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Published: February 9th 2018
First thing in the morning we were picked up at the port of Basseterre and taken to our booked excursion on the St Kitts Scenic Railway. It is touristy and expensive to do, but I thought it was a worthwhile experience. It follows the old sugar train route round much of the north of the island and is the only one of its kind in the Caribbean.
We travelled 18 miles at 10mph through forests and sugar plantations, over bridges and along rugged coastline. We saw many little villages and locals going about their business, nearly all of whom stopped to wave at us.
Not only was the journey scenic, it was entertaining as well. The train driver Kathlydia was hilarious, she talked the whole time and I don't know how she kept her energy up. There was also an a cappella group who came round each carriage singing local songs, and a complimentary bar (I enjoyed a Pina colada and a mango daiquiri).
St Kitts is known for its green vervet monkeys, originally brought over by the French as pets. Kathlydia spotted a couple and let us know, but by the time we came round in the
last carriage, they had well and truly scarpered.
On the roundabout drive back to Basseterre though our driver pointed out a bunch of them in an open cage. They were free to come and go, just too well-fed and lazy. Our driver here was also great, and showed us around bits of the island the train couldn't go. We passed the UNESCO-listed Brimstone Hill Fortress, and it did look pretty impressive, perched precariously up there on its volcanic rock.
Back in Basseterre we looked around a few shops, and the shop workers and locals touted us aggressively. The shops, even souvenir shops, tried to flog us expensive jewellery. Some advertised free gifts for cruise ship passengers to lure you in, but no matter what was specifically advertised most of them just had the same basic pearl silver earrings that they were reluctant to hand out and aggressively tried to push a sale. Even the guy in the chocolate shop, with no jewellery in sight, went in for the serious hard sell, which just annoyed me and ensured I left empty-handed as I wasn't given any peace to browse.
Maybe it wouldn't have been as bad further away
from the port, but I quickly tired of Basseterre and opted for a quick lunch back on the ship before tackling the battling touts to negotiate a lift to a beach and back. We got a mini bus to ourselves for $16 return, and our driver James recommended South Friars Bay. It was a nice bay, but the beach was pretty crowded and under construction, complete with its own digger. To be fair though, its newly-built toilet block was the cleanest and fanciest free beach toilets I've ever visited.
On the way back to the ship we stopped off for an amazing photo opportunity of a narrow winding road leading across to a mountain peninsula, the wild Atlantic on one side and the Caribbean side where we'd just been on the other.
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