St. Thomas

St. Thomas

Charlotte Amalie, U. S. Virgin Islands – January 7, 2013

***NEWSFLASH*** The U.S. Virgin Islands are officially beautiful!
I asked Leslie if she would like to retire there. She did not say no, but she did not say yes, either. Maybe there is a chance!
Sitting on the ship before we got off for the day’s adventure, we saw numerous yachts in the marina; they were mega yachts. We saw the Phoenix2, a 286-foot yacht built-in 2010; the Nirvana, a 290-foot yacht built-in 2012; and the US$103 million Vibrant Curiosity, a 280-foot yacht built-in 2009. They were all fantastic vessels. Photographs of them on-line confirm they are amazing inside too. The only yacht in these photos I might be able to afford is the rubber zodiac in the lower right corner of the panoramic photo…

The very large Vibrant Curiosity yacht.

The very large Phoenix yacht.
A panoramic view of the port at Charlotte Amalie.  Note the rubber zodiac in the lower right corner.

Our first destination was Blackbeard’s Castle. It is not a castle; in fact, the brochure even indicates “…it’s unlikely that Blackbeard himself…” was there. Regardless, it was a fun spot.
After we purchased our tickets, we listened to a brief presentation about Blackbeard and some of his antics. Then we were led into their small rum distillery. We listened to another short presentation on their rum-making methods. When that finished, we moved into the gift shop. We each sampled three different types of rum. We tried Blackbeard’s Castle Aged Rum, Bones Rum (complete with a skull and crossbones), and Virgin Islands Blend with peach flavoring. I suspect the last time I had rum at 09:00 I was probably in college!

A stone tower at Blackbeard’s Castle.
A pirate sculpture at Blackbeard’s Castle.
A pirate sculpture at Blackbeard’s Castle II.
A statue of Blackbeard in front of the tower.
Detail of the Blackbeard statue.
A view of Charlotte Amalie from Blackbeard’s Castle tower.
Some of the varieties of rum made and sold at Blackbeard’s Castle.
Some additional rums.

On this tour, once again, we were lucky. We had gotten out of the taxi at the front door, which was at the top of the hill. There are three other entry points; however, they were all at the bottom of the hill. That meant our self-guided tour was all downhill.
Shortly after exiting the rum distillery and museum we met a live “pirate” near one of the swimming pools. We took some fun photos with him.

Tyler dealing with a pirate at Blackbeard’s Castle.
Hillary dealing with a pirate at Blackbeard’s Castle.
Leslie dealing with a pirate at Blackbeard’s Castle.
I turned the tables on the pirate!!
The seaside of the tower at Blackbeard’s Castle, complete with a swimming pool.
A statue on the grounds of Blackbeard’s Castle.

Britannia House is on the grounds of Blackbeard’s Castle.  It is open for tours.  The admission is part of the price we originally paid.  It is a beautiful house with spectacular ceilings.  The views from the terrace are amazing.

A view of Britannia House including the unique ceiling.
Charlotte Amalie as seen from the terrace of Britannia House. The flag on the left is from Denmark. The flag on the right is for the U. S. Virgin Islands.
The view of the port from the terrace of Britannia House. Our cruise ship is the one on the left.
A street sign near Britannia House.

We continued to the World Caribbean Amber Museum. They have hundreds, if not thousands of pieces of amber on display. I found it unusual how lightweight even the most substantial pieces are. The other very unique item was the two-story-high amber waterfall.

A waterfall at the museum made entirely of amber.
Detail of the amber waterfall.
Closeup of the amber waterfall.
Flowers near the Amber Museum.
Flowers near the Amber Museum II.

Continuing downhill we next found ourselves at the Hotel 1829. The old kitchen is now the hotel bar. We took a break from our walking about and had a beer or two. Our two choices of local beer were the Blackbeard Ale and the Virgin Islands Summer Ale. They were both tasty, although I liked the Blackbeard Ale the best. The Island Summer Ale was a little too sweet for my taste.

During our beer tasting, Tyler and I discovered a backgammon table inside. He and I played a game while we drank our beer.

After all of the walking in the heat, it was time to sample some local lagers.
Tyler and I took the opportunity to play a game of backgammon.

Next on our list were the “99 Steps”. There are 103 by my count. It seems the U.S. added a few after purchasing the islands from the Dutch in the early 1900s. I am not sure exactly why; regardless, the stairs are still an attraction.

The famous 99 Steps of Charlotte Amalie.

Once we made it down the stairs, we hailed a taxi to take us back to the cruise ship area. When we were dropped off, we made our way to the Butterfly Farm. It is at the south end of the port. It was a little pricey at US$12 per head, but it was a unique experience. By the time we left, I had adjusted my thinking. The experience was well worth the price!
Tomorrow, sea day and a behind the scenes tour of our cruise ship.

Our cruise ship docked near the butterfly enclosure.
My family under a pergola covered with flowers. They were watching some butterflies.
Detail of the flowers on the pergola.
A butterfly enjoying a yellow flower.
A unique flower in the butterfly enclosure.
Butterflies snacking on a banana that seems to be beyond its prime.
There were multiple types of flowers from which the butterflies could choose.
An unusual looking plant in the butterfly enclosure.
We had to watch where we stepped while we were in the enclosure.
A butterfly on the leaves of a water plant.
A butterfly relaxing on a bench.
Several butterflies in a tree.
Another banana feeding point.
A butterfly spread its wings while dining.
The same butterfly with its wings folded.
Another view of the butterfly with open wings.
A butterfly hanging on an unopened flower.
A butterfly in the hand is worth two in the bush…or something like that.
Another butterfly on the hand.
This butterfly spread its wings for all to see.
A visitor in our room bearing chocolates.

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