22 August 2012

Melbourne, we're back!

I know I'm due to write a huge post on St. Lucia and things you absolutely have to do if you ever go there but whilst that is in the process of being written I thought I would give you all a little update.

On Wednesday 8th August the boy and I set off to Heathrow Airport accompanied by my parents and boarded a flight to Melbourne on a one way ticket.  This is my new home - yikes!

A little background on the situation: I originally moved to Melbourne in September 2009 for (a different) Australian boy.  After almost two years of long distance and therefore much anticipation, things did not quite go to plan with that relationship and five months after arriving I found myself newly single and halfway across the world from all my friends and family.  Sadly the end of the relationship coincided (to the day) of my grandmother's death.  I headed home for the funeral and got my head together.  Instead of wallowing in self pity and staying home to lick my wounds I came back to Melbourne to see out my visa (much to the annoyance of the ex, I'm sure [in fact I believe "Melbourne is my city, not yours" was a phrase that was used during one conversation about my return].) and partied like I'd never partied before.  Enter Aussie boy number two:


This relationship, however, was not to be a "happy ever after" for me either (yet)!  

Due to the difficulties of being in a relationship where two different nationalities are involved I had to head home for a few months whilst the boy holidayed in Thailand with his friends (that was easy!).  I found my way back to him but it was very difficult not being allowed to work and having to leave the country every three months - especially without knowing if I'd be let back in every time I returned to Australia.  Eventually we found ourselves living in London and preparing for our "Offshore Temporary Partner Visa" (on the basis of a de facto relationship) so that I could return to Melbourne with full working rights and finally live "happily ever after".  Hundreds of pages (I'm not joking my application was honestly about two inches thick) and thousands of dollars later I have ended up in Melbourne.  

The journey is not over yet as I am still a tourist and have not been granted the visa.  However, it should be granted between October 10th and November 11th (grants take 5-6 months and we only applied in May).  This does leave me at a slightly loose end because I still cannot work so I spend my days trying to think of fulfilling ways to fill up my time.  I feel like Hugh Grant in About a Boy...

"I find the key is to think of a day as units of time, each unit consisting of no more than thirty minutes. Full hours can be a little bit intimidating and most activities take about half an hour. Taking a bath: one unit, watching countdown: one unit, web-based research: two units, exercising: three units, having my hair carefully disheveled: four units. It's amazing how the day fills up, and I often wonder, to be absolutely honest, if I'd ever have time for a job; how do people cram them in?"

Except unlike Hugh Grant I don't have the joys of English day time television to keep me occupied (honestly Australian day time TV is incredibly boring and full of adverts/infomercials).  If only I had a Roberta-Flack-singing-bobble-hat-wearing young boy to buy trainers and offensive rap music for.



Anyone have any ideas of things I can do (preferably non-expensive ideas so I don't have to spend my boys hard earned cash!)??


16 August 2012

Windjammer Landing, St. Lucia

When I returned from my holiday in the Caribbean I had gotten into the terrible habit of waking up no earlier than 5pm and going to bed no earlier than 630am.  My bedroom was consistently filled with the sun that was streaming through the windows and all I could hear were the birds tweeting their "good mornings" in the garden.  Sleeping with an eyemask on and earplugs in became a necessity.

But I suppose that this is just further proof that I left my heart in The Caribbean.

I have now moved back to Melbourne - but we'll leave that story for another day because right now I want to talk about the idyllic St. Lucian resort that is Windjammer Landing.

I have been visiting Windjammer Landing since I was 10 years old and it has never failed to impress.  Windjammer is a villa beach resort set on lush green hills.  It has everything you could want - fantastic views, a beach right on your doorstep, your own private fully equipped villa with pool, five other pools on site (two for kids) and five restaurants (NB there are also rooms available).

The view from our villa

Kid's Pool

Main Pool


Ember's Barbeque and Grill (on the beach)

The beach

Looking back at Windjammer from a boat

ACCOMMODATION

As mentioned before the majority of Windjammer is made up of villas.  The villa my family always stay in is a two bedroom villa right at the top of the mountain.  Due to the hills of Windjammer it is not really a resort that would suit people with walking difficulties/disabilities.  However, because most people on holiday don't fancy a huge uphill trek in order to get to their villa there is a 24 hour shuttle service which runs people around the resort which can be ordered by the touch of a button from your villa - problem solved!  All villas come fully furnished, every room has an ensuite bathroom, the kitchen is fully stocked with all utensils, there is a washing machine and drier (incredibly handy - who likes going home with a suitcase full of dirty clothes?), there is a dining area, TVs in every bedroom, a living area complete with large plasma screen TV, a large balcony and of course your own private pool.

