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krisek Castries - A travel report by Krys
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Castries,  St. Lucia - flag St. Lucia -  Castries
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krisek's travel reports

Lush & pretty on a very rainy day. Saint Lucia.

  9 votes
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Saint Lucia is famous for its two peaks rising from the sea, its lush vegetation, rolling green hills, relaxed atmosphere and small beaches. But what is there to do on a very rainy day? So bad that the famous peaks are actually not visible at all?


Pitons in the rain
Pitons in the rain
Castries is a small, reasonably unattractive and unspecial capital of the independent island nation of St Lucia, named after Saint Lucy of Syracuse. The island belonged to the native Carib people and was fought over between the French and the British several times with the British eventually winning in the 19th century, but many names on the island derive from French. The nation recognises Queen Elizabeth II as their head of state since it is a Commonwealth realm.

The island is very mountainous with highest peak, Mount Gimie, standing 950 meters. But two other mountains, the Pitons made St Lucia famous. They stand between Choiseul and Soufriere, where a drive-in volcano, Sulfur Springs is located, too.

St Lucia is small and there is not much to do there, apart from hiking in the mountains and baking on the beaches. I could do the former but not the latter, as I am not a beach creature. Sadly, my short escapade to island, was an unfortunate disaster. It rained most of the time and the clouds obscured mountain views. Completely! There was no visibility. So, I took remarkably small number of pictures and could not do any hiking at all. Can you imagine my disappointment when setting off from Castries, which was cloudy and windy but dry I found myself completely drained at the most important view on the island - at the UNESCO-listed Pitons? Ah, not only could I not take out my camera but also there was absolutely no view! White thick clouds of rain covered the mountains so thoroughly that I was looking at milky mist. I lingered a little at the hyper overpriced restaurant listening to the rain banging on the tin roof and hoping it was going to clear a little. In fact, it did for one minute. Literally for about sixty seconds! Then, rather frantically, I took a few extremely average shots, which returned images representing silhouettes of the two gracious peaks and lush green vegetation below the point where I was standing.

Favourite spots:
Still raining
Still raining
Even the polite personnel of the restaurant were quite disappointed to see me this chagrined. I waited over hour and weather did not change a bit! I told the taxi driver to take me back to my hotel area, which was extremely boring. It was located at a hill, north of Castries fortunately not too far from a marina by the Rodney Bay lined up with restaurants, bars, yacht harbour and the Reduit Beach. It only took about three quarters of an hour to walk there.

The beach was short and very busy with people from two of the posher hotels by it. It was surprising to find it there, actually. The sand was powdery and unexpectedly pale for a volcanic island. It was not the best beach I have seen by far, but it made my day on this miserable day. I lingered on the beach and watched how the barely visible sun was going down behind the multiple layers of clouds. I really was just killing time, but this sandy stretch of land had become my favourite spot.

What's really great:
And still raining
And still raining
Earlier, as I was travelling on the serpentine coastal road to the famous Pitons, I noted a consistent features of the West Indians. The ladies with full figures, very proud of their curves and bottoms, and very fit guys with washboard abs. And yes, I saw a few exceptions from this rule, too - extremely fit girls and fat funny-looking lads lingering in villages and shopping centres. I also saw boys with big bananas. Saint Lucia produced a number of different kinds of bananas. I was driving through banana plantations and the lads were standing at the edge of the road inviting all for making business with them. I heard that these bananas were cheap - US$1 for a bunch. A big bunch. I thought it was a very good deal, despite the fact that I did not really want any bananas. They were good value and I would support the guys’ local business.

The scenery was spectacular, the lush vegetation, the small winding roads allowing for fabulous views.

Sights:
Snake boy
Snake boy
I met a man with a big snake. I am not sure what snake that was but at least I took a picture. I heard that there were many snakes on St Lucia but only two species were dangerously venomous.

I was very pissed off with weather, because when I came back to the hotel the visibility was fine. It was raining every three minutes, but the rain was thin. I was standing on an empty roof of the hotel and cursing everything. I decided to go down to the marina and have a drink. And throw a nice spicy meal on top of it.

As I was taking some money from a cash machine, a young man approached me and said that he could not help staring at my huge and sexy camera. He actually wanted to buy it off me right there, right then. What a silly man! He approached me after I got my cash... He should have been quicker! I obviously had to refuse this rather ridiculous proposal. I needed my toy. On St Lucia, I could not use it for the Pitons, Pigeon Island NP, drive-in volcano, Sulfur Springs, or other sights.

Accommodations:
The Reduit Beach
The Reduit Beach
I booked my accommodation through travellerspoint.com using my phone's Opera web-browser when I was already on St Maarten. The three star hotel on a hill on the way towards the Gros Islet overlooking the Rodney Bay. The rooms were nothing special and I do not have details of the place, but there is nothing to write home about. I searched this venue over the Internet again and I could not find it. Perhaps it does not exist anymore. Just as well, they did not want to honour the on-line rate I pre-paid via travellerspoint.com. So, it is better that I do not advertise them on this site.

