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St. Maarten/Martin: Days 1 & 2

Tuesday, May 7, 2013 8:00 AM

For my girlfriend (Jess) and I's first vacation of the year we chose Sint Maarten/Saint Martin as our destination.  It is a small island in the Caribbean that is divided by France and the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Day 1

We arrived at Sint Maarten's Princess Juliana International Airport on Sunday afternoon from New York.  This was the first time I have decided to rent a car in another country and went through Hertz which provided us with a white 2011 Toyota Corolla and a very helpful navigation system.  From there we headed to the Simpson Bay Resort and Marina which we were staying.  The resort is located right off of Simpson Bay, making the beach right outside the resort.  Our room is pretty nice with its own kitchen and living room and a beautiful ocean view.

Once we were checked in, situated and did a short walk around the resort, it was already dinner time.  There is a nice restaurant located at the resort right off the water called The Stone.   The Stone restaurant prepares its meals a bit differently than others.  Right from their website's description, "We start the cooking presses with a good sear, then simmer to the temperature just below what you wanted, for example, if you ordered the fillet mignon cooked medium we will prepare the fillet to medium-rare and the steak will finish to your preferred doneness in front of you on the stone."  More or less your food cooks in front of you on this brick sized grey stone.  It was pretty interesting and the food was excellent.

From there we made our way back to our room and I simply passed out at a very late 7:30 p.m. (I was just really tired).

Day 2

Our Monday began early with a 9 a.m. orientation at the resort where we were told about all the activities available directly from the resort and also different things that visitors can do on the island.  From there we headed to the local super market to stock up our kitchen for the week and then to the resort fitness center to get a workout in.  The fitness center was brand new with a great view of the water.  I don't think I've ever worked out to such a nice view before....though then again there have been some nice views while on the treadmill at other gyms depending on who ends up on the treadmill in the row ahead of me ;-)

St. Maarten is known for its shopping.  Not only is the Dutch side of the island duty free but there is also no local sales tax.  The main shopping center on the Dutch portion is the capital of Philipsburg.  We headed there around 1 p.m. and spent the entire afternoon there walking Front Street which is lined with stores, predominately jewelry stores, the side streets which had a nice street market and also the boardwalk, taking in the view. 

While in Philipsburg we also visited the St. Maarten National Heritage Museum which is a small Museum on Front Street that has exhibits chronicling the history of the island.  From there we found this oddity of a place called That Yoda Guy.  It is, and I'm using this word loosely, a movie museum that showcases the work the proprietor, Nick Maley, has done as a Hollywood make-up/prop guy.  The place was part show room for his artwork and movie memorabilia and part museum showing different props from movies he has worked on such as Star Wars and Superman.  It was $20.00 for the museum portion and oddly enough, it was worth it.  There was some very interesting props and behind the scenes information from the projects he has worked on.  For example, one was the three drafts of the opening of the first Star Wars movie.  It was fascinating just to see how much the opening and as a result the entire story changed from draft to draft.
From Philipsburg we headed to the Cupecoy Beach Area to a restaurant called Temptation which has consistently received top reviews from every travel website we've visited prior to traveling.  The food was excellent and I had one of the most bizarre looking desserts I've ever had. It was some sort of banana cream pie made up to resemble a potted plant.  The couple at the table next to us looked dumbfounded as it was being put in front of me, so I told them I was a vegetarian and it was the only thing I could eat on the menu.  It was pretty good...definitely didn't taste like I was eating dirt :-)

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