I was originally targeting THIS week for our mini-vacation, but decided against it in order to avoid St. Patrix Day in Montserrat, which, I kid you not, is a Big Deal there. A national holiday. So BOY did we luck out in getting in under the radar… if we had been booked to go this week, I guess we would have had to cancel.
As it is, I do feel that traveling through an extremely packed St. Maarten airport plus JFK on our return trip constituted the highest risk of exposure we faced or are likely to face, followed by just being around cruise ship passengers in Antigua. Oh well… we are following sensible guidelines currently in effect, i.e. frequent handwashing and no crowds, and we will upgrade if and when circumstances warrant.
Thank you for following our low-key jaunt!
Enough with the beach shots; here’s something completely different.
The real impetus for this whole trip was to go somewhere a) warm b) quickly and c) preferably with a volcano. Hence destination Montserrat, which had an eruption in the 1990s. You get to Montserrat from Antigua, hence Antigua.
So, day trip to Montserrat. Unlike Barbuda, Montserrat is a whole other country from Antigua. It’s part of the UK, whereas Antigua is independent. So there was check-in, customs, immigration, and embarkation fees. In both directions. On both sides. That took up half the day.
We had a tour guide in Montserrat, because among other things that buys you a permit to actually tour the former capital of Plymouth, buried by the volcano, abandoned, and now overgrown. We got to walk all over the ex-town and look at the ruins. Hence the toilet shot above.
Montserrat’s other claim to fame is Air Studios, a recording studio founded by Sir George Martin (the Beatles’ George Martin) and birthplace of some famous 80s albums like Dire Straits’ Brothers in Arms and some Police albums. The studio’s abandoned but we did stop at a café which is kind of a little shrine to Air Studios memorabilia.
Well worth the trip. A very lovely and peaceful place.
Day 5 we made a day trip to Barbuda. This was about 2 hours away by catamaran ferry. Barbuda is part of the same sovereign nation as Antigua.
I am not up on my hurricane history, and my guidebook is apparently more than 3 years old; so I was unaware that Barbuda was devastated in 2017 by Hurricane Irma. So it was a little bit bleak.
Nevertheless we visited a cave, boated right up to a large colony of frigate birds, had a delicious local lunch, and went to a beach, which is legally required. Above, a view from just inside the cave.
I am feeling more and more grateful I made this trip while it was still possible to go anywhere.
Day 4 was more of a driving-around day and not as much of a beachy-day. And I’ve already posted so much beach, I was going to post a non-beach photo. But look! I’m drinking a coconut!
We enjoy long walks on the beach.
We started the first full day with a city food tour. It was an excellent way to get to know our way around the local food. We had a traditional Antiguan breakfast, Antiguan beer, mussels over polenta which they call “fungi”, fresh fruit smoothies, chicken roti, treats and sweets. Yet it was paced and portioned well enough that we felt full but still functional.
Our hotel was walking distance to the beach, although we had to walk past the stinky Sandals garbage area to get there (not shown).
Welcome! This past week Xopher and I made a trip to the Caribbean on only about one month’s worth of planning – very spur of the moment for us! The destination was Montserrat, which had a volcanic eruption in 1996, but due to Montserrat’s relative lack of amenities (see: volcanic eruption in 1996), we spent the bulk of the week on the lovely island of Antigua!
We arrived on the first of March. We went to a party recommended by the guidebook, said to be frequented by tourists and locals alike due to its booking the best steelpan and reggae bands on the island. It was packed and touristy when we arrived, but it cleared out.
Harbor lights from the venue, called Shirley Heights: