Between the seasickness, the painful sunburn, and the overnight storm we rode though, I didn’t sleep very well again. We got up at 9 and went up to breakfast, which included my traditional gruel (mueslix) and a mini-croissant with cheese. The coffee in the buffet was so bad we decided it was called Maxwell’s Foreclosure. Blech. (Thank god for Cafe al Bacio, with their excellent espresso drinks.)
It was raining quite a bit when we left, and a lady in the elevator said the ship was refunding pre-booked excursions. People who had just gotten off the ship were all huddled under tents waiting for the rain to stop, but we were prepared with our umbrellas. We walked through the cruise port part of St John’s, looking for something resembling a cab stand. Eventually a guy approached us asking if we wanted a tour, and I told him we just needed a taxi to Nelson’s Dockyard. He told us there wasn’t much to see there, maybe only an hour’s worth at the museum, and that we should take a tour. I insisted that we just wanted a ride there, and finally he agreed to take us for $40. That was higher than other islands, but it was also a lot farther.
On the way, he told us about Antiguan history, and a lot about their local dishes. Matt and I made mental notes. They use pumpkin a lot, which was really interesting. In other respects it was very similar to Trini food.
By the time we reached Nelson’s Dockyard, the rain had stopped. We paid $16 admission, and asked about an ATM, since we didn’t have enough cash for a cab back. The lady at the desk said there was one in the market at the entrance, so we stopped into the booth. We both tried our Schwab debit cards, and the machine said it could not service our request at that time. That made us a little nervous, because we hadn’t had trouble at the ATM elsewhere. We decided to look for another one, or stop back later.
Nelson’s Dockyard is really incredibly scenic.
The weather had become perfect, though it meant we had to be really vigilant about sunscreen and shade with our sunburnts. We were just on the edge of being sick from them already. We decided to head to the museum first.
I feel like we’ve seen about 20 different British naval exhibits at this point (thanks to my nerdy husband), but it was still really interesting to hear how miserable island life was. Between the heat, humidity, bugs, and tropical diseases, I’m shocked anyone survived.
They had some pretty excellent old artifacts, including this set of wooden doors with soldiers’ names carved into them.
This was my favorite: “England expects that every man will do his duty.” Especially you, Antiguans whose country they stole!
There’s a wraparound patio on the upper level of the museum so you can overlook most of the complex. In the back there’s a little bakery:
From the museum, we went to wander around the grounds. There are docks encircling the whole peninsula, full of an incredible number of expensive yachts. We tried to figure out how many of them were charters or for hire, and how many private. There were definitely lots of both. Also, there was a mansion on a little island in the bay:
Bally had his obligatory cannon hangout there, too. (We also reapplied sunscreen at this cannon. It was critical.)
We decided to have some time in the shade at one of the bars along the marina (which also used to be part of the complex). We got a couple Wadadli, the national beer of Antigua, and hung out. I liked that even though it was a historic site, it still had writing all over the ceiling from past visitors. (While we were there, a group of women piled off a yacht and came in to climb on a chair and add their names.)
A bananaquit came to say hi while we were there, too.
It was unclear whether they had food there, and we didn’t feel like asking, so we decided to wander over to one of the other spots in the dockyard. We took the route along the marina, gawking at all the yachts. They were incredible, and it drove me crazy to not know all their stories.
We came across a small restaurant that I initially thought just served ice cream, based on the signs. Then I noticed a menuboard out front that listed roti! We went in and asked if they had vegetarian roti, and they did. Then it was officially my favorite day. Wadadli and roti for lunch, while hanging out watching yachting people do their thing.
After lunch, we walked over to give the ATM a try again. I got the same message, which made us officially nervous, since we’d have to get a cabbie who was willing to take us to an ATM so he could get paid, and what if we couldn’t get cash? Then I thought to try choosing ‘savings’ instead of ‘checking’, even though I only have a checking account at Schwab. That worked!!! We both got out some more EC$, and could then relax about the trip back. We headed back out to the dockyard to wander some more.
I’m not sure why the taxi driver had told us there was nothing to see there. There was a ton, and we’d barely scratched the service. There were a couple nicer restaurants, shops, and all the waterfront activities. There’s even a hotel there. It was really pretty, and I wish we’d had more time.
This is the side entrance to the hotel:
It was getting late in the afternoon, it was really hot, and the place was definitely emptying of tourists, so we decided to get a cab back. We could tell it was past tourist time, too, because it took us a while to get a driver.
This is one of the very old churches we saw along the way. I want to see more of Antigua.
Our driver dropped us back in St John, at the entrance to the duty-free area that every cruise port has. We stopped into a liquor store and got a bottle of English Harbour, and since we had some EC$ left and a bit of time to kill, we found a table at a bar a block from the ship called Cheers (of course). That’s where everyone from the three ships at the dock was sitting, too, but as long as we had a table and some barely-functional wifi, I didn’t mind. Presidenta and rum punch helped, too. Also, the place was run by a Syrian family, and we really wanted to know the story with that.
This white-rasta-jesus-looking dude was out dancing on the street and posing for pictures, then he came in for a beer. Haha.
Close to boarding time, we decided to head to the ship. There was an actual line of people down the block, all waiting to reboard. I’ve never seen that before.
We went to our room to clean up, then headed upstairs for pizza and a drink for Marlon’s bar, which we took back down to the cabin for sailaway.
We’d showered off our sunscreen, so we did our best to protect ourselves from further sunburn. Matt made himself look like an invalid. (I’m still laughing about it, too.)
I made a tent from my sarong and hung out under it. How cute are those sad octopi?? I love them.
Antigua was probably the most scenic island to sail away from in the sunset. I really want to see more than just the ‘former British colony’ part of it.
Once we were out to sea, we went down to the martini bar. It was shockingly uncrowded again…shocking because it’s a legitimately good bar. We also needed caffeine, so I ended up with the trifecta of awesome beverages.
We hung out watching Ivo and Neuman work their flair magic for a while, then headed to dinner in the main dining room. We got seated right away at table one, so obviously we were very important. I had broccoli soup and another really excellent Indian dish, and Matt had crab cakes and Cajun drumfish. We split creme brulee for dessert, and then went down to Michael’s Club for their scheduled Scotch tasting.
As far as we could tell, we were the only ones there for the tasting, which was fine with us. We had Highland Park 2001, Macallan Makers Edition, and Glenlivet 12. We hung out for a while after that chatting with the bartenders (they’d become our favorites since we spent most of our time in there), and then grabbed a to-go Manhattan to take to the room, so we could go sit on our balcony and enjoy the stars.