If you've been wondering where we've been (probably not) we took a long-awaited, much needed vacation to the Virgin Islands. It's the first time since our honeymoon that Christian and I have been on a vacation without the kiddos. My parents gave us one of their timeshare weeks for Christmas last year, so we planned this trip to the the US Virgin Islands. We stayed at the new Marriott resort there, Frenchman's Cove. I wrote a really detailed journal of it all, but will spare you some of the boring details. I'm just copying and pasting here from that. Oh, and I'm going to do it in two or three parts for those of us with ADD.
Our flight left really early on Friday morning and we got in to St. Thomas, Virgin Island around 9pm, so we were pretty worn out and hungry. On the drive to the hotel, we were both a little surprised by how 3rd world-ish it seemed. I mean, it is technically part of the US. At the hotel, the guy at the front desk recommended a place to eat that was close so we headed straight there. When we looked at the menus, we were shocked to see how much the food cost! It was $14 for a chicken burger at this little restaurant. And, we would soon discover that this was one of the cheapest places on the island. So, we both went for the special that night at $8-10 for a burger. I couldn't even eat half of it being that I haven't consumed that much red meat in almost 2 years. And, the last time I ate a hamburger that size, I got sick. Anyway, our waiter was awesome and sat down and wrote down all the best beaches and all the other worthwhile things to do on the island.
After dinner, we went back to our hotel. I knew that it would be nice, but I had no idea how big and nice it would be. The kitchen was all granite, there were 2 big bedrooms, and dining area, a sitting area, 3 TV's, 2 big bathrooms, and 2 porches. Everything was SOOO nice and cozy. It was going to hard to leave the room! When I woke up the next morning, I went straight to the window. Wow. Wow. Wow. Not only did we have an incredible view, but it was absolutely BEAUTIFUL! We were surrounded by beautiful beaches, with green, rolling, tree-covered hills everywhere. I could see straight through the water at the beach from our hotel room, more than 5 stories up. This place was stunning and I wanted to see as much of it as possible. You have to know that I have always dreamed of going to a place that has white sand beaches with clear, blue water. You might think this is crazy, but it seriously was on my life checklist so it was that much more gratifying for me. After we got the essentials (food and snorkel gear) in town, we went back to the hotel and got into our swimsuits and headed down to the pool and beach. The resort pool was nice, but the ocean was too incredible to pass up. We started snorkeling right away. I just could not get over how clear the water was. I could see straight down to the bottom as if I were swimming in a pool. The water was so warm, too. The snorkeling right next to our hotel wasn't the greatest, but we still saw some coral and fish and Christian got a conch shell for Oliver. We spent the rest of the day lounging in the pool, hot tub, and beach. After a day of swimming, we got dressed and headed out to explore the entire Marriott complex (which included our resort, a hotel, and beach homes along with more pools and restaurants). We ended up at Havana Blue, a famous restaurant on the island that's also been featured in Gourmet magazine and other places. We decided to splurge and eat there. It was good, but nothing to write home about. The atmosphere was so nice, though. It was open-air and right on the beach with these pretty drapes flowing in the wind and blue lights everywhere.
The next day was Sunday so we found the local branch about 20 minutes away and went to church. It was such a sweet, spirit-filled branch. It was Fast Sunday so we heard the sweetest, most humble testimonies from the members there. There's nothing like being in a place like this that reminds me of how blessed I am. These people have very little and live such simple lives and I have so much and still find reasons to complain. Everyone there was so welcoming and nice and I could tell that they loved having visitors. Christian and I were both so touched by the spirit we felt there.
After church, we decided to drive around the island to look at all the beaches so we could decide how to spend our time the rest of the week. It was really neat to drive around almost the whole island (it's only 32 square miles) and really get a better feel for St. Thomas and the culture there. We saw some amazing, picturesque beaches. We drove through Charlotte Amalie (the capital) and learned a little about the history there. The US bought the Virgin Islands (well, about half of them, Great Britain owns half) from the Danes in 1917 during WWI. Blacks were brought here in the slave trade and so they mostly occupied the island. Now, it's a melting pot of people from all over the world. They speak English and there's a lot of Spanish-speakers as well, but the people that live here kind of talk like Jamaicans. They definitely have their own dialect. We were told that it's a relatively safe island if you stay out of certain areas, but that the locals know better than to mess with tourists b/c that's the main source of income for the people on the island. So, we felt safe the whole time and people were VERY nice. After our island tour, we came home and read for a few hours as we watched the sun set out by the beach. Christian found some crabs and was trying to determine whether they were connected to the shells they crawled around in. Don't worry, I wouldn't let him go too far in his testing. He was sure to boil all the shells he brought back to our room b/c a lady scared us out on the beach with her tales of bringing shells home with things still living in them!
View from a balcony in our resort down to the beach below. The dark areas in the water is where the coral was.