I did not book my flight from Antigua to Nevis until I arrived on Antigua. It was felt that there was no need to try to book a LIAT flight in advance from the States. My first mistake was thinking that one buys tickets in the same line that one checks in at. This is true in the States, but not for LIAT in Antigua. After waiting in that line for half an hour I learned there was a LIAT ticket office behind the American Airlines counter! Then I learned that the mid-day flight was full. I booked for a later flight and put myself on the waiting list. Then I periodically called. Tuesday, the morning of the flight it was still full, but I decided to risk it and went to the airport. When I got there it had seats, and the plane flew with a few empty seats.
On the flight I befriended a fellow going to Nevis to repair a pipe organ and he gave me a ride in his rented car to the Sea Spawn Guest House. Since I don't like taxis--I find them to be vultures--I had been hoping that I could take a bus into town. Having a ride I did not need to, but checking later I found that it is very doable, just walk out the airport driveway and wait by the highway.
I put my things in my room and first stop was to rent a bicycle. Carleton Meade is one person renting them and was within walking distance. I trotted off. He said all his bikes were out of commission, but if I came back at six he'd have one for me. So to pass the time I had lunch at Eddies and wandered around town. I visited the Hamilton House, the Bath Hotel, and the Nelson Museum.I learned that Wednesday evening is the only evening that Eddies is open, and that is the action on that evening. The taxi drivers did try to solicit me for a ride, but at least on Nevis there aren't very many of them.
Then I went back for the bike and tried it out until it got dark. It was an inexpensive mountain bike that needed air in the front tire (which I pumped up), some oil in the chain, and a tuneup. But it was only $10 a day.
Dinner time came. The guidebooks recommended Muriel's Cuisine as a place for Caribbean food. I walked up the hill to her place to find it closed, and she and her husband watching TV in his store in front. Business is real slow in the off-season, made worse by the Four Seasons being closed. But she opened up and made me a meal with local ingredients which was one of my best. With a very generous tip it was $17.
I then wandered around some more to see if anything was going on in the town. I got out the bike to see how far the street lights went. I passed by Seafood Madness and seeing a couple of women eating there I stopped in for a drink. A chat with the owner learned that the only thing happening on a Tuesday night was at Sunshine Beach. The Polynesia cruise ship anchors off shore and a tender brings people in for a party. Since this was beyond street lights he suggested I take the bike back to my room and walk along Pinney's Beach until I reached them. Then, before leaving, I chatted for a while with the English mother and daughter that were eating there.
At around 11 PM I reached Sunshine Beach. This was now an hour and 20 minutes since learning of the party. As I arrived the tender was heading back to the ship for its last trip. I bought a drink and learned that earlier there had been many single women there from the cruise ship. Oh well. I walked back to the Sea Spawn along the road.
The Sea Spawn turned out to the nosiest place I have ever stayed at. No A/C, so I had the windows of both sides of my corner room open. I'm used to the roosters at 3 AM, and the occasional dogs, but here there were also donkeys with their most horrible sounding honk, plus an occasional goat. And the noise from the street traffic! Then at 6:10 AM the person in the house that was only a few feet away turned on his radio full blast.
For breakfast I went back to Muriel's. I had the best breakfasts there on my whole trip. Bacon, eggs, fruit, juice, and homemade potato puffs all for $xx (including tip).
Then I was off to circle the island. The roads on Nevis are totally covered with patched over pot holes, plus a few craters and pot holes not yet patched. This was no problem for a mountain bike, and I was in no rush. This also had the advantage in keeping the speed of the traffic down.
I biked clockwise. This was recommended as there is a steep hill south of town. I also prefer that direction as it puts me on the side of the road closest to the water. First stop was a place along a black sand beach for some orange juice. Being hot, and really too hot to be biking around, I would stop often for refreshments. She only had OJ with sugar added, so she offered to fresh squeeze the juice. Very nice. I made stops along the way taking pictures.
