* Prices may differ from that shown
For anyone craving sun, sand, and sea, Barbados is the perfect vacation destination! An island located in the Atlantic, Barbados is the furthest East of the Caribbean islands. It is a wonderful destination for family holidays as well as romantic getaways and there is always something to do and places to explore. When my husband and I visited Barbados last summer, we stayed in a condo on the beach on the west side of the island. The western beaches tend to be sandier and calmer than the east (these tend to be rougher and rocky) and the sunsets are incomparable! From our beach (near the Mango Bay resort in Holetown), there were ample opportunities for fun and exploration including jet skiing, glass-bottom boating ventures, and swimming with sea turtles. (Locals selling these experiences are eager to accept your foreign currency so exchanging money is not an issue. Be prepared to fork out quite a bit of cash in Barbados, however. It is not a cheap place to visit!) In addition, there are hours of swimming to be had in the warm, clear waters off the coast. Bring your goggles or snorkeling gear and enjoy the amazing, colourful sealife as well! If you're staying at or near the Mango Bay resort, you'll enjoy live music nightly in a range of styles including smooth jazz and lively island-style tunes...perfect for a romantic holiday.
When travelling to the island, brace yourself for the heat! My husband and I honeymooned in Barbados for 10 days in June and temperatures were easily in the mid-to-upper 30s celsius with very high humidity. Do not travel to Barbados without your suncream and with such high temperatures and humidity, don't forget to reapply your sun protection throughout the day. From personal experience, spend as much time as possible in the water or in shaded areas and don't go on long walks or excursions in the middle of the day, especially if you are not used to heat. Alternatively, autumn (around November) is a cooler time to visit the island. Although this is during the Bajan rainy season, there will still be plenty of sunshine. And there's no need to worry about hurricane season either. Ask the locals and they'll tell you that Barbados is, for all intents and purposes, pretty well immune to hurricanes. A short-lived Bajan downpour is not uncommon on any given day (which is truly a beautiful sight!), but hurricane-force winds aren't likely to interfere with your holiday plans.
Barbados is a great mix of British customs and Bajan culture. If you're travelling from the UK and plan to rent a car, you'll feel right at home driving on the left side of the road. Be advised, however, that Bajans have their own style of driving that can be a bit helter-skelter and it's not uncommon to hear them honking and shouting at each other. This is normal and there's no need to panic!
If you stay in Holetown, be sure to check our Ragamuffin's, a wonderful restaurant just down the road from the Mango Bay resort. Here you'll enjoy a variety of dishes, candlelight dinners, and a welcoming, open-air atmosphere. Try the fish cakes...they're to die for!
When planning your next holiday, why not try Barbados? Just be sure to bring your camera, your swimsuit, and some suncream and prepare for plenty of sun and relaxation.
A while ago I did a review of simonseeks.com - a new website that allows you to write travel reviews. My review obviously didn't go down too well with the guys at simonseeks, as they never posted it on their website, so I'll post it on here for my 50p...
A Beginner's Guide to Barbados
I've just returned from my first ever visit to Barbados (for my honeymoon), so here's my first timer's guide to this beautiful island...
Location, climate and currency
Barbados is around an 8-hour flight away from the UK and is served by daily flights from Gatwick (from Virgin Atlantic and British Airways) as well as weekend flights from Manchester. It's an island for year-round sun, with average temperatures ranging from 28-31 degrees.
The local currency is the Barbadian Dollar, although US Dollars are also accepted. The Barbadian Dollar has a fixed 2:1 exchange rate with the US Dollar - so $2BB = $1US. In our experience, you will always get your change in Barbadian Dollars, even if you pay in US Dollars.
Where to stay?
We stayed in the south west of the island in a resort called St Lawrence Gap. The Gap (as it is known) is described as one of the liveliest places in Barbados, but to us it seemed as quiet and laid back as the rest of the island. The Gap is located to the south of Bridgetown (approx 15 mins by car) and is a 10-minute drive away from the airport.
We stayed on a room-only basis in The Southern Palms Hotel, which is located right in the middle of the Gap. The hotel has 2 swimming pools, however these are very quiet as the hotel is located right on the beach and only yards away from the sea. Rooms were clean and benefited from a maid service every day.
We chose this hotel due to its location (in the Gap), the price (£1900 for 2 people for 10 nights) and also the number of amenities... there's an on-site mini golf course, a tennis court and the hotel also provides free body boards and snorkelling equipment. There's also free internet access for those who get withdrawal symptoms when they're away from a computer (like me).
Where to eat?
We're not very adventurous when it comes to food - both my wife and I prefer plain food such as burgers and chicken. Luckily for us there were many restaurants that cooked to our taste, all at varying prices. Right across the road was St Lawrence Steakhouse that would serve up a terrific burger and chips for around $20BB.
Further down the Gap are mid-range restaurants including Café Sol (Mexican), McBride's (Irish) and the Ship Inn (English pub, showing Sky Sports). The food at all 3 places was excellent, with meals being nearer $40BB each.
Right at the top end of the scale is Pisces, a lovely restaurant overlooking a bay to the north of the Gap. This is one of the priciest restaurants in the area with a steak costing $89BB, but it was well worth it!
Many of the restaurants have a daily Happy Hour where all drinks are buy one get one free - an excellent way to start your evening whilst saving money!
What to do?
As we'd just got married, we used our 10 days in Barbados to recharge our batteries - mainly lounging by the pool, soaking up the sun. However, we did go on 2 trips to break up the holiday, these were Calabaza Catamaran and Island Safari.
The Island Safari takes you (and 9 others) in a jeep, touring the east coast of the island. The knowledgeable driver also acts as your guide and will explain about the history of Barbados, as well as amusing you with a few of his own stories. Be warned: the ride can get a bit bumpy, so make sure you hold on! The trip lasted around 6 hours (9am - 3pm) and is priced at $80BB each. Tip: It's buy one get on free if you have a VIP card - get one online before you go!
My wife had done some research before we got to Barbados and we actually booked our Catamaran trip whilst we were back in England - we chose the Calabaza Catamaran as its numbers were limited to only 12 people, giving you a more relaxed and intimate time than being on a boat full of 80 or even 100 people. We were picked up from our hotel and taken to the port in Bridgetown for 10am, where we set sail up the west side of the island. The catamaran made 3 stops - once to swim with turtles, once to see an old shipwreck and then finally for lunch. The crew were friendly and forever filling up our drinks! At $200BB each, it's quite expensive, but definitely worth it... it was the highlight of our holiday!
Will we go back?
We had a fantastic time in Barbados. The people were friendly, and the island itself is lovely. We'll definitely be going back some time in the future.
I first went to Barbados at the grand old age of 3 months, and have been going back there ever since.
The airport is of course the first port of call for any visitor, and they've recently decked it out, so it's much nicer than it used to be! Still, expect the heat to hit you like a ton of bricks (tip: wear shorts/skirt on plane, even if it's freezing here!) and long queues for immigration...they don't rush in barbados!
The places to stay are varied and mostly lovely. Sandy Lane is the most upmarket...tricky to get in to even just for a drink, but absolutely beautiful. It's where all the stars go! I like to stay in a villa personally, as there are some lovely ones on the west coast, especially on Gibbs or Mullins beaches. I have also stayed at Settlers Beach, which is a collection of villas in a resort. They have cocktail parties so everyone can get together which was great when I was a kid! Good way to meet people...Other great places to stay include Cobblers Cove, which is a little outdated in a way, but very romantic and low key. The Royal Pavillion is another favourite of mine, being all pink! If you don't fancy a hotel, even though there are some great all inclusive deals to be had, then a villa could be right for you. Bajan Services is the main villa rental company and every time I've used them, they've been excellent. Most villas have a cook and a maid and the best ones are on the beach, so water sports are available readily! Trust me, you'll be accosted...
