Jul 132012

Upon landing in Grenada, immigration was fairly quick and friendly, and soon I was in the arrivals area.  I knew the hotel/lodge I’d chosen based on TripAdvisor reviews was a little bit out of the city, so I’d e-mailed and asked the hotel to arrange a driver due to my late arrival hour.  I’m glad I did, because the Lance Aux Epines Cottages were definitely in a much quieter and residential area.   It was a small property definitely geared more towards self-caterers, and if you choose to stay here I’d probably say that a car is essential.

When I got there around 830pm the office was closed, but the hotel driver and the security guard knew where my welcome packet and key had been stashed.  The driver was also kind enough to point me to the nearest restaurant about 1/2 mile down the road which should still be open for a bit.  The Red Crab was about a 15 minute walk away, and probably one of the most amusing restaurants I’ve ever been to.  I had some jerked pork and a couple of rum punches, and sat watching a very strange mix of people.  Grenada is home to a large medical school full of (primarily?) Americans, and there were several here.  I wouldn’t highly recommend the food, but for location since it was the only thing in walking distance it definitely was a good find!

Back to the cottage (which by the way was huge – nearly 100 square meters I’d guess) and watched a little TV on the iPad before bed.  The rooms are not air conditioned, except for the bedroom, which worked out just fine.  Close the door overnight, and I was nice and ice cold to sleep.  It was quite nice having a coffeemaker and full kitchen in the unit, and this would be a fantastic place to stay as a self-caterer for a longer trip with friends or family.  The housekeeping staff will even go grocery shopping and cook local meals for you in your unit!  How’s that for a bonus!

I didn’t have much to do until my early afternoon flight, so decided to head out onto the hilly and humid roads for a run.  I made it a total of nearly 8 miles which was awesome given the oppressive humidity, but about 1 mile from finishing the skies opened up and an absolute torrential downpour ensued.  To the point that once I got back I spent the next two hours sipping more coffee, wishing I had access to food and, um, wondering how I was to get back to the airport.  See, it was Sunday, and everything (including the hotel office) was closed.

Decided to wander out at noon, and hope I could find someone who could help me arrange a taxi for some lunch and then the airport…or, since checkout was noon, I was hoping my driver would pick that time to wait around for me.  All the worrying was for nothing, because the hotel owner/manager had come in on a Sunday especially to welcome me and check me out (despite things being pre-paid) and take care of things.  The driver would be happy to take me to lunch, then come back in a bit over an hour to drive me to the airport.  Perfect!

I can’t say enough about how kind the staff were here.  It was probably not the best choice for me for a quick overnight, but for anyone on a longer stay I can’t recommend it highly enough.  Everything did, however, work out great in the end.  Based on many recommendations, I ‘d wanted to get lunch at BB’s Crabback, but unfortunately they were closed on Sundays….as were 90% of places on the island.  I decided to go with TripAdvisor reviews, and settled on the #5 rated restaurant in Grenada – “Umbrellas Beach Bar” which was near the airport, and whose site made clear they were open for lunch on Sunday.  Confirmed with the owner of the hotel and he was pretty certain they were, so off I went!

When I got there, it was a bit questionable.  There were several staff around at 12:15, but not a customer in sight.  I’d read this place could be packed with a long wait for a table, so I wondered what I was missing.  One of the staff quickly shouted “FIRST CUSTOMER!” and they scrambled I decided to take a seat at a high table at the edge of the restaurant near the lanai, so I could enjoy a view of the ocean while I ate:

It’s pretty easy in the picture to see just how heavy the rain had been.  This was nearly an hour after it had stopped, and there were still large ponds of water everywhere.  However, there was a nice breeze out, and after my run I was absolutely starving.  However, as was becoming tradition on this trip, it was tip to start with some rum punch!

This definitely tasted weaker than the 80% St Vincent variety, but after two I’ll admit…they definitely sneak up on you!  I was more than a little happy by the end of my meal!  Time to order…I was starving.  I think I shocked the staff with just how much I managed to put away.  It’s amazing what 8 miles of running and no breakfast will do!  For started, some fried conch fritters, which were absolutely delicious:

From there, it was time to move on to what all the Trip Advisor reviews raved were amazing burgers.  Now, I’ve lived in DC home of the burger-craze for a long time, so my bar on burgers is pretty high.  As expected, this one was pretty good, but definitely not amazing.  But given the location and how starving I was (and the price) it was excellent.  The fries, however, were extra, and I definitely wished I’d given them a miss.  They were semi-soggy, nothing special, and I think I left most of them on the plate.

Since I was already being a giant pig, the rum punch was hitting hard, and I had time to kill, I decided to move on to dessert!  The waitress highly recommended the brownie and ice cream, and who was I to say no!  It was absolutely enormous and I finished maybe half, but worth it!

After this, it was time for a washroom stop before heading to the airport….and I do have to say they had the best advertising.  70% alcohol rum?  No wonder things tasted weak here….nowhere near the 80%+ of St Vincent.  That said, two rum punches and I wasn’t going to feel anything for several hours!

Got to the airport, and check-in was quick and efficient once again . I don’t know what this crazy and confused LIAT people talk about is…so far they’d been flawless (if a bit unfriendly at times) to me.  There was absolutely no line for immigration and/or security, and I was soon in the air-conditioned departures area.  This area was definitely the best so far on the trip…lots of outlets for charging sponsored by the local cell company LIME, a small bar, three duty free shops…it was great.  I spent the time reading on the iPad and charging my devices while enjoying a Carib beer.

When I’d planned this trip, I really tried hard to find a reasonable route that would allow me to connect the six countries with five flights.  It just wouldn’t happen, unless I spent only like two hours in one of them.  Now, my time in Grenada was probably my biggest bust of the trip, but I still had a great night near the beach, a fun dinner, a good run…and a nice lunch where I got to bond with a few locals.  Can’t say it was a total wash.  The one down-side was that this was to be my one and only connection of the trip.  How would LIAT manage!

LIAT flight 726
Grenada (GND) to St Vincent (SVD) to Barbados (BGI)
Depart 15:15, Arrive 15:50, Flight time 35 minutes – 88 miles
Depart 16:20, Arrive 17:00, Flight time 40 minutes (second flight) – 116 miles
DeHavilland Dash-8, Registration V2-LES, Manufactured 1995
Seat 1A

The first flight was relatively empty, no more than 50% for certain. I had 1A and 1B to myself, and the um, guy I’d spent my Carib beer checking out in the departures lounge chose 2A and 2B to himself. Flight was quick, uneventful, I did some sudoku, and we were back in St Vincent…hello…haven’t seen YOU since last night! Only a few people got on, but a few more got off, so we remained just as empty to Barbados.

Again, LIAT was flawless. I had legroom, flights were early, and the crews were fun. I know that if I fly them enough I’ll get hit with the delay from hell (knock on wood, flying the, again in a month) but serious, so far this was like flying United on an ExpressJet commuter flight. It was pretty much flawless for a short haul experience. Only downside is that LIAT has NO catering at all – not even drinks. But seriously, flights are an hour tops, do you really need them?

Got off in Barbados, chatted up my seatmate in 2A a bit, and walked to immigration. Was offered a ride to my hotel (via his house) since his car was parked at the airport, and my most surreal Carly Rae Jeppson moment was about to begin!

  2 Responses to “Time in Grenada and GND-SVD-BGI (Barbados) on LIAT”

  1. Hey, I was at Umbrellas on July 6 and 7. Probably didn’t miss you by much. The ice cream sundaes looked good.

  2. Too funny! I was at Umbrellas on July 1!

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