Please take a moment to watch my quick villa tour video:

video


Most guests that I have met at Windjammer tend to take one of two options whilst staying there.  They either go self-catering (as all the villas are fully equipped with kitchens) or all inclusive.  My family always go self-catering as we like to eat out off-site as opposed to in the same restaurants for two weeks.  However, Windjammer do offer a variety of food on-site and I have never heard complaints from anyone that has gone  down the all-inclusive route.

DINING

Breakfast is served daily at Dragonfly.  You can pick from the A La Carte menu, which is very reasonably priced, or pay for the buffet (for those with a larger appetite/bigger pockets!).  The buffet offers both European and American style breakfast choices - croissants, fresh fruit, yoghurts, cold cuts of meat and cheese, pancakes and maple syrup, omelettes cooked to order and all the trimmings (sausages, bacon, beans, etc).  Definitely worth a visit a couple of times during your stay, although I tend to eat breakfast a lot in the villa as it's much cheaper.




Dragonfly is also open in the evenings and hosts themed buffet events a couple of times a week.  It is probably the smartest restaurant on Windjammer and offers a mixture of cuisines: Waldorf salad, mussels florentine, chicken pot pie and jerk sausage and mash just to name a few items on the menu.

As a pizza lover Papa Don's is probably my favourite restaurant on site.  Offering a range of delicious pizzas and pastas and European food such as gazpacho, bruschetta, souvlaki and moussaka.  For those not wanting to indulge in the ultimate carb-fest there are also fish, meat and vegetarian main course options.  My only problem with this restaurant is that it is only open in the evenings.

Jammer's Bar is the restaurant most people tend to eat at during the day.  It has a very relaxed and casual atmosphere offering a range of food from salads, sandwiches and American style (huge!) burgers and Mexican quesadillas and tacos  to local cuisine such as jerk or creole style catch of the day.

Ember's is another popular choice.  Situated right on the beach it offers a variety of barbequed and grilled food.  You can pick from their famous JA wrap (jerk chicken, rice and vegetables wrapped in roti bread), pulled pork burger (AMAZING!), grilled chicken or fish, BBQ spare ribs and chicken or a variety of pizzas (which makes up for Papa Don's not being open during the day).

The other restaurant on-site is The Upper Deck.  Situated next to Jammer's it offers a selection of mouth watering steak and seafood dishes.  I did not eat here this time around but have never heard anything other than praise for it.

The one complaint a lot of people have when they come to St Lucia and have not been before is about the speed of service - it can be incredibly slow.  Some people may think that this is something that is a particular problem to Windjammer, however if you leave the hotel and go elsewhere you will find the same in every other hotel and restaurant around the island.  Embrace it - you are now on "St Lucian time" - and what's the rush.... you are on holiday.  Have another cocktail and enjoy the chance to relax!

ACTIVITIES

Like any other resort of such a high standard Windjammer Landing caters for all ages and all interests.  Right down to the small things.  There is a fully equipped gym on site and tennis courts. Daily watersport activities including waterskiing, banana rides, donuts and volleyball to name a few.

The more adventurous can take part in snorkelling and diving trips and rainforest treks.

There are afternoon yoga sessions on the pier:


A weekly sunset cruise




And a relaxing spa.

There is also a very popular kids club which kids genuinely seem to enjoy.  It is not one of those clubs where children are just popped into a playroom and left to enjoy themselves, the children are taken off on different activities (on site) throughout the day and the kids club is even open in the evenings holding talent shows and "slumber party" movie nights where kids wear their pyjamas and indulge in popcorn and other treats.

THE STAFF

The one thing that makes Windjammer Landing so special is the staff.  Although I hadn't visited Windjammer since 2008 so many of them remember you by name - whether this is due to quickly looking up your details on a computer or whether this is because they actually remember you it is still a lovely personal touch.  The bar staff remember your favourite drinks, they ask about your other family members and remember the day you are leaving so always say goodbye.

One person who has time and time again made our stay is Thomas, the bar manager at Jammers:



He is one of the most genuine, kind-hearted people and I hope his effort and hard work doesn't go unrecognised by the resort as I'm sure he has impressed many families other than just my own.

I have never had anything other than an amazing time at Windjammer and whenever I bring friends (or in this case, my boyfriend), they also love their stay.

If you have been considering a trip to the Caribbean Windjammer Landing is the place to go.  It offers a homely feel whilst having all the amenities of a resort.  A true home away from home!

Stay tuned for a post on suggestions of what to do and see around St. Lucia. xxx