Thursday, February 7, 2013

Beautiful Antigua - By Land and By Sea

On Tuesday we had a date with our taxi driver that we met when we first arrived.  Emelda, a wonderful lady full of Antigua history and the knowledge of where to go.  She arrived around 2:30pm to pick us up and our first stop was at Devil's Bridge.  It's a natural rock formation that looks like a bridge and in addition it holds cultural importance to Antiguan history. It suggests that prehistoric peoples may have used the area for fishing and settlement plus popular belief suggests slaves leaped to their death off of the natural arch during the period of slavery. These stories have no historical evidence to support them, still Devil's Bridge gets its name from these myths as the devil claimed those who leaped off the bridge.
Next place on our stop was another national park in Antigua and it's most famous military complex. The Block House, the easternmost part of the military complex was designed as a place of last refuge; The Ridge and Artillery Quarters, part of which were used, after the army left, as an insane asylum. This is where we also seen a bird's eye view of Eric Clapton & Whitney Houston estates.  It seems that when Eric Clapton was at his lowest he came to Antigua and after his healing he loved the island so much that he built a top notch drug rehab complex called Crossroads Antigua Centre and an estate for himself.  From there we headed back up the road and made a left to The Lookout or Shirley Heights, which provides the best view in Antigua. Today, The Lookout has been turned into a restaurant and bar and hold a large party every Sunday. 
From there Emelda stopped at Antigua's oldest church, St. Barnabus Church built sometime between 1824 and 1842 by Bishop Coleridge.  It was originally built as a Chapel School but after the earthquake of 1843 which destroyed the original church the first Bishop of the Diocese of Antigua, Bishop Davis consecrated it.  The church is built out of the Antigua green stone which is still quarried to this day and the chapel itself has never been painted. On the grounds there is an interesting tree called the turpentine tree which, well produces turpentine.
After that Emelda drove through the rain forest with a couple of stops for me to take pictures of the sweet Antigua pineapple tree and the banana crops.  She informed us that whatever fruit and meat is produced on the island it stays on the island for their own consumption.  Their pineapples are sweet and juicy and the core is not at all tough like the ones that are purchased in the grocery stores.  The resort usually has these pineapples on the breakfast menu daily.
We came upon Fort James on the western side of St. John's harbour at dusk, just enough time to take some pictures before the sun set.  Fort James was built in 1706 to guard St. John's harbour and is one of the many forts built by the British in the 18th century. Fear of French invasion prompted the construction of this fort.  Today all of the original canons still stand but the buildings were heavily damaged during Hurricane Luis in 1996.  Fort James has never been involved in any battles but it certainly provided a strong visual deterrent to would be invaders. I could of stayed there all day but the sun was setting fast and we needed to eat dinner.
We decided to let Emelda choose which restaurant to eat at and she picked Big Banana.  It's one of the restaurants that her and her family frequent and we thought she would pick a Caribbean themed place to eat but instead it was a pizza joint. The boys and Emelda ordered calzones, Sandy ordered pasta and I ate the fine chicken breast with their own spices.  We arrived back to the resort at about 8:30pm with our bellies full and our souls happy.  We said our good-byes to the best taxi driver on the island of Antigua and in the hope of seeing her again before we leave.
Yesterday we had signed up for a 360' navigation tour of the island by catamaran.  The ride was smooth until we hit the Atlantic when the waves were 3 - 4 feet high.  It would of been a rough ride for me and Sandy but we both had a motion sickness happy pill before we left.  Unlike a couple of people on the boat which didn't take anything.  I was surrounded by their green faces, one in front of me and one behind me but thankfully our crew of 4 made sure that they were looked after. I'm not too sure who was more happy that they gave them a or them. 
The catamaran was named Treasure Island and the captain of this vessel was Denzel and his crew mates, the big guy Pierce and Keven and Brian.  They were a great crew engaging with the passengers by dancing with them, playing games, picture taking and of course on the way home bartending.  They served a mean rum punch and rum & coke which is probably why we were all laying a wee bit low today and spent it on the beach.
Tomorrow we will again stay close to home base and in the evening we are booked for dinner at the Pineapple Grill.  We needed to make reservations today for dinner tomorrow and it has a bit of a dress code. There are many pictures tonight and I had a difficult time choosing which ones to post as this island is truly amazing. 
Before leaving Edmonton we purchased the Go Pro Hero 3 Black which Craig had been taking out snorkeling so hopefully tomorrow I will do a post with some of his underwater pics.
Talk soon!
 The entrance to Devil's Bridge
 Devil's Bridge
 Another view which you can see the 'bridge'
 Hmmm which way to go first
 The view of Whitney Houston's home from the Block House (white one in the middle with a peak)
 Eric Clapton's complex which is about in the middle to the very end. The smaller brown building in the middle is the guard house.
 The Block House grounds looking over
 The only cannon at the Block House, all others were sold for scrap
 The artillery house
 Another small building
 The stairs going down to the cannons
 The 'Wow Factor'
 Long way down
 The entrance of Shirley Heights
 The back of the building
 Now you know why it is called the Lookout
 Sample of the vegetation at the Lookout
 The sign that states the regiments
 St. Barnabus Church
 One of the many stained glass windows
 The inside
 Many flowers surround the church
 Turpentine tree on the grounds
 The sweet delicious Antigua pineapple
Entering St. John's
 Fort James ruins
 Another view of Fort James
 Some of the many cannons
 Another ruin at the fort
 Hate to be the one on the receiving end, these cannons can shoot over 1 1/2 miles
 Keith, Emelda and Sandy
 Craig, Emelda and me
 The World, I had to take a pic of this ship as it was in CamBay this past cool is that!
 Brian taking the wheel on the way out
 Captain Denzel chatting with Craig and Keith
 Private island
 This resort is only $2500.00US per night
 Oprah Winfrey's home
 Next three pics are some of the coast line

 A little bit of money here
 Which house would you pick, the beach front or the one on top of the hill?
 Our catamaran
 Craig helping Sandy with her flippers
 On the left side of the beach area
 Some kids made these rustic sandcastles on top of the coral
 Hello lizard - seen lots of them on the beach
 A better view of Eric Clapton's sprawling home
 Wish this one was mine
 On our way back
 Sandy and Keith enjoying the boat ride
Comparison of who tans quicker...guess who!

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