Farewell Grenada, Next Stop: Antigua

All packed and ready to go.

Upon leaving Grenada I was greeted with yet more rude staff at the LIAT check-in desk this time, I can’t even leave without another dose.

Our driver had taken special care to bring our luggage into the airport and place it at the front of the queue to make it easy for us to step forward when called.

When the check in staff finally arrived at the desk, one of them became aggressive and shouted that we shouldn’t be standing where we were and that the luggage was too far at forward (about a metre if that, and the luggage was a pile of heavy suitcases). When we tried to explain what had happened she bellowed at the top of her voice we are the staff and we are telling you”.  No inclination to listen or communicate calmly, just arrogant loudness.

I thought ‘we were the customers’ without whom you would have no job. Hmmmm!

The goodbye was just as frosty as the welcomes described earlier.

Very disappointing.

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Refusing to listen to a customer, and bellowing in a loud and arrogant manner. Lovely!

We can all see that you are the ‘staff’ and it’s nothing to brag about, unless you think everyone in the airport desires to be in your shoes doing your job. Seriously!

The whole ‘us and them’ mentality is absurd when you’re dealing with customers unless you enjoy antagonising and alienating people.

Once again, another member of staff at Grenada’s Maurice Bishop International Airport showering tourists with warm and friendly hospitality. Not.

Now onwards to Antigua via a stop off and plane change in Barbados.

LIAT here we come…..

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Goodbye Grenada

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So we get on the correct flight bound for Antigua, which should have been our only flight before landing in Antigua  – we end up landing in Barbados, everyone is told to disembark and board another LIAT flight bound for Antigua (stopping off in Dominica), which of course happens to be delayed by 45 minutes, what else would we expect from LIAT.

Takes a deep breath!

We got there in the end.

 

 

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Sail Away: Goodbye Carriacou

I was sad to leave Carriacou and would have liked to have spent longer there – I would definitely like to return for a dedicated holiday in the future.

A peaceful, battery recharging holiday.

Having flown to the island, sailing back to mainland Grenada by ferry was a welcome contrast.

The sunsets along the way were well worth the long, breezy choppy journey.

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Music:  Fool And His Money by Mighty Sparrow

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Sandy Island

A tiny crescent island off the coast of mainland Carriacou, Grenada.

An isolated island with a rustic charm.

Uninhabited.

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The crabs featured at the end of the clip were quite something. There seemed to be hundreds of them all living under a big pile of old fallen coconut tree leaves. As soon as our picnic/lunch was served, the crabs began migrating towards us en masse. I had to lift my feet off the floor while eating, for fear of a pinch.

The crabs had no fear, I had the fear.

These guys (hermit crabs, I think) were very different to crabs we’re used to seeing on the beach – you know, the one’s that peep out of their sand hole for a few seconds the disappear as soon as you make the slightest movement.

So I learnt something new about crab diversity!

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I also managed to pick up some pretty impressive old crab shells around the small pools of sea water, making sure they had no inhabitants first.

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The Little Mermaid! Carriacou

The Mermaid Beach Hotel and Restaurant is a perfect place to stay on the island of Carriacou in popular Hillsbourough.

http://www.mermaidhotelcarriacou.com

Just a short drive from the airport and situated on a beautiful beach front.

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So peaceful and charming

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Looking forward to relaxing here

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The ‘Carriacou Breakfast’

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Carry Me To Carriacou

Carriacou is one of Grenada’s sister Islands, and delightful contrast.

The second largest of Grenada’s Tri-Islands.

As well as the SVG Air flight, it is also possible to sail via Osprey Ferry from Grenada’s capital, St George or book an organised tour.

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Not only do you weigh your bags, ‘you’ also have to stand on the scale so they can weigh you too for this flight; it’s a very small plane!

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This is the plane I’m about to get on….yes I know it looks like something out of Toy Story and it only has nine seats.

