Off topic

I recently had the chance to go to St-Kitts and Nevis.  A lesser known island of the Caribbean.  I was not too sure what to expect, but I was absolutely delighted. I had a presentation to give on a Friday and then had to fly to New York on the Sunday.  Thus, Saturday was free to visit.

St-Kitts and Nevis has a population of 55,000 similar to Cayman.  It is also a British Overseas Territory

First stop : Timothy Hill.  This view is the view most people may have seen of St-Kitts.  In the background (with cloud) is Nevis – the second and smaller island.  Here is the neat part: On the right, is the Caribbean.  On the left, is the Atlantic ocean.

Basseterre is the capital.  Today one cruise ship is in town.

Big surprise – there are monkeys on the island 🙂

This second guy I saw when I went out for a run on Saturday PM.  I took a turn onto an abandoned road here there he was, just sitting there.

An awesome Royal Poinciana tree

Ok this next stop was by FAR the highlight of the island for me.  I could honestly have stayed the whole day here and enjoyed in the amazing view.  This place was Brimstone Hill Fortress.  It was built by the British (who else …?) and is also a UNESCO world heritage site.    The view was absolutely stunning. The next bunch of pictures are all from this location – I took so many great pictures that I am sure you will also enjoy a few more.

View back to the mountains

View out to the Caribbean.


The island in the backgroud is St-Eustasius and is part of the Dutch Caribbean.


This last place is adequately called “Black rocks” – its a series of, well, Black rocks. 🙂

So there you have it.  A visit to an island you don’t hear too often on the regular tourist circuit. Even better was the fact that a 3rd party organisation paid for me & expenses to come there and give the presentation.

I was recently on one of my annual (or Bi-annual) trips to the British Virgin Islands.  This time I was there on the week-end and chose to visit one of the other Virgin Islands : The island of Anegada. Contrary to most of the BVI which are essentially mountain pinnacles sticking out of the water, Anegada is like Cayman and almost perfectly flat.

Getting to Anegada from Tortola, the main island is either via ferry or small plane.  We opted for small plane since we were only there for a day and as such were able to maximize time exploring the island.

Clearly a very small place.  Here is the airport “terminal”.  No fences, guards or metal detectors to be seen!

The flight from Tortola is only 10 minutes. I was told that if asked nicely, the pilot will do a slight flight path modification to do a fly over Necker Island.  Necker Island is the island the belongs to British Billionaire Richard Branson. A lovely place.  Anyway, as you can see by the pic below, the pilot accepted to take the extra 2-minutes (seriously) and show us Necker!

Once on-site, the best way to get around is via scooter.  For this trip i’m joined by one of my Quebecois friends who lives in the BVI.

Only a about three hundred people live on Anegada.  But, there are also a number of donkeys and cows.  I liked these the best – the young donkey was quite cute.

And of course the beach.   Since this was out of main tourist season, the beach was essentially deserted.  What a sight it was – so lovely.  Water was warm and we had some cold beer.  Not bad.

On the other side of the island, there are some very low lying sand flats.  Here you can walk out many hundreds of feet out to the sea. Very neat experience being far from shore, yet being only in less than 2ft of water.

So there you have it – a quick trip to an island in the Caribbean many people have never heard of.   I very much enjoyed my day.  Its always nice to visit these “almost uninhabited” islands, not unlike Little Cayman.

Some more information about Anegada can be found here:

I recently had some travel to the British Virgin Islands – or BVI as many people call them.  I generally go to the BVI 1-2x per year for work and usually do not stay the week-end.  This time, due to some scheduling issues, I spent a week there which included a week-end.  On the Saturday, I made my way to the island of Virgin Gorda which is a short boat ride away.  Julie & I have been twice before quite a few years ago.  We loved it and I was eager to go back.   The BVI are very mountainous, so a nice change of pace from Cayman.

One of the first views I got to enjoy ; Savannah Bay.   Makes for great pictures. As you can see, Virgin Gorda is not very developed. I am told there are +-5,000 residents.


Now for the wiew from one of the highest peaks. Wow

The island to the far left is Richard Branson’s Necker Island.  The small one in the very middle, behind the larger one, is Eustasia.  Unconfirmed reports say that Larry Page, one of the two founders of Google is the owner.  Whoever it is, they sure have a lovely spot.


Next up is The Baths – one of Julie’s favorite spots ever. The Baths is a section of Virgin Gorda that is littered with massive granite boulders.  Some of these boulders are the size of apartment buildings – massive.  Some theories say they were left here during the ice age.  Whatever it was, it sure made for a spectacular place.


This is probably the most photographed place – an inner cavern with nice shallow water. Any Google search for The Baths will have you looking almost immediately at a very similar picture as the one below.


One of the the more secluded beaches ; Devil’s Bay. To get here, you need to do a 15 minute “hike” through the boulder formation – great fun and well worth it.


Here I am (probably …) reflecting on the beauty of this place and how lucky I am to travel to all of these amazing places.


Of course the snorkeling.  The timing was right for Silersides – essentially minnows.  Millions of them!  The pictures do not do justice to the sights I saw – sometimes there were so many, that the only thing I could see were small fish all around me ; a wall of fish.  Amazing.



Ok so that’s it – as you can see I had a great time in Virgin Gorda, or “VG” as the locals call it.   🙂

I recently had to go to the UK for a few days on business.  I always enjoy going to London ; a lovely city with much to see and do.  Of course, I don’t usually have much time for sightseeing.

