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What was your first impression of St. John?

Travel discussion for St. John

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Re: What was your first impression of St. John?

Postby FinsUp » Mon Mar 06, 2017 9:12 am

We purchased our timeshare on STJ, sight unseen. Our first trip..we loaded up 3 kids ages 3/12-18 mos and headed to the rock. We rented a vehicle on STT and as we were navigating to Redhook..I thought to myself..Oh my..what have I done? this place is a zoo and so so busy. I had already decided, once we got to our villa, we were not venturing out until it was time to go back home. Upon arrival on STJ, I thought I had found heaven on earth. It was so quiet and peaceful and exactly what I had envisioned. Best sight unseen decision we have ever made!
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Re: What was your first impression of St. John?

Postby mahojim » Fri Mar 10, 2017 1:00 am

Stepping outside of ones-self is pretty cool after the first few visits...
You get to watch and listen to newcomers as they navigate through their experiences, with the bewildering "Ooooh's and Aahhhh's".
The views, subdued relaxed excitement, slowing down...the different scents...
Limin'...-getting it.
Waking up early,for ME,at least- like 8...
Living a full day, going to bed at 11, and that day feels like 2...-then you lose track of the days, usually a Monday through Thursday situation!
Some of the bathrooms...whoa.
Everybody going out of their way to wish you a proper greeting...
Making a right-turn while driving on the left was challenging...! The switchbacks!
So many plans to make, things to do, things not to miss,-then realizing that whatever you're doing, and wherever you are is wonderful.
8)
Cool part is that I still get the same feelings after all my visits.
Very grateful!
Smiles-
MJ
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Re: What was your first impression of St. John?

Postby Bigcheeze » Fri Mar 10, 2017 7:32 am

mahojim wrote:Cool part is that I still get the same feelings after all my visits.
Very grateful!
Smiles-
MJ

So true Buddy!!!

My wife will look at me and I get this certain grin as I'm driving down Centerline from the top of the mountain on our way back to the villa after a great day at the beach...and she says you have your ' St John Grin on'...as I do now thinking about it.

Dave/Bigcheeze

Enjoy the Journey
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Re: What was your first impression of St. John?

Postby 54b » Fri Mar 10, 2017 8:48 pm

Much like the "salmon of Capistrano," I return to this wonderful forum every spring in preparation for another trip to the Rock in June. And every year about this time, I look for a good post to reinsert my ignominious self into the message board...and Littlecheeze, your post looks like the best place to land. Great topic.

May 25, 2003, my wife and I and three other couples landed in Miami at about 8am. While waiting for our bags, a gentlemen walked up to us and said, "if you all are on the S/S Norway, your cruise has been cancelled, the boiler room exploded this morning killing 4 people."

Not knowing what to do, we got our bags and went and sat in the terminal drinking some of the contraband liquor we'd planned on sneaking on the boat. We were young and stupid, but resourceful. One of the couples had honeymooned at Caneel Bay a few years before and had brought a guide book of STJ since STT was one of the ports. Well, we called one of the villa companies that advertised in the guide, figured out their after hours emergency number and next thing we knew, we were at the American Airlines counter asking them if they could cut us a deal to fly to STT because we had a last minute villa waiting for us.

My head was still spinning when we landed in STT. It was too late to take the ferry over to STJ, so we spent the night at a Marriott. About noon the next day, we took the ferry over to STJ. For some reason, we didn't ride on the roof of the ferry, so I didn't actually see STJ and realize how vertical it was until I got in the car and thought I'd boarded a roller coaster. Up and down Jacob's ladder we went and passed that tree in the middle of the road next to the Westin and then up, up, up Rock Ridge road.

I had never rented a villa before. It seems second nature now, but at the time, the concept was completely foreign to me. I remember parking and thinking we were at the villa host's house. Why else would she have the keys? We piled out of our Toyota 4-Runner and down the steps into the main atrium of a villa called Inn Paradise, a 4 BR way up in the hills above Chocolate Hole. The host was running through all the things about the house as we all followed her around like she was tour guide at a museum. And then we rounded a corner and walked out on the deck and WHAMMO, that incredible view hit me like a ton of bricks and all I could do was just stare. And at that moment, all the stress from the previous day and worry about our vacation being a fail just vanished. After that, we made drinks, hopped in the hot tub and spent the next 5 days taking in a bunch more breathtaking views.

That was my first impression of STJ.

Trip #9 coming up this June. Can't wait.
It’s not about yesterday or tomorrow...It’s about today, for come what may – Sun, rain, or hurricane – we've only time for a smile, and none for sorrow
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Re: What was your first impression of St. John?

Postby cocosmom » Fri Mar 10, 2017 9:31 pm

My husband earned a free long weekend to the now Westin back in 1989. The "ferry" was a small boat filled with school children returning to STJ from school and my family. I will never forget getting in the jeep and riding down the North Shore with 2 very wide-eyed little girls in the back seat. Every corner revealed a new beach and we would just park and jump out to check out the gorgeous beache( all to ourselves). I miss that STJ!
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Re: What was your first impression of St. John?

Postby Timo » Fri Mar 10, 2017 10:21 pm

Wow, first time on island was Feb 1974. Friends family built house were NYC house on North shore is now:( Some of what I remember is indeed $1 Heinekens and also other green items at about the same price, hey it was the 70's. a lot has most definitely changed, some for the better, some not so much so. Great restaurants now as compared to back then. I remember The Out, The Lobster Hut and some others. Standing on Cinnamon Bay and seeing the Mansions on the hill is a bit depressing but, such is progress. With that said, I won't stop to lambast what the guys from NYC did to that parcel of land, shame on them!!!
Heading back the end of April for the 10th time since 74, it's still my favorite place on Earth!!
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Re: What was your first impression of St. John?