Following a map I was looking for the highlights. I missed the ruins of the Cottle Church, as for some reason I wasn't looking for them. I stopped in at the Newcastle Pottery workshop and store. I kept looking for the Eden Brown house, but there was no sign and I missed it. I thought it was far from the road, but apparently it was fairly close and I was told I did see it, just didn't know it. I found the Lime Kiln, I think. I missed the New River Estate. Then I came upon the first of the four plantation inns that I knew of. I was hungry and checking the map decided to stop at the Golden Rock. I walked up the road to it (I had also walked my bike a few times previous--some hills too long to bike up in the heat.) It was a long walk in. Then I came to a fork, and one direction had a sign for a private road. The other took off to the side. Not knowing which way I decided to give up and to eat lunch at the Old Manor Plantation instead. I hopped and my bike and took off.
The Old Manor was my favorite plantation based on looking around. I went in for lunch. The place was empty. When I started to tell the staff that I couldn't eat wheat they stated that the owner of the place (off-island at the time) also couldn't, and they had some gluten-free bread in the freezer they could use with my burger. However, despite their claimed knowledge I somehow got gluten in my meal.
Next stop was Zetlands. This is the site of a hotel that was damaged in the hurricane of 1989. The views are absolutely stunning, and one can see off two sides of the island. There is a group that wants to restore the place, adding condos, villas, and a golf course. But little work has been done. Apparently they haven't sold any.
I then biked down to the main road then up again to The Hermitage. Then I looked at the map and discovered I could have biked straight across between them. The Hermitage is a collection of very old wooden structures. I found the place to be cute. Apparently the site includes the oldest wooden structure on the island.
I was now into visiting all of the plantation inns. The next coming up was Montpelier. This was a bit hard to find. First the sign on the main road was covered with overgrowth, and management hadn't bothered to clear it off. Then a ways down the road one of their signs pointed in the wrong direction. After going a ways I stopped to ask someone, and they were used to people asking! Then the maps in that area are not particularly accurate. Eventually I found it. Very lovely gardens. Next was the Botanical Gardens. This is a new garden, and it looks it. Then on my way into town I stopped at the Hamilton Estate. Interesting ruins with a lovely view.
That night, it being Wednesday, the action was at Eddies. I had told Muriel at breakfast that I would be going there. Later I realized that no reason I couldn't leave Eddies and eat at Muriel's and then return to Eddies. But since I had said I was going to Eddies Muriel did not expect me, and she was closed that evening. An unexciting meal at Eddies was the only remaining option.
After another noisy night at the Sea Spawn, this time with the people living on the other side banging metal shutter at 5:45 AM I began to decide I should leave Nevis a day early. Nothing was going to happen on Thursday night there, and my plans to take the first ferry to St. Kitts the next morning would only force a rush. Another breakfast at Muriel's and then I wanted to go back to the missed Golden Rock. Also Muriel had given me a new Tourism guide and it was highlighting a place called Fothergill, a large estate they are planning to develop into a Nevisian village as a tourist attraction. I took a bus to the Golden Rock. I learned that the day before I had stopped only a couple hundred feet short. All I needed to do was to go up the branch that said private road. The Golden Rock is noted for a honeymoon suite that is inside of the sugar mill on the property. While there I picked up a map and took their 30 minute nature walk. This was a nice substitute for the climb to the top of Mt. Nevis. It went through a ravine that had original growth. Then I walked to Fothergill. Not much had been done yet. Then a bus back into town.
By lunchtime, again at Muriel's, I had decided to walk out on my room. I had put down a deposit for two nights and saw no reason not to skip out before the third night. I called the place on St. Kitts and they said I could come early. Muriel's husband had been talking about a place he knew that was better and cheaper than the Sea Spawn, and he wanted me to see it. So he called and the woman came over, and off I followed on my bike. Well, it was much nicer, but not cheaper. Up on a hill above town they had just built a guest house. All new. Very large rooms. TV, phone and a nice kitchenette. Air conditioning in the bedroom(s). Very contemporary furniture. They were asking $80 a night for the ones with one bedroom and $140 for the ones with two bedrooms.
Then I wanted to see the damage to the Four Seasons. I biked to Sunshine Beach and walked up to the Four Seasons. All demolition had already taken place. The undermined pool was gone. The rooms on the first level were gutted. I took pictures anyway.
Then off to return the bike, pack, and walk to the ferry. Good riddance to the Sea Spawn and a good bye to Nevis. All-in-all it was a very bicycle friendly island with many things to see.
Later looking in the new tourism booklet I found that there was another plantation estate, Nisbet, that wasn't on the map. Oh well, next time.
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