27th November 2014
Last stop on this side of the Atlantic before we head home.
First impressions are that Hamilton is nowhere near as commercial as Nassau, and considering the people who live here it probably doesn’t need to be. This is most definitely the playground of the rich and famous, and when they’ve finished playing they head back to their multi-million pound houses which cover the island. The rich and famous live side by side with the rich and not so famous in properties that dominate the skyline or beachfront, and you can get on a boat which will take you to gawp with envy.
Not for us though as we’re heading off towards the Botanical Gardens to see what’s on offer in the flora and fauna department, and as it’s a warm (but not overly hot) day the walk is very pleasant.
We pass a life sized bronze statue of ‘Johnny Barnes’ which is supposed to depict the spirit of Bermuda, it is very good. It was designed by a sculptor named Fountain, who incidentally designed several other pieces around the island including…yes you guessed it…a fountain.
The walking up the hill we enter the ‘Medical’ district. What a great idea to have all the different clinics and speciality healthcare services centred around the main hospital, there’s even the local branches of Red Cross ad St John Ambulance here as well. This would be a great place for any medical student to do their ‘elective’ placement…not that we know anybody like that!!!
The Botanical Gardens are really pleasant to stroll around with lots of singing birds and ‘spooky’ shaped trees to photograph….just brilliant.
Then we head off to the fort, which is a bit of a climb but well worth the effort. You can see the amount of effort that was put into digging out the underground tunnels here, and the guns are enormous. Oh and the views are just the best.
The cathedral is pretty and the town gardens are fascinating (or the other way round if you prefer) but the one major downside to this peaceful haven is it’s very expensive. To be fair a lot of the people who live here aren’t short of a bob or two, but when you compare the prices we’ve been used to at previous stops it’s very different. But then it costs nothing to browse and no one hassles you for a sale, it’s all good, and the locals just love to chat.
16th November 2014
St Lucia…one Piton or two?
We have very fond memories of previous trips to this lush green island. It’s friendly people, beautiful vistas and pristine beaches could make the weariest of travellers find a new lease of life. We’ve already done the party catamaran to see the Pitons, taxi ride to Soufriere, the hot springs and an unforgettable trip to the Diamond Falls and botanical gardens.
This time we’ve opted for a trip out to Mamiku Gardens on the eastern coast overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. First up though is the taxi ride to get there and here is where the reference to the rollercoaster begins.
St Lucia’s roads are serious stuff and as the engine of the bus we’re in whines its protest up a virtually impossible slope there is a very strong smell of hot metal and we all start wonder if we’re going to make it to the top…….
Then we finally reach the brow of the hill and are greeted with the scariest view of the downward incline we’re about to negotiate and you can hear our fellow travellers praying the brakes work well…..or just work would be good.
Anyhow….after around forty five minutes of stomach churning up and down lurching we arrive at the entrance to the gardens which are perched on the side of a hill.
And what a treat awaited us…firstly we are introduced to our guide, a nice lady (and I mean a proper lady) who is not only the gardener responsible for the landscaping and layout of this place, but she’s also the owner.
Veronica Shingleton Smith is a gem and as she directs us around her creation she imparts her wealth of knowledge about the shrubs, trees and flowers she has grown gracefully old with. They are her babies and she will even tell you how many flowers each of them produced in past years…..incredible.
Add to that all the information she gives us about how the islanders use this vegetation to ward off or cure certain afflictions then suddenly we’re all very interested.
There are pungent leaves to infuse for headaches or gastric upsets. Tamarind which they juice to lower blood pressure, a leaf the men chew to ward off prostate problems and finally we arrive at the Noni tree.
Now there are many claims made about the health benefits of consuming the fruit of the Noni tree and the stories told by VSS would appear to endorse these theories. I will just say that I agree totally with this sweet lady’s statement that science will probably discover in the natural world the cure for just about everything.
We got to sample some of the tamarind juice along with a couple of very strong rum punches at the end of the tour, and I have to add that the couple of hours we were there flew by thanks to the very enjoyable company of Veronica.
Mamiku only ranks as #41 on Trip Advisor things to do in St Lucia…it should be higher….a really good half days tour.
Back in Castries and, yep you guessed it, it’s beer o’clock.
It’s a hot day, with a few tropical showers included for good measure, so some serious fluid replacement is required.
And that was it really…not much happened but we did have a really good visit. So once again we bid goodbye to another of our favourite islands and dream of many happy returns.