Part 2 – Historic Nevis

As a seasoned traveller to America and parts of the Caribbean I’m used to Americans’ telling me somewhere is steeped in history that there are really ancient buildings to look at, only to find once I arrive that the “ancient” building was built in 1906, so actually more modern than the house I own in the UK! Often when they say historic they mean 20th century history… so when I was told that Nevis was steeped in history by an American, again I took it with a pinch of salt…oh how wrong we were!

We were impressed by the sheer amount of history crammed onto such a small island, don’t get me wrong it’s not Pompeii, but for a tiny Caribbean island there is more to see historically than you would think.

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The Hamilton museum & Museum of Nevis history has amazing sea views!

The Hamilton museum in Charles Town tells the history of one of America’s founding fathers Alexander Hamilton who was born illegitimately on the island and orphaned at a young age but taken in by a cousin. He landed an apprenticeship for a local plantation owner, whom he impressed so much he gained a transfer to a role in Manhattan but he also to witness first hand the torturous life experienced by slaves working in the Caribbean. Hamilton was one of the people who helped to drive the passing of the anti-slavery laws in America, which is why he’s an even bigger hero to those who are descended from former slaves on Nevis.

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Photo of Alexander Hamilton from Biography.com

The Nevis museum, in the same building as the Hamilton museum down on the seafront in Charles Town, gives the history of the island from it’s early American Indian days to the battles during the 18th and 19th century as the British, Dutch, French and Spanish fought for control of the sugar industry in the Caribbean. Nevis earned its name as the “Sweet Island” as it was the most prolific producer of sugar cane in the entire Caribbean, in its heyday producing nearly double the volume of its closest rival island. The British called the island the Queen of the Caribee and as the majority of merchant boats needed to collect sugar cargo from the island it meant they off loaded there too so it also became the largest slave market in the region. There are lots of artifacts in the museum from the various periods of Nevis history including salvaged items from some of the shipwrecks, as the waters around St Kitt’s and Nevis are some of the most treacherous in the Caribbean.

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Tree on Montpelier plantation where Nelson married Fanny Nisbet

Horatio Nelson visited the island during its heyday and was introduced to a young widow called Fanny Nisbet whose family owned a plantation on Nevis and whom he wedded on the island at another plantation inn called Montpelier. There’s a museum that charts his life and that of his love Fanny’ s family on Nevis. More interesting is that Montpelier is now a Relais de Chateaux resort, where Princess Diana stayed for a holiday with the Princes following her divorce to Charles, and you can visit the big old tree there that Nelson married Fanny beneath.

Stay tuned for more details about the plantations you can visit….

Part 1 – Nevis – The Sweet island of the Caribbean

After an eight-hour flight (if you don’t count the hour spent on the ground at Antigua airport) we eventually landed into St Kitts International airport located in the Lesser Antilles in the West Indies.  St Kitts airport is about a 10 minute drive from the main capital city Basseterre so is ideally situated if this is to be your final destination, however our journey’s end was sister island Nevis, known fondly by the 19th century British as the Queen of the Caribees.

Our accommodation provider arranged airport collection for us and we were greeted by Almon who then gave us an impromptu tour of St Kitts on our way through to our transfer.

We drove along the road where the Atlantic and Caribbean seas are separated by a tiny strip of land so you can easily walk from one beach to the other!  We learnt all about the cheeky Vervet monkeys that inhabit both St Kitts and Nevis, who are the main reason the island often has to import mangoes in from overseas for the annual Mango Festival!

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Once we reached Reggae Beach, at the furthermost tip of St Kitts, we could clearly see our destination Nevis across Cockleshell Bay – our target Oauilie Beach was only 2 miles across on the other side.  We boarded a speed boat with 3 other newly arrived British tourists and enjoyed our first bottle of cold Carib beer, whilst watching our first amazing Caribbean sunset over the sea.  This type of airport transfer we discovered is by far the best way to arrive!