I had always vowed never (under any circumstances) to fly in a light aircraft, and have always stood firm that I will always take the sailing option or abandon the journey in any given travel situation…..yet here I am about to betray myself. What am I doing?

I reassure myself that I’ll only ever do it this once.

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Here goes!

There were six people on my flight, we were strategically seated in order to balance the weight in the safest way possible!!!!

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It’s roughly a 20 minute flight, while the ferry is just under 3 hours, so you can see the appeal!
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I definitely felt more vulnerable and cocooned in this light aircraft, the mechanical noises were loud, I heard every squeak of the plane’s engineering, felt every bump/jitter and discovered that every part of my body could shake and bounce!

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Throughout the flight there is a woman further back in the plane making noises I cannot even begin to describe (fear can do that to people), she is having some sort of panic attack and clearly not happy to be taking this flight.
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As the panic at the back continues, the pilot spruces himself up with a spritz of fragrance, filling the ‘9 seater plane’ with his scent.

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Not being funny but,  if you had a troublesome passenger on board sat behind the pilot, it would be way too easy to grab the pilot and disturb the flight….just saying….luckily I was the person sat behind the pilot (so no danger of trouble, lol) but you just never know with people!

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Landing in Carriacou…..

Video clip music: Carriacou by The Mighty Yachtie

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All done.  Until this point I’d never fully appreciated the joy of tarmac – until this plane landed.

Despite not feeling acutely traumatised, I am still determined never to fly on one of these things again.

I’m just not keen.

I will not convert!

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Grenada Street Art

Art is anything that inspires creatively, or exudes a creative flare, there are no rules, it’s a free for all.

Grenada certainly showers you with bursts of colour as you wonder around.

“Look at the beautiful things in life”

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Mighty Sparrow

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Out and About: Grenada

 

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BBQ on the roadside
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Hidden houses

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Everyday people

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The man at the centre of Grenada’s Chelsea Flower Shoe exhibits
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Rainbow Eucalyptus, naturally colourful tree bark

Music: Aaron Duncan – Can You Feel It 2016 Soca

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Back to the beach

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Downtown: St George, Grenada

The bus ride into town:

Vibrant

Colourful

Fishing boats

Local produce

Hustle & bustle

Steep narrow streets

Vendors on the side walk

The waft of spices in the air

Spices for sale on every corner

Locals going about their daily chores

Picturesque views from Fort George and around the marina

St George, the capital of Grenada is  well noted for it’s pretty little harbour framed with scenic hillside.

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Colourful narrow streets leading up into the hills
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This mall backs onto the area where people disembark the cruise ships, so I guess it gets pretty hectic in here during peak season

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I wonder what a sea moss drink tastes like, I should have tried one…

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Spice sellers will shout out to you in this area, wanting you to come and look at what they are selling
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I know people walk through this tunnel, but I wasn’t brave enough…leave it to the cars!

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Ready for s steep and curious climb

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Worth the steep climb…in the blazing heat
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Such colourful buildings, almost like lego toys from a distance

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‘Always fresh, always true’

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Just a normal day in town

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Bananas so fresh they’re still on the stem
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Well if the cap fits….. 🙂

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Back on the bus

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Tutti Frutti Sunsation Tour: Grenada

A great day long tour, highly recommended.

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Concord Waterfall

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View of Carib’s Leap

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The spot where they leapt

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Lunch at the Belmont Estate

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Soursop drink
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Callaloo soup
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A fish dish

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Little donkey…
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Cocoa processing

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Let me out of here!!!!

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River Antoine Rum Distillery (1785)

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Water wheel dating back to 1785 and still working

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Time to taste
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Love the barrel side table and chairs
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Being the light weight that I am, even a small drop was too strong for me!

