I recently spent four-plus days in the Caribbean island nation of Barbados. I stayed just outside of Bridgetown centre.
Day 1 in Barbados
I arrived at the Bridgetown Airport mid-afternoon. After being given a refreshing drink, which is always a beautiful welcoming gesture, I rushed through immigration and customs, and our driver Simon, whom we had pre-booked through a contact, was waiting for us.
It took us about 30 minutes to get to the Hotel, the Marriott Courtyard (review to follow).
Check-in was a breeze and once settled in, I was ready to get a taste of Bridgetown and its surroundings so I took a walk. The warm, humid air hit me as I navigated through the pavement, sometimes jumping to the street where there was no pavement and sometimes climbing a few steps to the makeshift pavement. There were not many people out on the street that skirted almost parallel to the beach, which was separated by a row of houses, hotels etc.
Oistins Fish Market
Later in the day, I decided to go to Oistins, the famous fishing village that reportedly transforms into a fun-filled area with great food and music over the weekends. Fridays are the special days but I decided to try it on a Wednesday.
I took the famous mini bus which costs two Barbadian dollars, irrespective of where you get in and where you get off. (Since recently, it has been increased to 3.50)
One can hardly miss Oistins as a multi-coloured neon lighting in the shape of fish hung above the centre of the main road welcomes visitors.
Though it was a Wednesday, I found the place very lively with hundreds mulling around or just enjoying drinks and great food. It seemed that dolphin steaks were a favourite but I was in a mood to have some deep fried fish.
Earlier in the day, as I entered the Bridgetown airport, one of the first aromas to embrace me was that of deep-fried fish and I felt it accompanied me throughout the day.
At Oistins, though, most of the eateries sold grilled fish but after some discussions one eatery promised to get me deep fried fish (fried to my taste, they said).
However, the fish fry was not deep fried enough for my taste (like the deep fried fish one gets in parts of South Asia and even in Colombia) but it did not mean it was not a delicious meal.
Day 2 in Barbados – Harrison’s Cave, Bridgetown Centre
It was time to venture out of the city. I decided to see the Harrison’s Cave. It is about 30 minutes drive from the hotel and I decided to take a cab.
This crystalized limestone cave with streams, pools, towering columns and magnificent statue-like stalagmites, is indeed a natural wonder.
After paying the ticket, I got into the open-top tram. It took off, skirting through the cave system as the guide explained the various facets of this intricate natural wonder. In some places there were towering stalactites.
In some spots we were able to get off the tram and walk around and take photos.
After the visit, the question arose of how to get back to the city. There were no cabs but we decided to check out the city bus. The bus halt was just a few minutes away but it was a long wait for the bus.
It was a very crowded bus packed with students and adults.
I got off in the centre of the city and walked around, looking for a place for lunch.
Finally, I decided to try the food court of the Colonnade Mall. As usual I went for the Bajan meal of rice and jerk chicken with fish. I had fresh lime juice to wash down the rather spicy food.
After lunch, I walked to the mini bus station and took the bus going south to get to the hotel.
Day 3 in Barbados – All Island Trip
It was time for a trip I never ever have undertaken in a country – a round-the-country- trip. Now, Barbados is a small country, with an area of just 431 sq. km. It is 34 kilometers in length and 23 in width, so one can do a round trip in about four hours.
We had asked Simon, who picked us up at the airport, to take us on the trip.
I started around 9.30 and went through Oistins, Kitridge Bay (the easternmost point), St Nicholas Abbey, Flower Cave in northernmost St Lucy and then came to Speichtown, in the west.
We drove through lush sugar cane plantations and then some sleepy towns. What surprised me was the number of abandoned houses I saw. I thought that either the people had moved towards cities or maybe abroad and the houses got into disrepair. The sight of abandoned homes is also always depressing as it portrays of a bygone era.
The western part of the country, particularly the towns around Speightstown is a different story. It is known for its calm beaches and, therefore, the rich come to play. Rihanna, Maria Carey, Simon Cowell are among those starts who either own or have reportedly rented property in this part of the town.
Needless to say, the area’s look and feel is vastly different and houses are built deep inside sprawling front yards.
Mount Gay Distillery
After lunch, it was time for our pre-registered tour of the Mount Gay Rum factory, which claims itself as the world’s oldest known brewery.
The brewery where the tours take place is located near the capital, and our guide was an interesting person who interspersed with his lecture with lots of humour.
In the evening, decided to walk to the Saint Lawrence Gap.
I loved this place; a one-plus km stretch of street full of restaurants and bars on either side. It was full of people which gave it a vibrant look, just like the Oistins fish market though the former gave a more affluent look.
I landed in a restaurant serving local food and live music. I had flying fish, pig tail and cou cou – well, all Bajan food.
Day 4 in Barbados
It was time to do some snorkeling. We had booked with Nevil (from Snorkel wid Nevil). I had recently bought a snorkeling face mask and decided to use that, after doing some practise runs in the hotel pool.
We were just four people in Nevil’s boat and the early morning meant the spot where we stopped did not have that many snorkellers.
To make it even a better experience, the sea was also calm and I could see the sea turtles and a myriad of fishes swimming around casually.
After the snorkelling, it was time to enjoy the beach, for the first time during the trip. It was getting pretty hot, so I rented an umbrella and had a few beers though it was still early in the morning.
Later, it was time to have a lobster lunch and then back to the hotel.
Later in the day, I went to Oistins again for some jerk chicken and rice. I must confess that I was disappointed. For one, I could not find a good place that offered one of my favourite dishes but enterprising guy offered me that he will get me the dish. I said yes, but I think he just got me bbq chicken with the famous Bajan chili sauce.
Just chilled, taking walks.