Things and do and see? There are plenty of options...
The capital is Bridgetown, which is the best for shopping, but don't expect too much! The Waterfront Cafe is nice for lunch and a browse in Harrisons Cave is nice. The harbour is where you pick up various boat trips: the Harbour Master is a good evening cruise with a dance show, a meal and a live band with a dancefloor. Many a good night spent on there! The best nightclubs are in Bridgetown, but again don't expect much! Harbour Lights is the best.
The other two major towns are Speightstown and Holetown. Speightstown is mainly a market town, but good for an afternoon visit, whilst Holetown is good for shopping with the little chattel houses selling souvenirs and clothes. Be sure to visit the Patisserie as well: GREAT cakes.
The Harrisons Caves are a good day out: you get on a little train and they take you underground to explore the caves: very good fun! There's also a flower garden that's a trail...they're beautiful. Another good trip out is a visit to Bathsheba, down the South of the island where the waves are massive!
In terms of restaurants, the best is The Cliff. The food there is incredible, the setting absolutely beautiful. Bit pricey though!
Other good restaurants are Daphnes, like the one in London, or Calabaza which is meditarranean food. If you want more local fare, head to the The Fish Pot...doesn't sound too appetizing, but trust me the food is amazing!
One incredible place to visit, you will fall in love...
Barbados "Little England". Barbados is one of the more expensive Caribbean Islands to visit. But I have to say it's one the safest Caribbean Islands and the locals make you feel so welcome.
The island is only 24 miles long, so you can easily see the whole island during your stay. We hired a car, this was fantastic. They drive on left hand side of the road like we do. They only have one main road which goes around the island so you won't get lost and the roads are very quiet most of day. They do get busier when the Bajans are leaving work in the afternoon. This is an excellent way to see the island. It gives you chance to mix with locals. Chat to them in the rum shops while listening to reggae.
Having a car enabled us to visit the West side of the island. The Atlantic Ocean is on the west side, the sea isn't as calm as the Caribbean side. Having a car enables you to visit beaches you wouldn't be able to if you didn't have a car. We played cricket on the beach and had a Barbecue.
For such a small island it was full of character and charm. A must during your stay is to do the Catamaran sailing. You basically get to sunbathe on a catamaran while sailing around the coast, past Sandy Lane where Tiger Woods got married, soaking up the sun. They then stop and you are able to do some snorkelling around an old ship wreck if you wish. You then sail a bit further; you then get the chance to swim with turtles. This was amazing there were loads of them and they were so gentle. They provide you with life jackets; if you can't swim they will help you into the water to experience the turtles. On the way back you get to eat some typical Caribbean food Jerk Chicken and Rice etc. They also provide you with drinks all through the trip. They even get you dancing to some reggae on the way back to the harbour.
The locals are so friendly nothing was ever too much for them.
Eating out at the seafront restaurants can be pricey, but well worth it as they gave you top quality food and most of them give you a beautiful views of the sea.
I was sad to leave this destination as I had made so many friends. The island makes you feel so upbeat and happy. It is a little gem of an island and I'd recommend it to anyone who wants a slice of paradise as this is it.
The West coast is a lovely place to stay quieter than the South and the beaches are wonderful especially Payne?s Bay Beach. The whole coast is lined with trees :o) The south is mostly cement. On my last trip my husband and I planned on a taxi our last trip but the fare is horrendous. Imagine this for US$65.00 per person we visited Harrison?s Cave, Orchid World, St Johns Church, Bathsheba, Had a great Lunch Visited the Reserve and drove through the West Coast including Holetown where the settlers first landed. In addition to this our guide from Glory Tours was wonderful and knowledgeable http://glorytours.org We fell in love with the Island so much that day we decided to rent a car from Stoutes Car Rental http://www.stoutescar.com which also proved a wonderful decision. I would suggest taking a tour with Glory Tours first and then renting a car the tour will give you a better an idea of places you might wish to explore a bit more and the car will give you the extra time to do it :o) More reasons to visit Barbados. My Husband is a great sports fan; one of his favorite pass times at home is Clay Target Shooting. I never dreamed Barbados would have A clay target club but on arrival my husband was very quick to discover Kendal Sporting http://kendalsportingclaysbarbados.com I though well I have lost my Husband for a few days which was not altogether bad, however I was encouraged by another couple staying at the hotel with us to take a trip up to Kendal myself so I decided I would be a good sport and go along. On arriving at Kendal I was very impressed the Club was more like a mini Country Club and the scenery out in the middle of the Country was beautiful. We where very fortunate to meet Richard Bradshaw one of the directors of the Club he was very helpful and after a few hours of lying by the pool he encourage me to learn the sport that had long been a favorite of my husbands. Richard was a great instruc
tor and gave me a thorough education on the correct way to handle a rifle and a pistol. I was very pleased with all that I learnt. Before this experience I was nervous about rifles and pistols but thanks to my new education from Kendal Sporting I am now a lot more confident that faced with one in a negative situation I would be able to react. I also think I may start to join my Husband on occasion at his local club. On completing my education my Husband and I had a fantastic lunch at the Club and watched a football match on the big screen by the bar. It was a wonderful day one of three we spent at the facility. The night before we returned home we made one last visit to Kendal for a relaxing dinner, and to say good bye and see you next time to some new friends.
You've got Malu's travel challenge to thank for this one - it reminded me that I haven't written about Barbados.......yet.
I've been to Barbados three times in the past ten years, each time for two weeks holiday. Since it's not the cheapest venue in the world, both to get to, and also to stay in, I guess you could say I must like the place. In fact, I do like it - a lot!
Barbados seems to embody all that I want from a holiday in terms of things to see, do and preferably EAT at the end of a busy day's seeing and doing!
GEOGRAPHY AND WEATHER BITS
Originally plotted and named by the Portuguese, who remarked upon its strange bearded trees (hence 'barbados'), the island was more permanently settled by the British. Its contrasting coastal scenery, alternating between the distinctly balmy and calm to the decidedly rough and breezy is a major plus point for me. Barbados is one of the outer islands that form the barrier protecting the Caribbean Sea from the much rougher Atlantic Ocean. Inland, the scenery is equally varied, going from almost mountainous in the 'Scotland District' to rolling slopes planted to sugar cane. The landscape really owes this entirely to cultivation, without which, it would be an annexe of South American rainforest. Barbados' nearest neighbour to the south is Trinidad, and after that comes Venezuela on the South American mainland.
Being roughly triangular in shape, you not only get two contrasting shorelines, but an intermediate 'calm-ish but breezy' coast too, set askew to the Atlantic on the south west side of the island.
Very few people holiday on the rough side facing the Atlantic, although it is very popular as a second home location for Bajans (never Barbadians) to get some cooling relief from the height of winter - yes, I did say winter. Mind you, this is not like our winter. Thanks to Barbados' proximity to the equator, temperatures are very even, around 30 C every day. What you actually get are wet and dry seasons.
