The bread they use is basically glorified Wonder Bread. They do not cure their own corned beef or pastrami, nor do they roast their own turkey or beef. All of their product comes from a distributor. Jesu Christo, I can take you to a dozen mom and pop delis in Queens that put more effort into their meats.
Having just had a bad experience on that godawful shithole St. Maarten I figured I ought to tell you about some much nicer islands in the Caribbean.
Nevis is an absolutely lovely island, one of my favorites in the Caribbean. It is almost perfectly round, rising up from the ocean to surround a central peak named Mount Nevis. Low hanging clouds often surround the peak and it is not at all uncommon to see a rainbow there. Pretty much the idealized image of what an island should look like. Formerly a British Colony, it is now partnered with the neighboring island of St. Kitts as part of the Eastern Caribbean federation. Prince Charles and Princess Diana visited Nevis on their honeymoon but they are far from the first impressive visitors. Alexander Hamilton was born there, and Christopher Columbus stopped there for fresh water on one of his voyages. Populated by about 9,000 people, Nevisians are amongst the friendliest, most honest and welcoming people you will find anywhere.
Getting to Nevis is not that easy. Typically you fly into Antigua, then take a smaller plane (16 seater) to St. Kitts. From there you either take an even smaller plane (2 or 4 seater) or the ferry on to Nevis. The ferry can be unreliable so I advise you take the flight. It’s also pretty cool as you make a sharp ascent from St. Kitts, circle Mount Nevis and descend rapidly to your landing. Chances are you’ll be sitting next to the pilot. Once there a cab will take you to your hotel. I advise renting either a jeep or a motorcycle to explore the island. Jeeps are readily available, and the baker at Nevis Bakery in Charlestown owns two motorcycles which he rents on an informal basis.
The Four Seasons opened a while back on Nevis, spurring some development on the island. I knew the island pre Four Seasons and loved it, but can happily say that the place is better off for the resort being there. While not really my type of place, if you have the wherewithal and desire by all means stay there. It is a truly stunning place on the earth and a wonderful experience to have. More my speed are the old sugar plantations that have been converted into lodging. Montpelier Plantation sits on the slopes of Mount Nevis and truly takes you back to another era. While some consider it a drawback to not be directly on a beach, they will drop you off or pick you up there as you please. If you do have a rental it’s an easy drive. Nisbet Plantation is directly on its own beach and is a magical place. I would highly recommend it. There is a particular hammock there that is my definition of heaven. For the budget traveler you can stay at the Pinney’s Beach Hotel. I have crashed there numerous times in my younger days and can gladly recommend it. A bit tattered around the edges, it is highly affordable and situated directly on Pinney’s Beach, the best on the island. From the hotel it is a short walk into Charlestown, where most of the island’s restaurants are located.
Also a short walk, or perhaps stagger, from Pinney’s Beach Hotel is the greatest bar on Earth, Sunshine’s Beach Bar. Sunny is an old friend and one of the coolest cats you’ll ever meet. His signature drink is the Bee Sting, and he does a delicious lobster roast right on the beach. At one point we almost became partners in the bar but I got hung up on the legality of the exercise. When asked for a copy of his lease and liquor license he told me that he had none, but had simply set up shop and dared anyone to shut him down. My misgivings notwithstanding he still has a thriving business twenty years later. This place pretty much IS the nightlife on the island, and it shuts down early. That’s not why you are on Nevis, though.
For such a sleepy island, there is plenty to do there. Simply liming the day away on Pinney’s Beach is the best way to spend your time. The beaches there are very good but not spectacular, as they are a mix of crushed coral and volcanic rock. Day sailboat charters are available, as are fishing trips. Hiking partway up Mount Nevis is a must do, but only with a local guide. Weekend Cricket Matches are held in Charlestown and are fun as well as a great way to get to know the locals. Horseback rides on the beach or up Mount Nevis are inexpensive and fun. If you want to sample the local herbal life talk to Sunny and tell him Sammy, the bad boy from New York sent you. Alternately you can drive over to Newcastle and look for some fellows drinking Dragon Stout on a porch. They’ll know what you’re there for. Get to know Sunny well enough and he’ll sneak you into the ruins of the old mineral baths for a moonlight soak. Far and away my favorite thing on Nevis requires a little exploration, though. Find the ruins of the old racetrack. You can drive most of the way there and the last mile or so is an easy hike. Just beyond it is a long, grassy plain that slopes gently to the ocean. Lay on your back there looking at Montserrat in the distance as the clouds drift overhead so close you can touch them. Repeat as necessary.
If any of you is ever considering a trip to this piece of shit scumbag island take my advice and stay away. It is a nation of many good people but just as many dirtbag criminals. There are prettier islands with better beaches and food, cheaper hotels and less general skeeviness.
I’m well-travelled in the islands and am pretty good at knowing what time it is. When we arrived here it was clear things were a bit sketchy. Seeing what the deal was we decided to be cautious. After settling in the resort we drove into Phillipsburg, the capital of the Dutch side. I was besieged at every turn with scammers trying to sell me weed and coke. Not exactly your friendly atmosphere. Politely dismissing them I took care of what I needed to and went on my way. Flat tire. I knew immediately it was done by a particularly nasty character who we had encountered. He immediately approached us and offered to change the tire for $100 US. Were Elaine not present I would have beat the life out of him but as she was I told him to get the fuck on his way and put on the spare myself.