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Pearls Airport

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Now used for drag racing

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Grand Etang National Park & Crater Lake

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A crater lake in an extinct volcano
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A peaceful place

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The Japanese government donated these beautiful oriental decorations

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And of course the Gouyave Nutmeg Processing Station was also included in this tour :

Spice Up Your Life: Grenada Nutmeg Factory

Courtesy of the Grenada Sunsation Tutti Frutti Tour.

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Another Not So Warm Welcome in Grenada, St George.

So we decided to eat like the locals and pop into a restaurant/cafe in the hustle and bustle of St George.

Sample some local cuisine I thought, give some custom to local businesses (who you’d think would appreciate it more than your bigger more flourishing hotel empires), surely this couldn’t go horribly wrong.

Surely not.

Well sadly it did, and disturbingly so.

This is the place we chose to grab some lunch:

 “Deyna’s Tasty Foods”

With a brandishing of all that they ‘specialise’ in!!

I hasten to say, customer service, good manners and basic human kindness are definitely not one of their specialities.

Never in my life, have I encountered such disgusting face to face customer service in any place of business or delivery of a public service, anywhere in the world.

Never.

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Upon reaching the counter to pay for my purchase, I began to reckon up what the cost would be in US dollars (prices were in Eastern Caribbean dollars but I wanted to use up my US currency as my travels were taking me to islands that would all accept US dollars; I was still getting my head around the conversions). During this time, a local gentleman in the queue beside me began to helpfully advise me on roughly what the US dollar amount would be for my purchase.

How nice, I thought.

The local people are friendly and helpful.

At this very moment, the man behind the counter at the till (who I would describe as an elderly looking man with a balding head – seated at the till) interjected abruptly and said to the kind gentleman ” no no no, let her waste her money” quote, unquote.

This felt like a swift stab in the back.

Bear in mind that there were other people in the queue all witnessing and listening to this outburst.

The man’s scathing comment felt like an outright attack.

I felt discriminated against for being a tourist/foreigner.

I was stunned and speechless (which I can assure you is not in my usual nature).

I still cannot believe what just happened.

You are a business that relies on customers and a nation that needs tourism to boost your economy and this is how you treat them.

Coupled with The unwelcoming experience upon arriving in Grenada which I described in a previous blog, I was beginning to wish hard for the end of my stay on the island, regretting the money spent to holiday in Grenada and looking forward to never setting foot on that island ever again.

Not that it makes any difference, but parts of my family are of largely Grenadian decent, and I’m sure it would have broken my Grenadian grandparents’ hearts (God rest their souls) to hear me tell them that my very first visit to the Islands was overshadowed by what I have described above.

As cliche as it sounds, negative first impressions do leave a mark – as much as you might try to brush it off.

Going back to this incident, a group of people who had been on the same flight (and whom I’d witnessed in the immigration queue receiving the not so friendly welcome of the immigration ladies described earlier) happened to come into the very same restaurant just after my ordeal. What a coincidence!

I told them what I had experienced and we reflected on how disappointing the Grenadian welcome had been so far overall.

We also agreed not to let these experiences ruin or holiday – which I willed myself to try not to do.

I’m a firm believer in being open about things like this  – if bullies are not exposed they will continue to think their behaviour is acceptable, and drag down the reputations of decent people along with them. 

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Spice up your life: Grenada Nutmeg Factory

 

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The nutmeg aroma is fragrant throughout the tour, as you would expect.

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There is a very calm, peaceful atmosphere throughout as everyone gets to work.

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Courtesy of the Grenada Sunsation Tutti Frutti Tour.

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Grenada: Coyaba Beach Resort Hotel, Grand Anse

A quiet hotel on Grand Anse beach.

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The staff are generally friendly and polite (with the exception of one housekeeping lady who beat on my hotel room door  one evening, with such force and persistence I thought maybe the hotel was burning down or the police had some urgent matter to discuss with me) – but oh no…it was nothing of the sort.

Instead, the woman simply wanted to swap used beach towels for clean one’s, that’s all! I made sure to tell her I’d heard her on the first knock.

No apology.

