St. Martin/St. Maarten in 8 hours

Upon the cruise ship docking in Phillipsburg, we found our way to our car rental, and were soon on our way through heavy morning traffic.  As the capital city of the Dutch side of the island, the city is not only the site for cruise ship port, but also the home of the Princess Juliana International Airport.  Known the world over for the close proximity of the landing aircraft and the jet blast from the departing aircraft, the adjacent Maho Beach has become a popular tourist attraction, in spite of the dangers.  During our visit, the beach was packed, and a number of landings and departures allowed us to experience the thrill, but we protected ourselves, and our cameras, from the intense blast of sand on the planes departure, and didn't try to climb the fence with the big DANGER sign posted.

Driving into Marigot, the capitol on the French side of the island, we walked around the street
markets.  Alan enjoyed a French baguette sandwich, while my lunch consisted of a couple of coconut macaroons from one on the many French bakeries/restaurants on the waterfront.  Strings of vendors were selling hats, dresses and a wide assortment of crafts.  Luckily, the vendors and restaurant personnel we dealt with spoke English, my high school French is more than rusty now, and basically useless.

Discovered and claimed for the Spanish in 1493 by Christopher Columbus, the island had already been settled by the Arawak indigenous peoples of South America.  The island changed hands and endured multiple battles between the Spanish, Arawak, Dutch, French, and British until 1816 when Dutch and French zones were established.

After exploring a few different beach options, we drove to Orient Beach.  Snorkeling was not an option here, but we hung out on the beach and relaxed for a few hours, and then headed back to the ship.  We were trying to locate a "perfect" beach we had visited many years ago, but either our memories were incorrect or construction had eliminated the place.  In any event, still a pleasant day, and now time for our return to Puerto Rico.

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