Returning to the resort to swap out the car we discovered that the trunk had been jimmied as well. Mind you, we were parked within eyesight of the main police station for less than an hour. The rental agent attempted to levy a healthy burglary surcharge as well. Fight it out with AMEX, bitch, I already blocked any charges from your company.
Figuring it was particular to the Dutch side and the big city we stayed close to Grand Case, a charming tourist-oriented village on the French side. The beaches were nice enough and the food excellent but the crime was just as bad. Emerging from our restaurant tonight we had another flat and guess what, another sketchy mofo offering to fix the flat for $100 US. I went for his head but he was a fast prick and Elaine jumped on my back and stopped me from chasing him down the alley. Opening the boot it turned out he had swiped the spare as well. Hand to God, were Elaine not there I would have burnt that village to the ground.
So on the best week of my life, the week where I had the most wonderful wedding imaginable, I now see that the Browns kicked the Saints ass and the Yankees were eliminated? Excuse me, I have to go play the caribbean lottery because this week belongs to me.
Yeah, I know, it’s a cliche, but I finally appreciate the sentiment and feel it deeply in my heart. I hope that everyone feels the way that I do about my wedding and my bride; namely that they have the best possible version of both. I won’t list the reasons why Elaine is amazing, my fingers would be bloody stubs by the time I finished telling that story. I will tell you why the wedding was spectacular.
Elaine. She is the most beautiful woman alive, and she loves me. She saved my life and makes my days worth living. When I think about her I want to sing.
The guests. We selfishly decided to have a destination wedding. This was largely done to discourage a lot of people from attending. I’m Irish/Russian and she’s Italian so we were staring down the barrel of a 250 person guest list. The best way to cut that down was to go far, far away to an island that is difficult to get to. After a four hour flight from NYC it takes another two hours of cabs, ferries and walking to get to where we were doing it. Despite our best efforts 35 of the people we love most in the world came here to participate in our union.
The venue. I have travelled extensively and Anguilla is as lovely a place there is. The people here are the friendliest you could meet and he place itself is naturally beautiful. The Viceroy is determined to be the greatest resort in the world and they make a damned good case to be so. We called them two weeks ago in a panic and asked if we could move our wedding here and they made it seem like we had worked with them for years to make it so.
The venue. Hey, locations is my thing. We were married on a point with the loveliest sunset God could provide as a backdrop. If you saw the setting in a movie you would scoff and say it was too perfect.
The ceremony. Despite numerous venue changes, a scheduling conflict with the minister that necessitated the hiring of a dupe to stand in his stead and a rehearsal sidelined by travel complications and alcohol it came off without a hitch. Her brother Peter played “The Town I love So Well” as I waited to see my bride, my sister Nadja read “I carry your heart” by E.E. Cummings and Elaine’s cousin Hannah sang “:Someone to Watch Over Me”. Every time I hear that song for the rest of my life I will bawl like a baby. She gave such an amazing performance the hotels staff and guests stopped what they were doing and circled around to listen.
The food. We served a meal that rivals the best any restaurant could hope for. The raw bar had lobsters, oysters and king crab legs. Freshly caught local red snapper, papaya chicken and coffee-rubbed short ribs were accompanied by coconut rice, creamed spinach, fire-roasted corn on the cob and all the rest. Chef Keith composed a symphony for us and we indulged in it.
The Music. DJ Sugarpop owned the dance floor. My stepmother is a stern Korean woman without a musical note in her body and she hit the dance floor and never stopped moving. Nor did anyone else. Sugar ended the night by playing my song, “Downtown King” and I truly was just that. Wow.
For context, my grandfather was an immigrant who crawled into a seam in the Pennsylvania earth and dug coal. The fact that I got to this point is nearly unbelievable. Life should not be this good. I think it is pretty indicative of how good the wedding was if the DJ, bar and waitstaff all attend the afterparty and dance under the full moon with the guests in the comped $5,000 a night suite you are staying in. Without exception our guests told me it was the best wedding they have ever attended. You know what? They were right.
I am currently staying in the nicest hotel room I’ve ever had. The resort just asked if we would mind moving. Our new room is a three bedroom penthouse with an elevator opening directly into it. There is more marble in that room than in Caesars Palace. It features a terrace you could play full court basketball on and a pool you can swim laps in. Pics coming tomorrow.
Wanted to shake a minor hangover this morning so I hit the beach. There was a nice break about a mile downwind, well off The Viceroy’s property. Wanting a good workout I hiked there and hit the waves. After a serious workout I climbed out of the water to see a hotel employee standing there with a cold bottle of Fiji water and a big towel for me.
We were at a lovely Bat Mitzvah last night (my first). Elaine and I were seated at her family’s table. In the course of our conversation it somehow came up that I was not of Italian descent. One of her uncles dropped his fork and turned to me.
For the Friday night welcome party I’m thinking about going with a playlist of classic singers doing love songs, but casual ones not heavy stuff. Breezy tunes by Dean Martin, Frank, Bing, Sammy Davis Jr. Will that work on a caribbean beach?
BTW, I’m seriously sorry if posting wedding stuff bothers anyone. I can totally see how it may be obnoxious. I hope it aint, that’s not how it’s meant at all. This is the only time I’m doing this and I’m trying to do right and enjoy it. If it’s bothersome tell me and I’ll lay off with it.
I should mention this. He charges $100 per (although I paid him more out of gratitude) but it must involve a pet as he likes animals. Based on his body of work you should assume that dinosaurs, pterodactyls, killer whales or parrots will show up in the picture as well. Contact me if you are interested and I’ll put you together with him.