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The Side Of Jamaica You Need To See (A Travel Diary)

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    I have nothing against a spontaneous vacation out of left field (pre-midlife crisis, anyone?), but some getaways need to be more than an all-inclusive package reminiscent of college spring break. And, as a quick look at my vacation photos and passport stamps could affirm, I gravitate toward trips riddled with culture and history over sandy beaches. Why? Call me crazy, but I'm always afraid I'll get bored. One trip to the island of Jamaica, though, and I was proved wrong in more ways than one.

    If you want to talk about history, Jamaica had the first railway lines opened to traffic outside of Europe and North America, dating back to 1845. And, records indicate, one of the first-ever, piped-water-supply systems for the western hemisphere originated in the town of Falmouth. But even if textbook history isn't your thing, perhaps you'll be interested in the famous people who have been visiting this part of the Caribbean for generations.

    At Round Hill in Montego Bay, I stayed in a stunning villa, previously owned by Oscar Hammerstein II whose claim to fame was writing the lyrics to the Sound of Music along with pal Richard Rodgers. And right down the road from me was the respite where Kennedy penned his presidential acceptance speech — how cool is that? By the time I made it to the other side of the island, I was living the life of a Bond girl at GoldenEye Hotel & Resort, the playground of James Bond author Ian Fleming.

    Of course, what better way to get cultured than by local cuisine? In this case, it was jerk-spiced everything. Chicken, pork, fish — I had it all — and maybe with a little rum punch to wash it all down. So click through my travel diary, and check out the side of Jamaica that doesn't exist on a cruise-ship port.

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