Sunday, March 16, 2014

Antiguan Arrival

A First Beer - Vacation's Officially Under Way

Suffice it to say that there are no direct flights from Vancouver to Antigua. I'm not blessed with the ability to sleep on planes; so, by the time we'd finished off our red eye to Toronto and arrived at our Caribbean destination, we were more inclined to take a nap than hit the beach. That wasn't really an option though.

We'd arrived to an empty villa. The other travelling Dinner Club members had landed the day before us and our roomies, Axel and English Doc, were out touring with Lady Di and She Who Must Be Obeyed. Our resident hosts, Jeaux and Matinder were playing tour guide to some other friends of their's who'd sailed into port on one of the ubiquitous cruise ships. So, Boo and I threw our duty free Gin into the freezer and decided to take in a bit of a tour of Jolly Beach and the resort environs.

Antigua isn't a particularly large island. One of the Leeward Islands and found on the Eastern end of the Caribbean, its circumference is roughly 87 km and the population is only around 80,000. It does, however, boast the fact that it has 364 beaches - basically a different beach for every day of the year. We took a stroll on one of the beaches embracing Jolly Harbour and knew that the vacation had officially commenced when we quickly wandered across a little beach stand and bought our first Wadadli - the local Antiguan beer.

You know a country can't be all bad when you're allowed to cruise the beach beer in hand.

After getting a little sand on our feet, we hit the local Epicure market on the way back to the villa in order to stock up on a few essentials - like wine. As we wandered the aisles, we kept thinking Antigua is one very pricey country when it comes to groceries - everything was way more expensive than it was at home - even tropical fruit. I definitely thought we'd be taking it easy on the booze when I saw that Guado al Tasso was $193 and Tignanello was $253. I thought wine was expensive back home - with Tig going for $100 - but this was hefty with a capital "H." Luckily, I quickly found out that the prices shown were in EC$ and that the exchange for the Caribbean dollar is basically 3 to 1. Phew!

Not That Bad A View, I'd Say.
We returned just in time to find that our roomies were back at the villa and that they were prepping cocktails for the arrival of our other travel mates. Jeaux and Matinder were still entertaining their cruise pals but Lady Di and She Who Must Be Obeyed were joining us for the evening. Unfortunately, we had to start our evening with a toast to Tyrant and Panda Guy - our missing Dinner Club mates - because they had to cancel their reservation for the Dinner Club when a family medical emergency happened.

We promised to do our best to drink what would have been their share though. It was the least we could do.

After some Caribbean-styled B&T's, we all hiked down to the resort village for a late dinner.

1550. 2012 Montagnac Cinsault (Pays d'Oc IGP - France)

By now, I'd realized that we likely wouldn't be drinking a lot of big reds while in Antigua. The heat and humidity - not to mention the local cuisine - just cry out for chilled whites and rosés. So be it.

Our curried lobster and goat roti might have been more representative of a resort than the local roadside food stops and our Cinsault Rosé might have been more acclimatized to the Mediterranean than the Caribbean - but, for a first night in town, they suited me just fine.

By the time that first bottle was finished, all the travel was hitting me with a vengeance. Some island touring and our long-awaited Dinner Club were now only hours away; so, we succumbed to the pillows calling our names and we didn't wait around to see if the restaurant bar started jumping to the island beats and deejay. There was still plenty of time for that.

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