Sunday, February 13, 2011

Antigua Escape

Sorry it took a week to write up, but here’s the lowdown on the holiday OLK and I took 2 weeks ago.
Saturday. Saturday was pretty uneventful. A mid-afternoon departure from Toronto got us to Antigua at around 9:30pm. It was interesting to approach the tiny island in the dark, with minimal lighting in the coastal villages. The bus trip from the airport to the resort had me a bit worried – OLK and I were around 30 years younger than the other 4 couples making the trek! I really worried that we had mis-judged the trip, and would be surrounded by fuddy-duddies that were more interested in the local price of the gasoline than the driver’s must-see list of the country. A fast check-in, and we headed down to the bar for a drink and a cigar. Then, an early night.
We had already planned to do nothing on Sunday. We woke early, and had a surprisingly bad breakfast. This resort is the only place on Earth where I have tried the bacon and refused to eat it again. Still, a quick meal and we were off. I wanted to go to the nearby supermarket to replace my sunglasses that broke on the plane. The rest of the day was spent lounging by (and in) the pool and reading. Recuperating. I met a guy from Pickering who was there with his family. We struck up a conversation and he had me intrigued with tales of sailing from The Canary Islands to the Bahamas. We ended up drinking together most evenings at the hotel bar. There was an evening trip to Shirley Heights that was highly recommended, but we didn’t think it was worth $60US to see a picturesque lookout from the middle of a huge crowd of tourists and steel bands. Instead we went to the hotel bar, where they were having a Karaoke Night. An American got up, saying “This is for my ex-wife” and sang Like A Rolling Stone. We all had a good laugh. He sat down next to OLK and I and formed a quick friendship. OLK decided to sing Life On Mars, by David Bowie, but was horrified (and confused) when they started playing a horrible techno/dance remake of the classic glam ballad. She managed to get through the song, but was pretty pissed off that she’d looked so foolish and tasteless. She agreed to sing a duet with the Bitter Dylan Balladeer, but was in the washroom when their song started. I held up the family honour, and ran up to sing with him instead. Awful, drunken noise, but fun.
On Monday, we booked our excursions for the week: a catamaran circumnavigation of the island, and a zip-line adventure. After that, headed into St. John’s, the capital city. It was quite rundown, and we felt somewhat unwelcome there. 45 minutes after arriving and wandering the streets, we decided to give up and head back to the hotel. We parked our bums beside the pool, swam in the Caribbean Sea, and wandered through Jolly Harbour Marina to ogle the yachts and have lunch at the marina bar. Enjoying a super-spicy Caribbean chicken dish, I was attacked by a gecko that leapt onto my shoulder and quickly ran away. Friendly little critter. Then, an afternoon nap before dinner. I spent the evening in the bar again, while OLK had an early night (this was the usual night routine – some guests didn’t believe OLK existed!).
We got up early Tuesday morning to board the huge catamaran to circumnavigate Antigua. We met a couple that were making a pit-stop from their cruise liner on this trip. They were friendly, and also from Southern Ontario. Heading around the northeast coast, we sailed into the Atlantic Ocean hitting giant waves unimpeded since Africa. They were huge, the yacht was rolling heavily, and I LOVED it! When the bows buried into the oncoming waves, the spray would shoot up 20 feet to hit me. Fantastic. We stopped for a couple hours of snorkeling, lunch, and booze. The snorkeling was good, and there was a nearby shipwreck that wouldn’t sink due to the coral reefs. It just sat on the water, begging to be climbed. Unfortunately it was close but inaccessible. After the swim, I sat in the shallow water with a beer and cigar. This left me the last person in the lunch line. Unfortunately they were short ONE food allocation, and I only got a spoonful of rice. And rum. Still, I had a good time. After the yacht tour, we went back to the hotel for dinner, then OLK to our room and me to the bar. Again.
Wednesday was another do-nothing pool day. We swam, drank, tanned, and read.
Thursday morning we went into the jungle for some zip-lining. We had a great time, and it was pretty exciting. After the zips, there was a treetop “adventure tour” which was terrifying at times. Specifically when we had to step off the ledge and drop around 30 feet. There was a safety line, but it was the stepping that was freaky. Jumping would have been fine, but we had to simply walk off the edge. Unnerving. The zip-line adventure tired us out, so we spent the rest of the day lounging and reading by the pool. We had dinner that night at a nice Italian restaurant in the marina next door.
Friday we lounged. We were disappointed to not be able to book the hotel’s ala carte restaurants (they were full) as we were tired of the buffet fare every night. There weren’t many places close to the hotel, so we were pretty much stuck with the bland, disappointing buffed restaurant each dinner.
Saturday I managed to take a quick sailing lesson and whip around the bay on a Hobie Cat. The wind was really gusty, and the watersports staff were considering shutting down. It was lots of fun, and I’m totally hooked on sailing now. I spent an hour nearly capsizing the boat, burying the bows into oncoming waves, and generally misusing the techniques I’d just learned. A few people caught huge gusts of wind and capsized the boats, but I wasn’t one of them. Then, at 6pm, we left to head to the airport. While waiting, I looked through the Duty Free store. They had my favourite Cuban cigars there, but the prices were exactly the same as what we pay in Toronto. The cashier heard my comment, and knocked $15 off the price. Who haggles in Duty Free? The sketchy mofo probably got them for duty-free prices, and then randomly added his extra profit. I didn’t get a receipt either, which made me a little nervous when coming through Canada Customs. Our 8:30 flight was delayed an hour and a half, which meant that we would be leaving after all the Antigua shops closed. With this delay, I was roped into buying an EIGHT DOLLAR (US) small bottle of water!!! Bastards. The flight home was uneventful, we landed in Toronto at around 3am, and arrived at home at 4am. We went straight to bed, exhausted.

Then, life got back to normal too quickly: grocery shopping, cleaning, laundry, and work work work.


  1. Sounds like you guys had a great relaxing time!

  2. You guys got a lot done, in among a ton of relaxing. Great holiday and welcome back!