Summer is the preserve of fairly regular but not lasting rainfall, and can be regarded as the off season, which from the British viewpoint is fine - it's cheaper to go there during our summer, which has to be a first for us. You have to get the rain in perspective too - it's not like a grey day in the UK when it rains. There, the skies open, and then it dries up and the sun comes out again - end of story. Barbados is lucky too, in so much that it's too far south to be affected by the hurricane season, well mainly anyway. The last full blown (sorry) hurricane to hit was in 1953, although I have been there when the palms were bent double and you couldn't see the ground from a fourth-floor balcony for driving rain, but again, it was soon over, and the innate warmth in the ground soon dried everything out again, helped along by bright sunshine. This does mean that summer can be rather humid, and a lot of the millionaire's houses with rooms open to the beach have to throw out all the soft furnishings once a year to stop mould getting a foothold. Not your problem if you're only staying there though.
The west coast is the one that most people would regard as their idea of the Caribbean, coral sand beaches, palms leaning across the sand creating much needed shade and just the gentle lapping of tiny wavelets. The southwest side is for cheapskates like me who can't afford to live it up at the 'Sandy Lane'end along with footballer's wives and celebrity golfers.
Barbados covers an area of around 166 square miles. If that means nothing to you, then bear in mind that The Isle Of Wight is 145 square miles, so unlike some Caribbean islands like Jamaica or even Cuba, there's no need whatsoever to book a two-centre holiday to make sure that you see plenty. Prospects for hiring a car and seeing a lot of it are high. It therefore follows that unless you really MUST spend a lot, you can stick to the cheaper locations for your accommodation since a trip to the 'other end' is about as arduous as going to The Needles from Ryde.
WHERE WE STAYED
On all three occasions, I have stayed in a village called Maxwell, which is on the route from the airport to the capital Bridgetown. Maxwell lies near some familiar place names like Ealing , Hastings and Worthing, one of which even sports an Osterley Hotel, which made me smile as the original is about 1½ miles from my house!
My first two stays were in the Welcome Inn and in its second rebirth, The Barbados Beach Club. The hotel was a mixture of self-catering and full board, the rooms being equipped with fridges (not mini-bars), cooker hobs and kitchen sinks. However, we got wind that the inevitable was going to happen - it was going to go over to 'all inclusive'. I can see why the hotel management might think that this is a good idea, after all, you'll probably stay on the premises all week, booking sundry extras, but from my point of view, I do actually WANT to eat out every night, and to a newcomer, the very existence of 'all inclusive resort hotels' gives the impression that it's not safe to go out. In the case of Barbados, nothing is further from the truth.
My daughter, who was eighteen at the time, seemingly dated half of the young male population of the island whilst we were there and never once felt unsafe. When a lad said 'I'll get you home' they did exactly that, and she has retained some good friends there to this day. This is not to say that you should leave your wallet lying around on your dining table, but just sensible precautions that you'd take at home are plenty.
Our third stay, given that the Welcome Inn/Barbados Beach Club had gone over to all-inclusive was at the Sea Breeze Hotel, all of 100 yards away. This has an enchanting restaurant, placed on stilts over the beach itself, and so was delightfully breezy in the evening. Mornings were a delight of another kind as all kinds of cheeky songbirds lined up to help us eat breakfast.
Then we learned from the Canadian management that they were thinking of going all-inclusive too. We haven't been back since.
What is it with this drive to keep people inside the hotel grounds when the island is so beautiful and interesting? I don't understand the mentality of whisking yourself away on a 9-hour flight to a country you've never been too, and then to hang around the pool drinking cheap drinks (cheap in content too) whilst wearing a plastic bracelet. Then again, why do people go all the way to Las Vegas and spend their days indoors perched on a stool in front of a fruit machine? I guess I'll just have to beg to differ and leave it at that. Of course, the other knock-on effect is that it's only the hotel owners (quite likely foreign) and their few staff that benefit from employment - the rest of the island gets nothing out of the deal.
Firstly, there are no trains, so no trains to be late either. There was a sugar plantation line from the east coast to Bridgetown but it's now defunct. Every now and then you spot a bridge or an embankment seemingly going nowhere - that's the old line.
There are three kinds of buses. Government-run buses are in a blue and yellow livery, whilst confusingly, private buses are in a yellow and blue livery (or was it the other way round?). Thirdly, you have what is known as the 'route taxi'. These are licensed minibuses displaying their route number. They more or less stop on demand which can make progress very slow around tea-time, especially since any luggage stored at the back has to be passed across and over passengers when the bus is full, quite often exiting via a window. Generally speaking you tend to HEAR these coming rather than see them - their drivers carry their own boom-box stereos run at full blast to help you since the buses are all in the manufacturer's standard off-white. No liveries here! Given that they don't tend to be air-conditioned unless you count having the windows open, they can get very hot with that all pervading 'Eau D'Armpits' fragrance inside, and the whole experience, whilst very cheap, is something like a Turkish 'dolmus' in a heat wave. Great fun though, and a good way of sharing a joke or two with locals, all of whom really seem to like visitors. You can also hire them in their entirety (the minibus, not the locals) in the evenings, if say a group of you are going out to get blad.....errrr.....sample a few jugs of Daquiri (each?).
They drive on the left (mostly), and the basic hire car tends to be a 'moke'. Originally, these were real Leyland Mini-Mokes but as these crawl off one by one to that Moke dealers in the sky, any small car that's been cut away and re-engineered is called a moke. Unless you can afford a saloon with air-con, these are your best bet.
Car-hire is expensive, since a new car costs the locals a personal fortune thanks to swingeing import taxes.
In the rainy season, beware the lake that builds up over night on the car's convertible hood. There's nothing more unpleasant when you're all nice and warmed up for a day out than to have ten gallons of cold water deposited on your lap. Once you get going, that can get pretty chilly! The cars themselves don't mind - they're made to be hosed out anyway!
Apart from a central spine highway that more or less runs north to south along the whole island, driving around Barbados is rather like driving around rural Devon in a heat wave. The narrow country lanes frequently have high hedgerows, telephone poles down the sides and combined with the driving on the left on black tarmac with a white line down the middle, it's all rather familiar at first glance. The occasional palm tree brings you back to reality though, as does any close scrutiny of the rest of the foliage. Those squirrels or ferrets you think you've seen scurrying across the roads are mongoose, imported by the original plantation owners to stop snakes killing the slaves. Now there's a caring employer for you! Protecting his investment more like.
Joke Break: A plantation owner writes off to the East India Company to acquire what he calls a couple of mongeese. They reply that they make a policy of not supplying animals to anyone who can't spell the plural. 'OK', re-sends the owner, 'send me two mongii'. Back comes the standard letter. Exasperated, the owner makes one last ditch attempt. 'Send me a mongoose, and if that's not too much trouble, send me another.'
WHAT WE DID
Helicopter trip - Bajan Helicopters will swish you all around the island taking in some stunning just-above-the-waves flying along the rugged east coast for about £40. Seeing that I'd got my camcorder handy, the pilot let me take the other front seat
Submarine trip - Not unique to Barbados, these Atlantis subs are springing up everywhere with a reef of clear water to dive into. The electric powered tourist sub really does dive - it's not a glass-bottomed boat, albeit only to 50 feet, and always with a support boat above. To be frank, apart from being able to say I've been underwater in a submarine, the view was a bit disappointing with only one curious turtle coming to stare at us.
