Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Shopping Safari with Lady Allison

Leonard Stern holding forth in the empty island church. We missed the singing.
By Jamee Gregory

What could be nicer than a week at sea as the guests of Allison and Leonard Stern?

Not much! Setting sail on the 150-foot Lady Allison is quite a treat. The magnificent Virgin Islands provide not only a glimpse of paradise, but some great shopping. Each morning we have breakfast on the deck, surrounded by calm turquoise ocean, islands in the distance, and blue skies. By ten we’re taken by dinghy to shore, pointed in the right direction by our Captain, dropped off by the crew, and ready for an hour’s walk up and down island trails.

We began with nothing more than our hats, but after being locked in a tree farm and crawling through a hole in the fence just as we heard barking dogs hot on our trail we elected to take walkie-talkies! After our morning adventures, followed by a swim around the boat of at least three circuits, a lovely lunch, a nap and a chance to read on the double wicker chaises longues, we’re ready to hit the local shops.
Foxy's hammock, inviting after a day at sea. Inset: Me in front of the barbecue snack shop.
Disembarking by dinghy, we’re back at Jost Van Dyke, the scene of our near-disappearance. This beautiful island is the domain of Foxy, a character who lives up to his name. He owns all the shops and restaurants and is famous for his barbecues, beers and parties where sailors tie their boats and cover the shore, especially on New Year’s Eve. His events are legendary and all are welcome. It’s a wild Woodstock at sea, with boats lined up ten deep and revelers crawling from boat to boat. The twinkling lights of his restaurant’s roof are a beacon to the young and restless. His shops are filled with scuba gear, surfing shorts, visors and tees.
Ali Baba's restaurant.
The view of Jost Van Dyke with Tortola in the background.
The next day we hit Soper’s Hole on West End Tortola where Zenaida’s chic shop catches our eye with its fabulous bracelets and woven place mats and pareos from Africa. Embroidered shirts from India and cutlery with wooden handles tempt even the most sophisticated shopper. Dangling earrings, beaded necklaces, and several fine-knit shawls appeal to our group.
Peter in front of Foxy's outdoor cafe which is packed every night; Soper's Hole, West End Tortola-Zenaida's shop sits in the pink building behing the yellow shutters. Inset: Foxy's well-stocked shop.
The Dock at Pusser's, West End Tortola, Leonard, the Vittadini's and us.
We scour The Dock at Pusser’s, where ribs and calamari are washed down with the local beverage of choice, the aptly-named “Pain Killer.” While the men imbibe, the ladies head for Pusser’s, the islands’ name-brand chain of shops geared to island life. I find sailor’s shorts in navy, covered with pockets, a belt of needle-point fish, and a polo shirt with a sailing flag on its pocket. A retired Wall Streeter started this empire, filling his shops with everything from hot sauce to mugs to sailing kit. We leave with treasures in hand, ready to return for “Show and Tell” on deck for those who stayed on board.
Inside Pusser's Company Store.
Adrienne and I before entering Zenaida's emporium; Into the dinghy with Gigi.