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Tobago 2006 – Englishman’s Bay – Day 2 Pt 2

It was such a long day that I had to actually break up the blog into two separate parts. After the waterfalls, our guide told us to go on side road to get to the Roxborough-Parlatuvier Road. This road goes through the Tobago Forest Reserve and is definitely a very scenic drive. Tobago’s well preserved forested central mountain range is the oldest protected nature reserve in the western hemisphere. It was declared a reserve in 1764 shortly after the island fell under British rule. It is the only forest protected specifically to preserve the watershed.

Flagstaff Hill

Pigeon Point

After a long drive through the protected reserve, where we go out for a pic at the Bloody Bay lookout and then we were persuaded by a vendor there to give a ride home to Bloody Bay, she was quite nice and gave us some history of the area while we were driving her. The drive going down that road was pretty, not amazing due to the lack of light from the mountains and tree canopy. We stopped off at Bloody Bay for a dip. IT was getting to be late evening but the water was great as usual. The tide was coming in and the water was getting a little rougher but we didn’t really care.

Bloody Bay

 Bloody Bay

The sunlight in the pictures tends to give a bit more substance, but for me, it just felt like home 

 Bloody Bay

 Bloody Bay

Travel tip: When driving down by the beaches, always have snacks with you. The sea air makes you hungry almost all the time and have some moisturizing cream since the air tends to dry your skin out.

But from there we went on to Englishman’s Bay, and this was quite a highlight for us. The following pictures in reality are even more amazing than they look and upon leaving the Bay and going up the mountain, the beaches look even more inviting than they were.

Bloody Bay

 Bloody Bay

 Bloody Bay

Now while leaving the Bays, I thought to myself, why don’t we just to make a quick dip in Castara Bay, since it was on the map and on the way back home. Well, we drove on main road until there was a fork in the road, and of course we took the logical path… THE WRONG ONE!

 Bloody Bay

We ended up almost in someone’s backyard with some madman who had a cutlass, calmly sitting in the middle of the road. This is a quite steep road mind you, and the poor Nissan Almera we had was struggling with the slope. Thankfully, someone pointed out that we indeed on the right path but we had taken a shortcut!

Aha!

My fellow travelers were screaming at me for directing them down the wrong path, but little did they know, I was just testing them…. Right!!!!?

We drove and drove, through Castara, Runnymede, Moriah, Les Coteaux to Plymouth and basically straight down to Scarborough.

 Bloody Bay

But the roads traveled here are beautiful and for me, just watching the winding roads into the mountains filled me with quite a sense of wonder.

 Bloody Bay

 Bloody Bay

Pretty much after all this adventure driving, and a lot of misdirection, we did end getting back to the main highway. The goal was really to hit Pigeon Pt again for us, but due to the timing we couldn’t make the beach.

Of course at this time, Gary still had not checked into his hotel (remember we picked him directly from the airport and then went driving), so we proceeded to drop Gary off at his hotel. Upon arrival at his hotel, Gary was shocked to see the room, and I think these have to be the only Indian people who own a hotel in Tobago who had Satsang (Hindu prayer sessions) on a Sunday evening. The air was permeated by the scents of incense and sandalwood. Quite the shock to Gary though. Anyway he retired for a shower and nap till dinner later.

After everything, it was back to eat some KFC and pepper sauce by the pool while drinking a couple Sorrel Shandys. If you have never had a Sorrel Shandy, you are soooo missing out, you have to get to Trinidad to have a cold one on the beach, truly one of life’s little pleasures. After showering, it was off to the Tobago Hilton for dinner. Of course, we could have had a nice dinner on the road but we decided we would be upscale and try an upscale place in Tobago. The Tobago Hilton is located on an old Sugar Plantation and it is quite long drive from the main road to the Hotel, which of course has its own private beach mind you.

This is description of the Hotel from the website

The hotel is located on a 20-acre tropical beachfront, 2.5 miles east of Crown Point International Airport. The hotel overlooks Tobago Plantations’ 18-hole PGA-designed golf course. Features include two world-class tennis courts, three outdoor swimming pools, a fitness centre with sauna, a full-service spa facility, a popularly priced restaurant, a fine dining room and three bar/lounges. A ballroom (4,675 square feet) and two small meeting rooms (825 square feet each)are available.

