18-19 February 2015
 Gustavia, St. Barts: Vaval’s Last Night

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Saint Barts lies immediately southeast of Saint Martin and Anguilla, northeast of Saba and St Eustatius, and north of St. Kitts.

It is quite small, only 8 square miles or 21 square kilometers, with 8,500 inhabitants.

In 2007, St. Barts broke their ties with Guadeloupe and formed a separate overseas collectivity of France.

Now, they do not need much excuse for a party on Saint Barts.

Carnaval begins on Sunday, February 15 and ends on Ash Wednesday, February 18.

Silver Cloud came over from St. Maarten in late afternoon, just in time for the very end of the Carnival in St. Barts.

A small but very loud and boisterous parade winds through the streets to Shell Beach, culminating with the ceremonial burning of a straw statue of Vaval, the King of Carnaval.

Téwé Vaval, held on Ash Wednesday, is meant to symbolically bury or burn the spirit of Carnival. The burning of Vaval dates from early Christian Europe.

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Vaval is made ready for his big (and last) moment in town.

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With the end of Carnival come the start of Lent, which does not seem much observed in St. Barts.

And then there is drinking and eating and drinking and more drinking, with live music.

I wrote more about the history of St. Barts when we visited a few weeks ago. You can read that at: http://blog.sandlerbooks.com/?p=2718

All photos copyright Corey Sandler, all rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.


Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

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Henry Hudson Dreams cover

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)


18 February 2015
 Philipsburg, St Maarten: On the Beach, French Style

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

One relatively small island, about 34 square miles or 87 square kilometers that holds two countries: the constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands on the southern side, and the French overseas collectivity on the north.

We came into the dock in Philipsburg on the Dutch side, one of the largest cruise ship ports in the world.

P-burg, as locals call it, has been so successful in luring cruise ships to its still-expanding port complex that at times it is overwhelmed by tens of thousands of tourists wandering its narrow alleys and streets.

In fact, we made a change to our scheduled itinerary for this cruise moving our visit forward by one day so that we could find a parking space on a slightly less busy day.

The other side of the island, the French side, is somewhat less busy and possessed of the nicer beaches. It’s also a great place to get a fresh baguette.

We spent our day at Orient Beach, a lovely strand on the French side of the island. When my wife and I first came to the island almost 40 years ago, there was just a beach. Today there is a condo development and restaurants and bars. Still a fine beach, though.

Orient Beach

Orient Beach on a rare day without sunbathers, some of whom seem to have underdressed for the occasion.

As you arrive the beach is for families of all sorts and shapes. If you wander to the right, you enter a zone where most of the visitors seemed to have forgotten their bathing suits. Some of them should rethink their packing skills.

You can read more about the history of this two-nation island in my post from a few weeks ago, at http://blog.sandlerbooks.com/?p=2721

At the end of the day we set sail for the island of St. Barts, putting down the anchor their just in time for the final event of Vaval, their carnival.

All photos copyright Corey Sandler, all rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.