From Grenada, we flew about an hour northwest to Barbados. Barbados used to be a British Colony since the 1620s and it was the English center of the African slave trade because it was a major sugar colony. Barbados abolished the slave trade in the early 1800s and became an independent state in 1966. It is now a popular holiday destination to escape the cold winters in the US and Europe. Many people come here for its beautiful white sand beaches and turquoise waters, but there is also an abundant of other things to do and very good nightlife for partygoers. The west coast of the island also known as the Platinum Coast is where most of the luxury hotels and walled estates are. Even back in the colonial times, this is the area where the wealthy visitors from the UK would come and stay. We stayed at The Sandpiper in St. James near Holetown for our visit. The Sandpiper is a small exclusive hotel on the beach near its larger sister hotel Coral Reef Club.
The beach outside the Sandpiper
Small beach area of the Sandpiper
Bridgetown is the capital of Barbados and was established by English settlers back in 1628. In 2011, Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison became listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bridgetown was originally named “Indian Bridge” because of the bridge that had been constructed over the Carenage by the Indians. The name was then changed to Town of St. Michael before finally being changed to Bridgetown. The Barbados Parliament, located in Bridgetown, is the third oldest Parliament in the Commonwealth and is now used for various concerts and cultural events. Of all the numerous sights in Barbados such as Animal Flower Cave, Harrison Cave, etc., we chose to visit St. Nicholas Abbey and the Friday Oistins Fish Fry.
St. Nicholas Abbey is one of the oldest distilleries and sugarcane plantations in the Caribbean. It has no church connection even though it is called an abbey. The mansion here is one of the only three genuine Jacobean mansions in the Western Hemisphere. There are tours here to taste the rum and view the artifacts from 350 years ago in the well-preserved museum. I brought home their 18-year rum and I love drinking it on the rocks with lime juice.
St Nicholas Abbey Rum Distillery
Remains of the original sugar mill
Oistins Fish Fry is a legendary place for fresh fish dinners on Friday nights on the sand next to the fish market. It is open on Saturday nights too but we were told Fridays are more fun. The 30 or so stalls mostly serve grilled fish and shellfish, chicken and ribs, etc with sides such as macaroni pie, plaintains, grilled breadfruit etc. The more famous stalls here favored by locals as well as tourists are Uncle George’s, Mo’s, and Pat’s Place. We originally wanted to try Uncle George’s but got a bit lost and ended up eating at Pat’s Place. There is a central stage next to Pat’s Place where there is live music and dancing later in the evening. The whole experience was a bit confusing as you had to find your own seats amongst rows of long communal tables. Then you have to try to get the attention of a server to come and take your order. The food will arrive after 15 to 30 minutes in these styrofoam takeaway boxes. Most people seem to order the flying fish which is a national favorite. I guess the assumption is you will socialize with your neighbors at the table and drink lots of beer while waiting. I made the mistake of ordering the grilled lobster because it took forever plus wasn’t as good as the one I had in the Grenadines. After dinner, you can walk around the back by the water where vendors sell souvenirs and arts and crafts. It was a bit of a madhouse overall and with hordes of people arriving constantly. Interesting experience though but I think once was enough.
Oistin’s Fish Fry
My dinner: grilled lobster with coleslaw, macaroni pie, and french fries
Beautiful sunset view everyday from the deck at the Sandpiper
This concludes my 2 weeks in the Caribbean. I think I have become addicted to adventure and this holiday was a bit too mellow for me so much so that I became a bit restless. In any case, I have already planned my next adventure to one of the happiest countries in the world. Stay tuned!
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