01.11.2013 - 01.11.2013
Sunrise over St. Bart’s
The harbor in this lush French-speaking island is only 15 feet deep, so at sunrise we anchored and prepared to tender to the island.
Saint Barthélemy was named by Columbus for his brother. It was first settled by the French in 1648 (briefly taken over by the British in 1758) until in 1784 France traded it to Sweden, of all places, for trading rights with Gothenburg. The Swedes built Fort Gustavia, renamed the capital Gustavia, and stayed for 100 years.
Our taxi tour with our English mixed in with French speaking guide lasted one hour– it’s a small island. There are no crops grown here – everything must be flown or shipped in. So, needless to say, everything is really expensive!
Most of the cement-paved roads are very well maintained. We saw spectacular vistas – and homes. This house was the home of Rudolf Nureyev the dancer (you reach in through the heart to open the door).
The cemeteries (of which I believe there are only four) are prettily decorated with real and also artificial flowers. Unlike other Caribbean islands, 90% of the population here is of European descent.
This statue of an Arawak honors the island’s original inhabitants.
The stamp of Swedish ownership is still to be seen in the street names, which are all posted in both Swedish and French.
The oldest building in town is the Swedish Bell Tower, built in 1799. The bell has since been replaced by a clock.
It was truly right and fitting that out little Swedish Hästa would make an appearance in this formerly Swedish Colony!