Saturday, May 18, 2013

Sandals Grande Antigua Photobook

Shutterfly photo book

The bright orange package just came in the mail with my new Shutterfly photo book. Woohoo! I love having photo books of my travel pictures, and Shutterfly makes it so easy to put them together. You can choose from a large variety of layouts, backgrounds, fonts and embellishments. Shutterfly even recently added some neat new features, like two-page spreads and customizable layouts. I’m starting to have quite a collection of books!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Sandals Grande Antigua - Part 4


I woke up early and couldn’t go back to sleep, thinking about it being our last day and how much I still wanted to do. Why does vacation always seem to be one day too short??

We had the “Best of Antigua” tour scheduled for the morning. Our driver and tour guide, Fish, met us in the Caribbean lobby at 9 o’clock. He was an older gentleman who had been driving taxis since I was born, and he drove carefully and safely. He wasn’t very talkative but he did answer all of our questions and pointed things out along the way. Antigua is known as the land of 365 beaches (one for each day of the year) and Fish told us that we could have most of them all to ourselves. As we passed one beach, he commented that it was crowded that day. There were maybe five people on the beach. That was crowded? :-)

We drove past pineapple fields and Mount Obama, the highest point in Antigua at 1300 feet. As we started up into the mountains, it got cloudy and I was worried that we were going to have bad weather for our tour. Then I realized that we were in the rain forest. The road through the rain forest was called Fig Tree Drive because of all the bananas trees. The Antiguan word for banana is “fig”. Fish said that until he started traveling, he didn’t realize that bananas and figs were two different things.

pineapple fields
pineapple fields

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Sandals Grande Antigua - Part 3


By Tuesday we were ready to get off the resort and see some of the island, so we signed up for the Segway tour. We met in the Caribbean Grove lobby at 8:45. We were a small group – just 2 other couples from Ontario and Louisiana. It was a short ride to the Segway of Antigua office, where we all donned helmets and elbow pads, then watched an instructional video featuring a very clumsy stick figure that fell off his Segway a lot. Our tour guide, Yandeen, assured us that we wouldn’t be doing that much falling. :-)  Then it was time to practice with our Segways – getting on and off, turning and stopping. Ron and I were the only ones who had ridden a Segway before, but it didn’t take long before everyone was ready to go.

First we rode to Runaway Bay for a photo op of the beautiful deserted beach, passing some grazing horses and the ruins of an old sugar mill along the way. Then it was on to Fort James, built in 1706 to guard St John’s harbor from French invasion. The views from Fort James were spectacular, and I had a hard time tearing my eyes away long enough to snack on the fruit kabobs and sugar cane that the guides handed out. We had a little time to walk around or play on the Segways before it was time to head back. What an awesome tour! It was only 11:30 when we got back to Sandals but I was starving! All that fun makes you hungry. :-)  We picked up two pizzas to-go and ate them sitting on our balcony. Now that’s what I call vacation.

Runaway Bay
Runaway Bay

Saturday, May 4, 2013

More Sandals Grande Antigua Photos

Here are a few more pictures from around the resort

Cypress Building
Cypress Building

Sandals Grande Antigua - Part 2


I woke up early again and went out onto our balcony. A black and white kitty was sitting on the sidewalk below so I clucked at it. The next thing I knew, the cat was on the balcony! I was so surprised! It had jumped from our neighbor’s lounge chair to the top of the wall and then walked across the arbor. What a smart little cat. I petted it and it settled onto a chair for a bath and a nap. The resort seemed to have quite a few resident cats, many with a notch in one ear. Someone had mentioned in a Trip Advisor review that the notch meant the cat had been spayed. Good idea.

cat on balcony

Friday, May 3, 2013

Sandals Grande Antigua - Part 1

Sandals Grande Antigua first opened in 1991, but it was expanded 6 years ago. Now it has two distinct sections - the original “Caribbean Grove” side with cozy, gingerbread-trimmed buildings and lush gardens and the new “Mediterranean Village” side with a huge swimming pool and modern, luxurious rooms. It is like two resorts in one - the best of both worlds.

Saturday was a long day of traveling, starting when we left the house at 4:30. We had a 3-hour layover in Miami, and when we took off for Antigua, we could see the Port of Miami and the tiny cruise ships below. I thought of Mama and Daddy, who had just gotten off one of those ships that morning. The skies were clear over the Bahamas chain but by the time we landed at the VC Bird Airport, it was cloudy and drizzly. Booo! Finally, we made it to the resort and checked into our room. But surprise, it wasn’t the Caribbean Grove room we had booked. We had been upgraded to a second floor ocean view room in the Mediterranean section! The room was gorgeous. It had a king-sized 4-poster bed, a sitting area and a mini-bar stocked with water, soda, beer and several bottles of liquor. The bathroom had double sinks, a whirlpool tub and a separate shower with a “rain” shower head. From our small balcony we could just see the ocean beyond the main pool.
We unpacked and got showers, then wandered down to Bayside, on the Caribbean side of the resort, for dinner. The food was good (broccoli soup, seared scallops and mussels in white wine); the atmosphere was great. After dinner, we walked around the property, getting lost a couple of times in the Caribbean Grove. The tree frogs were out and singing loudly. I couldn’t wait to see the resort in daylight!

flying over the Bahamas