Catamaran trip - Probably much more fun and cheaper too is to take a place on one of the sailing catamarans as they ply the west coast, mooring at some pretty spot for lunch, leaving us free to swim ashore or laze around supported by those 'noodle' thingies. Oh the decadence of floating in crystal blue water with a cocktail in one hand!
Jeep safari - The reassuringly modern Land Rover Defenders are a great way to get off the beaten track, although be warned, the closer you sit to the tailboard, the rougher it gets! They really do get you to the bits that others don't go, like through a rainforest complete with the background chatter of the fairly rare green monkey. It's also an opportunity for their drivers to show off - I had to keep telling myself 'well I suppose they know what they're doing', but all was well and the cold drink stops were wonderful!
Zoo and Rainforest - this is one you can do yourself. On a hill in the centre of the island lies the zoo. Many of the animals, including the smaller alligator family are allowed to wander around. It was tortoise-humping season when we were there, the noisy buggers! The large troupe of green monkeys have to be eyed with suspicion though as they are quite bold and have scratchy fingernails.
The rainforest exhibit is a treasure. Built on a hillside previously used as a rubbish dump, it represents the ultimate in recycling, attempting as it does to reproduce the natural state of Barbados before the sugar cane clearances. The musty cool feel of the place is so restful. Even the apparently wooden benches are made from a recycled plastic looking a bit like chocolate Aero when cut. Very enterprising. All around are the shuffling noises of things that go bump in the day as well as the night. There are no nasty snakes here - the mongoose, mongooses, mongeese, mongii ate them all.
Garrison Savannah Races - Look like a toff for the day as this lush green racecourse on the edge of Bridgetown - if there's any racing on that is.
Garrison Savannah Folk evening - This is a typical 'ethnic evening' with a banquet and local music and dancing. I enjoyed this but mainly because my wife engineered it so that I could sit next to the lady from Ecuador and practice my Spanish! According to her, it was very good. All I know is that I didn't get my face slapped once.
Harrison's Caves - I can't remember the origins of these now and anyone familiar with Cheddar (not the cheese) and Wookey Hole won't find much unusual here. Being taken round on an electric road-train was nice though!
The Animal Flower Cave - A bit of a disappointment to say the least. This cave at a windy* tip of the island is purported to have been the home of many sea anemones, with the emphasis on the past tense as they're not there now. Fans of Eddie Grant may however recognise the silhouette of the cave entrance as being that on the rear cover of his 'Walking On Sunshine' album.
*As an indication of how windy it is, I don't remember sweatshirts being on sale anywhere else!
Round Trip - Many coach companies run these trips and they are as good a way of identifying places to come back to as any. By the way, in Barbados they don't have honking great luxury coaches on account of the average width of the roads, so what you will get, even at the airport, is a somewhat smaller and quite utilitarian bus. Your luggage follows on a separate truck. Don't worry, it works. On a circular trip, you are confronted with a whole new gamut of place names, Bathsheba, Cattlewash (quite literally a spot on the east coast where they bathed cattle), Holetown, Speightstown and so on.
Distillery Tours - The famous Mount Gay rum tour is a must for drinkers. Whilst the actual distillery is now elsewhere on the island, the Mount Gay museum tour is still attached to the bonded warehouse. I have to say that in a humid 30 C heat, the 'angels' share' was quite overpowering, but nicely. You can also go to the more factory-like distillery where they make the basis for Malibu. Ironically, the white glass bottles are shipped from Britain, filled with run and coconut and shipped back. Of course, all of these tours end with a free tasting. I tried not to, but you know how it is.
WHERE WE ATE (AND DRANK)
Whilst fish and seafood feature, quite naturally highly on most Bajan menus, the island does actually have its own dairy industry so beef is available as well as lamb chicken and goat. The big game fish are very popular as are flying fish, which actually turn out not unlike grilled sardines. Many visitors are at first puzzled and possibly repulsed by the mention of dolphin on the menu, but this is 'dolphin fish' which I believe is known else where as Dorado. Many menus are suffixed 'not Flipper!' after the mention of dolphin just to make absolutely sure that you don't think your eating a Bottlenose.
There's no getting away from it, wine IS expensive, and for some quite mediocre stuff. Le Piat D'Or comes to mind. To be fair, what would you expect? The local beer, Banks' is good, of its type and they also make a stout, which might not be the ideal drink in this climate!
Of course, rum is a major feature of many Bajan drinks and they are justly proud of their old traditional Mount Gay brand of dark rum - it's converted me from Bacardi anyway! A jug of various fruit flavoured Daiquiris, made with local rum, is a very agreeable way of passing an hour (or two) in the comparative cool of the evening.
Joke break: A doctor pops into his favourite New York cocktail bar after work, where they make his favourite Hazelnut Daiquiri. Having run out of Hazelnut flavouring one night, the barman remembers the barbecue-smoked flavouring and tries to pass this off on the doctor. On querying why it tastes different, the barman replies.......
'It's a hickory Daiquiri, Doc'.
Burt's Bar is a great place just outside Bridgetown to try these various cocktails, and if you feel like you can't move afterwards, don't worry, they have a good restaurant too! If you really must, you can follow American football on the sports bar's big screen TV as well.
Pisces and David's Restaurants are somewhat more upmarket eateries as the posh end of what is know as St Lawrence Gap, a strip of beach-front eateries only a short walk from Maxwell. Pisces excels in atmosphere and fish, being built out over the sea. David's Place is a bit more formal, and David will give gentlemen personal inside leg measurements to fit them up for long trousers should they arrive in shorts. These are both the kind of place we've eaten our 'last night' meal - you certainly might think twice price-wise about eating there often.
St Lawrence Gap is also a good source of budget eateries, but beware the burger sellers with handcarts. From the safety of a restaurant terrace, I watched the same man handle raw meat, money and cooked meat all with the same hands, without washing in between. The Government have outlawed such hygiene hazards and it's no wonder that he suddenly became a cab driver as a policeman approached.
The Boatyard - this in on the outskirts of Bridgetown and is another romantic built-over the beach setting. Apparently frequented by the stars, they managed to stay away the nights we were there, but it's actually quite reasonably priced for the neighbourhood.
Harbour Lights - Ah yes, Harbour Lights, the last place I got so pi**ed that I invented a new dance craze, the 'I've Had 12 of These Banks' And I feel Fine, Hic'. The 'I've Had Swenty Of Theesh Banksh' remix version was nowhere near as animated. A good fun night out all the same, with drinks and barbecue thrown in (and later 'up'). Hiring one of those route taxis in advance to get you home again is a mighty fine idea.
Hurrah! Barbados is one of the few countries in the world where Macdonald's had to close their branch through lack of custom, the locals preferring their own Chefette drive-in chain. Sorry Ronald.
Cave Shepard - this is the main department store in downtown Bridgetown, and is a very popular stopping off point for visiting cruise liner passengers. Apart from their ability to handle tax-free shopping with aplomb, it's nothing really special, maybe on a par with Debenhams, and parents of school kids from Britain might like to be warned that the whole place is plastered with 'Back To School' adverts in August - doesn't that just make you homesick?
Incidentally, whilst nothing to do with shopping, Barbados retains O Level Exams, which continue to be set for them by a British University. Many Bajan parents in the UK send their children back there for the more formal 'old style' education. University education is shared across the West Indies, so that to study one subject you may find yourself in the Trinidad campus, where others may lead you to Barbados or Jamaica. Lesson over.
Chalky Mount pottery is a treasure trove if you like hand-made unique pottery
WHAT WE BROUGHT HOME
Rum - Mount Gay Rum, what else?