Pretty much fits the bill, so we went to the Plantation Room for dinner. Well once again, it doesn’t matter where you go in Tobago, the service will be bad. The service was not as horrible as Dillon’s ( then again nothing will be as horrible as Dillon’s) and we were the last diners that night, so I am sure the servers were tired from a long day on a Sunday, so I can excuse some of that, but once again the service reflected the overall nonchalance towards service. I know that Trinis don’t like tourists, but we are generally friendly towards them, in Tobago for an island where tourism is the main industry, it always surprises me how shitty the service in most places can be.

Even in our guest house, the initial service was quite poor, but as the manager explained, the person was new and being trained. The manager at our guesthouse was excellent and indeed made our stay a lot more enjoyable. Arthur’s By The Sea is a small hotel located very close to the airport and within 4 minute walk of both Store Bay and Pigeon Point.

Pigeon Pt and Argyle Waterfalls – Day 2

The next day we got up bright and early to head to down to Pigeon Point and to Store Bay. Store Bay in the morning is great and the water was crystal clear. Gary was coming in at about 11am, So Tara I figured that we would get an early start by taking in the water at Store Bay. One of the great things about this bay and why many parties are always staged there, is because it is small, has good facilities and the water is very calm. So by about 8:30am, we were in the water, getting completely crispy. As one will notice, my hair was Red for Carnival to match my costume, but by this time after all the seawater had been going through my hair, it was slowly bleaching my hair from bright red into a bright fuschia into pink. So of course as of today I still have the same type of hair, Tara’s hair for some reason remained a very lovely Red, but as we have found out now, she didn’t really swim as much as I did, hence the seawater didn’t have long extended periods of time to completely rape her hair.

There aren’t many pictures of Store Bay in the morning, simply because the brains weren’t actually on, until you get the cool crisp turquoise water on your skin and feel all refreshed … and maybe a bit chilly. So we left Store Bay around 10am and then drove to Pigeon Point

Pigeon Point

Pigeon Point

Pigeon Point

It is about a 5 minute drive from Store Bay to Pigeon Point and it is definitely one of the best kept and picturesque beaches around. That being said, this is a paid beach and it is 13TT per person for entry. Now this sounds kinda obscene and in many ways it is quite wrong to charge for the use of a beach. However, once you enter Pigeon Point and see people sweeping the walkways, and cleaning the beach of the little litter that it could have, you see where your money is going. The locals balk at this payment for beaches and in some ways, I can empathize with them.

If you had something in your country and the only reason you are paying for it, is because some wealthy developers (AKA Syrian Drug Kings of Trinidad – the Sabgas) can make money off it, then you would be a bit peeved. However, one must never forget that this is Trinidad and Tobago and there is the cultural aspect of this too. If Trinis were allowed to run anything for free, they would mess it up, just sayin’ (Any Trini worth their salt would know that this is true)

Cultural references aside, this beach is used in all the travel brochures and pictures for the simple reason that it is a fricking gorgeous. It is almost impossible to take a bad photo with this perfect island landscape, azure waters, rolling waves and the PIER! Take a look at the following photos and I am no professional, but a lot look like postcards.

Pigeon Point

Pigeon Point

Pigeon Point

Pigeon Point

One of the great things about bathing at Pigeon Point, is that if you are waiting on someone to fly in from Trinidad, you can just wait till the appropriate time, and you should see the plane pass by and touch down at Crown Point. Gary was coming from Trinidad at 11.20am, so Tara and I got out of the water at 11:20am, wrapped a towel around ourselves, drove to and arrived at the airport at 11:26am. Gary came outside the gate at 11:30am. I was still dripping wet from the sea of course, so we picked up Gary and attempted to go to Scarborough for lunch.

Pigeon Point

As a tourist destination, Scarborough looks like King’s Wharf in San Fernando to me and as appealing. It looks dirty and rundown like Port of Spain, well actually a lot less dirty than Port of Spain. I won’t talk much about Scarborough because I find it infinitely uninteresting and in the end there wasn’t anywhere I thought I wanted to for lunch, so we headed back to Store Bay area for lunch.

