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Last week I left you hanging from St. Maarten. This week, I will finish the job about my trip to Anguilla. For all the new people who signed up this week, let me update you: I got a great deal cashing in 35,000 Continental One Pass Miles for a LAX-EWR-SXM-ANU-EWR-LAX trip that totaled 8,498 miles. Not bad, huh?
Well getting there was only half the adventure.
Electricity is 110-volt AC, so no need to bring any adapters.
Taxes: The government collects an 8% tax on rooms and a departure tax
of $12 if you leave the island by air, or $2 if you leave by boat.
Weather: The hottest months are July-October and the coolest are December-February. The temperature ranged from 70-85 while I was there.
Here's today's forecast in Anguilla.
To call the United States from Anguilla is very expensive. You can call AT&T Direct, 1-800 -872-2881, or MCI, 1-800-888-8000. My advice is set up a time with your loved ones and have them call you. It's still pricey for them to call, so the best deal is have them shop around for an inexpensive phone card. Amber found a calling card (By UNI) for $20 which gave her 60 minutes of chat time.
Getting to Anguilla : There are two ways besides swimming.
If you don't have a lot of luggage, I recommend flying into St. Maarten,
jumping in a 15 minute taxi that costs $12 for one person, $16 for two....
Then take the Anguilla ferry that departs every
30 minutes, and costs $12, which includes the $2 departure tax.
The ferry is short, only 7 miles across and takes about seventeen minutes.
It can get rough so be prepared. The second option is flying into
San Juan, Puerto Rico, and connecting to an American Eagle flight which
seats 40 and flies directly to Walblake
airport in Anguilla. The latter seems silly to me with all
the delays, and who wants to fly for 1 hour on puddle jumper? Not
The airport in Anguilla (AXA) is small and old. It's a throw back to the 50's. If you don't believe me, check out this scale. AXA also has one of the best restaurants on the island too and most visitors don't find out until they leave. It's not only good food but it's cheap, around $9 per entree.
Back to my trip: When our
ferry docked I noticed how flat Anguilla was (unlike St. Maarten).
point is 217 feet above the sea. I went through customs again
and got another stamp on the ol' passport. There is no need to call
for a taxi because plenty are waiting and all have fixed rates, so ask
before you get in. They don't have street addresses, just saying
the hotel or the name of the persons home will be sufficient (that's how
small it really is).
Anguilla is owned by the Brits and you will be driving on the "Wrong Side" of the street. Once again all the locals know one another so don't get nervous when you hear the horn beeping behind you. They are only honking to say hello to passersby. My taxi driver must've been the mayor because she tooted at least 30 times.
Fortunately, I was staying at a private home. Unfortunately, it was the most expensive ride on the rate sheet. $22 took me across the 35-square mile island. I paid in USD, as I did the whole time and never had a problem. The other currency accepted is the EC$ (Eastern Caribbean Dollar.)
When I finally arrived to my destination my sister and her family were sitting down to lunch which was a fresh crawfish salad that they just caught out back in some lobster traps. I'm not a big seafood fan but it was tasty!
After lunch, we made our first trip
to the beach.
The beaches in Anguilla are some of the nicest I have ever seen.
Really! The white sand is like flour and the water is crystal blue
with a water temp of 78 degrees. What else could you ask for?
All I did was swim and eat ice cream with my niece and nephew. My brother
and sister made sand
sculptors, I mean perverted
After that, we went back to the house to get one of the best massages on the island. You can get one too: Just email Louis Price and he will come to your hotel or home for a very reasonable fee. As he says, "If you can't relax getting a massage in the Caribbean then where can you?"
The food in Anguilla is good, but very expensive, especially at the hotels and fine restaurants. It's great to visit a place that has NO fast food chains! The best table on the island has to be at the Malliouhana hotel. We also dined at Roys, which is right on the beach and owned by an English man which means they do have fish & chips. Hibernia is mix of French and Thai food which is tasty but stuffy (they don't welcome kids). Uncle Ernies on the beach at Shoal bay is perfect for lunch and inexpensive. For an upscale on-the-beach experience try George's at Cap Julaca. Straw Hat is a great place to celebrate a birthday as we did for Frank. BTW: Is it me or does he look like Moe from the 3 stooges the older he gets? If you just want some good island take out, try Elsa's in Island Harbour.
One of the most popular items on the locals menu is goat. The British could almost rename Anguilla Goat Island because they are everywhere. The most disappointing food for me was the fruit. It's bad. In fact, they hardly grow anything on the island because the soil is terrible.
For drinks in the afternoon, take the free boat ride out to Scilly Cay Island and relax.
Since I didn't stay at one, I just drove around and visited them. The Moullihana has a fine beach and the best kiddy pool. If you are staying somewhere else, you can still use their facilities, just ask about the $25 day fee.
My favorite is Cap Julaca. You probably have read about it in the travel magazines and they are right. It really is beautiful. The Frangipani was deserted, as was the pool at Cuisine Art but they do have the nicest gardens. Most of the hotels are hurting in Anguilla and the Caribbean. I was told by one hotelier that they are averaging around a 40% occupancy rate. My advice is call the hotel directly and bargain with a manager/supervisor.
