Sunday, July 9, 2017

2017-07-06 DFW-SKB Saint Kitts and Nevis

2017-07-06 DFW-SKB Saint Kitts and Nevis

We flew from DFW to MIA to SKB.
First stop was Admiral's Club in Terminal A in DFW to get breakfast

The flight DFW-TPA is about 3 hours

TPA-MIA is about one hour

Second stop was Admiral's Club in Terminal D gate 15 at MIA.  This was just remodeled and looks good.  Gate 30 is under construction but will have a FlagShip Lounge and FlagShip Dining when it opens in 2018.

The flight MIA to SKB was scheduled to leave at 5:30PM but was delayed and then gate changed from D1 to D19 and we were told there would be an aircraft swap and it would be brought from the hanger and so it would leave on time.  Wrong.  They can't seem to get their story right.  A flight came in from Bermuda at D19 at 6PM and that is what they had to clean and then we could get on it.  Had to wait for catering to do the front cabin as there was equipment blocking the area.

The flight MIA- SKB is a little over 3 hours, 737-800 at 370 (means 37,000 feet altitude) and 442 (means 442 knots speed).  Went straight over the Bahamas and many other islands.  It was a night flight and very pretty to look down and see all the white lights

We landed and there are no jetways to deplane.  You have to walk down steps.  It was not raining so we were lucky.  The rain had stopped about half hour before we landed.

Fill out your form on the airplane.  Make sure the bottom part and the backside are also filled out.

Then the customs person will quiz you, why are you here, where are you staying, how long are you staying, what are you bringing with you, how many times have you come here, where are you coming from (I said Miami), where are you originally coming from (I said Dallas) and so on.

We had a taxi driver pre-arranged who was waiting outside with a sign.  He drove us to the Marriott just 10 minutes away.  It was, I thought, XCD $20 which is 2.7:1 or USD $7.20.  I give him XCD $20 + 5 tip but he said it was USD $20.  I even clarified and confirmed it on email two times that this was XCD not USD.  So be careful.

There are zero traffic lights.  There are a few roundabouts.

Peak season is December to early April when hotel rates tend to skyrocket.

The best time to visit St. Kitts and Nevis is in May and June, when hotels lower their rates to lure in travelers and the winter crowds thin out. Really good deals.  For example, get 7 nights, only pay for 4, get 3 free.

Summer months when the islands experience the Atlantic hurricane season. And keep in mind St. Kitts and Nevis' average highs hover around 80 degrees Fahrenheit year-round and the humidity in July is 80 to 90 to 100%.

Day 1
Spent by the beach and pool and hung out.  Burger at the pool bar is USD $17.  Smoothie USD $10.  Everything is USD $.  A 1.5 litre water bottle is USD $7.

Took taxi to Marshalls's for dinner.  Got there at 6 PM.  Apparently people eat around 7, so the place was empty and we had it to ourselves.  The sun was setting, what a pretty view from our table

Looking west

Looking south

Lots of mosquitoes.  Bring bug spray or spray before you go.

Took taxi back to hotel.

Day 2 Sunday
Woke early, had breakfast.  Taxi arrived at 9:00 AM and we started a three hour tour around the island.

First stop was up the hill and look back at the Marriott (middle right in picture where the crescent shaped beach comes to a point).  All that brown stuff floating on the water is seaweed.  Tons of it floating in covering the beaches.

This is the view looking south.  On the other side is the island of Nevis.  The body of water that separates Saint Kitts and Nevis is about two miles.

We went through the capital city BasseeTerre, stopped to get a haircut at a local barber shop.  It was $25 XCD (about USD $10).

Three hospitals on the island.  Three universities, one of which is a vet school.

We went to see Wingfield Estate that is supposedly Thomas Jefferson's great-great-great-grandfather's place but there is no evidence to that effect.  Established in 1625.  Declaration signed in 1776.  So do the calculation how could this have happened

Flambouyant Tree... the national tree of Saint Kitts

We went to the north of the island and the view looking east.  See where the waves are breaking (way out there)?  That is the Atlantic ocean meeting the Caribbean Sea.  Look all the way to the left?  See that tall volcano?  That is another country.

Did not stay long.  Lots of little large ants that bit us on the ankles that left big scars.

I took the picture from the red dot on the far right and the dots show the view looking at the other country

Here is an Anglican church by the sea

The volcano on the island erupted in the year 1,000 and it flowed down to the ocean, they call this area Black Rocks

The beach at the hotel was deserted.  No one was there.

