Dinner on the Town (Oranjestad) – Learning a lesson about reservations

Dinner on the Town – Learning a Lesson about Reservations.

We spent the afternoon at the Renaissance Island and came back to our room for a shower and a rest. We had stopped at the Navigator Desk in the lobby of our hotel (Renaissance Marina) and asked about dinner recommendations. She mentioned the Driftwood Restaurant and then attempted to set up a reservation. The phone just rang and rang and after about 5 minutes we decided to just take the address and walk over once we were ready. A huge rainstorm came through right as we were headed up to our room, clearing the pool and sending people for cover. Once we were showered and dressed about an hour later it was dark and the rain had just stopped. We had a short walk (about 1.5 blocks) to the restaurant. As we approached we were getting hungry and the smell of garlic, butter and other goodies in the air was making us ready to have a great dinner.

Of course you know what’s next! We walked in to Driftwood and there were several empty tables so we thought oh boy – what yummy thing are we going to order. The host approached us and we asked for a table for 2. It was then we got the bad news that Driftwood was totally booked with reservations for the night and would not be able to seat us for dinner. We were BUMMED! We heard later that this family owns the restaurant – but also several fishing boats. They take people out on deep sea fishing tours and then the fish that is caught is prepared for them at the restaurant. It’s a great idea and we heard nothing but good things about Driftwood for the rest of our trip. Next time we visit we will go – but we will make a reservation first!

We continued walking through the downtown area and decided to stop for a cocktail and figure out where we would like to have dinner. We came across a restaurant called Que Pasa. We walked in and found the bar and a very nice bartender named Jerome. He introduced hubby to a special brew by Balashi (the island beer) called Hoppistout – a dark and delicious brew for the winter season. We decided to order an appetizer while we enjoyed our drinks and it tasted so good we ordered dinner as well. We both had fish and it was fresh, prepared perfectly and tasted amazing. We ate at the bar and continued to talk to Jerome about how he came to the island, his Dutch heritage and where I could find some “Banket” a Dutch pastry that my mother has made at Christmas for my whole life. He was very helpful and interesting and we really enjoyed spending the evening at his bar. Once we finished we headed out for a walk and then back to our hotel.

The streets were quiet and peaceful, with an occasional bar where music was loud and lively. But there was no one “hanging around” outside the bars. We walked for about 8 blocks and then turned toward the waterfront and our hotel. We headed to bed ready for the next adventure in the morning.

One of the best parts about an island vacation is the conscious decision to relax – sometimes it is on a beach, other times it is with a cocktail.  If you are staying in a beautiful location, a villa, a hotel or even a campground on St. John there are ample opportunities to be active, but also times when just “chilling” is the best way to truly enjoy the surroundings and your vacation.

We started this day with a wonderful breakfast of steak and eggs.  We have had some very good meals while on island – usually using our own kitchen in Eminence on High, the villa we rented from  https://seatopeakvillas.com/EminenceOnHigh/.  After breakfast we talked about the plan of the day and several options came up – but something about the cool pool, sunlit patio and some chilled island cocktails was calling, ” Vagablond….stay home!”  and so that is exactly what hubby and I did.

Floating in the pool
Floating in the pool

View of Coral Bay from patio

We lounged by the pool, we called hubby’s mom and dad in Florida to congratulate them on 68 years of marriage    and said a little prayer that we would be given that same time to be together. We celebrated our life, our family and the happiness we feel when we are able to just “be” together.
Later that afternoon we took a short drive through the roads near the villa. We found the trailhead for the Bordeaux Mountain Trail and decided that trail which starts 1150ft above sea level – and leads down to Little Lamshur may be a trek for another day.
That evening it was dinner with family at the villa – we had slow roasted a pork loin with pineapple mango salsa. It was at this meal we hooked little brother on sweet potatoes cut up and roasted on the barbeque grill. He found out that a food he thought he hated is actually pretty good. Only a couple days left and we are already sad to be leaving.