My biggest adventure:
I dropped my brother off at the airport while my family was at the beach. First of all, it was my first time driving on the "wrong side" of the road in a while and I wasn't exactly ready because my stomach was still hurting from lunch (must've been all that local hot sauce). I turned off the radio and just tried to concentrate while driving on the "wrong side". I was doing well until I came upon a damn roundabout. I knew I made the wrong turn when I started down a steep hill, and my Jeep started to jerk. I turned around and started to go up the hill, but the Jeep wouldn't let me. It was driving like a tired bronco. I thought I had it in the wrong gear, but it was an automatic. I got totally distracted looking at the dashboard, and luckily I looked up from the gas gage just in nick of time. I was no longer on the "wrong side" of the road, instead I was on the RIGHT SIDE and cars were approaching me. I jerked about 10 more feet acr oss the road and the dang Jeep finally conked out. I was officially out of gas. I can't remember the last time I ran out of gas, and I was totally unprepared. I didn't have my wallet or a cell phone, besides who was I going to call? Triple A? I don't think so. I remembered the guide books mentioned how Anguillans are very friendly people and many of them hitchhike to get around, so I did another thing I haven't done in a long time: I stepped out onto the hot dry road and stuck my thumb up. The first car that came by stopped. How do you like that? The FIRST CAR! I explained what happened and they said, "Jump in!" (The back.) Thing number three I haven't done in a while: riding in the back of a pick up truck. So here I am in the back of a flat bed, thirsty as can be, no sunscreen on, and driving down a bumpy road. I had my back against the window and I was facing the rear. I started to think, well maybe those guidebooks were outdated. Maybe Anguillan's weren't that friendly and have a lot of hatred toward the tourists. I mean these guys seemed too friendly. My guard was up. To be safe, I turned around to see where we were going, and some sand or dirt flew into my eye. Great. Now I can't see. I immediately tried to get it out when my eye started burning like my tongue did at lunch. (I still had some of that local "Ass In The Ocean" hot sauce on my fingers.) Now I was really the toast of the town, sitting in the back of a flat bed speeding through the bumpy streets. Did I mention it was around 3pm and everyone was out on the streets, especially the school children? I think they drove by the only school on the island on purpose, just so they could see the reaction of the little Anguillans seeing an American tourist riding in the back. I started to get nervous when we went down a single lane street that was really bumpy and had no sign of life. It was an eerie quiet, I could hear tree crickets. We pulled up to a house and that's when I said here it is, time to get cooked like those goats hanging from the trees.
Luckily I was wrong, really wrong. These Anguillan guys were so nice that they went way out of their way for me. They brought me to their home to get a gas tank, took me to the Shell gas station (which was miles away), filled up my tank, and took me back to the Jeep. Luckily I had $20 hidden in my asthma inhaler, and I was able to pay $10 for the gas and give them the other $10 even though they kept refusing. They said, "This is how people are in Anguilla." The guidebooks were right, Anguillans are unbelievably friendly.
I thought all my troubles were over but they weren't. To make
matters worse, I go to pick up my sister and her kids at Cap Julaca, which
has a great public
beach, and my little nephew slips on the wet tiled sidewalk and
cuts his head. We rush him to the only hospital in town. Keep
in mind there are no street names, and my only directions were, "Go straight
maan, take a left at the airport and ask somebody." I asked some
lady and she jumped in her car and says, "Follow me." This time I
trusted the locals. The hospital has no signs and is not easy to find,
but thanks to her we found it. The doctor was very good and little
Johnny was so brave, he didn't even cry when they stitched him
Guess how much it cost for the trip to the hospital? $9, that's right NINE US DOLLARS! I thought it was going to be like $900.
Getting back to reality is tough, and Continental doesn't make it any
easier getting to the West Coast. I felt like I traveled to Asia,
which would've been quicker. I took the 10:00am ferry from Anguilla
to St. Maarten and arrived at the airport way too early. My first
flight of the day departed SXM at 1:30pm. That was a 45 minute flight
south to Antigua. We sat on the ground
there for one hour to drop off and
pick up passengers. I'm not complaining because the scenery was beautiful and the plane was 3/4 empty. (I had a whole row to myself!)
We flew 4+ hours to Newark and from there through Customs. Customs is great at EWR, it's in a brand spanking new building, and the Gov't workers are friendly. The only negative is that it's laid out all wrong. If you are connecting (which many people do) you have to go through security again. Not fun.
My last flight of the day was to LA. It departed at 8:25pm and got me in to LA at midnight (4am Anguilla time). Now I know why there's not many West Coasters visiting the Caribbean. It takes a day to get there and a day to get back. Next time I will cut my time by flying American through Miami. Note: All 6 of my Continental flights departed on time!
My favorite thing to do in Anguilla besides going to the beach
Get my point? You go to Anguilla when you don't want to do anything
but relax. There is no sightseeing, no incredible shopping, and no
rushing. When you leave this place you don't need a vacation from
your vacation, except if your flying to L.A.
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LETTER FROM A READER
As a Continental frequent flier, and HUGE Continental fan, I enjoyed your comments about the airline. (I'm also impressed that you've got elite status on your "secondary" airline.) I have always found them to be VERY professional and responsive. They're the one airline that has not cut back on their food service since 9/11 too.
A word about how hard you think it is to get from CT to EWR. I disagree -- I zip down the Merritt and Henry Hudson, over the GW and into EWR (most of the time I "zip," anyway). E-Z Pass has made things even easier, especially the bottleneck paying the toll on the NJ Turnpike. I've made it from Westport, CT to the airport in 1:05; usually it's 1:15-1:30. With parking at $12/day, and the monorail back in operation, it's a breeze. Now, too, there's an Amtrak link from Stamford to the Newark station, then onto the monorail (I haven't tried it yet). As for amenities, cleanliness, and all the rest, I think EWR has it all over JFK and LGA.
Keep up the great work -- hope all is well -- Dan Woog
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THE WEEK: From The Bartender.
Tape your name to the outside of your computer to help you identify it after it goes through the airport scanner. These days, they are making you take them of of the computer bag. Then they just randomly place computers on the top of the scanner and you pretty much have to make an educated guess as to which one is yours. I've got a Mac and that makes it easier to i.d., but I can see how it would be easy to have someone in a hurry walk off with the wrong computer.
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