Reaching the Isle of Spice
Woke up this morning to a rainy Wednesday contemplating where to begin with the adventure of blogging about Grenada.
Realistically it all starts with getting there in the first place.
So today’s blog is all about transport.
Let me start by dispelling the myth that it’s expensive to fly there.
All you need is a hint of web savvy, a touch of patience and the willingness to go for a bargain when you see it.
You can fly from almost anywhere to get to this spice destination and I promise you it doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. If you like me are getting tired of the #BeastfromtheEast or rainy cold days in March and are thinking about escaping for a sunny break away check British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, American Airlines, Air Canada or Delta for flights. They often have special deals especially early on in the year and September. Skyscanner usually allows you to play with the dates to get the best price and routes. But I also hunt on holidaypirates.com, jacksflightclub.co.uk and fly4free.com. But I digress on my flight secrets.
On arrival at this Spice Isle you are greeted with the the airport experience. Airport experience you muse? Surely they are all the same!
Well….classed as an international airport it’s worth setting expectations – it’s an island people, right?! So the airport is accordingly small and not overly air conditioned (we’re in the Caribbean after all so appreciate the dazzling heat).
Leaving the plane I’m hit with the tropical heat and scents of sea, palm trees (and ok a hint of jet fuel) that I’ve been dreaming about whilst sitting at my computer at the office or while being squashed under a fellow passengers armpit on the Tube during rush hour (Londoners you know what I’m talking about!). Add some laid back island vibes and I end up spending quite a bit of time queuing for the usual – passport control, luggage and customs. It’s a holiday after all so the pace is accordingly…slow. So all I can recommend is to smile and just embrace it – it’s contagious. Good time to speak to other passengers – it does make the time go faster. Don’t worry they won’t bite – awkward silence is just not an option here.
The airport is located in the south west of the island and close to most hotels so it’s usually not far to travel for your accommodation.
Whether your next stop is a hotel, villa, apartment or boat there are always enough cabs to go around but if you fancy the VIP service I recommend two drivers that will give you just that: Sean who knows the island inside out (+1 473 443 3220) and Victor Fletcher who is also extremely helpful (+1 473 420 7904).
Getting around the island couldn’t be easier and adventurous. If you, like me, like to just get up and go without waiting on someone and experience island traffic, hiring a car is the best option.
Sean sorted us out a couple of times and also got the temporary drivers licence valid for 3 months at EC$60. If you want to get your licence yourself just pop in the local police station with your drivers licence. Very straight forward. There is one in #GrandAnse near @Spicelandmall.
Be prepared though – it’s an island! Potholes, steep roads and cliffs, generally no pavements and the random farm animals on the road are just some of the exciting obstacles you’ll encounter.
The one thing I found particularly challenging I must confess was driving at night – I sometimes wished I had cat eyes. Vehicles generally don’t have the lights set at the correct height and use their fog lights so oncoming traffic can be really bright. In an instant I aged 50 years and felt like one of those comical drivers whose face is glued to the windshield and driving extra slow. Still getting the hang of it.
The one thing I love is the beeping of the horns – very unlike European road rage style the road vibes are filled with friendly horns to announce your presence or just to say hi.
Now that’s what I call road etiquette. It’s so easy to get into but difficult to get out off – London drivers did not enjoy my enthusiasm once I got back to the UK.
Alternatively you can try out the local buses aka mini vans usually full to the brim with people, interesting conversations, sweet but loud sounds of reggae music and a lot cheaper (bus fares are generally EC$ 2.50 for longer stretches budget EC$3 a ride).
One thing though my fellow adventurers – it gets packed. If you get hot easily maybe it’s not for you – at least carry water with you and a fan. Personally it reminds me a little too much of London Tube rush hour minus the music so I usually stick to driving or a taxi. Been there done that. Know what I mean?!
You can flag a bus down anywhere regardless of whether there is a bus stop or not. Usually they’ll stop – let’s face it more customers more money, right? If they are completely full though, usually during rush hour, they will pass you. You’ll know it’s rush hour if you see buses driving like Formula 1 cars minus the helmets.
Either way you need nerves of steel and an open mind.
Embrace it I say – best way to explore.