Flying Fish - you can leave this till you get to the airport and have vacuum-packed fish shipped home.
Best Of Barbados - This is a chain of shops, including an obvious one at the airport, which carry high-quality souvenirs, many of them containing the artwork of local artist Jill Walker.
WHAT WE MISSED
Cropover Festival - We have somehow managed to miss this Harvest Festival 'Caribbean Style' every time we've been. Given that the island's population is a little over 0.25 million, don't expect the Rio carnival, but from the videos and CDs of music, it sounds like damned good fun, and maybe doesn't take itself so seriously.
International Field Hockey Tournament - Not that I'd have wanted to go, but we always seem to get the teams on our return flight who have decided to stay on for a week or two on our plane, complete with silly velvet hats, fake breasts and 'nudge nudge' jokes.
Oystins Fish Fry - Now here's one that I keep meaning to get to especially since it's near Maxwell. Once a week the village of Oystins and its fishermen in particular gather together to run a night market and fresh fish barbecue all in one. I can taste those flying fish sandwiches just thinking about it.
Do not sit under a manchineel tree. This harmless looking tree bears fruit, which should it fall from the tree and come into contact with your skin, will cause blistering. Even rainwater run-off can cause dermatitis. The trees are clearly marked with a painted white line around them, so if you see a shady unpopulated spot, just make sure that it's not because a manchineel tree is creating the shelter.
Voltages and plugs - these follow the US practice of 110 volts with a mixture of two and three pin plugs depending on whether an earth is required.
Phone system - Run by Cable & Wireless international dialled calls are freely available. Barbados is part of the North American 001 international dialling zone - this does NOT make calls to the States and Canada local rate!
I honestly can't think of much more as it's a couple of years since I was last there. Barbados really is superb introduction to the Caribbean, even if Concorde doesn't go there any more!
Palm trees, crystal seas and endless sunshine is what I, like many others, was expecting from my week in Barbados. The postcard-perfect scenery was certainly there, but the island turned out to offer so much more and left me with a thirst for exploring more of the Caribbean. Armed with plenty of suncream, books to read on the beach and a suitcase full of clothes that rarely see the light of day in the UK, my boyfriend and I set off on the seven-and-a-half hour Virgin Atlantic flight from London Gatwick direct to Bridgetown. Leaving the plane after a pleasant flight the 31-degree heat hit me instantly as I walked down the steps of the plane at Grantley Adams International Airport- a novelty in itself as the first I usually see of a country is the tunnel leading into the airport! We were staying at Time Out At The Gap, in the island?s nightlife spot St Lawrence Gap. I had read mixed reviews of the hotel and had heard that it was very basic. But our room was large with two double beds, a table, chairs, an armchair, fridge, iron, hairdryer, satellite television, patio area and a large bathroom. Service at the hotel was excellent with the room well cleaned every day and the freshwater pool excellently maintained. Our stay was on a room-only basis and food on the island was quite expensive, although of excellent quality. If you are on a tight budget it is probably advisable to take basics such as snacks and cereal with you- the suitcase space could come in useful afterwards for bringing home souvenirs to avoid the last-minute panic of getting the entire family sitting on the suitcase in an effort to shut it! It is fine to drink the water on Barbados straight from the tap as it is a coral island. After spending a day on the beautiful Dover Beach opposite our hotel, we decided to book a few excursions and none let us down. Definitely not to be missed was the Island Safari which worked out to around £30 each. W
e were picked up from our hotel at around 8.30am and dropped off at around 3.30pm. You board a jazzy 4x4 Land Rover that seats eight people and are taken around the island in convoy with other safari vehicles, all named after cartoon characters. The drivers are a lot of fun and constantly teasing and playing pranks on one another. You explore the east coast, barely touched by man and popular with surfers, and there are several stops for photographs and that all important rum punch. Lunch is included at a West Coast restaurant before the journey back to the hotel. Another must-do is the Tiami 5-hour catamaran cruise that takes you to snorkel with sea turtles and to a marine reserve where you snorkel over a shipwreck and with thousands of colourful fish. It has to be seen to be believed! Again lunch is included, they do a barbeque lunch for Virgin customers on Tuesdays and Sundays, and re-fills are provided by the obliging crew throughout the day. It is slightly more expensive at £50 each, but is worth the money. Anyone taking the cruise will want to invest in an underwater camera (Kodak make a good disposable one for around £10) as the photographs you can get are amazing! We also went on the Atlantis Submarine. It was an expensive excursion as you are only on board for 50 minutes but is an excellent way for non-scuba divers to get a look at what goes on under the waves. You are taken to the submarine by boat and it goes down to depths of 115 feet. It takes you past a shipwreck and onto a reef. You do get a certificate at the end, although we had to fill our own names in when we got back to the hotel! We hired a Mini Moke for a day- not the most sturdy of cars but a lot of fun! A trip to Animal Flower Cave is well worth a visit at the island?s most northern point and is apparently the scene of a Billy Ocean video. It is a lovely sight and openings in the cave wall act as windows onto the ocean where whales have so
metimes been spotted. Pools in the cave are also deep enough for swimming in so remember your towel! If you are planning a trip to Barbados Wildlife Reserve, make sure you are there at around 2pm as that is when the green monkeys are around for feeding time. Them tucking into a pile of fruit alongside tortoises and deer is a great sight and I imagine that at other times of day the reserve is not nearly as interesting. Harrisons Cave is one of the island?s most popular attractions and is a nice trip although only half an hour long. You are taken around the cave on an electric tram to see the sparkling stalagmites and stalactites and it is a nice cool break from the heat! Bridgetown is a must and several hotels offer a free shuttle three times a day. It is a great place for people watching and captures the true culture of the people. St Lawrence Gap is supposedly the busiest part of the island but people looking for crammed full bars and a nightlife running throughout the night may be disappointed. There are nice restaurants and bars along the stretch and many locals offering drugs, although they are friendly and do not pester you. While Barbadians are laid-back and welcoming, beware of wannabe tourist guides and people determined to sell you aloe vera in an old rum bottle while you are sunbathing on the beach. One thing that is lovely about the island is that you see many locals going about their daily life and it is not overrun with tourists. Oistins Fish Fry on a Friday and Saturday evening is a great place to see locals relaxing. The fishing town comes to life at sunset with lines of people preparing freshly caught fish and cooking it on the roadside. Speakers pump out popular music, we heard everything from reggae to Michael Jackson, and people dance in the street. It is a lovely place to go to sample flying fish, macaroni pie and rice and just added to the hundreds of memories I
have of my first trip to the Caribbean. I went on that holiday in the first week of June (the start of the rainy season although it only rained a couple of times and never for more than a couple of minutes) and expected a week on the beach. I got so much more out of the holiday and would recommend anyone to go there and consider staying for two weeks rather than just one- we certainly didn?t want to come home! *When looking for holiday guides there were very few around but the AA Essential Barbados by Lee Karen Stow is a great little travel companion and is only £4.99 (ISBN 0-7495-2592-4)
Having travelled to barbados, I would like to share my now fond memories of a really beautiful place, Sam Lords Castle. We travelled with virgin so the transfer from the airpot to the hotel was free (not sure if this goes for all bookings). Arrived for the start of what was to be a wonderful week of pure heaven, After checking in (an easy no hassle task), you are taken in one of their buggies (used for travel around the complex), to your room. A bottle of champane and a hugh bowl of fruit was waiting for us. The rooms I found, clean and very nice. Large comfortable beds, good storage space and very comfortable chairs, both inside and out (not that we spent much time in our rooms). Spent 7 lazy days around one of 3 pools (one was adults only for those of you who would rather be without the screeming kids), drinking rum (lots of it). The pools were clean and quite large with plenty of sun loungers around so no need to pop down with your towel early to save one. The staff at the hotel were very friendly and could not do enough to make sure our stay was a dream (even the maids given enough free rum when they cleaned our room meant exellent service). As we were all enclusive (which the maids knew), we didn't mind but I did wonder just how many rums they managed to sneak a day. Lots of history about the place too talk of hidden treasures (which I must admit had a little look on the beach), but the locals seem to think its under the castle itself never to be found. The castle is like a hugh house with lots of grand dark wood furniture and pictures everywhere. Here you can take a tour and in the great hall read about the pirate (Sam Lord) and his adventures. The grounds are lush and green and great for taking lazy strolls. There are no shops outside the complex but shopping is meant to be good in bridetown (lots of local taxi's around). The taxi's wait in the hotel all day and will take you anywhere on the island.
