Marvelous Martinique

Earlier this year, I journeyed to the island of Guadeloupe where I experienced the beauty of this small territory in the french west indies.  Last month I visited her sister island – Martinique.  Even though both destinations are french territories and the euro is the primary currency, each island has its own unique qualities and charms that standout.  Since I’ve already shared my point of view regarding Guadeloupe, I will provide a few highlights from my trip to Martinique.

On a cold winter’s day I boarded a Norwegian Airlines flight from the east coast of the US to Martinique and promptly took my seat near the window.  Same seat number as my trip to Guadeloupe – 4A.  The flight time was roughly the same as well – 4hours and some change.  As previously stated, Norwegian is a no-frills airline.  You purchase a ticket to board a plane, everything else is extra and a la carte.  Doesn’t make much of a difference for me because I always travel with snacks and reading materials, so I am well prepared.

Fast forward 4 hours and I have land.  Unlike the immigration process in Guadeloupe, it took a little longer to in-process in Martinique because there was only 1 agent reviewing passports.  After approximately a 15 minute wait, I was stamped and ready to collect my baggage and retrieve my rental vehicle.  When I visited Guadeloupe, I was hesitant to rent a vehicle because I’ve NEVER driven in a foreign country (barely can drive in the country in which I live).  However, I also remember that both islands were still in peak season and, if I waited to try to rent a vehicle when I arrived, I risked not having one or having a really high rate.  So, I rented from a local carrier and walked outside to wait for the shuttle.  This is where my trip soured a bit.

Unfortunately, it was late, I was tired and there was kid with grimy hands trying to touch me.  As a result of all of this, I was not paying attention and left my carry on bag by the bench.  Thank God I had my cellular, money and passport on me.  I lost a few material things, but it could have been worst.  Unfortunately I didn’t realize what happened until I was already at my hotel and started unpacking.  So, what is a woman to do when she loses a lot of her prized possessions and has only begun her trip?  Re-group and enjoy the remaining time, count her blessings for being able to travel and experience new cultures and countries, and purchase lots of rum to bring back.

The popular location where most visitors typically call home for their stay is Trois-Ilets; however, I chose to stay in Le Diamant which is roughly a 15 minute driver further down the road and approximately 30 minutes from the airport. The accommodations were basic, but clean.  Housekeeping only cleans the restroom and refreshes the soap; the bedding is changed and made once per week, but that is not a big deal because I do not stay in the room all day.  Wifi was only available in the lobby area which could cause issues if you wanted privacy.  But hey, I was there to explore and not stay in the room all day.

During my stay in Martinique, I visited Distillerie JM in the Northern Atlantic Region (they offer you as much free rum samples as you can stomach, but I declined since I was driving by myself; however, I participated in the self-guided tour).  Le Memorial de L’Anse Caffard was a definite MUST DO for me due to the historical significance.  There are not words for me to tell you about this experience.  Googling it will not do it justice, it will only describe it.  You HAVE to experience it because it will move you like nothing else.  I briefly visited La Musee de la Banane, but realized that it was not really something of interest to me, so I left and continued on my way.

On rainy, yet sunny Sunday afternoon I visited a local market where I purchased a bunch of the small, sweet bananas and some sugar cane.  How I love sugar cane, let me count the ways.  I also visited the Maison de la Canne for a quick look around and some photos.  Of course being the rum connoisseur that I am, I made sure to make a trip to the St. James Musee du Rhum in St. Marie where I picked up a friends (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée Rum) to bring back to the states.  Did I mention that you need a vehicle to get around?  If not, I will tell you now that you do.  Unless you have a few hundred euros to spend in transportation costs.  Besides, it is easier to drive yourself around and make your itinerary on your own time.

Martinique is so lush and vibrant.  The people are quite friendly, even driving a lost soul (moi),  going to a neighboring island, to the ferry dock so that they do not miss the boat. Thank God that I took several years of french language instruction in school and have been practicing diligently since my trip to Guadeloupe and could communicate that I was lost.  Definitely comes in handy as I am EXTREMELY geographically challenged and needed directions several times.  I really cannot comment a lot on the food because I am a very picky person and didn’t venture outside of my comfort zone.  But, there are tons of options (french, creole, caribbean, etc.) that can accommodate anyone’s palate.

A reader of this blog requested that I list the things that I like and dislike about my travel destinations.  I liked the fact that the people were nice and there is a LOT of stuff to see and do.  There is a lot of culture to experience.  To say that I didn’t like something seems a little rude to me because I try to respect everyone’s culture and environment.  However, I will say is that there were some people who were not as patient with me because I do not speak french as quickly or fluidly as a native.  While I understand the lack of patience, I am not one of those travelers who visit a location and says “Do you speak english?”  I try to converse in the native tongue.  So, I was annoyed on one occasion, but most of the time I was able to practice speaking french (and even encouraged to practice more).  Even though I had a map to follow (maybe not good because I am still geographically challenged), it would have been nice to have some signs on the roadway directing individuals to the major attractions and monuments.  But, stopping at a local gas stations will do the trick.

All in all, even though I had a small mishap at the start of the trip, I enjoyed my time in Martinique and am happy that I took the trip.

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More than halfway there – Bucket list #2

I am slowly, but surely, chipping away the remaining caribbean islands on my bucket list.  My written goal for 2016 is to visit 6 new islands, of which I’ve already completed 3.  However, in my heart, i want to visit at least 10 new islands this year.  I know it sounds rather ambitious, but I put it on my dream board and believe that if I work hard, I can make it a reality.  Hey, nothing beats a failure but a try!  Right?

So, to celebrate the fact that I have crossed the halfway point, I am sharing the my list of favorite islands in terms of first to worse.  Please do not send hate mail to me, if you do not like my ranking.  It is solely based upon cultural significance and awareness, fun factor, relaxation, ease of navigation, and food.  The rankings will be updated after each trip and I will publish an overall updated listing when I am 75% complete (hopefully by the end of the year, God willing).

  1. St. Maarten/St. Martin
  2. Jamaica
  3. Barbados
  4. Guadeloupe
  5. United States Virgin Islands
  6. St. Lucia
  7. British Virgin Islands
  8. Trinidad and Tobago
  9. Dominica
  10. Martinique
  11. Anguilla
  12. Bermuda
  13. Bahamas
  14. Curaçao
  15. Cayman Islands
  16. St. Barths
  17. Puerto Rico
  18. Dominican Republic

Coming up within the next six months – Belize, Turks and Caicos and Haiti.