Bucket List item #410 – Charlotte Amalie
St Thomas, Virgin Islands, USA
Some year ago, one of my best friends got married in Saint Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. At the time I was in my early stages of bucket listing. I hadn’t even organized enough to have all my things on a cohesive list. It was in Notes on my phone, post-its in my purse, and a document on my computer that I never seemed to save in the same place twice. Look, it wasn’t until recently that I became adult enough to really organize my life. I was a Neanderthal.
The wedding took place at a resort, which, admittedly, neither Dave nor I were terribly excited about. We were a bit on our high horses about resorts and how they don’t foster getting to know a city or culture. Blah blah. It’s embarrassing to even type that. So judgy. SMH. The resort experience we had in Saint Thomas actually changed my mind and I realized that resorts can be cool too. I digress.
We were really not keen on the resort, so I made sure to add Charlotte Amalie to my bucket list to encourage us to explore and not stay on the resort the entire time. I’m really so glad we did because we had such a wonderful afternoon adventure. It also taught me balance when traveling. It doesn’t have to be all resorts and luxury and it doesn’t have to be all adventure. I found that my perfect vacation lies somewhere in the middle. There needs to be a bit of both for a well-rounded trip, in my honest opinion.
An afternoon in Charlotte Amalie was a perfect break from the resort. For being such a tiny city, it was quite diverse in feeling. The central square and markets are busy, busy, busy! There are a ton of market stalls with knickknacks and as you walk further down the streets it’s mostly gift shops. I mean, it’s a pretty full on tourist trap. The kind where you’re continually harassed into buying off brand watches. We lasted about five minutes trying to find a meaningful souvenir before deciding to fuck it. Besides, I had one other Saint Thomas bucket list item in the area, which was eating at Gladys’ Café, which you can read all about here.
The second part of Charlotte Amalie is either off the main streets a block or down corridors. There are some really beautiful and quiet nooks of the city with little hidden gems, like Palm Passage. It’s basically a little alleyway with some tiny shops, a restaurant and a bar smack in the middle. The walls are flushed in yellow and the alley is lined with palm trees. It’s peaceful and tropical and the drinks were delicious. I mean, it was shockingly serene considering the bustling markets literally a block away. You’re surrounded by these high walls that block the sound. And if you avoid midday, the walls block the sun as well, so you get some lovely shade and clear view of the street and ocean. It’s delightful.
We finished our little afternoon trek by hiking it further up into the city and exploring the residential area. The colors and the slow decay really make the city quite striking and so picturesque. We even happened upon a condemned building full of vines and life. I think the upper part of the city is definitely the most beautiful and we didn’t even see a single tourist roaming. We walked but two or three blocks from the market and not a tourist in site, so we had our own little slice of the city. I kept wishing so badly that I could do a photo shoot there!
You know, it really goes to show how getting off the beaten path can be so rewarding, even if it’s only two steps.