Monday, February 6, 2017

Christmas Day on St. Barth

It's Christmas and we're on St. Barth!  Beautiful island, pulling into the harbor, riding the tender in, exploring the streets.  We are clearly in France and love it.  No wonder the rich and famous hang out here for the holidays!  The Gustavia harbor is full of large yachts and the Star Legend has to anchor far out, with a long tender ride to town.

The tender weaves between the huge yachts and the ship's second officer, who is going ashore with us, tells us that three of the largest are owned by a rich Russian and are full of his various family members.  Just after that, a jet ski whizzes by by the tender, driven by a young woman, followed closely by a speedboat with three men in bulletproof vests standing and watching closely.  The second officer turns to us and says, "bodyguards."

The harbor is full of yachts

 Next to the terminal are more yachts and the main street

 The Church at the port on Christmas Day

 We first walk through the town (only a few blocks), along the harbor, then cut over to Shell Beach, a short walk from the harbor and covered with millions of shells.  We should have brought our swim suits, the beach, water, and bay are so inviting, complete with beach walkers, swimmers, topless sunbathers (we are in France), and free wifi.

 Shell Beach

 We wander back into town and find an open bar for an afternoon beer.  As we enjoy the holiday crowd and the great bistro atmosphere (and, more free wifi), much of the rest of the ship wanders in and fills the remaining seats.

 Hanging at the bistro

As the shops start to open, we stick our heads into a few and find incredible French shirts (for me) and sweatshirts (for Laura and Jennifer), acquired to take home, with a great, helpful saleswoman. But, enough shopping, we wonder what is on the other side of the island, and away we go.

We catch a taxi over the hill, past the airport, and wander onto another great beach, just past the airport.


Airport at end of beach, great fencing!

After a stroll up and down the beach, we wander into the bar at the Eden Rock and order a bottle of Champagne (did I mention it is Christmas?).

 Table in the bar, looking at the beach

Merry Christmas!

We have a great chat with our server, who is Italian, worked in Paris for a few years, and then moved to St. Barth.  What a life!  She tells us that if she works in St. Barth for five years, she can move back to France and live tax free as an incentive to get people to work in the territories.  What a great deal! And, I got to practice both my French and my Italian!  And, if this is what modern European young women are, sign us all up for the reincarnation!

After our drink, our taxi comes back to pick us up and return us to the terminal to catch our shuttle back to the ship.  While we're waiting for the taxi, someone famous, we think from the New York Giants, picks up his car from the valet (our star sighting for the day - they're all here, hello People Magazine photographer).

Christmas decorations outside Eden Rock

 Other end of the airport as we head up the hill toward Gustavia

Views of Gustavia and the harbor as we descend

 Setting sun in St. Barth harbor

 And, as a special Christmas treat, the crew sings Christmas Carols for us all.

Choral crew

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