Saturday brings us a little change to our repertoire. We breakfast at home that morning on some excellent toast made from the last of our loaf of Geraud's bread, and at midmorning we head for Trattoria Tramonto. We hadn't been there since our first visit to the island in 2009, where we experienced shellshock over our most expensive lunch ever. Guess that's what happens when you order the specials without inquiring to the price…This year we wanted to give it another try, though we had a little bit of shellshock all over again. They provide complimentary chairs & umbrellas to everybody who dines there for lunch, but their sign declares (rather optimistically, in my opinion) that they charge US $40 for the privilege of using chairs & umbrellas for non-diners. It's hard for me to imagine anybody who is willing to pay that much money for uncomfortable chairs and a tiny umbrella, but maybe that's just me.
|Blue Waters, an all-beachfront condo property|
|Romilda, our companion for the day|
It was our first visit to Shoal Bay West in a couple of years, and while my husband was not an immediate fan, I certainly was. I like the character of the beach, especially the windswept end near Covecastles, and the fact that not many people were using it. We settled in to read for the rest of the morning (lunch doesn't start until noon), and we were tickled to note that a very sweet dog adopted us for a while and sat with us underneath my chaise longue for quite a while. My husband dubbed her Romilda, and I split my time between my book and giving Romilda some woogies. Right before lunch, two young women came upon us and walked the beach. At one point one of them squealed "shark!" and grabbed her camera, but by the time hied myself out of my chair to see what was happening, it had swum away. I asked her about it and she said it was a small shark and she indicated its length with her arms--about 18" long. A baby shark, then.
|Romilda is ready for her close up!|
|Covecastles: bizarrely compelling architecture. And green, to boot.|
|I'm getting a little weary of all of the crowds on Anguilla. Here we have deserted Shoal Bay West|
For once, both my husband and I are hungry at the same time, so shortly after noon we mosey up to the restaurant to claim our seats and order lunch. We down one bottle of fizzy water before we order our lunch (have I mentioned that it seemed unusually hot and still this summer?), ordering a second round to accompany our grilled chicken salad (me) and the plate of melon & prosciutto (DH). With the focaccia that came for the table, this turned out to be the perfect amount of food. I even would have gone for a spot of dessert, but everything on the menu, including the daily dessert special, was chocolatey, so I passed and ordered for myself a Michelangelo, which is a yummy Prosecco beverage with mango nectar. Our bill came to about US $70, but our beverage tab was about equal to our food tab. Trattoria Tramonto is definitely an expensive place to have lunch, and that's with ordering basically two appetizers. Still, it's pleasant and I love the cooling effect of the blue & white building there, and Shoal Bay West is nice & quiet. One of these days when our fortune improves we might even stay at Blue Waters, a place that has long intrigued me.
Anyway, I guess it's a good thing that I didn't want dessert at TT, because before long, we pack up and head out for Cuisinart Resort, in pursuit of the elusive frozen mojito, of which I have read much. Now, my husband and I are not really resort people. We'd rather pay less money for more space in a villa when we're on vacation. But there's much to be said about Cuisinart, which is very, very lovely. If you think of the Viceroy as being very manicured and luxurious and precise, Cuisinart is very luxurious and lush and natural looking. The grounds are exceptional and they clearly employ a lot of Anguillians to keep it looking that way. Everyone we encountered was very friendly, even when we said we weren't guests and were on the property just for a cocktail, albeit a famous one. They escorted us to an outdoor lounge area just past reception but before the pool area, where we kicked back with two frozen mojitos. These drinks are justifiably famous and they are, bar none, the most refreshing adult beverage I've ever had, including the Sea Cooler with cucumber juice at the SandBar and the Infusion with strawberry, mango, and banana at Smokey's. In fact, it was so good that one wasn't enough, so my husband and I shared a third one, and by sharing, I mean that I let him have a little bit of mine. The lime and the mint were so perfectly balanced, and it's impossible to believe that a beverage with that much shredded herb could be anything but healthy. At US $11 apiece, they pack more than one kind of wallop, but it was so worth it. We chatted with the lady bartender there and enjoyed our books for upwards of an hour, during which we saw them offer afternoon snacks to the children at the pool--they were even kind enough to offer the leftover sorbet & biscotti to us, but we were thoroughly stuffed.
|Could an adult beverage possibly look more healthful?|
Besides, we had places to go. And by that, I mean Cap Juluca. Now that I had the insider scoop for getting to Maundays Bay, we headed there as soon as I slurped up the last dregs of mint from my drink. I wanted to have Cuisinart & Cap Juluca fresh in my mind in order to make a comparison. Sadly, I'm not sure that I could choose between the two. I think they're both beautiful resorts with lush grounds that are luxurious without ever feeling fussy. I personally prefer the calmness of Maundays Bay over the more windswept Rendezvous Bay, but it's pretty much splitting hairs either way. Both beaches are gorgeous and in an ideal world I wouldn't have to choose between the two.
|Walkway to Maundays Bay|
|Double self-portrait at Maundays Bay|
Maybe it was the sun, maybe it was the late afternoon rum drinks, but I was completely pooped when we made it back to Caribella. After showering the beach off, I flopped onto the bed and napped until dinner--we opted to return to Picante for our second dinner of the trip and were well rewarded. We shared the same taco plate but ordered the plain lime margaritas and a full serving of guacamole this time around. Jovaughn and Kayshe both remembered us from our previous visit and made our night by sitting down to chat with us. What wonderful waitstaff--I would be so proud to count them among my own staff members at work--they're both so genuine and friendly. Our food was once again fast & fresh and we loved it. Picante may very well now be my favorite casual eatery on the island--hard to believe after my own reluctance to try it a couple of years ago. Their chips & salsa are great, their guacamole rivals my husband's (this is very high praise, as my husband is an excellent cook), and we left stuffed to the gills with their fresh and fun tacos.
|One last shot of Shoal Bay West|
|St. Martin seen from Shoal Bay West|