Friday 7th July 17
We arrived in sweet Vincy
There are no direct flights from London to St Vincent and we connected from Barbados. We took a Virgin Airlines flight from Gatwick and since the school holidays had not started yet, the airport experience was a pleasant one. We boarded and took off on time and away we went. A tip, take food. Airline food has become almost intolerable over the years and its getting worse. Look at my meal?
I mean what was this taste substance next to my dry no effort rice? Some crackers, Boursin (soft cheese for those don’t know) and sweet sickly oversold chocolate pud. I won’t give the salad any grace to comment. Wouldn’t even suppress the appetite of a chicken let alone an adult. What is this mess..honestly Virgin, your food sucks…
Talking of Airlines, anyone else had the inevitable pleasure of flying with Liat Airlines?? For sure it has improved over the years but the reputation it holds remains in tact – those flights do not leave on time! Transit connection was pretty easy as were directed by kind airport personnel to swing to the right as we exited from the plane. Glad she was there as we would have definitely ended going back into departures and re checking in. As we were some of the first to go the connections desk to check in for the liat flight, the service was pretty smooth to be honest. However it was only left to one person and as more people arrived, you could see that it would have been a long wait. Next was the cute little security. Going through the thorough checks in London and US airports, it is nice sometimes to have a quick conveyor scans instead absolute intrusive scans (I know, it’s a necessary evil).
Barbados departures is dire. Sorry but the spattering of “duty shops” just does not do it any justice for the actual tourist passing through. You see Barbados is a main hub for intra island connections and they have diamond shops – it was not busy in there. Two duty shops which had a clear disparity in pricing. Glad we picked the right one for the cheapest duty-free. I also wanted to write that whilst we were waiting for our connection, I wanted to start blogging (as I didn’t bring my laptop and forgot my portable keyboard), so had to purchase a note pad ….it cost $4? Yep a dry yellow cheap paper notepad cost me $4 US dollars? Don’t even get me started on the food. Seriously..#IslandGrill I am calling out your chain of bad, warm food. I rocked up and ordered the red bean soup, gladly receiving and couldn’t wait to eat. Upon opening that lid, I should have just shut it back. You know what arse end means? Well its like having the remnants of something, that scraping of burnt rice at the bottom of the pot. Or burnt ‘end of life’ stew chicken. Or that thrice fried, left overnight chicken. Come one, you know what I mean, or just the chicken bones or goat belly and no soup. The arse end of food. Well that was my soup. Nuff potato and a consistency which I couldn’t say was soup like. I had to take it back. I settled for chips in exchange. Really wasn’t worth it… ate one and nearly regurgitated that one nasty chip. ugh
We stayed starving awaiting in Barbados airport and all its glory with bated breath and hunger pangs to get to St Vincent.
Liat flight was late but really could not fault it. Half an hour and we arrived in hot St Vincent. Beware people, they give you TWO yellow custom forms for a reason. You need one to hand into immigration upon arrival and then another one for customs. So don’t be fooled into thinking you got two just in case you made a mistake.
If you’re not accustomed to St Vincent and you have no one to meet you – no problem, the taxis are lined up outside awaiting to take people where they want to go. We had lovely man take us in his clean maxi bus and got a short tourist guide of St Vincent. What I learnt from him is that St Vincent has 6 towns and there are big communities feelings associated with each town, as you could expect from a small island.
Upon reaching Kingstown, we passed an old Catholic church named, Cathedral of the Assumption,Kingstown, St.Vincent. I learnt that the Cathedral was built in phases with the initial building starting around 1865 and further addition around 1920 with the appointment of Fr. Charles Verbeke to the Cathedral. He, being from Belgium and an architect added the Gothic turrets that form part of the unique Cathedral Presbytery and Church. In the early days, prior to Vatican 11 in 1962, in the Cathedral there was a beautiful high altar which was split in two with the tabernacle section being split and placed in one of the two side chapels while the altar was brought forward so as to enable the celebrant to face the people The Presbytery offers a beautiful view of Kingstown and the neighbouring Victoria Park and is must see for any visitor to Kingstown [taken from Trip Advisor, July 17]
Getting to the hotel, we had to pass through the square which is heaving with people, food and drink sellers, large sound systems pumps music onto the streets. This is liming at its finest. Gros Islet in St Lucia, Fish Friday Oinstins in Barbados. Friday night in Market Square is pure local vibes.
Grenadine House Hotel
A boutique hotel recently refurbished, is a lovely little gem of a hotel to stay in. Upon approach, it had a grandiose colonial look and feel, almost like it was previously a slave masters house. On arrival we were greeted outside by the lovely receptionist who knew exactly who I was, which was such a warm welcome – nice touch. She gave us all the information we needed, we did not even have to bring in our own luggage, they had their security come porter person carry them all to our room. The hotel itself is set in Kingstown Park, overlooking Kingstown. The little information I could gather was that it a historical site, as the building housing Grenadine House, originally known as The Great House, was built in 1765 as the residence to the British Administrator of the island of Saint Vincent. It is now owned by a Swedish chap who owned several properties in St Vincent. (Grenadinehouse.com)
A boutique hotel for sure, with 18 quaint guest rooms all ornately decorated and beautifully styled. Grandiose in some rooms with 4 poster beds and huge wooden ceiling fans. Our room held a huge king size bed, on which a beautiful towel swan was constructed and laid on the bed as an eye-opening presentation. The room was adorned with beautiful furnitures keeping in the hotel overall feel. All the staff were warm and friendly, absolutely no complaints there. Anything you wanted, that they could get, they would do for you.
