In Swedish, "Skål" is a toast, and one you'll hear a lot of during November, especially if you happen to visit the Select, the most popular bar in St. Barths.
Indeed, November has become Swedish month in St. Barths. Visiting Scandinavians who brave the long trip to come to this corner of the world will invariably wind up at the Select. It is here, that the owner, Marius Stakelborough, their longtime friend and supporter, decided, some twenty years back, to jar the island's memory and rekindle its former tie with Sweden.
For those of you unfamiliar with island history, it is important to understand the prominent place that Sweden once occupied. At the end of the 17th century, St. Barthélemy was a French island. After some initial, albeit futile, attempts at colonization, the French were finally able to establish a settlement. It wasn't until July 1, 1784, that French St. Barths changed banners and became Swedish. Not wishing to be outdone by neighboring Denmark, a country that had already succeeded in establishing itself in the area that is now the US Virgin islands, Gustaf III approached the French with a deal. The Swedish king had little trouble convincing Louis XVI to cede his forsaken West Indian territory to Sweden in exchange for duty-free trading privileges in Göteborg, a port in western Sweden.
Under the century of Swedish rule that ensued, the island prospered in relative opulence. The population grew, the capitol of Gustavia was the home of many new businesses, and commerce flourished. What the Swedish monarch could not have known when he went to the negotiating table, was that the island would be hit with some wicked hurricanes, an outbreak of yellow fever, and a fire that would ravage Gustavia, where most of his countrymen had set up their homes and businesses. The proposition was far costlier than he could have imagined, and even the access to US maritime trading routes to which his country had aspired slowly slipped away. Once so seductive, the far-off colony had become an unmanageable, unjustifiable drain for the Swedish economy. One can only imagine that the Swedes breathed a sigh of great relief when the island was resold to France on August 10, 1877 for 80,000 francs.
In the international treaty that oversaw the retrocession, Sweden specified that St. Barths should continue to profit from its status as a duty-free island. The chapter ended, the page turned and that minor historical footnote would be tucked away into history's dusty drawer for two centuries. There it remained, more or less untouched, until the tides of political opinion in mainland France forced the island's political and business leaders to open up the past in a frantic hunt for a historical bulwark.
In the meantime, the island continued to grow and develop around the remnants of the Swedish colonial period, integrating the buildings of yore into the framework of St. Barth's unique architectural style. The Swedish style has its sentinels, those that have survived prosperity, tourism, and the 20th century. A leisurely and attentive tour of the capital will reveal these time-honored treasures: the Wall House, the clock tower, the original town hall, where the Swedish flag flies next to the French flag, and the Brigantin, a historical landmark that now serves as headquarters to the Swedish consulate in St. Barths. The Swede, Samuel Fahlberg, who originally cast the layout for Gustavia, is remembered today in a street that bears his name, one that spans the width of the harbor and runs in front of the historical Anglican church.
The Swedes who come today are only incidentally concerned with the island's most pressing political issue. That is to say, its desire to become a territorial collectivity and its demand that St. Barths be officially recognized in contemporary French and EEC law as a duty-free place where its citizens can continue to enjoy the legacy of the Swedish treaty provision: its status as a tax-free haven.
They come to participate in the 12-kilometer marathon foot race held every year on November 11. They come to escape the Scandinavian cold, to feel the gentle rays of the sun, to eat fine French food, loll on the beaches, and toast their famous "Skål" at the Select.
No history would be complete without giving credit to the two cultural archeologists who pulled the connection between St. Barths and Sweden out of the textbooks and into the vibrant stream of contemporary island life. Marius Stakelborough is one, former mayor Daniel Blanchard is the other. The two men packed their bags in the late 70's, headed for Stockholm. Their mission statement: to rekindle the ties between the two cultures, and to find a sister city in Sweden. They accomplished their tasks, were greeted like true diplomatic dignitaries, and had a private audience with King Carl Gustaf XIV. Marius was decorated with one of Sweden's highest distinctions, the Knight's Medal of the Polar Order, an honor he bears with the greatest of pride still today.
If you attend Gustavialoppet, the Swedish marathon, watch the Swedes battle it out with the locals in a grueling island run, see the winners take their place on the podium in front of the Wall House, located on the corner of Pitea street, named after the island's Swedish sister city, then head down to Marius' place, the Select, for a drink, and cheer in the only Swedish word you know, you'll have come full circle, and history will make perfect sense.
[Jun 27, 2013] Kay Quattrocchi is passionate about the Universe
Interview with Kay Quattrocchi by Panos Charitos
Kay Quattrocchi is an artist passioned about the Universe and inspired by the latest discoveries unveiling some of its secrets. For Kay Learning, discovering and opening our minds to other dimensions than those imposed by our five senses is a so...
CNN ranked Saline Beach N°5.
Is it possible to rank the world's best beaches? Of course it is. This is the Internet. Will everyone agree with their ranking, murmuring respectfully among themselves about how perfectly accurate every placement is? Maybe not. This is the Internet. But that's why they...
[May 18, 2013] Dream races at Les Voiles de St Barth
Performance and a friendly atmosphere.
For four years now, the Voiles de Saint-Barth has stuck with its simple philosophy of offering high class performance and a friendly atmosphere in the magnificent setting of the islands of Saint-Barth and has attracted increasing numbers from the yachting frat...
Preppy chic fashion finds an exotic backdrop on the island of St. Barths.