In the end, right outside of our guest house, there was a local roadside place for lunch and lunch was good! Good creole homecooking: I had Stewed Pork, Baked Chicken, Salad and rice. Tara and Gary had combinations of that except that Gary got a huge slab of Macaroni Pie. ( For any non-trinis, Macaroni pie is a baked version of Mac and Cheese with pepper and spices, I personally cannot eat it, due to my dairy allergy, but there are many who think a Creole lunch without Macaroni Pie is incomplete)

After our huge lunch, we decided that it was time to drive and explore, so of course we wanted to a waterfall that we had seen on our way back from Charlotteville the day before. Gary was lazing in the back being chauffeured by Tara and I was the navigator. So we drove up the coast until we got to Argyle Waterfalls.

This is the largest waterfall in Tobago according to the guides that were there and it is the only one where there is an organized tour and trail and qualified guide that will help you around. The drive from Crown Point to Argyle Waterfalls is about an hour but of course it is a scenic lovely drive.

Travel Tip: When you get to Argyle Waterfalls, if you are a local, carry your Trinidad ID with you, so that you will get the local rate which is $20 less than the foreigner rate.

Because Gary and I had Tara (White Girl) in the car, the guides wanted to charge us the foreigner rate. Of course, I had to get all ethnic on these people and let them know what was going on, and I wasn’t letting them charge no Trini the foreign rate.

Anyway at the beginning of the trail, there was the guide hut and from the hut to the falls is a very easy walk to the falls, there is a bit of hiking, but a small amount. Our tour guide was nice, kinda bored with the whole thing, but he was glad to have a loud mouth trini like me talking and creating some noise. He must have done that walk hundreds of times, since there is a tour every 30 mins in peak season and every other hour in the off season. Argyle Falls is a favorite of the Cruise lines, so they always tour the falls. Indeed there is good reason to see the falls, as it is a step waterfall with 3 steps as the pictures will show.

Argyle Waterfalls

Argyle Waterfalls

The falls are quite breathtaking in their beauty, the water is crystal clear as shown by the pictures of the fished swimming at the bottom of main pool.

Fishies at Argyle Waterfalls

The main pool is about 80 feet deep so once can dive from the top of the last step into the pool below. I didn’t attempt this, and Gary didn’t even want to hike to the top of the falls.

I will admit that in my horrible cardiovascular condition made worse by eating all the KFC, Trinidad could throw at me, it was a challenge, but it wasn’t difficult. One note though, if you plan to go hiking up a waterfall where it is wet, do not go hiking with rubber flipflops like me. It makes your climb infinitely more hazardous than it really should be. The one good thing was that my flip flops, did protect my feet when I was in the top step of the waterfall, while everyone got their bare feet bruised on the sharp rocks.

At the top of the falls, the climb was worth it, as the view was spectacular and Gary did indeed miss out at the top. Tara was an able companion and of course she climbed to the top with me, although she didn’t wanna hang off the main precipice, I wont fault her, everything around a waterfall is slippery.. DUH!

Argyle Waterfalls

Argyle Waterfalls

Argyle Waterfalls

We spent a good hour at the Waterfalls, just enjoying the fresh air, and water. It is definitely something to go see while you are in Tobago.

Argyle Waterfalls

Argyle Waterfalls

Argyle Waterfalls

Argyle Waterfalls

Argyle Waterfalls

Tobago 2006 Day 1 – Travelogue

Got into Tobago from Trinidad at about 11:20am. Now that isn’t really a bad thing except that our flight was supposed to leave at 8:20 and get there about 18 minutes later. In Trinidad, the one thing you learn very quickly (well Tara learned very quickly) was that in Trinidad, nothing generally leaves on time. The reason for the delay was ‘engine trouble’, but I had read in the newspaper earlier that morning that there was a labour strike by airport workers, so I knew what to expect, so of course, I went for a couple pieces of KFC in the Airport and started reading my newspaper.