Took taxi to different beach
Went to Cockleshell Beach and it was deserted with lots of seaweed.  That big mountain way in the background (faded) is the island of Nevis

But a few feet away was Reggae Beach and there were a few people.  Lunch was USD $100.  Taxi was USD $24 to get there and USD $24 to get back.

And a mountain goat (that white spot)

That is two brave folks from our family doing paddle boarding

Look closely at the boat, it is named Rush Slowly.

Dinner at Rock Lobster

It was too buttery

Shrimp and pasta




Walked back to hotel.  It was dark but safe.  Only one guy trying to harass everyone, trying to offer shoe shine.  As people ignored him, he would walk besides you and touch your arm and tug at your shirt sleeve and ask for money.  Other than that:
No beggars
No t-shirt shops selling junk
No loud scooters or mopeds or motorcycles
No little shops along the road trying to sell you junk
Very little litter along the road

There are
a lot of junk cars sitting around
a lot of old buildings and shacks everywhere
a lot of unemployment is visible

The taxi's all have names painted on the front
The taxi fares are set prices.  Everyone takes US Dollars

Everyone has a nick name.  Their name might be Robert, but their nick name is Blues

I invented a new nickname for myself: Don't Ask

Our dog ButterScotch (a cavapoo) misses us.  He stayed home.

Woke early.  Ate quick breakfast.  8:15 AM gathered in lobby, total of 12 people piled into a taxi at 8:30 AM and headed out to zip line tour.

This was a lot of fun.  Best part of the trip.  Watch video

Relaxed by the pool in the afternoon

6:00 PM s'mores by the pool.  Dinner at

Woke early, taxi arrived at 9:00 AM, drove to ferry station.  9:30 AM ferry (USD $10 per person one-way) to Nevis, a 50 minute trip.  Alternative is to take a taxi to Reggae Beach USD $24 one-way, then a water-taxi $? for a 10 minute ride to Nevis, then a taxi to destination on Nevis.  We are in no hurry and wanted the scenic route.

Ferry schedule

Thursday, September 1, 2016



The highlight of the trip is meeting 15 billionaires and multi-millionaires eating breakfast at a cheap dive. See Sunday morning below. 

Planned route takes us right over Anchorage.  Last time I went to HKG a few months ago, we flew right over Anchorage and it was a great view.  I always have binoculars with me and there is a lot to see down there.

It is a day flight so I won't be able to see any auroras.  It looks like the auroras are mostly over the Atlantic this time
There is a geomagnetic storm and the  solar wind stream is buffeting Earth's magnetic field on Sept. 2nd, causing G2-class geomagnetic storms. Bright auroras have been reported

Right after crossing the international date line, the winds will shift and it will get bumpy


Woke at 4:00 AM CST and drove from Dallas to Tyler, TX, 100 miles.  I live in Dallas but if I departed from this other city, the fare was $1,000 cheaper.

Note to self: next time drive to DFW airport and check in 24 hours in advance. Get your boarding passes in your hands. It took exactly 1.5 hrs to go 100 miles and got to Tyler at 6:30 AM as they announced boarding. Took 2 agents 20 min to check me in, computer kept rejecting me. I can never check in on-line for int'l flights. No one knows why.  Doesn't matter if I go to NRT or PEK or HKG or KUL or LHR or EZE, anywhere int'l. No one at AA can figure it out.

Parking at TYR is $6 per day. GGG Longviiew 30 miles to the east is free parking. 

Boarded flight TYR - DFW  7:00 AM - 7:54 AM. I was in seat 12A exit row but they changed planes and now 12A is not exit row. 11A is exit row and someone else got it. 

Backed out and taxiing to runway. Stopped. Announcement: traffic into DFW has us at 7:25 wheels up so it is 7:00 right now and we will sit here at the edge of the runway and shut down the engines and wait. You can get up and use the restroom and cell phones. 

The AA app is saying flight departed at 6:49AM. It is 7:10AM and we are sitting with the engines off. 

Finally took off at 7:25 and VR (velocity at rotation (front wheel up)) was 136 mph at elevation of 514 feet. Quick 20 min flight, no drinks or service. Landed at 7:50, taxied for 15 min to B. Had to wait for red tagged bags.

Went to Admiral's Club in Terminal D and into FlagShip Lounge.
Ahh, the perks of being an Executive Platinum 

Met up with Katlin & boyfriend Michael who just flew in from MIA to connect to AA263, 787 to PEK. They come back Monday. 

Met up with Marty & girlfriend Tyce also from MIA also heading to PEK. 

Met up with James heading to OKC. 

We all had a great chat. 

