Philipsburg, Sint Maarten
This morning, Friday March 9, we docked in Philipsburg, the capital of Sint Maarten. Saint Martin is a small island that is divided into two jurisdictions. The northern part (a little over half) is French while the southern part is Dutch. Since October of 2010 Sint Maarten (the Dutch side, where we are docked) has been a “country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands,” which generally means they have control over most internal affairs while the Netherlands is responsible for defense and foreign relations. Philipsburg is a beautiful spot with great beaches, a nice harbor & lots of duty free shopping. As a result, it attracts cruise ships in great numbers: there were only two today, but there are often 5 or 6 ships each day. This is our third time in Philipsburg.
Philipsburg is crowded with stores selling everything from diamonds and watches to cheap keepsakes. Two of the more unusual stores are “The Yoda Guy,” operated by a fellow involved in the animation of Yoda in the Star Wars movies, and the Guavaberry Emporium. Guavaberry is a local product that we are led to believe grows only on this island and they make it into a liqueur. The Guavaberry Emporium was once the Philipsburg synagogue. The statue of the old man in the top hat represents their logo.
We also found the Philipsburg Jubilee Library, a nice open building full of students whose bookmobiles had a Caribbean flair.
Philipsburg has a beautiful wide white sand beach along the town’s entire length, with clear blue-green water. There are restaurants all along the edge of the beach & they rent out chairs & umbrellas (sometimes with a couple of beers included in the price). There are also vendors walking along the beach, who will offer their wares (usually hats or shirts) while you sit in the outside cafe drinking your beer & eating your lunch. We even found a restaurant on the beach apparently run by Ohio State expatriates. This part of town really fulfills the stereotype of an idyllic Caribbean paradise.
St. Martin was a pirate haven in the 16th century & there is a lot of pirate stuff around (particularly tee shirts), including the guy below who sits in front of one tourist shop. Philipsburg’s courthouse was originally built in 1793 but has been restored several times & used for other governmental units since, before being restored to courthouse status. Lucy’s guesthouse is mostly of family interest, and we were taken with the Pelican engaged in its toilette on a local boat.
In the last couple of years Philipsburg has built a very nice new dock facility (with, of course, a large shopping area). It is only about a 15 minute walk into town and there is a very nice curving stone bridge at the end of the walk where these pictures were taken.
Thus ends our final stop on this lengthy voyage and it was an enjoyable port and a beautiful day. As you can see, we have put on a little weight (it’s a cruise, after all) but we can still fit into all of our clothes. And to top it off we had a glorious sunset over the Caribbean (to me, the second one looks like a western painting, perhaps northern Arizona, but in fact its only clouds).