You can get a price then suggest a price, they dont mind. Food at the hotel was great with lots of choice (only just managed to get the stone off I put on). There are 3 main restaurants, The Wanderer, where you can enjoy breakfast lunch and dinner. Breakfast (served from 7 am), has a vast buffet that includes your normal bacon, eggs, sausages and beans but you could also opt for a on the spot made omelet or one of the local dishes, changed daily. No stones left unturned for lunch either, another huge selection of food like you need it after the large breakfasts. Dinner (served from 7pm), is also changed daily and found they had different themes for each night i.e Monday was Cajan night. The Seagrill restaurant is for fine dining and Emma's Italian is another choice here in the complex. Dress code: Seagrill and Emma's, long trousers and a collared shirt. Wanderer, smart casual and no swimwear. You can also enjoy light meals at Oceanus Cafe (by Oceanus pool), open 11am - 8pm, here swimwear is permitted. Light meals include, pizza, chips, burgers, and hotdogs. The Oceanus Cafe also provides a range of soft drinks, some local beer and yes, rum. Tea and coffee are available 24 hours a day from a machine situated outside the Wanderer restaurant. The main bar (also next to the Wanderer), is clean, tidy and offers almost any drink you can think of. The waiters are very friendly and welcome all nationalities. Along the side of the main building are little stools where you can buy local arts and crafts and even that bright orange and red flowered shirt you always wanted. The beach is just like what you would expect to see on a postcard. A long stretch of fine white soft sand with palm trees everywhere. It was very windy when we went (May time), but this was welcome as the temperature was in the high eighties every day. Tours can be booked on site and range from shopping trips to sea trips. The only downside I
would say, is that there is not much for children to do and no activities (silly adult games), during the day around the hotel. they did have a kids club but this was only in one of the rooms and although the staff were very good with the children, the activites were limited and my daughter found it boring. The evening entertainment was good. This changed daily anything from a steal band to a local dance group. The hotel has 248 rooms around the complex on a two and four floor level basis and is all inclusive. Rooms have air conditioning (a must in the heat), tv, safety deposit box (key obtained at reception), bath, a nice shower and balcony or terrace. The balcony is large enough for a large padded chair and padded sun lounger. It is set in 72 acres of grounds and built around the 17th century home, Sam Lords Castle. It is adjacent to a private beach (it has very strong currents so for strong swimmers only), and 23km from bridgetown (you can get a shuttle 3 days a week from the hotel). The hotel also has a small fitness room but this has very little equipment in and as I am not the fittest person at the best of times, decided to give this a miss. There are also 6 floodlit tennis courts and a croquet lawn. There is a coin operated laundry on site for your dirty washing, a barbers shop and a couple of little gift shops where you can also buy small items such as sweets, cigarettes and ice cream. The hotel does cater for the disabled as I did see two people in wheelchairs around the complex. Transfer time is only 15mins from the airport. Prices vary but we found virgin to be the cheapest at the time. At the time we went prices were: £989pp for a 7 night stay, £1479pp for 14 nights £299 1st child, £73 for an extra night and £43 single supp. Overall, a real must if you want that lazy put on a few pounds sort of holiday but not a family fun packed trip. I am sorry if this is in the wrong place but I could not find a sectio
n for Sam Lords Castle so thought the best place would be under Barbados. Thanks for reading Michelle ---X---
I visited Baarbados last year for the first time and it was Heavan! Unfortunately, I only had a week in this tropical paradise, which absolutely flew by... now to describe my heaven, as im sure you al want to go there... ...Barbados is a coral island, pushed out of sea by volcanic activity in a far away time. On the west coast of Barbados, coral shore beaches of fine white sand stretch along a blue-green sea. Coral reefs fringe the Barbados shoreline to provide excellent snorkeling and Scuba Diving. Along the East Coast a lively surf is blown briskly by the strong and constant trade winds and the waves pound against a rocky shore. The constant breeze of the trade winds give Barbados a mild and pleasant tropical climate. Barbados is mostly a flat coral island with excellent beaches, but there are rolling hills and many deep ridges and gullies, with an interesting distribution of flora and fauna. Within the Barbados coral core there is a vast array of caves and underground lakes which provide an excellent supply of drinking water that is amongst the purest in the world. In terms of geography, Barbados is unique, being actually two land masses that merged together over the years. This and other anomalies make Barbados quite phenomenal, and there are geological structures that you will find only in Barbados. Barbados is a very beautiful island, with lots of art, activities, night life, music, history and some of the best restaurants to be found anywhere. But what makes Barbados even more special, and the reason why so many visitors keep returning to the island year after year, is the people. Barbadians, called Bajans, are warm and friendly people, a lot different from those over here! Always ready to greet you with a sincere smile. Barbadians make you feel welcome and special, in this lovely Caribbean Island. You'll feel its your home and you will want to come back again and again, as I do. The other good thing a
bout Barbados are the prices. You can generally find some really good bargains on some very interesting and unique items, which are sold on the many weekly markets they have in places such as Bridgetown, which is where i visited. Food and drink is quite cheap also. There are a range of beautiful hotels along the beach in Bridgetown, which can be a bit pricy to stay in, but are well worth it. But if you can't afford that, there are plenty of other nice places to stay, all of which are clean and friendly places (within my knowledge) Finally, I'd like to stress how easy I found it to travel to Barbados and book my holiday; there were so many tour operators doing such a broad range of holidays to the place, htat i was spoilt for choice! I assume this is because Barbados is such a popular and ideal place to go, suitable for all. All airports do many flights there as it in such demand, so boook early... and enjoy.
