| GENERAL INFO (Jump to Diary)|
The Virgin Islands of the United States, consists of the main islands of Saint Croix, Saint John, and Saint Thomas, and many other surrounding minor islands. The total land area of the territory is 346.36 km2. Previously known as the Danish West Indies of the Kingdom of Denmark, they were sold to the United States by Denmark in 1916. They are classified by the United Nations as a Non-Self-Governing Territory.
The islands were named by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage in 1493 for Saint Ursula and her virgin followers. Over the next two hundred years, the islands were held by many European powers, including Spain, Great Britain, the Netherlands, France, and Denmark.
The population is just above 106.000 of which Black or Afro-Caribbean count for 76.0%, White 15.7%, Asian: 1.4% and Mixed: 2.1%. Around 95% are Christians.
The United States Virgin Islands enjoy a tropical climate, with little seasonal change throughout the year. Here are 144 species of birds, 22 species of mammals, 302 species of fish and seven species of amphibians. The only endemic land mammals are six species of native bats: the greater bulldog bat, Antillean fruit-eating bat, red fruit bat, Brazilian free-tailed bat, velvety free-tailed bat and the Jamaican fruit bat. Reptiles manages better: The world’s largest species of reptile, the leatherback turtle, as well as one of the largest land lizards, the green iguana thrives here along with the red-footed tortoise. I would like to see the Virgin Islands worm lizard; Amphisbaena fenestrata.
The first part is not that interesting; it is mainly industrial buildings, although small. Further inland, the high hills are dotted with nice houses. Then I pass Nisky Moravian Church, a billboard for Captain Morgan, a grave yard and then a little fishing harbour. The water is packed with barracudas well over one meter - where the fishermen spill their guts. Then I pass an official looking building with an American flag, the US Virgin Island's flag and what most likely should be a Danish, although it is a bit narrow in the white and the dimensions are off.
When I reach the older
Charlotte Amalie, I turn into the
narrow streets. Here, it seems like 90% of the buildings are dating back to
the Danish ruling. Most are now shops with the most expensive jewellery and
fashion of the world.
I eventually make it to my hotel, but a bit too early. It is in the dead centre, but one street back, where it is way more quiet. I drop my bag a the office, and head a bit inland. Here, the old houses continues, although they get smaller and more wooden, and the time seems to have been harder on them. Here are a few pigeons but a lot of hens. Even down in the main street; Kronprinsessens Gade, you see hens.
The streets names are Danish most of the way: Norregade, Vimmelskaftet, Krystal Gade, Nye Gade, Dronningens Gade, Ny Tvaer
Gade, Vester Gade and so on.
I have a few sights here, but right now, I just enjoy
walking these old Danish streets and see the buildings. I see a single
Iguana on a pole, but I guess there will be more in the hills. They seem to
be blind to cars.
Back on the street, I find a roof top cafe, offering a nice lemonade and tea. I watch the busy road along the waterline and the breeze. Then I enters the city again, on what the business people call "a really quiet day". Well, here are hardly room for more cars, but I'll give them: I don't need the 25 souvenir stands all to my self. Especially as they have nothing handiwork at all.
I do the promenade all the way out of town, and return then by Kronprinsessens Gade, although I have no desire to buy either Gucci, Versace, Rolex, Cartier, Hublot, Mont Blanc, Rado, Armani, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada and least of all Pandora! But I love the houses they are sold from.
A bit after five, I'm hungry, but it is just as the
restaurants have closed! I finally find a bar/restaurant, serving a chickpea
burger. It is tasteless as no spices are used at all, and I think they have cooked
the "beef". I get a thin lemonade, and are supposed to pay US$23,50 plus at
least 10%, but more likely 20% tips. Well, I can't get that to more than 25,
and I still feel cheated! I prefer wraps!
15. I wake up on St Thomas, but head
straight over the island to the St John ferry. The bus drive give me a good
feeling of, what I can expect to see on the central part of St Thomas. And
here is nothing really interesting. Scattered buildings, small
bush-overgrown hills and nothing else. Further east, it is a proper city
again, but without the charming old houses.
Back from St John, I
have to wait a bit for a bus. The busses, by the way, is open-sided pickups
with room for 27 passengers. The left side is open at the end of each row,
and the price is $1, never mind how long you want to go - unless it is a
busy day: Then it might be $2. box
16. I'm up early to take advantage of the low morning light. I wander around Charlotte Amalie to see some specific buildings, and the rest while I'm here. My first target is the Government House, which is being rebuild inside now. It have a little square with a fountain and a great view in front, and a traditional Danish sentry box in front.
Next to it is the 99 steps - and four extra. One of the many staircases scattered around the city. At the end of this staircase, Blackbeard’s Castle is found. It is only by name, and it is only a little round tower, and I'm not going to wait for them to open, and pay $15 for a guided tour!
From here, I walk through the old town, some streets in and up the mountain side. Some houses are still impressive, others could use some paint - and a roof. I get way too high, but the old wooden houses and neighbourhood are lovely.
Eventually, I find my way down to the seaside and then
Frenchtown. They even speak French here, although an old form. Besides
from having the little harbour I saw when I walked in from the airport, here
are little of interest.
I have decided to investigate the other side of the island. On the other side of the 500 meter high mountain, Magen's Bay and it famous beach is found. It is said to be the best beach in the Caribbean. I had actually hoped for a bus, but despite I meet several, none is driving my way. It is a real steep climb, and the sun is straight in on the mountain side. On the bright side, it offers some great views over the bay.
When I eventually make it to the top, Drake´s Seat offers a great view over the northern coast and Magen's Bay. It is, by the way, for sale; $45 millions. Not bad, but the entrance fee is only $5, and it is fare from packed. I start with some water and a fruit punch, then I walk to the northern end.
It is a perfect, white beach with the perfect depth and wave, all 500 metres. In each end, some volcanic rocks are covered in bushes and huge cacti. Behind the big parking lot, a mangrove is found. I walk to the southern end in the water, and watch the brown pelicans.
Back at base, I get a pineapple juice, and then start the long walk over the mountain. I make a break at the hotel, before I set out to see a bit more of the central part of Charlotte Amalie. What at first look as a carnival turns out to be some religious fanatics, taking their big truck with speakers for a walk. When it darkens, I find my wrap-man, and then head home to the computer. Charlotte Amalie and Magen's Bay
17. I have nothing special lined up for the day, until my 16;30 flight. I just wander around the huge old town, desperately trying to find new motives. It is a real quiet day, and I'm able to get a few pictures without cars on. I get up the foothills with the small houses, down at the promenade and the blue sea, into the huge old Danish governmental buildings and the fortress and everything in-between.
I make a pit-stop at a rooftop for a tea, and in the shop
underneath to give
her a tip on Dominican Republic Taino wood-
and bonecuttings. I
could buy them for 30 c, she can sell them for $10
- at least. And it was Tainos, who lived here too.