Now as we got into the Crown Point Airport (Tobago’s only Airport), a couple things struck me instantaneously, there is only one terminal (typical of the island), how small in comparison to a typical North American/European airport it is and that while walking from the airfield into the terminal, the lovely sea breeze that hits you, since the ocean is only a couple hundred metres away from the airfield.

As we got off the plane and into the terminal, we happened on a piece of good fortune, that actually made the entire trip. [One must remember that this is the post Carnival period, where everyone leaves Trinidad and goes to rest in Tobago on the beaches] We had not thought about a car rental and as soon as we disembarked, we were greeted by a car rental agent who politely inquired, as to whether we needed a car. I replied affirmatively of course, and within 10 mins, we were on the road having signed for the car.

Travel Tip: Although Tobago is a small island, a car rental will increase your appreciation of this island exponentially. So plan accordingly!

It was the last car they had, and while we were in the rental office, three couples came in to plead for a rental. It was quite a stroke of very, very good fortune! We drove off from the rental agency to the guesthouse, it was a long drive, all of about 800 metres!!! Now this was at 11:35 and the guesthouse was packed with people looking to check in. So of course we were waiting for a bit to check in at 1pm, so I went to the manager to inquire as to the status of our room. She said that as it was the weekend after Carnival people were still checked in and that we wouldn’t get a room till about 2pm. Of course, anyone that knows me, knows how pissed I get at these types of things, but no matter, I asked the manager about storing our bags, which she said she would, and Tara and I took off in the car to drive the entire leeward coast of Tobago. (this was quite impromptu to Tara, but I knew once we took off to drive, I fully intended for her to drive on this coast during the day, because it is an absolutely amazing drive and some of the pictures enclosed in this travelogue show how panoramic and stunning this drive can be)

View of Charlotteville from Flagstaff Hill

View of Charlotteville from Flagstaff Hill

We drove from Crown Point right up to Flagstaff Hill over looking Charlotteville – this is the Leeward Coast of the island.. The drive can be an extremely challenging drive for someone who doesn’t have a Trini guide, simply because in T&T, people drive as if they are insane!! In addition to this cultural driving nuance, there are many, many blind corners, and potholes on this road, so it can be very challenging, but the views and vistas are beyond comparison and many will leave you simply breathless at the sheer beauty of nature.

View of Charlotteville from Flagstaff Hill

This drive is about 2 ½ hours each way, of course we stopped for many pics and to climb down and enjoy the view from Flagstaff Hill. The pictures I have included that we took during this drive cannot begin to describe how blue the ocean is and how amazing the views are.

Going to Speyside

Going to Speyside

Going to Speyside

Once we got back to the guest house at about 6pm, we checked in, had a shower and then went off to have dinner. Now having been to Tobago a number of times, I have come to expect two things, the water in Tobago will usually be superb and the service in almost any eating establishment will be horrific.

Going to Speyside

Going to Crown Point

Travel Tip : During the day in Tobago, eat at the smaller shops and roadside restaurants, the service during tourist season is abominable but at least the prices will be very cheap and you will get a LOT of tasty food. At night, if you have to eat in Tobago, expect decent food in the restaurants, but horrible service and very, very expensive prices compared to Trinidad. [Everything in Tobago is basically imported, and the tourist economy will accept higher prices]

The restaurant that we ate at was called Dillon’s Seafood Restaurant and I will never carry anyone there again, and it is my mission to make sure people know how bad the service was and how bland the food was. Tara and I, had an appetizer each; Stuffed Crab Backs and Callaloo soup and two entrees; Fish Platter and Kingfish filets and a drink each. The total price of the meal about 448.50 TT, which for Trinidad, is quite expensive. However on holiday, I don’t mind this. What I did mind was the horrible service, the attitude from the waitress and overall nonchalance of the serving staff. We left 450 TT, so you do the math as to what the tip was, and if the change in my pockets didn’t irritate me, I would have left nothing.

Going to Speyside

Going to Crown Point

Going to Speyside

Going to Crown Point

Going to Speyside

Going to Crown Point

After dinner we were totally spent, so we crashed! We didn’t even bother walking down the street, because of a good breakfast, tons of photos, amazing drive and the island air, what more could you want for a day on travel?