Thursday, April 29, 2010

St. Maarten

Our next stop was St. Maarten, the smallest land mass (36 square miles) in the world to be shared by two countries: France and the Netherlands. It's difficult to notice when you cross from one side to the next. The most notable differences are the vehicle license plates (completely different for each side) and the French bistros and bakeries. Everyone is free to cross from side to side~there is no border control or formal border crossing.

Things were not always so amicable between the two sides. Roughly 350 years ago, the two countries entered into The Concordia Agreement, the oldest active, undisputed treaty in the world. This treaty allows both sides to operate commercially on either side. In the 1980's, the Danish side opened itself up to investors to develop tourism. The French side soon did the same, even offering tax incentives for French citizens to invest in tourism and charter boats.

Today, St. Maarten is known for being the yachting place in the Caribbean. Do you remember seeing photos of Tiger Woods' mega-yacht during the height of his scandal? Well, those yachts are bountiful in St. Maarten!

This was our view as we pulled into port.
As you look at these photos, you'll notice my quirky fondness for taking photos through tree branches. First, we toured the Dutch side for awhile. This is our ship in the background.
As we walked along the beach in the above photos, we laughed at the progression of these signs.

I think this is one of my favorite photos from the whole trip. I love the clouds!

Finally, we ended up on Orient Beach for some fun in the sun!
We had totally forgotten that the beaches are "clothing optional" on the French side of the island. We were quickly reminded when two topless women strolled along right in front of us. All I could think of was how badly a sunburn would hurt there! Rick thought that was funny! LOL
Yup, another day in paradise! Tomorrow, I'll post photos from Tortola.

Have a sunshiney day!

1 comment:

arlene said...

Stunning! Isn't it amazing how the two sides of the same island are so completely different?

The beaches are gorgeous.