However, as regular readers of my blog will know, I try to see some sights, even if on a restricted schedule.

So last Saturday I did just that.  I went a bit off the beaten path to a place I have wanted to go for a few years now.  Its related to WWII and to Cryptography – and was incredibly interesting.  In fact, I had planned on a 2-3h visit and after over 5h I am sure did not see all there was to see.

So, where did I go?  To Bletchley Park which is a 45 minute train ride north of London.  What’s that you ask! It’s where the British, in WWII, cracked the German Enigma machine codes.  If you saw the 2014 movie “The Imitation Game” or are a history buff you know all about this.  If you have not seen the movie, I highly recommend it.

Here is “The Mansion” seen in many pictures of Bletchley Park and where some movie scenes were shot.


In the museum, they have quite a few Enigma machines.  If you thought your odd of winning the lottery are slim, consider this.  The possible combinations generated by this machine are of 158 Trillion – or 158 Million Millon! So defeating it was not a simple task, especially with 1940’s technology.


The man who was instrumental to this endeavor was Alan Turing, a mathematician.  Here is a statue of him made entirely of 500,000 small pieces of slate.  Amazing!



Turing’s genius was the design of the “Bombe”.  No, its not a “bomb”. The bombe was nickname for the device seen below that was used to ultimately defeat and crack the German Enigma codes.  The machine works (i’m over simplifying this …) with a series of rotors which are able to “find” the Enigma settings (which was the key to decrypting the German messages) much faster than any human can. The Bombe is recognized as being the first modern computer.  The Bombe seen below is a working recreation which took 13 years to make, since all of the ones built during the war were destroyed by the Government at the conclusion of WWII.


In one of the “huts”, essentially very rudimentary office buildings, was Alan Turing’s office.


My friend David and I in Turing’s office.  David is a former work colleague in Cayman. I met up with him at the train station in London and spent a lovely day visiting the exhibits with him.  It was great to spend a bit of time in Turing’s office – rich in history.  It’s widely accepted by historians that Turing’s accomplishments (and others on his team) shortened the war by approximately 2-years and saved over 14M lives.


As a final picture.  If you have seen the movie, this is the bar which can be seen in a few scenes, notably in the “eureka” moment – the best part of the movie.


If you want to know more, below are some some links for additional reading and a link to the museum should you wish to visit the next time you are in London.  I highly recommend visiting Bletchley Park – plan to spend the day; there is much to see and learn.

Alan Turing

The Bombe

Bletchley Park Museum

I recently had the opportunity to go to Amsterdam for business.  Amsterdam is a city I had never visited and was quite pleased to be able to go to.  Now that I have been, I can say its a great place to visit; very “Old Europe”.

Here is what would be a view you would expect from Amsterdam and can see plenty of.  Canals and bridges.  Lots of this to be seen.  I was glad I did not have nor need a car.  I am usually quite good with navigation, but during the few taxi trips I took, I found the streets to be very confusing.  Also, streets are very narrow.


My first sightseeing stop was the Anne Frank House. As someone who is very interested in history and WWII, this was No. 1 on my list of places to see.  I very much enjoyed my visit.  I found that the museum does a good job putting us in the context of what happened and how Anne Frank and her family were hiding.   The actual house is the one which is center- left, with the black bottom level. The two to the right are part of the museum.  Note the queue to enter the museum. I waited 45 minutes ; apparently that was a fairly short wait since lines can be very long some days.


This is the bookshelf that hid the entrance to the “Annex” where Anne Frank and her family were hiding.  Photography was restricted in most parts, so no other pictures.


One evening, I was invited for a river cruise/dinner.  Below is the boat we took.  Note the very low profile of the boat.  The bridges have very little clearance, so the boats need to be very low.  On a few occasions, I wondered if we would not hit the bridge.


From the see-through roof of the boat – this is how close we were to buildings and the side. Very tight fit. The cruise also included a meal and lasted about 2h – very nice.


Another nice visit, was to the founding place of Heineken – the world famous beer.  One nice thing about Amsterdam, is that many of the top things to see/visit are either walking distance or a short taxi ride away.


Here are some old & decommissioned, yet still spectacular brewing vats.  The overall visit of Heineken takes about 1h and is very worth while, even if you are not a fan of beer.  Each ticket includes 2-beers at the end.  Since I was alone and it was early morning, I decided that drinking alone was kind of strange.  To remediate, I started chatting with a lovely couple from Manchester, UK.   Problem solved 🙂


The infamous “Coffee Shops” of Amsterdam.  For those of you who don’t, know, the licensed Coffee shops are where one can legally get some cannabis.   There are lots around and when walking by, the strong odor is a give-away of whats going on in there.


There is a definite culture around the cannabis, since you can find all kinds of products made of cannabis. Here is a great example.  For those of you wondering … its no!  I don’t smoke cigarette, so whats the point? 🙂


One thing I found interesting about Amsterdam is how many electric cars are present, especially the lovely (and very expensive) Tesla model S as below.  Last time I checked these were over 100,000$US each.  However, plenty of taxi’s and regular folks drive these.  I was told that the Dutch government offers large tax incentives for the use of electric cars, which likely explains their popularity, not to mention no need to buy gas.


So there you have it, Amsterdam in a few pictures. I very much enjoyed my time there.  I found it to be a very clean and safe city to visit, even when walking around after dark.

Some new Cayman posts coming soon 🙂

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