Monday, March 13, 2017

Paradise

Last winter, after a few snowstorms and a lot of cold weather, we decided to (hopefully) start a new tradition....take a warm weather trip when we desperately need it: winter. Best idea ever! Although, this year the winter has been extremely mild, so the "cooped up/itching to get out" feeling wasn't nearly as strong as last year. That doesn't mean we enjoyed our trip any less. It was still amazing. I would go back in a heart beat! 


This was our big trip of the year with our typical crew: The Clutes, Sara, Peter and Rachel. Ever since our matriarch Grandma passed away in 2014 we have gotten together for one big trip every year. We love to cruise, but this time we wanted to stay in one place (easier with kiddos). After a lot of research we decided to rent a house on St.Maarten in the Caribbean. We had visited the island briefly on a cruise in the past, so we had an idea what to expect. Beautiful beaches, Caribbean blue water, and warm weather. We scoured the internet and found an amazing house in our price range, booked the flights, and started counting down the days until our trip! Finally the day arrived and we were off to paradise.....


We arrived at the house Saturday afternoon, got the tour and immediately put on our swimsuits. The girls couldn't wait to get in the pool! We spent the afternoon enjoying the house, the pool and of course the view!




all aboard!

post swim smiles 



Then we stocked the fridge with necessary groceries and eventually headed to dinner. We ate at an adorable Italian restaurant, Mezza Luna, 5 minutes from the house. It was on the water and we were able to bury our toes in the sand as we enjoyed the most delicious home cooked pasta. Great start to our trip!



We wanted to spend our first day at the beach, so we headed to one we heard was kid friendly but also had a bar (priorities!). Friars Bay Beach was ideal! The was one of my favorite days. We had a front row spot, there weren't very many people, and the water was perfect. We spent all day sipping drinks and playing in the sand and ocean. There was even live music, including a guitar solo on the beach! Vacation at it's finest.









Unfortunately our third day was a little rough. Charlotte woke up with a fever (which made her little sunburn look awful!). We dosed her to try and break it, and even though it came down a bit I was worried and decided to take her to the ER. Nothing says traveling with kids like a trip to the ER. I really didn't want to try and navigate roads in a foreign place and go to a hospital, but I'm glad we did. It turned out she had an ear infection. Even though it was less than ideal, the hospital was quick and we were home 2 hours later. She was on the mend and I made it just in time for dinner. 
resting up in the hammock
Norah giving the hammock a try


When we booked our trip the company offered to send a chef over one night to cook for us. These ladies cooked an unforgettable Italian meal including bruschetta, homemade spaghetti, the most amazing meatballs, and a chocolate roll to die for. I couldn't finish it all and I felt so bad letting one morsel go to waste! With all that happened that day we didn't manage to get one single photo....of the chefs, the food, or of us as a group. :(



We decided to take it easy on Tuesday since Charlotte was still on the mend. We explored Philipsburg (what a parking nightmare!), had lunch and a few drinks, then headed home for the afternoon. The girls enjoyed cooling themselves off in the fountains. Who am I kidding, so did the grown ups!








That night we decided to go to Grand Case for dinner. We heard it was the culinary spot on the island and couldn't wait to select a restaurant on the beach. However, almost the entire island (or at least the French half) had the power out! There were only 2 or 3 restaurants in the area with lights. After a long wait we finally got seated and were able to eat. It was a good meal but it made for a long day and a couple of exhausted kiddos.



Since Charlotte was feeling more like herself Wednesday we decided to head to the beach. We went right down the street to Mullet Beach. There were more tourists here, but we still got a pretty good spot. We had to wait out a brief rainstorm, but then the sun came out and we were splashing in the water. This was one of Matt's favorite beaches on the trip. My favorite part was when a party boat pulled up and started blasting some music! Nothing says a beach trip like a little Jimmy Buffet.


Mullet Beach!

sheltering under the umbrellas while the rain passed


And this is the day we found the Christmas ornament for our trip. Charlotte and I were walking the beach looking for seashells and found this beautiful rock. Perfect memento from our trip.

After the beach we changed clothes and went off in search of food. We ended up in Simpson Bay at a pizza shop (yes they have a lot of Italian food on the island). This was the best pizza I have ever had! And we topped off our meal with some gelato and a few rides on the carousal. The kids loved every minute. 





During our cruises, when we have stopped to visit this island, we have typically enjoyed Orient Beach. So it wouldn't be a proper trip to St. Maarten without a stop. On Thursday we ended up a little north of the heavy touristy spot, but found a nice restaurant and some really comfortable lounge chairs. We even all went into the water together....waves and all! And it was a lot of fun until a HUGE wave got the better of us (kids too). We swallowed a little water but came out laughing. 



a little cloudy but still beautiful


After the beach and a rest we got ready, took some photos, and went to dinner. 
the ladies

sisters



Dinner time with the crew! More legit live music!

Charlotte sitting with Peter, so Mommy got to babysit Giraffe


Friday was one of my favorite days on the island. We all headed out together and stopped at a local bakery for french pastries. They even had a legit almond croissant! My favorite! Then we boarded a teeny tiny boat and went to Pinel Island. It was definitely a popular spot, but we somehow managed to snag a front row spot and spent the day in the sand. We heard it was one of the best spots to snorkel, but due to low visibility the snorkel shop closed for the day so we just swam and built sand castles. 




couldn't keep this munchkin out of the water!

my supermodel moment haha!


I have never seen water so blue. It was shallow and warm and beautiful. 



cheers!





We even grabbed some ice cream from the Ice Cream Boat! 


pick out your own lobster!


On our way home we decided to stop in Grand Case and grab food at the Lolo's. A local spot with 8 different little restaurants. We chose a place by the water and enjoyed some ribs and shrimp. Yum!! 







After a few days exploring the beaches and island we were due for a day at the house enjoying the pool. It was relaxing and beautiful. 







nursing/napping in the shade


one of my favorites of this beauty

dancing with Daddy!

showing off her LLR dress. 

attempting photos - Charlotte was not in a cooperative mood




Our last day we headed back to Orient Bay area visiting Baby beach. It was a super shallow bay protected from the rough waves. The kids could swim and we didn't need to worry at all. They had a great time! 






one of my favorites of miss C




And before we left I had to get a picture of the kids where I took a picture of Charlotte two years prior.....




bye bye!!
I suppose at some point it is time to get back to real life, and on Monday it was our turn. We said goodbye to the house and the view and headed back to Maryland. Oh we sure will miss you St.Maarten!!!


you know you're exhausted when you fall asleep looking out the window. oh Norah! 


Another great trip under our belts. Thanks Rachel for taking us all on such an awesome adventure. We created so many amazing memories!! Miss this place so much already!