After stopping work, Regina and Andre decided to travel to the most amazing places around the world. And since we are getting elder we started with the most distant targets. In the next years we plan to visit Antarctica, Australia, New Zeeland etc and to reserve the European targets for later. Beside this we would like to spend the European winter in warmer places.
We have chosen the Caribbean area and have been looking for ’safer‘ regions with lower criminality rates. That why we didn’t want to go to Trinidad, Jamaica, Haiti etc and have chosen the Lesser Antilles.
For the trip planning we have used the travel guides:
- Caribbean Islands – Lonely Planet, 2011
- Karibik (german) DorlingKindersley Verlag, 2012
- Karibik – Kleine Antillen (german) Polyglott Apa Guide 2012
We like living in a flat rather than in a hotel. In places where it was possible (Cuaracao, Guadeloupe, Martinique) we had a holiday flat. For booking the flats we have used booking.com expedia.de and for Guadeloupe gitesdefrance-guadeloupe.com.
The hotels we have chosen by using the internet portal Tripadvisor and the booking using booking.com and expedia.de. The accommodation we had was very good and complied to the descriptions with two exceptions: very bad hotel Habitat Terrace in Rodnay Bay (St Lucia) and Rich View Hotel in St Vincent.
The flights to and from and to the Caribbean region were with American Airlines via Miami. The other flights were with Liat and Air Caribes.
Flights between St Maarten/St Martin and Guadeloupe, Martinique and France start and land from the small airport Esperance.
We have used several times in St Lucia and Dominica public buses. Sometimes it was hard to find out where the bus station is and where the bus goes but in the bus everybody was very friendly to me.
In nearly all places we have hired a car before the trip from Germany. Like this we could better choose the conditions (liability etc) we wanted. Driving in Dominica is very tough as they don’t have virtually no traffic signs and in St Lucia an excellent road might have suddenly a 50 cm wide ditch crossing the road!
The catamaran cruise in the Grenadines was an absolute highlight. I have booked it through karibikreisen.com. The booking worked well; the only incident was that they kept mailing me a price and at the end when I wanted to book they mailed the real price which was ca. 80% higher. Unfortunately it was to late for me to choose another cruise. Today I would book it directly on http://www.catamaransailing.holiday/
- Transfer times (flight or ferry) change often. The airlines keep changing the departure time until 30 min before the flight. So the best thing to do is to not plan any other activities the day of the transfer. Try to have only one flight or another transfer (e.g. ferry) a day. If you cannot avoid several transfers the same day, book the flights with the same airline (do not book flights with two different airlines the same day)
- Always try to get the transfer times confirmed. They can change in the last hours before departure.
Some countries (e.g. St Lucia, Dominica) have the east Caribbean Dollar (XCD) other countries have the euro or the Netherlands Antillean Guilder (Curacao, St Maarten). I could always get money at no charge from the ATM machines by using the German Visa card from DKB.
Under the German legislation I had two additional insurances: one Auslandskrankenversicherung with Hanse-Merkur and one Reiserücktrittsversicherung with TravelProtect. But I was happy that I didn’t use none of them. Because of ear problems, I had three doctor visits in Guadeloupe and in Martinique. The costs have been refunded by the German Krankenkasse and the Auslandkrankenversicherung
The smartphone was very helpful during the trip. First of all I’ve used it as a kind of ebook reader. I’ve scanned the relevant travel documentation in jpg format and stored it on the phone. Like this I had always the relevant guides with me and it was better than a „normal“ ebook reader because I could combine information for a given place (e.g. Guadeloupe) from several books. It worked excellent. In some countries I’ve bought a prepaid sim card; it costs ca. 5 euro and you can use it for phone calls at normal rates within that country. It worked very well. I needed several times the phone eg for announcing a late arrival, calling a taxi, checking a reservation, talking with the guide etc.
All the hotels and flats had WiFi sometimes better sometimes not so good. On the cruise the internet was very weak and only in the ports if any.
Andre had a Vaude trolley Tobago 60 and a backpack Mammut (40 liter), Regina a Vaude trolley Tobago 60 and a bordcase.
We had a 60 ltr trolley each and it worked very well. The luggage was very light (ca 30 lb each) because we flew also with small planes with strong weight restrictions. During the trip we have used the public laundry which was sometimes quite expensive.
Out of the 30 lb ca. 10 lb were cameras, computers, cables and other electrical devices…
In all places there were ‘mosqitos’. I call them moskitos but I don’t know exactly what kind of insects were. In any case flying insects that bit. In several places the worst was in the afternoon and in the evening. We have used burning coils and candles and it helped.
- 1 rain jacket Goretex
- 1 rain trousers Goretex
- 1 sun hat
- 1 rain hat Goretex
- 5 breathable T shirts
- 5 pairs of socks
- 1 pair of half hiking shoes Lowa Renegade Goretex
- two hiking trousers
- 1 poncho
- 5 pants
- 1 fleece pullover
- 1sleeping bag
- 1 bauchkatze
- 1 smartphone + cable
- 1 laptop + cable
- 1 ebook (can be used as basic flashlight too)
- 1 photo camera Sony alpha 65 with Tamron 18 -270 lens + loading station and 2nd battery
- 1 photo camera Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ 30 and two batteries and loading station
- 1 video camera Panasonic hc x 929 with loading station and 2nd battery
- 1 socket strip
- 1 power adaptor
Cosmetics + Drugs
- scotch tape
- tooth paste + tooth brush
- razor + shaving creme
- shower gel + shampoo
- Autan Protection Plus
- Compression bags
- Beach towels
- normal glass + sun glass