I noted also that if we hung by the pool, they would ask if we wanted music and they would set up their fantastic sound system, with a choice of any music we wanted. All day a flurry of staff would be there, waiting on us and helping with meal choices. We only had one hitch and once we complained, it was dealt with swiftly by the lovely manageress, whose name alludes me right now. Our accommodation package included a free continental breakfast but you could upgrade to the variety of choices available for meal times. Again staff in the restaurant were courteous and friendly and the food was not bad either. I would definitely recommend this hotel to stay in.
In terms of location. It was ideal. The town and liming areas were only a 10 min walk downhill. So getting to liming spots (the infamous Leeward Bar) and carnival was easy and in walking distance. Getting back though is a different story, it’s uphill and during the day is hot, I mean 34 -36 degree heat.
They tell you not to walk in the evenings and that it is safer to take taxis, but to be honest we walked down in the evenings a number of times and were fine. I suppose it is because we try not to ‘sport’ like we have money so limit being a prime target. Like anywhere, be aware and trust your instincts, they are there for a reason.
We have arrived!
Feeling absolutely fabulous we were finally here in St Vincent and so our times begins…it was only quick chill and a shower and a change of clothes into our colour fete t-shirts and we were in a taxi heading to market square. Event tickets for St Vincent was easy, there were ticketing websites where you could buy your fete tickets or event packages and tickets were available from your phone. All good with technology here 🙂
Friday 7th July 17
As with any new island experience, you have no idea what to expect but this Island was on another level. Our friend wanted us to experience the “local” vibe and to head to market square before colour fete. As we arrived, people were already wet with sweat, “pumping” to the Vincentian sounds. This was a strange sight as it was literally locals, and the homeless partying together on the streets? This aint the place to get on bad really.. you need to get the right spot and check who is behind you as you don’t want the local homeless man wining on your bumper! People were friendly here though and everyone wanted to buy us a drink, but we declined as I had just arrived and wanted to keep safe – so bought my own. The vibe was wicked but we were being hassled and the mix was a little difficult to get used to for our first night, so after buying some seriously bad food, we dumped it and moved on to Color Fete. Now these fetes I look forward to, but don’t you just love the Caribbean and its hurricane season. Rain….lawd it can rain and when it does. A muddy field, powder paint and rain..it got dutty!
Look me with pink thrown in my newly done hair!! 🙁
We bought our tickets in advance, but it is also just as easy to pay at the door. Fetes are busy, however you really don’t need to purchase tickets in advance.
This particular fete seemed to have a big Bajan influence. In fact the Bajan influence is clear, with a Bajan massive to match. This night, in particular attracted a lot of the white students. This is because St Vincent houses an excellent medical university and a number of people overseas do come here to study – I mean why would you not! So we had the locals, the students and the Bajan massive …feting. The fete didn’t let us down, as I said it was dutty but a wicked vibe and music to match. As with all fetes, you can take your own drinks, they also sold reasonably priced drinks and some good food. We left around 6am and it was still going and from our hotel, we could hear it live for the serious fetters.
Saturday 8th July 17
Usually I avoid Soca Monarchs as I am not into watching artists on stage – I just want to hear music and fete. The last time I went to a Soca Monarch was in Trinidad 1997.
However, I was here in St Vincent and was going to Soca Monarch, which was held in Victoria park and consisted of 13 local acts. Each act had 10 mins to perform, to be judged. A digital countdown clock was on view and would countdown once the artist started. It is literally there to ensure that the artist does not go over their alloted time, as they are penalised with points deducted if they do. Wow, was all I could say. I was not sure to expect to be honest, I thought it would be the artists performing, the crowd jumping to the tracks and so on. However, the event itself was mind blowing and witnessing technology embraced and utilised in this event. Each act had a video presentation shown on 3 huge screens in the park. I can only liken it the how the Eurovision song contest works. A bit of background into the artists or a parody of themselves or what they are about to perform. Then it explodes on to their physical stage presence with or with out props I might add. Complete that with dancers bouncing and wuking up on the stage to keep the crowds rocking.
See my video example capture below!
It was Fireman that mash-up the place and who won soca monarch with “Wild up, wild up”. His props consisted of trees, so naturally people were donning pieces of trees during and after his performance. What a performance though, that man got the crowd going mad and wild! Trees running through the crowds along with their current owner filled with rum and the need to “pump” and roll on the floor.