St Lucia is not shy on accommodations. There is plenty to choose from and almost for all budgets but the very 'on-the-shoestring' one. There are a few $35 options in towns far from the beaches. And of course the beaches (and there are not that many!) offer the $400+ hotels complete with spas and all-inclusive packages. It is easy to take a pick.

Nightlife:
Sunset on the Reduit Beach
Sunset on the Reduit Beach
Around the marina at the Rodney Bay had some great and lively places to party. There was even an English and an Irish pubs. And a lot more. Like many marinas around the world. It was really hard not to have a great time there. The variety and number of places guaranteed that. One of the streets was called Flamboyant Drive! Well, many of the party spots were less than flamboyant but there were a few, which were. Ha! The only slight problem, or a potential problem, was with the crowd. The proximity of some of the posh hotels did not always guarantee the friendliest people in the world, but perhaps on the first approach. Deeper into the night and the situation always improved slightly. And yes, it depended how friendly you were...

Fortunately, most people on the island were laid back and the visitors were on holiday, which meant that both wanted to have a good time. It was great to feel that vibe in the air, regardless of the type of the bar or club you visited.

Hangouts:
Sand of the Reduit Beach
Sand of the Reduit Beach
I did obviously step inside one of the beach bars, those that did not necessarily resemble an English pub, for a drink, like I promised myself. I had a beer. I did not like it. It was too warm, like in England. I think the bar might be English after all. Whereas Britain is never hot, warm beer does not matter that much to the Britons. In the Caribbeans, it sometimes gets rather hot and warm beer just does not do it! It definitely did not then. And I wanted to cheer up after spending an entire day in the rain trying to admire scenery that I could not see. I am not complaining. I know that weather can be sometimes hard. When I am in my discovery mode in a place I visit for the first time, I dot get bothered that much. A nice, cold drink (or mulled wine in a cold place like Tallinn in November) in a nice place usually makes it up. So, I quickly switched places and got something else instead. It was another bar and I asked for extra ice. The sun was just about to hide below the horizon.

Restaurants:
Simple households of the southern St Lucia
Simple households of the southern St Lucia
Soon after my second drink was over, without caring how early it was, I moved back towards the main street of Rodney Bay to grab some really spicy food, hoping to get a really cold drink with it, too.

Sadly, there were no Thai restaurants around. The closest to my favourite Thai cuisine, I saw Chinese and Indian. I checked the Indian menu and it was terrible. I had two Chinese restaurants as alternative options. I went to the one that branded itself as Hong Kong related - it was the Memories of Hong Kong. It had traditional decor and the main terrace offered plenty of breeze.

I ordered cold beer and four different dishes. The waitress could not believe when I ordered them. If I remember well, I had won-ton soup, broccoli in oyster and garlic sauce, Sichuan prawns and curry chicken. The the entire bunch of waitresses could not believe me shoving it all up within twenty five minutes. When I said that I was full and did not want any desert, they believed that. The food was yummy.

Other recommendations:
View from the L’Express des Îles ferry
View from the L’Express des Îles ferry
The very next morning I took a ferry for a day trip to Martinique. The harbour was very primitive and the terminal was rather scary. I wanted to escape St Lucia, because weather was getting on my nerves. The only real option was a day trip to Martinique, as on the end of the day, I had a flight to Barbados. The French ferry company, L’Express des Îles, which I wanted to take from Dominica to Guadeloupe, for the same reason - rain, ran regular services from Saint Lucia, to Martinique, Dominica and Guadeloupe. The ferries were modern and fast. The €60 crossing was taking about an hour between each island. It was a great trip. The crossing was rough and many passengers, totally green, puked their guts out!

St Lucia was better connected by air than other islands. LIAT flew to St Vincent, Barbados, Martinique, Dominica, Antigua and Trinidad. Their prices were reasonable, too starting from $40. Sometimes they offer an island hopping coupon, too. It is worth checking out.

Published on Saturday August 30th, 2008


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Tue, Sep 09 2008 - 05:34 PM rating by bootlegga

I don't like warm beer either...great report!

Wed, Sep 03 2008 - 07:34 PM rating by jorgesanchez

muy bien, amigo

Wed, Sep 03 2008 - 06:10 AM rating by davidx

Great stuff again. I am glad you not choose the one photographic minute for a toilet trip!

Mon, Sep 01 2008 - 12:00 PM rating by rangutan

Excellent report. Very useful for Caribic island hoppers. [4.75]

Sat, Aug 30 2008 - 03:55 PM rating by eirekay

Hiking the mountains and baking on the beach sounds pretty good to me! Great report with tons of detail!

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