Saint Barthelemy - 2009
We started traveling to St Barths over the Thanksgiving Holiday nearly 20 years ago, and have returned
every year since then gradually increasing the time we stay here.   We increased our time to include the
entire month of November and this year we are stretched out to nearly 6 weeks.

St Barths is Euro based and as a result has gotten very expensive for American's spending dollars.  In 2001
the exchange rate was $US 0.84 per Euro.  Currently it takes $1.50 to pay for a Euro, so currency changes
alone have caused prices in dollars to nearly double (This is of course true in all of Europe that is Euro
based).  We have noticed a drop  in the number of American tourists and many more of the tourists are now

I don't know if we have become more discerning, but it seems the quality of the restaurants here has
diminished at the same time prices have increased.  St Barths has wonderful choices for buying groceries,
and luckily (for me especially) Eleanor is a great cook and does not mind preparing meals, so we are eating
in much more often.  We have found a number of local spots with excellent food at reasonable (everything
is relative - a hamburger and fries costs about $15) prices. I am particularly addicted to beef or tuna tartar,
and we both wish we could find thin crust pizzas at home that come close to the pizzas here.

We obviously enjoy this place, or we wouldn't keep coming back.  Having said that, each year there are
more cars and it has become almost impossible to find a parking place in Gustavia where most of the nicer
shops are.  The cars are getting larger and many people feel the need to have large SUV's which seem
totally unsuited to the island.  This is a tiny island and we are at a loss to understand why  people find it
necessary to speed around, tail gate and pass on curves.  Each year we ask ourselves why we return, but
we have not found anywhere else that has such nice warm water and is relatively free of the crime found on
so many other Caribbean Islands,

We have made many friends here over the years that we stay in contact with throughout the year via e-mail.  
It has become a second home for us and we immediately fall into our regular routine - early morning
exercise, breakfast, reading and swimming in the ocean and pool, lunch on our deck, more reading and
perhaps a nap (for Cliff), then evening exercise.  We alternate between going out to dinner and eating in,
although by the end of our stay we primarily go out for dinner.

It was  a dry summer here.  The water in the salt ponds is the lowest we remember.  It has started raining in
the evenings, and everything is green and the flowering shrubs have really started putting on a display in
the last couple of weeks.