The next stop on our trip throught the Caribbean was Sint Maarten/Saint Martin. The island is divided in a French and a Dutch district with a border in the middle. It is funny how they divided the island. In the year 1684 French and Dutch people decided to divide the island. So a Dutch and a French soldier started to walk around the island in opposite directions until they eventually met together. The people along the road cheered for the Dutch soldier and gave him gin to drink. The result is that since 350 years the French part is much larger than the Dutch part. And Dutch people love Genever. Both parts are proud of the peaceful coexistence since nearly 400 years.
Philipsburg, the capital of the Dutch part with lots of gambling places and jewelries functions as an outdoor shopping mall for cruise-goers with cash to burn. Most of the action is concentrated around the front street, the Bayfront road which is lined with boutiques, jewelry shops, restaurants, casinos and duty-free shops selling everything from Danish porcelain to Japanese cameras and electronics.
On the whole island there are lots of crystal water bays beaches and with white sand.
The beautiful beach of Maho is situated at the end of Juliana airport’s runway and the tourists have a lot of fun at each plane landing as they get blown away by the landing planes. Unfortunately the party will finish soon as they start building a new airport.
We have lived in Captain Oliver’s Hotel in Oyster Pond which is on the border between the French and the Dutch district.
Location: **** (out of max 5) very nice location ca. 8 km from Philisburg on the French side in the bay of Oyster Pond. Supermarkets, coffee shops, restaurants either within the resort or close to the hotel
Room. ** (out of max five). Old fashioned large room with nice view to the marina. Mountings in the bath partially do not work properly (too old). Room very clean.
Infrastructure (internet, reception, pool etc): ***(out of max five). Most of the time nobody at reception. Pool nice located but old fashioned. Internet sometimes ok sometimes not.
Breakfast: ***( out of max five). French breakfast (croissants, baguette and marmalade). Everything else has to be paid CASH. They do not accept credit cards (for breakfast) or charging to the room. Two scrambled eggs 5 USD.
Overall rating: *** (out of max 5). Too expensive for the price asked under booking.com. They gave me a deduction of ca. 30% at the reception. Hotel is ca. 40 years and needs to be refurbished
We have enjoyed St Maarten/St Martin. There is a good mix of Europe and Caribbean and by the way it was the only time during our trip that we could find a nice bar by the beach with entertainment and good cocktails. It is a good exemple for other countries how two populations with different languages can live peacefully together for hundreds of years. Friends of us use St Maarten as a touch base for the start of a trip in the Caribbean. Furthermore it does have some tax deductions. In some touristic books there is a saying: Sleep on the Dutch side and eat on the French side.
On Jan 14 we flew from the sleepy airport ‚Esperance‘ in the French part to Guadeloupe. For people who want to plan a trip to the Carribbean. The only flight connections to Guadeloupe, Martinique and France start from Esperance.