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krisek Saint George - A travel report by Krys
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Saint George,  Grenada - flag Grenada -  Saint George
11524 readers

krisek's travel reports

Slowly rising and rebuilding but showing scars.

  13 votes
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Grenada must one of the more complete Caribbean islands. It has grand beaches, impenetrable tropical forests and mountains, lively local communities, colonial architecture and really friendly inhabitants. Plus, an interesting history.

Local haircut
Local haircut
I arrived on Grenada during the hours of darkness and was slightly annoyed with the taxi driver, who was flirting with a lady while I was waiting with my entire luggage to board the car. He was stopping on the way to deal with his business and overcharged me! Well, I know how the taxi drivers were around the world, so I did not let this get in the way of what l thought about the island.

What I wanted to say was that since I came at night, I did not see much on the way from the airport, which would be my first glance of the island. The next morning, when I went back to the capital, I was happy to admire the mountains and lush vegetation. The roads were narrow and winding, offering spectacular views indeed.

Grenada is one of the smallest countries on the Western Hemisphere, but it managed to stun the entire world with the brutality of the People's Revolutionary Army and the New Jewel Movement, two competing political forces, which led to the US intervention, supported by certain Caribbean nations.

The capital, Saint George's, was founded in the middle of the 17th century by the French, who contributed to the main trend in the island's architecture until the British took over the island in 1880 following the 1763 Treaty of Paris. Now, there is a good mix of the French-influenced and the Georgian styles. In 2004, the Hurricane Ivan devastated the island, which for decades had been spared by storms. Not only was 90% of all buildings damaged but also the nutmeg plantations, so crucial to Grenada's economy. The capital was almost levelled. As soon as the reconstruction efforts began, Hurricane Emily of 2005 hit, but affected mostly the northern parts. When I visited at the beginning of 2006, the devastation was still largely seen in the city.

This report is about Saint George's and its vicinity only and not about the entire island.

Favourite spots:
La Sagesse Beach
La Sagesse Beach
The beach at La Sagesse was excellent and my favourite spot. Not only mine! Many locals and travellers, who did not stay on the beach, kept coming. Usually for spectacular sunsets. The beach was a little narrow at high tide but the sand was soft and hundreds of palmtrees provided shade if necessary. I could not believe that the place had been a complete ruin after one of the hurricanes, which devastated the island a few years back. It was partially restored and superb! Although it might have been slightly larger before the damage.

Most of the time, the beach was empty. Only from time to time, boys would play on the palmtrees and teenagers would play cards under the trees. I also met a professional photographer in the middle of a photo session for a local female model. Occasionally, water fowl would fly low in nice formations, increasing the attractiveness of the beach.

What's really great:
Boys playing with a leaning palmtree
Boys playing with a leaning palmtree
Two mid-size cruise ships moored in the port and taxi drivers were going mad. I later realised that passengers from the cruise ships normally went to the beach at Grand Anse, south of the capital. So, I went there, to check it out.

The Grand Anse beach was fine with nice sands and plenty of room. However, much of the space was taken. I mean the place was busy. Not only was it a place for tourists staying at the nearby hotels, but also the cruise ships unloaded their human cargo there.

Two or three hotels directly on the beach, with beach bar facilities provided the necessary snacks and drinks. In addition there was a cheap (low quality) craft market, of course, where one could also get drinks and simple food.

Local guys tried to make some money by offering a provisional waiting service. They cruised around deck chairs on the beach with a list of items they could fetch on a tray from the bars. I think it was quite clever. I saw many people used this service happily and frequently.

Two different faces of clocks at a tower in the capital
Two different faces of clocks at a tower in the capital
I took a local minibus to the capital town, St. George's. It was completely packed with fifty percent more people than there were seats. However it was twenty times cheaper than taking a taxi. And I could experience the local way of travelling.

As I saw the picturesque towns of Grenada, Nicaragua and Granada, Spain, I expected St. George's of Grenada to be photogenic, too. And it was. There were two great churches, fabulously restored parliamentary (York House) and governmental buildings, Governor General Residence & Fort Frederick.

The town was situated on several hills and at a natural sea harbour. It exhibited fine examples of Georgian architecture as well as more 'tropical' buildings. However, a few buildings, including at least three churches, required fundamental repair. Part of the town, near the fishing harbour, looked little England with its red brick buildings. But the large central market, where one could buy anything and everything, but mainly, fruit was the most animated.

Beach at the La Sagesse Lodge
Beach at the La Sagesse Lodge
The evening at my beach was great. A few boys played football on the beach and swam in the sea. A pretty girl was posing for a lady photographer who was taking her job very seriously and got wet by huge waves flooding the beach at random. I thought it was a little too much with this posing. I might not understand the idea of professional photographing, but taking hundreds of shots of the same pose in the course of two hours seemed a bit ridiculous.

