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The Ultimate St. Croix Staycation Experience – East End/Christiansted

The video I’m sharing today is aptly named “The Ultimate St. Croix Staycation Experience” because it lived up to its name.  This was definitely one of the best staycations to date, made even better since it gave us an opportunity to explore Christiansted.

Right around our anniversary, my husband surprised me with an entire weekend of food and fun with our home base at Caravelle Hotel and Casino.  We lucked out with the very last room they had available and even better still was the fact that it featured a great view of the harbor where we even got to watch a dog parade while enjoying the hotel air conditioning {which is a rare luxury on island.}

We kicked off the first night with specialty cocktails at BES.  We caught a ride with the Caravelle golf cart driver to the bar and he told us about all the good spots around town.  When we arrived to BES, we got to chat with the owner, Frank Robinson.  He’s known around town as a master mixologist and “the bartender who cooks.”  J’s favorite was a handcrafted drink called “The Darker the Berry” and it combined plantation rum, grenada, guava berry rum and caramelized spiced orange.

Next, we enjoyed appetizers at Zion Modern Kitchen.  We started with their cheeseboard and mussels rockafeller then shared the veggie pasta with handmade pasta.

To cap the night, we had supper right on the board walk at Rum Runners.  We both indulged with the prime rib and shared the key lime pie.  It was nice since the restaurant is connected to the restaurant, we were able to linger after our meals, check out the tarpon that hang out in the water close by and people watch before eventually walking upstairs to our room.

The next morning, we got to sleep in for what seemed like the first time in a very long time.  We headed out to a late brunch at Baked Cafe and I was immediately charmed by its natural, earthy setting.  They feature local, health inspired dishes with a rotating specials board along side their stationary menu and I gravitated towards their mango-spinach smoothie and veggie breakfast tacos.  After a night of all-out indulgence, it felt nice to nourish and restore.

The last night we were on our staycation, J booked reservations to Galangal.  It’s a restaurant that we had been saving for a special occasion and it did not disappoint.  J started with a seared tuna appetizer and I went with the in-house smoked salmon.  For our entrees, J had the lamb and I had the short ribs and for dessert, we shared the ice cream sampler.  I don’t think I’ve ever had such tender short ribs before.

I was pretty sad to be leaving when we checked out of Caravelle but J had one more surprise up his sleeve.  We were headed to Buck Island for the first time together with Caribbean Sea Adventures.  The boat ride out takes about 30 minutes to and from and the views along the way are breathtaking.  We saw some gorgeous schools of fish and J even had a close encounter with several curious barracuda.  The last part of the trip was spent at the beach and we even got to see dolphins which I posted about on my Facebook and instagram.

All in all, it was a pretty spectacular weekend + progressive date night + staycation.  Though it can’t be like this every weekend, I’m starting to really find the value of having a stay-at-home vacation.  I left it feeling relaxed, reenergized and with a renewed excitement for our little island home in St. Croix…and to imagine, this was only the east end in Christiansted.  There’s still so much more to explore!

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai was actually our second stop in Thailand but J and I both agree that it was our favorite.  Our first stop was in Bangkok but there was something quite magical about Chiang Mai.  It was actually more developed than either of us were expecting, equipped with as many conveniences that Bangkok had to offer but in a more serene, calm environment.

A comically accurate snapshot of Thailand with motor bikes parked in front of the ubiquitous 711 and tarot card reader on the left with homemade goods for sale on the right.

One of the aspects about Thai culture I found particularly intriguing was the preservation of the old alongside all of the shiny new.

Left: a lady hand making rich curry pastes.  Right: a girl hand weaving brilliant scarves.

What captured my heart and attention were the people.  Never have I been to a big city where such kindness prevailed.  It’s called the land of smiles for a reason.

For about 20 baht, I was able to enjoy an abundance of fresh local fruit between each and every meal.  You guys know how much of a fruit freak I am so this was a really big deal for me.  I love how different their mango is from ours in St. Croix and tried rose apple for the first time.  Juicy mini pineapples, beautiful longans and sugary sweet papaya {one of my faves} and even deliciously stinky durian were also daily noms.  However, the highlight of my fruitventure {sure, it’s a word} were these incredibly candy fragrant mangosteen.

Twist off its hat and what’s revealed are segmented lychee lookalike fruit {as seen in my video}.  I highly recommend them if they’re in season.

Little girl in traditional garb on the steps of Doi Suthep.

At the top of Doi Suthep.

J ate here at a commensurate rate to my fruit consumption.  The famed Khao Kha Moo Chang Phueak lives up to its reputation for buttery, melt in your mouth pork which comes on a bed of rice with a side of pickled greens and boiled egg.  As a bonus, it was walking distance from our condo.

This would be a good a time as any to let you know that we pretty much exclusively lived on street food while we were there and did not get sick or die.  I highly recommend trying foods you haven’t had before and enjoying the authentic soul of these often humble yet extraordinary dishes.

Unbeknownst to us, our living quarters were situated right next to a Buddhist temple and we often enjoyed meals alfresco on the patio, listening to the bells ring {which was lovely except for the early morning dongs}.  Clockwise: J’s umpteenth helping of Khao Kha Moo Chang Phueak’s pork and rice, panko fried chicken soaked in house-made chili sauce and green papaya salad.

These khao soi noodles have become almost synonymous with the cuisine of Northern Thailand and not only did the ones at Khao Soi Khun Yai come highly recommended, it was also another spot that was walking distance for us.  These buttery egg noodles are complimented by the creamy spiced coconut broth and nicely contrast with the crunchy noodles on top.  They’re served with pickled greens, lime and red onion.  J enjoyed these a lot which is saying something since he’s not typically a fan of either soup or noodles.

We attended a Muay Thai match, per J’s request and what I figured would be me witnessing a senseless bludgeoning or simultaneously rolling my eyes and stifling consecutive yawns actually turned out to be an interesting night.  I watched with fascination as each boxer prayed before their turn and how artfully each “dance” played out.  It actually wasn’t senseless.  Later after speaking to a trainer, I discovered that much of Muay Thai is also about mental discipline alongside its physical aspect.

The gorgeous waterfalls at Mae Sa.  We hiked up to all 10 waterfalls which took us about an hour each way, though it probably won’t take you as long since I bet you’re not as clumsy as I am.

We were able to spend an entire day with rescued elephants.  No riding the elephants or watching them entertain or do tricks, just feeding and washing them, just as it should be.

I highly recommend the Elephant Nature Park.  Left: feeding the baby elephant bananas {corn and sugar cane were also on the menu}.  Right: nursing baby.

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