Well, a week in Barbados used to be only afforded by the rich and famous, not your average Joe Bloggs on the street, but lo and behold we went, my wife and my two young children. We went with Virgin Atlantic and stayed at the Silver Sands resort on the south coast, which was nicely situated, very quiet and peaceful. The south coast of the island is perfect if you want to go windsurfing or parasailing, plenty of wind and surf here. That said, the beach is lovely to paddle about in, and is often nice enough to swim in, not too rough. Next to our room was the Mistral windsurfing club, but there wasn't too much disturbance from these guys, and it was nice to see these guys showing us how they do their stuff (and their girlfriends were nice to look at as well!). Our room was on the first floor which we didn't mind, and when you walked onto the balcony, you realised that the room was only 25ft away from the beach. Perfect! We did have some problems during the holiday though, some could have been avoided others couldn't. Our two boys became unwell during the flight over and although he was alright after landing, I think this affected him for the rest of the holiday as he came ill with a cold, then a few days later his brother became ill. This limited us to a few places that we could visit, but that didn't matter too much. One of the other problems was that on the flight, water had gotten into one of our suitcases and waterlogged our clothes. The boys clothes were fine, but getting Virgin to take responsibility was impossible, so we had to do without many of our clothes for the week. One trip you have to do is the Tiami catamarran cruise off the west coast from Bridgetown. Very nice, drinking rum punch (watch these guys it's strong stuff!), relaxing and very very enjoyable. Wasn't able to swim with the turtles as I wanted to do because of the laundry problem, but nonetheless it was great.
Water was crystal clear, the weather was perfect. We also did a tour of the island, going up to Speightstown, down the north east coast, and eventually ending up at a plantation house for dinner. Visit the Mount Gay rum distillery and buy some of the rum there, it's cheap and you'll find exactly you want to find in the way of rum. Bridgetown has a lot of jewellers there, who tended to be a bit pushy at times, but simply walk away if you're not happy with a possible purchase. The people in Barbados were very friendly and I felt very relaxed with the children around them. I've been to other destinations in Europe not feeling too comfortable before, so this was a nice change. Taxis are the best way around the island and are relatively cheap, but the cheapest way is by bus, but this service doesn't run so much in the evening. When I was over there, there were major roadworks outside Bridgetown taking you on a mystery tour of the area, but hopefully by the end of 2002 this will be completed. They are currently replacing the sanitation works, having had to restart it after a previous contractor was fired due to negligence. Taxi drivers are a bit insane, and my tip is not to hire a car unless you know the island well, and you know how to cope with the driving over there. Food was great over there that we bought from the supermarket, because we weren't able to eat in the restaurant much because of our clothes shortage. Prices wise, things are a bit more expensive, but not the exhorbitant prices you read about. All in all, a nice holiday, lovely weather more or less guaranteed, friendly people, fantastic scenery and beaches (best on the island is Miami Beach, but all western island beaches are fab). I wished we had two weeks over there instead. Will go back and visit again and have more fun on a two week holiday next time. One final th
ing, try to get hold of some bajan pepper sauce. This is seriously strong, and set my tongue on edge for days..
Now you are going to have to trust me on this one, I lived in the hot sun and warm sand for over 10 years. Quite simply there is something for everyone. There are the world famous beaches for the "physically challenged" of us who would just prefer to get a tan to make everyone at home jealous. Sit back and relax on Accra beach on the west coast. You can laze and read your favourite novel. Or for the more adventurous of us you can go jet skiing for very reasonable rates, or even banana boating (where 5 people sit on a long inflatable boat and get pulled along, it is notorious for people falling off but that is part of the fun) Go scuba diving to see the brilliant array of fish, you might even get a chance to see the sea turtles! There is Harrisons Cave, which is considered to be the world's third most beautiful cave, dating back millions of years. Surfers head for the East coast where the Atlantic Ocean gives surfers their ultimate holiday. The night life is flamboyant and cultural (you might learn a thing or two about dancing) Party all night long and relax all day. You can do as much or as little as you want. The people are friendly and helpful and they appreciate that tourism earns them a good living. Barbados provides something for everybody, whether young or old, lazy or energetic, I can guarantee you a holiday you will never forget.
I went to Barbados last December, and it was the most relaxing vacation I've ever taken. It stays around 80-85 degrees in December, which is a welcome change from the 40 degrees in New York upon departure. The cab ride from the airport to the resort took about 30 minutes, and the roads are horrible. Don't rent a car. The roads are covered on all sides by sugarcane, and two bicycles can barely pass in the street, let alone cars. I don't know how anyone navigates those roads (mostly by honking to make their approach known.) Throw into the mix that the Island is a former colony of the UK, and you've got left-side driving in effect. Oh, and the reverse turn rotaries ("Look kids, Big Ben, Parliment!") are enough to make you mad. The cab ride from Grantley Adams to St. Peter costs about $40.00 American. We stayed at the Almond Beach Resorts in the parish of Saint Peter. There are two options when staying at this resort - the Village or the Club. They bill the Village as being for "younger people and families" and the Club as "adult." I went to the Village, as did many people who were originally booked at the Club. It seems that the Club is for older, retired and inactive people. That's fine, but not really what was advertised. The Village has 11 pools, 2 pool-side bars and miles of beach. It also has 4 restaurants and a night club. There's duty-free shopping and nightly entertainment, without ever leaving the resort grounds. The restaurants usually book quickly, so it's best to make your reservations on the first day for the entire length of stay. There are Italian, Bajan, seafood and mixed-themed food. And don't forget about the little bar in the center of the complex - quaint Island atmosphere, and a ping-pong table. Beach-side entrepreneurs will try to sell you anything from driftwood carvings to hair braiding to jet ski rides. We did it all, and especially loved the jet ski. Th
ere just wasn't enough time to do it all. This resort is all-inclusive, so all of the food, drinks and entertainment are at no additional cost. And the rum punch is amazing. After a long flight, you're knocked on your butt by the second glass. If you leave the complex (and you should explore), take the tours. We went swimming with wild sea turtles off the Carribean coast (an incredible experience, but watch your fingers.) They are massive creatures which swim all around you if you choose to go into the water. Truly awesome. We also went to the Harrison Caves, another miracle of nature. A tram takes you into the 500-foot deep cavern, and at certain points you can get off to look around. Just touch nothing! It's all protected, and there are actually guards posted to keep you from touching the water. We also went to the tropical flower forest, and it was beautiful. But you have to walk a great deal, so don't go if you can't navigate the path. For dining, we only went to one off-resort restaurant. We made some rich friends (incredibly interesting and wonderful people) from England and California, and they took us to Baku. It was the most extravagent and expensive dinner I've ever had. The atmosphere was wonderful, as was the food and drink. I think the bill for the 7 of us came to about $1,000.00 American, excluding the tip. Bajan currency is about $0.50 to the dollar. Barbados is a wonderful place to experience new things and meet fascinating people (mostly from the UK.) Don't miss a single opportunity to take part in the festivities. The only down side to the trip was the fact that nearly all indiginous people live in near-to-total poverty, which you will see on your cab ride and if you venture off of the property. This is true of most Carribean Islands, but it is always upsetting to see. The cost of the trip which I've noted here includes airfare for two from New York, which totaled abo
ut $1,200.00. The cost of the resort for the week was another $1,200.00 total. Visit Barbados, see the sites and enjoy the culture. I'm already planning my next trip back.
My first trip to the Caribbean was last September when I spent a week at St Lawrence Gap in Barbados. I went on a British Airways package holiday and stayed at a hotel called Southern Escape that was directly adjacent to a white sandy beach. It all seemed dreamy. Pina coladas by the pool, beach chairs staring at a clear turquoise sea, calm waters perfect for snorkelling and swimming, soft white sands. Unfortunately the beaches on Barbados are all public and are also crawling with the most aggressive salespeople I have ever encountered. Lots of natives sleeping at night under shady trees and waiting to offer their catamaran services to tourists- they don't like to take no for an answer. Lots of persistant women offering to braid your hair for money. A stroll on the beach at about midday would inevitably elicit calls like "you want to catamaran today?" and when you replied, 'no not today,' they would get annoyed and ask, "What's wrong with you?" Personally a low point was when someone was begging me for money, saying, "Well, what are you going to do to help the poor of Barbados??" All very threatening and not what you imagine or hope for on a holiday. If I did go back, I would recommend staying somewhere more isolated or perhaps just not in St Lawrence Gap where most tourists tend to go.
