Friday, February 15, 2008
Vacation Day 6: Not Enough History
Wednesday morning was cloudy and warm, and the ship was docked at St. Thomas by the time we awoke. Mom & Annabel were scheduled for a catamaran ride & snorkeling excursion, I was going to be on a "historical walking tour" of St. Thomas, and the rest of the family had a tentative plan to walk around the shops and spend time at the pool.
St. Thomas was beautiful, and I had high hopes of learning about the island. The bus took us from the dock to several overlook points.
At the first stopping point, in addition to the gorgeous view, there were guinea hens walking around.
There were chickens and a truck labeled "Joe's Fresh Fried Chicken."
There were gorgeous flowers.
There was a bus with a tag from my home state on it for some reason!
I was brave and had someone take my picture despite the fact that I looked awful.
Then we got to Blackbeard's Castle, and the disappointment started. Granted, there's a statue of Blackbeard and a big tower.
There are also lots of pirate statues on the grounds of what is now the Blackbeard's Castle Hotel, with interesting tidbits on them.
But the "tour" consisted of setting us loose in restored houses (2 of them), giving out five or six factoids, and exiting through the gift shop. I did see a very early version of a recliner, which was cool.
The biggest disappointment was the "rum factory." Despite the lovely exterior, it was purely a gift shop designed to sell tax-free booze and tourist tchotkes, and it was over-air-conditioned to the point of pain.
The "tour" was decent exercise, because we descended all the way down the hill via various stone steps. Still, I was pretty disappointed that it was more shopping than history. Mom & Anabel, on the other hand, had a wonderful time on their excursion. At least if we do this again, I know what to sign up for!
The tour ended at 11:30, and the bus back to the ship was scheduled to pick us up at 1:00. Clearly, the point of ninety minutes in Charlotte-Amalie was to get us to shop for jewelry and electronics. I got rained on, picked up a couple of presents from the open marketplace, and then shared a taxi back to the boat with a family that had been on the tour with me.
When I got back to our stateroom, Dad was still asleep and Rosa hadn't had a chance to clean the room yet. I bullied him out of bed and upstairs for lunch, and then when he couldn't reach Jeeves at his stateroom, I offered to take him shopping to get the watch he'd wanted to buy. I'd planned on a shower and a nap for my afternoon, but when Dad asked about it, I said, "I can nap every day. How often do I get to go shopping with my dad?"
In addition to the downtown shops, there were quite a few near the ships. It was about a two minute walk, and we stopped at the first jewelry store. We looked at the men's watch selection, and the saleslady asked if she could help. Dad asked if they had Seiko watches, and the woman replied that they only carried Citizen. She then said, "See the ones with the green tags? They are ecologically good, they run on light."
Dad asked if they had quartz movement, and she said, "No battery--they run only on light, any kind of light. Maybe if you leave in a drawer for two, tree monts dey die and you have to hold dem up to a lahmp." Dad decided to keep looking. He had better luck a few stores down, and not only did he find himself a gorgeous Tissot watch, he had a lively discussion with the store manager about watchmaking, the history of watches and watch repair (Dad worked for a clockmaker/repairman in high school). I excused myself, went to the store full of touristy stuff next door, and bought postcards plus two light-up shark keychains for my nephews, since I'd gotten my niece a pin the day before.
Dad & I walked back to the ship, and I had my shower while he read, played on the computer and enjoyed his new watch. I was just about to take my nap when Mom came back from her excursion, all happy and damp and tired. She said the only thing wrong with the catamaran sail & snorkeling is that the exercise made her thirsty and the only thing offered right after snorkeling was free rum punch!
So she had 2 pina coladas instead. *giggle*
That evening, Jeeves treated Mom & Dad & I to drinks in the piano bar before dinner. I had a lovely Kir Royale, which was pretty much my drink of choice for the cruise. Dinner was lovely as always, and I slept like a rock.