Later, hordes of people arrived to shoot Gigabytes of photographs of the beach. I had to wait a longer while before my frame was free of people. And it was significantly darker than I wanted it to be, because the crowds came for the sunset.

I lingered on the beach for a longer while and took a few photographs of the late sunset. I missed a great shot of low flying line of birds, but I guess it was already too dark to take it anyway.

All this was just inches from my room at the La Sagesse Country Inn (~$120), a perfectly secluded hotel.

Church with no roof in the capital
Church with no roof in the capital
I met a young, very good looking couple there, Allan and Lakisha, who tried to escape everyone and spend some time together as the lad had a day off. The evening was perfect for it, whatever they were up to, hehe.

They later joined me for dinner during which I found that Lakisha somehow lost her earrings... :)

We spoke a little about life, the universe and everything. They were good people, although Lakisha was a little infantile and sounded somewhat immaturely arrogant. She was very young indeed. It was a great experience to meet the locals and chat over drinks.

Eventually the restaurant closed down and we were faced with a challenge to get Allan and Lakisha home. Buses did not run anymore and neither the taxi drivers, whom the hotel or I knew, were available. I had to ask the hotel security guard to drive my guests home. All worked fine. It was a good evening.

In the capital, I spotted a few bars near the market and the cruisers landing.

A restored part of the colonial centre of St. George's
A restored part of the colonial centre of St. George's
I thought I found myself lucky to be in St. George's on Saturday, a day of fruit market. The town square was crammed with vendors selling not only fruit and produce but also spices, clothing, and illegal CDs and DVDs. There were also a few booths providing beer-based refreshments - and those were equally popular. I found a liquor shop where I got my favourite Angostura 1824 rum. To hang around in the market was great. Everyone wanted to chat and was so friendly, particularly at the weekend, when they could allow themselves for a few drinks, kill time and do nothing.

The fishing harbour was also a great place to linger. Some boats ran organised tours to nearby islets, but the fishing boats were more interesting. The fishermen usually attended to their nets and engines, but they were also very friendly and easy to chat to. From the harbour there was also a great view towards the hills of the capital city, often labelled as one of the most dramatic locations of a Caribbean capital.

Centre of the capital
Centre of the capital
I got myself a drink at the Grand Anse beach and sat down near the craft market by three guys who smoked, what was smelling like, marijuana. We chatted a little. They were very friendly. They asked me how my day had been and what they could do to make it better. I think they meant the smoke...

Anyway, the beach at La Sagesse was much, much better (although much less animated) so I decided to go back to my hotel. The only transport option directly from the beach was a taxi. Actually many taxi drivers kept asking me when I was going back to my ship. They could not believe that I had not come on a cruiser. The competition was fierce and had no problem negotiating a good deal. In fact, it was so good that I decided to give the man, named Matthew, a job to take me to the airport the next morning. He was very happy. He gave me his mobile number and said that I should not worry, because he lived nearby.

I ate at the La Sagesse Restaurant, which cooked fabulous meals right at the beach.

Other recommendations:
The fishing harbour of St. George's
The fishing harbour of St. George's
In the morning, extremely early I might add, I was stunned to see that my taxi driver come on time. Five minutes ahead of time, actually. However, I had made contingent arrangements with the security guard again. Well, it was him who asked me if he could take me to the airport just in case, while I was waiting at the gate. There were a few other cars around at the gate and I kept it cool. It did not change the fact that public transport only ran during sociable hours, unless one considers taxis as a form of public transport, too.

The airport of Saint George's is not very well connected with other islands. This is the case for the majority of Caribbean capitals, actually. But Saint George's is remarkably linked with the relatively remote Puerto Rico, probably due to certain historical reasons.

Published on Sunday August 24th, 2008

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Wed, Sep 03 2008 - 02:17 AM rating by davidx

Most informative

Mon, Sep 01 2008 - 07:52 AM rating by rangutan

Island life well presented. Casual place, casual report! [4.55]

Sun, Aug 24 2008 - 11:45 PM rating by mistybleu

I have a soft sport for Caribbean reports; this was an enjoyable read. Thanks

Sun, Aug 24 2008 - 11:09 AM rating by eirekay

As always, great photos and a very insightful text! A marvelous report!

Sun, Aug 24 2008 - 08:12 AM rating by jorgesanchez

very informative report and useful for the travellers.

Sun, Aug 24 2008 - 07:13 AM rating by wojtekd

Great, very long report. Maybe requires also a list of the island's highligts?... I have beeen there and I think they use the name St Georges not St George's (French heritage?...?)

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