away. As soon as we stepped outside the airport, we were just so relieved to be on VACATION.

Connor drove while I navigated, and we made our way to our condo in Cupecoy, about a 10 minute drive from the airport. We were greeted by the condo manager and she gave us a tour of the 4 (!) floors. Our place was massive, but since it was off-season it was still in our budget. It had 1 bedroom + a garage on the first floor, 2 bedrooms on the 2nd floor, the kitchen/living room/big balcony was on the 3rd floor, and the pool and top floor master on the 4th floor. It was definitely way bigger than we needed, obviously. It even had a scary elevator! Imagine those tubes at the bank. You put your deposit slip in it and it gets sucked over to the teller...that was the design of the elevator! It was like a vacuum. Scary.

But! Look at our place!
 After we got the grand tour, we walked to the grocery store. We were FAMISHED and needed provisions. Luckily the store had just what we had in mind: bread, cheese, meat & BEER.
Here is our view from the top deck. Isn't it perfection?  That beach to the left is called Cupecoy beach, and it is a true old-school NUDE beach. More on that later.
Happy happy happy! Repping the wedding koozies

After a nice lazy afternoon by the pool, we went out to dinner. We drove to nearby Simpson Bay (20 minutes) where we knew there were a lot of restaurants to pick from. We decided to check out Lee's Roadside Grill. There was live music and a big grill right at the front of the restaurant, a good sign!
We ordered Conch fritters (YUM) to start
And then shared a whole grilled snapper. It was incredible! Side of steamed veggies and plantains. St. Martin knows how to grill things: fish, ribs, chicken. I would recommend eating anything from a place that has a grill (usually called a Lolo)
After we got home, we had a nightcap by our pool (a common theme) and then hit the hay! We knew we had a big day on Wednesday.

:: Day 2 ::

We woke up around 7 (which we did almost every day!) and Connor fixed coffee and bread/cheese for breakfast.

 Thank you husband!
 I said GOOD MORNING to the turquoise ocean. It was a perfect day!
 We decided to drive into Marigot to the Market and stock up on fruit and fish

I mean COME ON. Look at this view.
We purchased Mahi-Mahi/Dolphinfish steaks from this guy. It was a little later (9 ish) by the time we got to the fish market, so I know we missed a lot of the activity of the locals haggling over a lower price. That is always fun to watch! They were also sold out of a lot of stuff (namely lobster, which we wanted! Too bad).
Walking to the produce section
The vendors sell a lot of different products: spices, hot sauces, and flavored rums. We bought a bottle of the banana vanilla. It was delicious!
Vanilla beans were cheap here! The extract looked legit.
Yum. Plantains
Christophine (chayote), limes, pineapples, passionfruit. Lots of great selection!
Walking around...this was right at the marina where the ferry to Anguilla leaves from
You will be seeing this hat a lot. Sorry I'm not sorry I burn easily. (Dress & hat: Old Navy, Bag: Gap, Sunglasses: Asos)

There was also another kind of junky market with everything from sarongs/t shirts to chintzy jewelry. We did not get sucked in.
This was a hot sauce stand. They had all kind of flavors (pineapple, mango, papaya). St. Martin produces very minimal produce, but they grow Scotch Bonnet peppers out the wazoo apparently. Very hot sauce!
I think a lot of the spices came in from nearby islands: Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Anguilla, etc.
After a walk around the market, we saw a drink stand where a guy was selling coconuts. The original coconut water!
Free hand with that machete. Very talented
That was QUITE refreshing! We went to this place about 3 more times and it was always a good idea

We stopped into a little convenience store that sold the local Guavaberry Rum. The shop keeper let us try the flavored berry rum, but it was sweet like cough syrup. We decided on the 5-year aged rum. It wasn't flavored, and knew it would be masked by the fresh produce we got
St. Martin is very mountainous. This is Fort Louis, which is where the French fought the Dutch.
We walked up and down a few streets to get an idea of how the town was laid out. It was VERY French feeling, which surprised us! I guess since we are so far from France we didn't think it would have had such an influence but it certainly felt like a little southern French town
OLD buildings everywhere
More gorgeousness
We then got famished and popped into a bakery right across from the market: Sarafina's. Unfortunately, a cruise ship had apparently just docked and taken people to Marigot, so this place was jam packed! Wednesdays and Saturdays are when the cruise ships come in and the prices go UP UP UP!
I mean, I think I waited 30 minutes? Not ideal
I got us a pastry and a tuna nicoise baguette. We were ready to go home and eat!

Here are the spoils of the day: Taro, passion fruit, mangoes, limes, fish spice, rum, flavored rum, & hot sauce
And the Mahi-Mahi. We seasoned it liberally with the fish spice and let it marinate in the fridge
We got an olive loaf, 2 chocolate croissants (which got soggy on the way home, boo!) and this is THE GREATEST SANDWICH IN THE WORLD. Tuna, hard-boiled eggs, lettuce, tomato, onions, & nicoise olives on a baguette. We had more than our fair share of these
Lunch! Mango, passion fruit, & sandwich
After lunch, we braved the nude beach and went down to sit out. We only stayed for about 30 minutes because I was extremely uncomfortable with the nudists!
We went back to our place and made yummy rum drinks with pineapple & mango, hung out by the pool, and read for a while.

We then decided to go to Simpson Bay/Beacon Hill where they have a few bars right on the beach, and you watch the planes land right next to you! Literally, the planes come to like 30 feet above this beach. It is insane!

First stop: Driftwood. This bar is literally a boat turned into a bar. It was awesome!
We obviously ordered rum punches. These were STRONG
 We then walked the small stretch of beach to Sunset Bar & Grill for a final drink and to watch the sunset. Duh.

We then headed back home and fired up the grill. Connor cooked the Mahi-mahi steaks (basting in butter, as one does), and I fixed the Taro/Dasheen root according to how Olive (my market lady) told me. I don't think I have any pictures of the finished product. We must have been hungry (or tipsy)
After dinner we crashed. Stay tuned for more updates!

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Nikki said...

The condo you stayed in looks amazing! The view from your rooftop pool is awesome. Can't wait to see more pictures.

megan (girl by the lake) said...

This is such a great idea Mariel! You are going to love having these detailed recaps one day!

In other news, this trip looks amazing. I'm super jealous as I'm probably not even going to get a vacation this year (due to work...)! I can't wait to read more!

Jaclyn Larisa Youngquist said...

This looks absolutely amazing! Thank you so much for sharing. I'm actually going to show my husband and tell him we need to take a trip there! haha!


megan said...

So nice!! A nude beach would definitely make me feel uncomfortable, too.