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Speedboat transfer

We clung onto the open deck of the speedboat in order, to enjoy the cool sea spray after our long haul flight. The boat danced on the waves, as it propelled us through the water and we arrived onto Oauilie beach 15 minutes later feeling extremely refreshed.

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Ouailie Beach

Almon off loaded our luggage into his pick up truck and we departed to our apartment within the Carina complex in the vast Hamilton Estate.  One of the many old sugar plantations on the island; Carina is set off the beaten path half way up the side of Nevis peak, the largest and main volcano on the island. Virgin rainforest is above the apartment building and the land below contains the ruins of a sugar mill and factory, that have been reclaimed by the rainforest; the top of the mill tower protrudes onto the skyline.

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View from Carina

Carina is just a 5-minute drive up the hill from Charles Town the capital of Nevis.

To be continued…

 

 

Top tips for flying with a baby

Well after travelling over 22,000 miles from UK to New Zealand and back via Singapore and Bali with a 7 month old baby we have a few top tips for flying with a baby.

  1. Request a bassinet – If your airline is long haul then you should be able to request a bassinet for your baby which will mean you will need bulkhead seats so make sure you select these when checking in and choosing seats online.  A bassinet will prove useful not just for when your baby sleeps but they can be propped up to play with toys too.
  2. Outfit change – it goes without saying that you will have spare outfits for baby but make sure you have extra clothes for yourself in your hand luggage as there’s nothing worse than having to sit covered in baby vomit for the entire of take off/landing plus then 30 minutes of turbulence because the seat belt seat is still on.
  3. Easy removing clothing – sleep suits and onesies we’d recommend for flying plus zip up fleece or dressing gown anything snuggly and easy to remove.
  4. Hats – we’d recommend packing a cotton hat for your baby as airline air conditioning can be fierce and surprisingly the vents seem to be above the bulk head seating so right near the bassinet
  5. Mini-change bag – if you’re on a long haul flight then a smaller change bag will be handier we bought one that was a mat that folded out with room for 2 nappies, wipes and change of clothing.  It fitted into the seat pocket so saved time and easy to grab.
  6. Extra muslin cloths – these are multi-functional as can serve as dribble wipers, blankets if baby gets chilly, stand in change mat, sun shade or a scarf for mummy!
  7. If you are flying long haul and transferring on your journey then it might be worth investing in the use of an airport lounge as this can make a big difference when it comes to heating milk, food and changing your baby in a relaxed environment.  Often lounge access isn’t too pricey either if you book in advance.
  8. On-board dining – Some cabin crew will also have the good sense to ask you, if you’re travelling with your partner or another adult, if you’d like for your meals to be staggered so you both get to eat by swapping baby duties.  This is a good option and so ask if possible when you board the plane.
  9. Hand sanitising gel or spray – these no water needed hand cleaners are a god send when your on an airplane and its difficult to access a toilet to clean up before food.
  10. Toys, toys and lots of toys!  Again it goes without saying but the more you have for your little one to do the better. We had a set of toys easily accessible for on board the first plane and another set in our other carry on we could swap them with for the second connecting flight so she wouldn’t be bored.

Finally I advise you to relax – yes it sounds ridiculous to say this when you’re flying with a baby possibly feeling totally stressed out but try your hardest to also make the journey as relaxing and as enjoyable for yourself as your baby will pick up on your vibes so smile and see it as an adventure.  Experience it through their eyes as exciting and new!

Good luck and happy flying!

Journey Down Under – NZ not Aus

We decided for baby’s first long haul holiday that it had to be a journey of epic proportions so we booked flights to Auckland via Singapore outbound and then back via Bali and Singapore on the way home.

Everyone we had spoken to advised that the best time to fly with a baby was before they can crawl or walk so we set out to New Zealand with our 7 month old daughter who surprisingly turned out to be a natural born traveller!

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Enjoying the in-flight entertainment

 

An air-steward on Virgin Australia even asked could she adopt her and disappeared with her on board for over half an hour.  It seemed our daughter was having fun playing with the rest of the cabin crew and babbling to passengers so we got to actually enjoy the inflight programming for a while.

Stay posted for more…