And here is the silver bird tail N733AR a 777-300ER (Extended Range)

I got my upgrade T - 60 hours, looks like the upgrade list is pretty long right now. I am so lucky to have my status. Looks like a few cleared. 

Boarded flight. Big engine

I asked if I could take a picture, she said wait, let me make it prettier. OJ, champagne and water.

I have a seat with 3 windows and I have my binoculars with me

12:20 PM Boarded AA 137 DFW - HKG  777-300ER

Something must have happened. They just addressed me by my name and confirmed my pre-selected seafood selection. They usually (90% of the time) don't say my name anymore

Wait wait wait

What just happened?

The cart came down the aisle with newspapers and the shelf below were pajamas and they asked if I would like a pajama. How did that happen?  When did that happen?  What is going on?

Ok, backing up now. Signing off for now. Thanks for reading my blog. You can click the menu and see my other trips 

In flight
Wait. Another surprise. I opened the pillow and comforter and there was a third item in there that has never been there. A mattress. Thin. 

Started out with hot towel and nuts and drinks, then appetizer

The dressing under the duck was way too spicy for me

I had pre-ordered the shrimp, it was eatable. 

I had both desserts

After 1,000 miles it was time to make my bed and get some sleep. 

Slept for 1,500 miles (3 hr) and woke over Barrow, everything has melted since my last trip back in April

If you look past the clouds, you can see white roofs. People are actually living here. This is the western part of AK facing the ocean 

Went over this island, I have been over it several times. It had no ice on it now. You can see a boat in the harbor

Approached the northern coast of Russia

 had a snack. Then fell asleep for 6 hrs

Woke. Almost time to eat again and land soon 


6:00 PM Arrived Hong Kong

Took free shuttle bus to hotel. Two weddings going on



Ate dinner



5:00 AM woke
Was going to take 6:30 shuttle to airport but decided to take 8:00 shuttle since counter doesn't open till 4 hrs prior to 2:30 PM flight

Went across the lobby driveway to what turns out to be a dive that is part of the hotel. I was eating a dive breakfast to tide me over till I got to The Pier first class lounge. 

I hear varoom varoom noises and look in the lobby driveway and see a yello lamborghini

A guy and a young woman get out. A black Ferrari pulls up next to it

Then more Lamborghinis come in

Father and son get out

Two more with very exotic paint jobs

Then more Ferraris and Porsches show up

I chatted with them, they like to get together and chew the fat, east at a dive. It is a father child event. Looking at them you would never tell how rich they are. 

6:00 AM took free shuttle bus back to Hong Kong Airport

Waited for counter to open

Went to lounge

2:40 PM Boarded AA 138 HKG - DFW  777-300ER

Last meal is usually served 2 or 1.5 hours prior to landeding. I wonder what happened since it didn't start until 1 hour prior to landing and everything was rushed. Choice of continental or American. A nice touch was the baby croissant was chocolate and it was warmed to the perfect temperature, I wonder how they accomplished that. Wish they did to my dinner earlier, the duck was not warmed properly. They charge $5,000 - $8,000 for this seat, a simple expectation would be properly heated food.

The smoothie was very good

4:00 PM arrived DFW early due to 100+ mph tailwinds

Scheduled trip is 8,111 miles but you can see actual miles is longer. We only get credit for the 8,111 miles for elite qualifying miles (EQM).  For redeemable miles (RDM) (miles that can be used for free trips) per the new rules as of Aug 1st, it is only 1,335 base miles. A stab in the back to us frequent flyers. Not a way to keep us loyal. 

Woke in my own bed

Didn't have my car (since it is parked in Tyler airport, 100 miles away), called Uber to airport

8am arrived airport and invited back to FlagShip Dining in Terminal D Admirals Club. Cecelia is very helpful and knows me since I come here so much. Note to self: it doesn't open until 8:30AM

One stamp means one person. Two people?  Get two stamps. They are very strict. And don't try to put the tables together if you have more than two people at a table. Don't try to save tables. Tables turn quite quickly, some just come in and out for 5-15 minutes. 

And drink coupon

There are no eggs. There are boiled eggs outside the door. Three different kinds of smoothies

Croissants, scones and muffins


Sliced meat and cheeses

Salmon but no cream cheese and no bagels. Have to go outside to get bagels and cream cheese. 

9:45 AM a very flight to Tyler, 100 miles away

Tiny tiny EMB140, at least it has two jet engines and I am in the first seat, 23 min flight at 11,000 ft

Final call for JAL 787 two-class to NRT. We took 3-class 777-300ER to HND over xmas and had 4 of the 8 first-class seats

Landed and got in car and drive 100 miles west to home

End of trip
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