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A hike and unexpected bbq treat – St John’s US Virgin Islands

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Best food and best meals are not from the Michelin studded stars restaurants. Although I have dined in fine restaurants, maybe it be in Aspen, Zurich, Athens, London, Oslo, most of my memorable meals are from the beaches of Lombok, back streets of the old city of Athens, food stalls in Singapore, small tratorria in Genoa and elsewhere.

But to be honest most of the memorable meals are either shared with friends or some unexpected places…. That brings me back to St John’s , US Virgin Islands.

We were just finishing our trip with the boss when I wrote in my facebook status “St Thomas, Virgin Islands.” Within an hour I received an email from a chef I used to work with saying…. “ Where in St Thomas, am at Haven Grande”

I just went out and there it was on our starboard side. As soon I had I had free time I went and looked for Jeff.

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Jeff and I worked together for a short while long way back 2007. We went all over Bahamas with the boat and whenever I had free time, would help Jeff in the galley cleaning up. Jeff was always up by 6am to bake and start breakfast without a break work until dinner done.

I asked Jeff if he could take a day off the next day to hang out with me. After travelling with crew, I just needed to go away from everyone else and since Jeff been based there for a while he would make a perfect companion.

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As planned we met at 9am at the dock and took a taxi to Red Hook where we would take a ferry to St John’s.

While on the ferry Jeff and I caught up with our lives, last year we were exactly on the same route except he was 24 hours ahead as they left Monaco heading to Venice and we left France for Amalfi. When Jeff managed to find an off, I was already on a long weekend in Florence, so we never saw each other in the Mediterranean.

Few months later however we managed to meet in Ft Lauderdale and he in few days after, was on his way to Puerto Rico then St. Thomas.

Since Jeff has spent time hiking St John’s he looked for a trail that he has not been yet. With a little help from the they suggested we start our hike at the Annenberg sugar estate ruins then to Leinster Bay (great place for snorkelling) , uphill hike to Johnny Trail that would lead us to Coral Bay which was around 2 miles, but would take us at least 2 hrs to hike. Well a bit longer as we spent time marvelling the sweeping view of the bay .

At the start of the trail we saw a turtle as we walked towards Watermelon Bay. But above the bay where there were ruins which was a old guard house, the marvellous Watermelon Bay was just so engrossing. Further up the trail where we found another ruin of a house, you can see the British Virgin Islands across Sir Francis Drake strait.

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Johnny Trail after few mins turned out to be so steep that I felt if I did not lean forward I would roll back to the bottom, while Jeff was already far ahead he stopped and waited for me maybe wondering if I could make it.

Coral Bay was at the end of the hike and we stopped at Skinny Legs for drinks but the food there did not make the chef hungry at all…. After waiting for the bus for ages, island time of course we finally made it back to Cruz Bay. We followed our nose to this little yellow bbq shack along the main road opposite the post office.

Jeff and I had our bbq that tasted one of the best I have ever tasted. I asked J what was the name of the place since there was no sign or whatsoever.

I started asking the old man who was doing the bbq and he thought I was asking for the recipe.. the name of the place is Uncle Joe’s.

The place has few tables and Jeff kept asking me if I was alright eating in a shack. It was certainly one of the best meal I ever had…….

While I was hiking with Jeff, the boys, Dane and Stephen took their bikes out and were also at St John’s. The last three photos of the gallery are courtesy of Stephen (left), his favourite photo of tamarind tree and Dane who has now left our boat and gone back to South Africa.

Born in the Philippines, raised in Europe and globetrotter.

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