Walking Charlotte Amalie

Charlotte Amalie Travel Blog

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Blackbeard's Castle

A new tour guide, Michael, met us at the entrance to Blackbeard's Castle. This is a National Historic Site. It is really a round watchtower dating from the Danish period. It was known as Skytsborg then and its purpose was to serve as lookout for invaders who might have landed at Magens Bay. However, it's now promoted as Blackbeard's Castle and is the center of a pirate-themed area. Pirates are big business in St. Thomas. (Pirate-themed souveniers outnumber regular souveniers.) A large statue of Blackbeard stands in front of the tower and statues of other pirates dot the grounds. One of them must have been the inspiration for Caprain Jack Sparrow of Pirates of the Caribbean fame. The area also has a nice view of Paradise Point above the port area.

John Avery (or Jack Sprarrow?)
It's hard not not find a beautiful view in St. Thomas.

Michael collected the group after a time, and began the tour. He was quite knowledgeable about the history of the Virgin Islands. The U.S. purchased St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix from Denmark in 1917 when it appeared Germany might pressure Denmark into selling. Thus, the islands are marking their 90th year as a U.S. territory.

The group began a walk down the hill. First stop was Villa Notman. This historic house was built by a Scottish civil engineer in 1860. He had come to design the deepwater port and dock in use today. The house contains period furniture made of mahogany. Of special interest was the Planter's Chair. The chair has wide arms that allowed the master of house to put his booted feet up on them so a servant could remove the boots.

Blackbeard and Me

The path down the hill led to Haagensen House. This restored house was built in the early 19th century and belonged to part of the Magen family of Magens Bay. It is also furnished with period china and West Indian mahogany furniture and the floors are mahogany. Our hostess at Haagensen House was very proud of her Creole heritage and said many of her family hierlooms are among the displays. Her family has lived in a neighboring house since the early 19th century. The veranda offers yet another beautiful view of the harbor and also of the hillside governor's residence. A compliemtnary rum punch geeted us on the lower level.

The top of the 99 Steps are just outside. The 99 Steps is the most well-known of a series of stone stairways that lead from the lower part of the city up the hillsides.

Blackbeard's Castle (Skytsbourg, 1679)
It's said that the stones originally arrived as ship's ballast. We didn't walk quite all of the 99, just far enough to reach Hotel 1829. It has that name because, well, it was built in 1829. The hotel has a beautiful mahogany-paneled bar and resaturant. From that point, the tour disbanded and everyone went their separate way. We headed for the centre of town for lunch and shopping. Charlotte Amalie is town of narrow streets with old two-story buildings dating to the Danish era. The streets retain their delightful Danish names--Dronningens Gade (Main Street), Kongens Gade, Raadets Gade. Modern stores have moved in, but the storefronts remain. There is a constant parade of traffic on Dronningens Gade, with the pickp truck jitneys prominent.
Pirate statue

As we walked down Dronnigens Gade, my son and daughter ran into someone they knew from school! He was on a cruise with his family on Carnival Liberty, also in port. Small world.

Lunch was in order. Cuzzin's for West Indian cuisine had been recommended. We found it off Raadets Gade, but to was mobbed! I had snagged a map and dining guide during the walking tour. We decided on Cafe Amici instead, and it was a good choice. (See my review.) This left us in the middle of the A.H. Riise Mall--really a shopping arcade in adaptively reused warehouses. My daughter wanted to look at cosmetics and perfume and my wife at Caribbean Hook and larimer bracelets. This was the place to find them. It's said that the shopping in St. Thomas is the best in the Caribbean.

Paradise Point
At another store, my son bought a watch and my daughter a handbag. 

Emancipation Park commemorates the emancipation of slaves in the Danish West Indes in 1848. It serves as the town square. There were open-air vendors here, but they were packing up their wares by the time we arrived. Time to return to the ship. We took a taxi from Emancipation Park back to the dock area for US$4 per person.

But, before going back aboard, my daughter and I rode the St. Thomas Skyride up to Paradise Point. It's right across from the cruise ship dock. Paradise Point offer a scenic overlook of the harbor and It was hazy, so we did not have quite the pristine postcard view. (We had lucked out on the weather. Locals told us there had been a thunderstorm the night before and power went out over the island.)

Carnival Glory sailed promptly at 7:00 p.m. It was now already after dark and the lights of Charlotte Amalie played on the harbor as we sailed out to sea.

sharleenp says:
Sounds wonderful. Can't wait to get there in 2 weeks. Hope some parts of the city are wheelchair accessible
Posted on: Jun 01, 2009
vances says:
Nice write up!
Posted on: Dec 14, 2008
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Blackbeards Castle
Blackbeard's Castle
John Avery (or Jack Sprarrow?)
John Avery (or Jack Sprarrow?)
Blackbeard and Me
Blackbeard and Me
Blackbeards Castle (Skytsbourg, 1…
Blackbeard's Castle (Skytsbourg, …
Pirate statue
Pirate statue
Paradise Point
Paradise Point
Villa Notman
Villa Notman
Planters Chair
Planter's Chair
The Three Queens of the Virgin Isl…
The Three Queens of the Virgin Is…
Governors Residence
Governor's Residence
The 99 Steps
The 99 Steps
Charlotte Amalie from Paradise Poi…
Charlotte Amalie from Paradise Po…
Dining Room, Haagensen House
Dining Room, Haagensen House
Flamboyant
Flamboyant
Hotel 1829
Hotel 1829
Hotel 1829 Veranda
Hotel 1829 Veranda
Dronningens Gade and Jitneys
Dronningens Gade and Jitneys
Dronningens Gade
Dronningens Gade
Raadets Gade
Raadets Gade
A.H. Riise Mall
A.H. Riise Mall
Riises Alley
Riise's Alley
Emancipation Park
Emancipation Park
Carnival Glory and Paradise Point
Carnival Glory and Paradise Point
Paradise Point Skyride
Paradise Point Skyride
Paradise Point Skyride
Paradise Point Skyride
Paradise Point
Paradise Point
View from Paradise Point
View from Paradise Point
View from Paradise Point
View from Paradise Point
Evening at Charlotte Amalie
Evening at Charlotte Amalie
Charlotte Amalie at Night
Charlotte Amalie at Night
Charlotte Amalie Sights & Attractions review
The St. Thomas Skyride is an aerial tramway that ascends 700 ft. to Paradise Point in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Also known as the Paradise Poin… read entire review
Charlotte Amalie Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
Caribbean Pizza and more in Charlotte Amalie
Café Amici is located in the center of Charlotte Amalie in the A.H. Riise Mall. It’s an airy and attractive spot, with three open sides giving an o… read entire review
Charlotte Amalie Sights & Attractions review
Pirates are Popular at Blackbeard's Castle
"Blackbeard's Castle" was originally built in 1679 as a watchtower overlooking Charlotte Amalie harbor and was known as Skytsborg. Today, the historic… read entire review
Charlotte Amalie Sights & Attractions review
Colonial St. Thomas at Villa Notman
Villa Notman was built by the Scottish engineer Robert Notman in 1860. Notman came to St. Thomas to help build what is today the West Indian Company D… read entire review
Charlotte Amalie Sights & Attractions review
Colonial St. Thomas at Haagensen House
The Haagensen House was built on Government Hill in 1822. Hans Haagensen acquired the property in 1837 after coming from Denmark to manage the bank of… read entire review
Charlotte Amalie
photo by: Andy99