Friday, March 9, 2018


The US Virgin Islands were also hit by Hurricane Irma back in September. Seems like I didn't hear much about them on the news, but heard a lot about Puerto Rico. Docking at both places on our cruise to the Southern Caribbean, we saw, to some degree, how the islands are doing 8 months later. We didn't go outside San Juan, Puerto Rico and I know the mountain areas were severely hit so from a tourist viewpoint, San Juan showed no damage at all. St. Thomas, though, was a different story.

The first things I noticed as we docked were the blue tarps over the roofs of some of the buildings along the dock.

This picture doesn't show any damage, but just how there are shops all along the dock. You have to walk through them when you disembark from the ship.

We docked about a 20 - 30 minute walk to "downtown". On the way we had to backtrack from walking along the waterfront due to the sidewalk being closed. As we got around the area and worked our way back to the water, we saw why...

It might be hard to see in my picture, but the sidewalk that went across this culvert, was totally destroyed.

After we got to the "beautiful downtown waterfront shops",

we went in one asking for directions, and discovered that Blackbeard's Castle, one of the places we wanted to see, was closed due to damage from the hurricane. That also meant the shops, etc around it were also closed. (My husband and I had been there several years ago on another cruise we took, but Carol and Keith had never been there so we were going to go there again.) We had planned to walk up the 99 Steps which is one way to get there, but decided against it since we saw no reason to do that with everything being closed. 

A block off the main street, the streets are narrow and not as appealing. As we walked down the sidewalks usually a salesperson would be standing in the open doorway to the shop. Inside some of the stores was another world. It was like being on Fifth Avenue...everything was shiny and clean; salespeople were well dressed. Definitely intended for the tourists. I remarked that looking in a store was like when Dorothy landed in Oz and looked out and everything was in color. I failed to take any pictures of this street.

The only other place we had wanted to go was the oldest synagogue in continuous use under the US flag, St Thomas Synagogue. We had two very steep streets to climb to get there. Our tour guide had just started telling us about the synagogue when a man walked in and she stopped and greeted him warmly. She introduced him to us, but I didn't catch his name to remember it. 

He was a Holocaust survivor originally from Hungary (Our tour guide explained she was also from Hungary.) He lives in the U.S., but comes to St. Thomas yearly to visit. Listening to his story of some of the four different concentration camps he had been in was very emotional. You just knew he was reliving every moment he was telling you about. (He remembered he had left something on the train and went back to get it. When he returned his family had all been taken away. He never saw them again.) He was 16 when the war ended and said he weighed 57 lbs. He says he goes everywhere now telling his stories, because there aren't that many survivors living today. I didn't ask him his name again, but I did ask him if I could take a picture of him. (My husband did some research on the Synagogue and found some information on him. His name is Andrew Sternberg. I watched a YouTube video of him from 10 years ago. In the video he says that he went back to Hungary and stayed there until 1956 when he moved to the U.S.) Doing some research of my own, I found this interesting story about Mr. Sternberg. 

We ended up taking a taxi back to the ship. Then after eating some lunch, my husband and I left the ship again and walked round the shops by the dock for a bit. One of the shops was The Medicine Shoppe. I just had to take this picture and send it to my DIL to show my grandson. He loves these books...(In fact I have bought him quite a few of them.)

Here are some pictures Keith took and shared with me.

Our ship left at 5 PM on its way to Antigua.

Other posts of our cruise, in case you missed them....

Key West, Florida 

San Juan, Puerto Rico

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