If you had a young child sleeping in the room they would have awoken immediately – and if you had a migraine, it would have intensified instantly – very inconsiderate.

Apart from that, everyone else at the Coyaba was very pleasant.

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The hotel is on two floors

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Rooms are simple, fresh and citrus

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Feeling tropical!
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The misty mountain ranges are visible from one side of the hotel

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Many of the rooms on the ground floor were undergoing renovations.

The beach is beautiful, I can’t fault anything about it – ideal for peaceful sunbathing and catching up on a good book.

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You will find plenty of trees dotted around for shade, and despite being a public beach you will not get too much trouble from local sellers or charmers during the day!

One such charmer to look out for goes by the name of ‘Mr Lover Lover’ (just close your eyes for  a second and hear the sounds of Shaggy’s ‘Boombastic’ in the background, setting the tone suitably).

Anyway, while you’re lounging on the beach minding your own business, soaking up the sun, sipping a fruity drink, listening to the waves and chirping birds, ‘Mr Lover Lover’ will wander up from nowhere, flashing a smile and claiming to offer the very best massages around, and he won’t be shy about telling you how much he would love to give you one, and other words to the that effect. It’s something he says he does on the side of his day job.

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In the money?

 

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Food

Well breakfasts were great – buffet style, just they way I like them. I like to see everything on offer and try what I like in whatever quantity I choose.

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Evening meals were mainly by menu selection, though some evenings offer a buffet style spread.

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Entertainment

There was entertainment most nights, including singers, and steel band – though I would suggest ditching a lot of the slow sad songs (for those who have come on holiday to escape the blues back home – this won’t help).

Just stick with the more merry and upbeat.

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Facilities

I forgot to take a picture, but the safe in the room was a sore point. I’ve never come across one like this before. It had an external battery (like an AA size) on the outside of the safe door next to the key/number digits – which I assume made some part of it (namely the digital lock) work.

So I guess anyone in the room could just remove the battery – or the battery could die, leaving contents accessible to all and sundry.

I kept valuables on my person and locked in a suitcase – I followed my instinct and chose not use the safe, bearing in mind I only ever choose hotels that provide room a safe!

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Across the road from the hotel you will see a large shopping complex, including Spiceland Mall, and a KFC. The mall is quite big inside , with various souvenir shops, art shop, supermarket, hardware/homwaere store and local people in the entrance selling freshly cooked food and cakes. There is also a section with a range of takeaway/hot food eateries.

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Photographs showing the hotel when it first opened, the devastation caused by Hurricane Ivan, and the currently renovated hotel as it stands today

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Golden apple: aka Star Fruit from a beach seller

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The drainage dip on the sides of the road are home to what seemed like hundreds of crabs

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A Not So Warm Welcome to Grenada!

After long flight, and landing at Maurice Bishop International Airport, nobody expected to be greeted with the rude and hostile attitude of some ‘female’ immigration staff we encountered.

What a welcome, and how embarrassing on their part.

Perhaps these staff did not wish to encourage tourism into Grenada and preferred for us to return home to our native lands and spread the word that we are not wanted or welcome in Grenada. It was a truly shocking first impression.

Unfortunately, many passengers I spoke to from the same Virgin flight echoed the same sentiments.

It also seemed rather unprofessional of one officer to go around pouncing on people in the immigration queue, and putting them on the spot by loudly asking “are you a native?”. This shows a level of ignorance, as the people she picked on, all fit a certain image of what she thought a native looked like  – however in this day and age, people of all races and complexions can quite possibly hold a Grenadian passport, depending on their family ties and circumstances.

A simple “anyone holding a Grenadian passport, please step this way…” would have sufficed, rather than picking on people.

So not a particularly friendly or welcoming start to our Grenada visit.

Disappointingly this hostility didn’t stop here, I’ll come back to this topic in another blog.

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The sun begins to set on Grande Anse Beach

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Good night Grenada

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