Monday, March 28, 2022

[CHARLOTTE AMALIE] The Danish West Indies


Aside from seeing two Virgin Islands every year at Miss Universe, I know next to nothing about them. Now that the possibility of visiting both has come to fore, I decided to read up a bit. Who would’ve thought that Denmark used to have territories in the Caribbean? Apparently, the US Virgin Islands were once called the DANISH WEST INDIES before the United States purchased them in 1917 from the kingdom of then Denmark-Norway, pretty much the same thing they did buying Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines from the Spaniards. Island shopping much, ‘MERICA?


Nowadays, the US Virgin Islands enjoy or suffer, depending on how you look at it, the same ambiguous status as an unincorporated US territory. They are neither de facto sovereign nor considered part of the 50 states. As to what that entails, I wouldn’t know. What I know is that Puerto Ricans are divided with regards to statehood and remaining a part of the USA. I wasn’t able to gauge the predominant sentiment in Guam or the Virgin Islands, even though the latter does not seem to have the unenviable probability of getting bombed should ‘Merica end up in a war in the Pacific.


The US Virgin Islands are easily accessible from the mainland. Flights from New York will take around 4 hours of travel time. As for geographic location, the islands are right next to Puerto Rico, so you might want to do both territories in tandem if you are already there anyway. The capital is Charlotte Amalie which is on the island of Saint Thomas. There are two other islands: Saint John to the east with its national park as well as Saint Croix to the far south which has its own airport.


I only visited Saint Thomas, which I guess gives me a reason to go back one day for the other two. Landing in Charlotte Amalie is considered a domestic flight so there are no hassles. Flying back to the mainland is another story because of security and TSA procedures. Suffice it to say, flying to Saint Thomas is hassle-free. Flying back to ‘Merica, make sure you allot AT LEAST two hours if you don’t want to miss your flight.


What I enjoyed the most about Saint Thomas is how tourist attractions are readily accessible either from the airport of from its deep harbor port, which seems to host at least one docked cruise ship daily. Norwegian Cruise Line was there during my first day, followed by Princess the next. There are no Ubers here and the most common way of getting around is by taxi, which is regulated by the government. You will see tariff boards at the airport and the port telling you how much it will cost to go anywhere solo or in a group. That makes tourism easy even in the absence of a predetermined itinerary.


Since I only had a day to spare, I had to choose between Magen’s Bay and Mountain Top. The one-way taxi fare for one person to Magen’s Bay is $10 from the cruise port and $11 for Mountain Top. The caveat is that Mountain Top is a mountain, as the name suggests. Since the only thing to do there is get the best view of the harbor from a high vantage point, the taxi will only wait for five minutes before taking you back down to the port for another $11. Exceed those five minutes and they begin charging by the minute.


Magen’s Bay, on the other hand, is a popular beach that never runs out of tourists, meaning there are taxis stationed there and a lot of passengers to go back downtown with. That brings the fare down to $8. Magen’s Bay Beach is nice, crescent-shaped, and is a natural cove with a few small boats always littering the horizon. It has a bar serving strawberry daiquiri which I am quite addicted to along with a snack bar serving pizza and burgers next door. The crowd was a mix of young people and retirees. You won’t feel out of place, although it does seem weird being there alone because it is mostly frequented by groups.


Downtown also has some of its own attractions. Since the islands used to be a Danish colony, you can still see some vestiges of colonial architecture here and there. Perhaps the most obvious one is the red fort which houses a museum, just right across the legislature building. Of course, everywhere you look gives you a glimpse of the glistening bay with its various shades of blue, along with its many boats, yachts, and cruise ships just floating there.


[CHARLOTTE AMALIE] The Danish West Indies

0 creature(s) gave a damn:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Protected by Copyscape DMCA Copyright Detector
 

Film Review

Film Review

Theater Review

Theater Review