The promoters also made use of drones and saw them flying over the crowds for wide angled photography, hyping the madness. KFC who also sponsored the event had the only food outlet in the event, selling turkey size chicken portions – note to thyself. Buy one piece unless you’re the ‘chewbacca’ size.
My Grenada experience made me give the Grenadians the 1st prize in feting, then I came to St Vincent. Whole heartedly, the Vincentians can party and fete. The music, a sweet fusion blend of the Grenadian jab with a pumping Bajan mix is designed to get you “pumping” and by that, the Vincentians don’t just wuk up, they go crazy.. pump there arms, jump around and fete. One thing that was visibly noticeable was that men outstripped women in ratio numbers. There is literally nuff man, women can cherry pick. But in all seriousness as with all places that tourists visit, be safe. Caribbean islands unfortunately have a high percentage of AIDS, so try not to fall for that Vincentian charm.
After Soca Monarch, our Vincentian friend wanted to introduce us to Leeward Bar. Leeward is not so much a bar perse. Rather, it is liming spot, a pre, after or all day spot. Leeward bar is on road that houses two systems, set up for the carnival season. One of the sound systems is set up next to Leeward Bar so it becomes a convenient liming spot. However, 4am in the morning after Soca Monarch and it was live. Heaving with people already drunk and partying. It was pure heaven and the best time I had in St Vincent if I am honest. A mix of people just loving the music, pumping, jabbing, rolling the ground, chipping along with trees and branches! We partied until afternoon.
Style and Fashion
The fashion statements are different here and noticed long socks being the latest fashion statement, on the girls as much as the guys. Nothing trivial though, they are bright and loud, but somehow it works.
The drink back packs also are nearly sported by everyone, since you can bring your drinks into fetes. So the advantage is taken, fill up that backpack and fete all night. As much as you can bring your drinks, the bars are busy..people still buy drinks, so promoters take note – you can still make money and let the feters bring their own drinks!
Jerk all the way. If you want Jerk, it’s here in all its splendid glory and its good too especially on the road – not in the shops!
Monday 10th July 17
Never let your mate convince you that you need to be in the road any earlier than 4am. Any decent Caribbean jouvert kicks off at that time.. No earlier. So what did we do.. Get on the road for 1 am . 4 hrs later we were pretty much ‘spent’ getting on the road. However, jouvert just did not disappoint. We jumped with “Flow”, having bought our tickets online in London, we just turned up and was given our packs and let in their own private feting area. Flow had it organised, there a massive tent that housed the drinks bar and all you had to was present your cup and wristband tab and you were good to go. This was the jouvert warm up and the DJ’s kept you moving until it was time to go on the road. However, since we enjoyed Leeward Bar the other night and it was only up the road, we decided to go back and lime for a few hours.
Once we were on the road, we blended in perfectly and by that I mean we matched the Vincentian for drinking, feting and wuking up. Jouvert just did not disappoint. It was a feters paradise. Drunk and dutty 🙂 Even after jouvert, we went back to Leeward Bar but really, it was literally just the last lap drunkens left. You know the ones that are going definitely not make it home for a few nights. So we left and walked up that steep hill back to what was home for the next 2 nights.
Vincy Mas – Tuesday 11th July
Now here is the artform to getting costumes smoothly and quickly. We went to the mas camp on the Saturday to actually pick up our costumes. Whilst it was not the coolest of places to be in, it was friendly with the most helpful team. Our costumes were ready in bags with our name on and could try them on before we left, which was a good thing as the costumes were quite small and we had to size up. With minor adjustments we left ready for the road on Tuesday.
Getting make up done for the road is getting popular and spaces were actually booked all over St Vincent for make up artists to work their magic for the ladies to go on road looking spectacular, even at our hotel.
I tell you, I am not listening to friends re time. Yet again, we were duped into getting to the meeting camp early. 10am we got there. We left to go on the road at 12pm in that baking hot sun. Please, please if your skin is not resistant to the sun, you have lotion up and I mean it. St Vincent like Barbados and St Lucia is hot on the road, you need to factor up!
Wristbands were given in your pack and you had to wear them else you could not get in. All organised though, with tables and chairs to sit, chill, chat, eat or drink. The costume designers were there also to do any last-minute fixes or additions to costumes. There was the ever faithful drinks truck present and breakfast so you were sated before going on the road. At 12pm we donned our feathers and went on the road.
I don’t about any other band, but Ahdrenalin absolutely smashed for me. Plenty drinks, DJ’s on point with music, the vibe was indescribable with people just going for it. Crowds also came out in force to support the bands and they love it too!
Wednesday 12th July 17
After feting and wuking up for 4 days straight, like God on the 7th day – we rested. It was a chill day for us and we hung by the pool and hung our feet in that cool water. There was a fete on that afternoon but I just could not do it, my body said “nope, hell no, no way”.
Thursday 13th July 17
Today we left to depart for St Lucia, after the fun we had in St Vincent we were looking forward to the next island for fun and mas.
Grenadine Hotel St Vincent