Postby inuny » Fri Mar 10, 2017 10:31 pm

February 2005. We stayed at a condo in Pastory. It rained at night and the rain was dripping into my bedroom. The next morning, I hadn't done much planning-just knew that Trunk was the most famous beach. So we went there and was told by the NPS staff that the swells were up-try Salt Pond. Huh-where's that? Anyway, we found it. Went to Lameshur the next day (the road is in way better condition nowadays).

By the end of the week, we were hooked.
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Re: What was your first impression of St. John?

Postby hoosierdaddy » Sun Mar 12, 2017 10:17 pm

Jim , you didn't mention unpacking! Sorry, I am usually not that colorful but I think in one of your posts a few years ago was the first time I had heard of that term. Its been a joke between me and my wife ever since.

Thanks
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Re: What was your first impression of St. John?

Postby chicagoans » Mon Mar 13, 2017 5:43 pm

Thanks to this forum, I fell in love with STJ before my first trip. That was about 9 years ago: our first trip was after Christmas and over New Year's Eve, 2007/2008. We stayed at Starlit Escape with 2 other families.

My first impression was from the top of the ferry - I was both wildly excited yet felt very serene... like I had finally gotten to a place I knew I'd love.

After getting our Jeep, Jared from Starlit Escape led us across the island to Coral Bay, and stopped at the overlook on Centerline where we could see the blue roof of the villa and out to the sea. Sigh. I still remember that drive along Centerline, and my darling DH (since passed) asking "Are you excited?", knowing full well that I was. I still feel that excitement driving across to Coral Bay (we've always stayed on that side.) I've run that route 3 times too, doing 8 Tuff. Hoping next year makes it #4.
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Re: What was your first impression of St. John?

Postby PatrickMcc » Wed Mar 15, 2017 2:52 pm

Thanks for posting this Littlecheeze as I enjoyed reading through the responses and thinking back to 1983 when we first visited. I read about St John in National Geographic in the middle of a cold winter night in 1981 when the snow was drifting outside my window. The pictures were fabulous. Not to long after that I read a story about Cinnamon Bay in the travel section and I said to my wife "we can afford this with our two year old." We had never camped but this looked nice. I booked Cinnamon Bay in the late winter of 1981 but a few months later we found out my wife was pregnant- due Feb. 1982-the same month as our trip. I wrote to Cinnamon Bay and they REFUNDED MY MONEY- would that happen today?
In Feb 1983 we arrived on St John with our 1 and 3 year olds and went to Red Hook where you waited in a parking lot by a small booth where you purchased your ferry ticket. The ferry arrived on St John at a small dock. there was no Lavender Hill, no Battery Hill no Grande Bay and no Wharfside Village. We can't remember if Gallows Point was there that first year. A Local lady named Mary drove us to Cinnamon in her sedan, stopping at several overlooks along the way. We were awed and Mary was fun and enthusiastic. In all the years after that we never did see Mary again.We got cottage 8 at Cinnamon which is a premier cottage-no extra money, no special reservation-who knew. We walked to Trunk Bay once that week but otherwise stayed at Cinnamon to swim.We had breakfast and lunch at the cottage and ate at the cafeteria every night except for fish fry night. One night we took a special safari vehicle to the fish fry in Cruz Bay which local citizens put on. Even the cold showers did not deter us. We still remember saying to each other that people at home would think we were crazy for paying $75 a night for a 12 by 16 cottage and you had to walk through the jungle to go to the bathroom and take a cold shower. We loved the beauty of Cinnamon Bay, the warm temps and warm ocean water and the convenience of being on the beach with two small kids. We were amazed that when we sat on the cottage patio every night as the kids slept there were no mosquitos. From what I have heard that may not still be true- climate change? time of year? or just luck? we returned to Cinnamon for six years, tried Maho Bay once, and then moved on to condos and villas until the late 90's when the kids went off to college.
However. Littlecheeze, I bet this happens to you. When my oldest daughter had her first son she wanted to return with him and we did return twice. Her husband fell in love with the island as did the boyfriend of my other daughter and we returned once more with our grandson and the others but then my daughter had twins so we stopped for a few years. Next year we are all planning to return with my oldest grandson and his twin brothers to continue the tradition.
A few other memories. In the next few years after our visit we would rent a vehicle for one day (can you do that now?) and drive around the island. Until the Lime Inn in the mid 80's I think the only restaurant was a bar where the Irish Pub is now. The grocery store was very small. The clinic was a small building on the waterfront which I think is still a small medical facility today. My 3 year old woke up from her nap that first year and said she could not open her eyes. Very worried I took her to that clinic on the safari taxi, thinking all the way why did I bring my child to this faraway island, she must have a bad tropical infection. The nurse in the clinic was examining her; I was worried that there was no doctor when in walks a gentleman tourist who overhears us and says he is a doctor at a Manhattan eye hospital and he would be glad to look at her. Diagnosis was sunburn and she was afraid to open her eyes because they hurt. She was fine.
Littlecheeze, I hope that you continue to have many fantastic trips to St John.
Thanks again for the chance to go down memory lane.
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