If you've opened your mailbox in the last week you've probably seen the latest j.crew catalog with a cover photo featuring the famous Eden Rock hotel ...well, the floating dock at least! The world class crew found inspiration...
[Dec 18, 2012] Victoria Secret Angels heat up St Barts
Candice Swanepoel, Erin Heatherton, Maryna Linchuk, Alessandra Ambrosio
The worlds sexiest angels hit the beaches of St Barths for a smoldering Victoria Secret photo shoot. The crystal clear Caribbean sea was the perfect compliment to the flawless curves of these stunning super models. Splashing ar...
[Dec 17, 2012] Kate Moss flaunts her famous figure in St Barts
Kate Moss on Gouverneur beach
Kate Moss was the perfect ornament for the stunning Gouverneur beach on st. Barths. The iconic super model joined famed fashion photographer Patrick Demarchelier for a glamorous photo shoot on one of the islands most pristine beaches.
Still stunning at age 38 the Br...
[Sep 10, 2012] Rhony and the last hurrah on Island!
Last day in St. Barths.
Aviva just couldn't give it up! Good thing they were able to escape for a classic St barths lunch at the nearly untouched Le Tamarin. Carole is shocked that the restaurant has not changed in 20 years! The traditional beauty of St. barths is well and alive at this eclectic ge...
[Sep 3, 2012] The Real Housewives of NYC more fierce than hurricane Issac!
RHONY continue to sizzle on the island of St barths.
Come one come all...Looks like Sonja is going to get some action of her own tonight! LuAnn's not the only one who can speak the language of love...and all is fair on this sexy tropical paradise.
Villa Dunes is turning into quite the love shack...
Fabulous, Sexy, live in the moment place!
The Real Housewives Of New York all agree St. Barths is a "fabulous, sexy, live in the moment place". The fun begins with an exhilerating flight and safe landing at Gustav III airport in St. Jean, thanks to the expert pilots at Winair.
Little did they kn...
St Barths here they come!
The RHONY start their primping for the luxury island trip to St barths! Ramona and Sonja get their "quick fix" of beauty treatments...LuAnn shops for bikinis it's like...well ... "something you want to do alone..." Will Avivas fear of small planes stop her from making the ...
Take a tour of the exclusive villa.
Live like the Real Housewives of New York! St. Barths Online takes you inside the Dunes luxury villa where the girls stayed on their glamorous trip to the Island of St. Barths.
The 16,000 sq ft Villa Dunes offers the ultimate in luxury. Heated pools, tropical ...
RHONY live it up on the Island of St Barts!
Yachts, private villas, pristine beaches, barely-there bikinis and plenty of Pinot Grigio...the Real Housewives of New York (RHONY) hit St. Barts in style. Veteran housewives Ramona Singer, Sonja Morgan and Luann De Lesseps (The Countess) join new cast ...
[Apr 10, 2012] Beyonce and Jay-Z spend Easter in St. Barts
Beyonce and Jay-Z have taken their daughter on her first vacation. The couple, who celebrated their fourth wedding anniversary last week, have been enjoying the sunshine on the Caribbean island of St. Barts with three-month-old Blue Ivy over the weekend, and took the tot for a day trip on a yacht.
Kick-off Les Voiles de Saint Barth 2012 Caribbean regatta in the magical French West Indies sailing paradise!
Today the prestigious and top-class Caribbean sailing regatta Les Voiles de St. Barth 2012 with Gaastra Sportswear as the official partner starts: At the third edition run...
[Mar 31, 2012] The Ambiance of St Barths Bucket 2012
Inside the Bucket.
This video features the 2012 St Barths Bucket Regatta and music by the Evan Goodrow Band. Special thanks to the entire crew of the Rebecca, Baz Bar, St Barths Online and the guys from the Evan Goodrow Band for putting on a fantastic show. The song from the Evan Goodrow Band is c...
On board with Rebecca.
The best event in St Barths took place on March 24 - 27, 2012. This video features the beautiful 141 ft sailing yacht, The Rebecca.
produced by Real Media Travel for St. Barths Online and Baz Bar St Barth.
[Mar 14, 2012] Sir Paul McCartney and Nancy Shevell in holidays
The age old saying of "I need a holiday to get over my holiday" actually seems applicable if you happen to be Paul McCartney.
The Beatle took wife Nancy Shevell on a romantic break to the Caribbean island of St Barts, just days after the pair visited Paris.
Last week, the lovebirds showed support ...
[Jan 19, 2012] Chris Hemsworth - Elsa Pataky - Matt Damon
On the day their pregnancy news was announced, Thor star Chris Hemsworth, 28, and Elsa Pataky, 35, were seen in sunny St. Barts, France on Wednesday (January 18). The Fast Five actress looked lovely in blue, sporting her beautiful baby bump.
Chris Hemsworth and Elsa Pataky
Chris and Elsa - w...
She might be 44, but Tamara Mellon still boasts a figure that women half her age would be proud of.
The Jimmy Choo co-founder showed off her toned figure in a sexy animal-print bikini as she hit the beach with her daughter in St Barts yesterday.
The skimpy string two-piece highlighted Tamara's env...
With almost every other celebrity couple enjoying the New Year in exotic locations, Gary and Danielle Lineker weren't going to be any different.
The married couple were spotted enjoying a romantic walk along a beach in St Barts today - and looked very much in love.
Gary, 51 and his wife, 32, had o...