Day 1 and 2 Traveling to St John-getting everyone to the villa

Our flights were from Chicago and Rapid City SD. We chose to fly to San Juan and spend the night on Thursday then fly to St Thomas Friday morning. We landed in San Juan at 3pm, checked into the Embassy Suites San Juan, 5 min by taxi from the airport. We waited for brother and sis in law to come in at 7:30. A visit to the pool to pass the time and a few beers at the hotel cocktail hour and then they walked in tired, but happy to be there. We had asked the bartender at the pool for a recommendation for dinner and the hotel desk gave us directions to La Playita, a restaurant on the water near the airport. The restaurant was was all they raved about and more. We were seated on the deck, with the waves lapping just below us. Coco loco drinks came in a real coconut and the beer was cold and refreshing. For dinner we ordered 2 Mofongo’s one with shrimp and one with steak, an avocado and shrimp salad (bartender recommended) and the skirt steak with chimichurrie sauce. It was a fantastic meal in a restaurant with true Caribbean ambiance. The hotel attached to the restaurant was La Playa hotel a small, 16 room boutique hotel tucked away on a quiet street,oceanside, quiet, with friendly staff that told us rooms cost $160 with a continental breakfast included. We taxied back to the hotel ready to fly over to St Thomas on Friday morning.
We arrived at the airport early, settled in to Terminal A to wait for our flight. We saw the aircraft loaded and realized that we were on what I call a “toy” airplane, a Cessna 402 prop aircraft that scared the crap out of me- but how would I get to STJ if I did not bite the bullet and get onboard. So Vagablond swallowed the fear and boarded the cute little plane. It was not a bad flight and once the borrowed Xanax pill kicked in. :0)
St Thomas airport was not busy, making us decide the coming in on a Friday morning was a very good time to arrive. We had rented two 4 door jeeps from Amalie Car rental on St Thomas, we have used them for 3 years and their cars are clean, well maintained and the service is top notch. One jeep was so new it did not have tags yet so they asked us if we could wait for about 2 hours until the car would be ready. We told them that was fine and we are on #island time so we set off on our way to one of the nearby beaches to grab a beer and hang out. We landed on Brewers Beach. There were 2 local food trucks and we bought beers and parked ourselves under a shady spot to take in the view. There was a quiet beach with a few swimmers and snorkelers, and several boats moored on buoys. After a couple of cold beers, a local tour guide walked past us, his name was Garfield and he had just brought a small group of 6 people from the cruise ship to the beach for a swim. He was headed to the food truck to have lunch and we asked him for a recommendation- he said to have a Pate- it is a pastry filled with the meat of your choice of beef, chicken, shrimp, or veggies and it is a local favorite. We spent time chatting with him for about 20 minutes. He shared local history, some observations about cruise ship passenger behaviors and told us some stories about his own family. It was a joy to learn, socialize and share with this great new friend.
We grabbed another beer and a pate and then headed over to get our jeep.
Trying not to forget that USVI drives on the left, we followed each other to the Plaza Extra grocery store for groceries including, produce, liquor and other food for our villa. We headed to Red Hook to board the car ferry for the final leg of our transport to St John. Ferry ride was about 30 minutes and our villa escort was waiting at the ferry dock. We stopped for ice and was on our way up to our villa up on Bordeaux Mountain.
The villa was gorgeous, well equipped with an awesome kitchen, outdoor grill and lots of technology for music through the house and pool areas. We unpacked, poured ourselves cocktails and sat back to watch the sunset before we had to pick up our youngest brother,the last person arriving via people ferry. We had a brief delay due to his luggage not making the flight from his connection in Miami, but they promised to bring it to the Cruz Bay people ferry dock first thing in the morning, so he jumped into a taxi to Red Hook and took the passenger ferry to Cruz Bay on St John where we met him and made out way to a little Mexican restaurant where we had margaritas and appetizers. We left Cruz Bay and headed to the villa, it was dark but we found our way with no problem. Our first day ended with all of us together, sharing good times and hitting the pillows early.

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