One of the perks of being a travel agent is the free trips all over the world and one of mine last year was to Barbados. A group of 7 colleagues were going to test some hotels, posing as a group of friends and secretly rating the quality of service, cleanliness, etc. In five days we had 7 hotels to get through and we started as soon as we arrived. Fortunately we were flying business class on British Airways and so arrived very relaxed and ready for work. Gillian Taylforth (Kathy from 'Eastenders') was sitting in front of me on the flight and was off to Crystal Cove to record an episode of BBC's Holiday programme (shown in January). The first place we visited (and spent the night) was on the south coast. We were there during low season (June) and it was very windy. Being travel agents we were prepared for this but it seems a wedding party on our flight wasn't and the bride was most concerned about her new hair-do. Obviously being there for work is not the same as being there for pleasure and you see things in a different light. The casual, laid-back attitude may be perfect for honeymooners but when you have appointments right through the day from 8am until late night it can be infuriating when people show up over an hour late (if at all) and it doesn't appear to bother them. After travelling so far, the hotel manager didn't think we'd mind if he went for a swim before holding the meeting which had been arranged in January. The south coast is windier, rockier and the water is choppier than on the west coast (our second destination). This being a poorer country I was not surprised to find the hotel rooms quite dirty and scruffy and cockroaches in the bar. It is also very popular with the British and several restaurants offer chips and burgers (we even saw fish fingers on one menu - more distressing, there were people actually ordering this junk!). That evening we had an appointment with a restaurant-owne
r and on the way we constantly harassed by street traders. We declined their wares because we did not want to encourage even more of their hard sell. I am more inclined to buy from a stallholder at the side of the road who waits for me to approach before trying to interest me in his goods rather than someone who pounces on me as soon as I leave the hotel lobby and bombards me with his sales spiel. Even better, we should try to avoid such salespeople all together and encourage the development of the local economy through recognised trade. There was even a certain amount of aggression among the salesmen as to who 'owned' which tourists and which section of the street. Two of them started fighting over who had the best baskets and we left just as it got quite nasty. The west coast has a cleaner beach and calmer sea (due to the geography of the island) but the salesmen are just as persuasive there too. One of the hotels we were staying at had a private beach (thumbs up) but they invaded with their tapes of steel band music, baskets, fruit and one woke me up whilst napping on the beach to ask if I wanted to see turtles with him (thumbs down). Obviously several tourists did and out they went in their boatloads, armed with sliced white bread (!) and disturbed the peaceful turtles. Haven't they thought that there might be a reason why they keep so far away from the hotel beaches? If there's one thing I don't need when posing as a tourist, it's a pushy salesman who seems to have a problem understanding 'No', even when accompanied by several shakes of the head. The hotel food and services were excellent but it's a shame that the islanders have allowed themselves to be let down by these pushy salesman. However, this is becoming a strong feature of several poorer countries. There is also so much rubbish everywhere. We even saw a couple getting married )yep, under those plastic heart-shaped arches) with Coca-C
ola cans, beer bottles and other refuse strewn all over the place - er...no thanks! Yes, there are some beautiful parts of the island and some beautiful houses. These tend to be the hideouts of the British rich and famous, though. There needs to be a more concentrated effort to promote tourists not to encourage these illegal sales and to support the local economy in such countries.
I Visited to Barbados in Feb 2001, peak season, armed with suntan lotion and the Rough guide. Being the more adventurous type I didn't hang around the hotel! I stayed for a week, which was enough to do everything but next time I'd go for longer as we were so busy doing stuff it didn't leave much chill out time on the beach. I went with a friend from work, although we found this island essentially full of couples. (Paragraphs with ‘*’ have been added since the original version of the document) * Weather: The high season is from mid-December to mid April with low rainfall, lots of sun and low humidity. There is cloud around, but don’t be fooled if you don’t protect yourself you will get burnt (as we found out on the second afternoon). During the rest of the year the humidity get very bad, and in September in comes the hurricane season. * Cash: The Barbados dollar is fixed to the US dollar at a rate of B$2 – US$1, so with current exchange rates £1 = B$3. US dollars are excepted almost everywhere, but you will get change in the local currency. Getting There: Package deal, try online, these will give you a place to stay and flight for same price of a normal flight - we avoided the hard sell of the rep and went and did our own thing! Scheduled flights: British Airways fly there direct from London, and did use to do a concord service – before the plane was grounded. Many cruise ship make Barbados part of there tour, they dock just north of Bridgetown, and it’s worth taking a taxi in to town from the port. BA flights around £650 economy, £3500 club - unless you're a travel agent and can blag freebies or discounts (these prices where from Saturday->Saturday at the end of May 2001 via expedia). Note: There is a departure tax of B$25 – ours was included in the ticket price, check that yours is! * About the Island: Barbados was a British Colo
ny, hence English is spoken everywhere. As for beaches, most tourists go to the South and West of the island; these sides are protected from the Atlantic rollers and make for very safe swimming, you should avoid swimming around the east side unless you a v. competent, this is due to strong currents and the Atlantic waves – hence this is become the home of the island’s surfers. All beaches in Barbados are open to the public - although sometimes you have to ask the locals to find out how to get to them from the main road! * Accommodation: Many, many smart hotels with Sandy Lane being the most expensive and exclusive, this hotel which has just reopened in 2001. There are many all-inclusive hotels for those of you who aren’t in to great adventures, or just want to kick back and relax. Unaware of any youth hostels as such, and most cheap accommodation seems to be booked by holiday companies. The West coast is the smarter end of the island with the St. Lawrence Gap (aka The Gap) being the alternative tourist haunt. * The Capital: Bridgetown, is first and often only port of call for cruise ship passengers, they offer tax free shopping for any visitor to the island – if you do go to shop take your travel documents to get the value added tax knocked off. Whilst in Bridgetown I visited two places, the Nelsons Arms (just off Broad Street – the main street), a seafaring style pub with poor cocktails, cold beer and good food. The second place we visited was “Jeff’s Mex” which was well liked by my vegetarian friend because of there wide range of mouth-watering veggie food (there not 100% veggie – lots of meat as well!). * Food: No McDonalds, no KFC, no Burger King, in fact no international fast food chains of any description. If you want fast-food then you’ll have to do with local chain, Chefette. We stuck clear of this, sticking to the local independent restaurants; most of the food will be f
amiliar as it is standard western food. Being an island fish is in abundance, with their favourite being the flying fish - quite a small fish, but tasty – the flying fish is so popular you can buy a box of them in ice at airport to take to the folks at home – according to the lady who runs the outfit, she says that they will stay frozen in their iceboxes until you get back to the UK – although its not like you’re going to go back to complain! Rotis are the local quick snack – simply a wrap with meat or veg in it – served hot. I found the beef in my roti still had all its bones attached to the meat – so watch out! How to get complimentary food and drink: Take the bus to Sam Lords Castle (all inclusive resort), when you arrive just outside walk into the complex and after 100m bear right and you will find yourself walking down an alley, at the end of this alley there are some (half broken - but generally safe) stairs to beach. You are now on the beach which Sam Lords Resort uses, simply go up to the beach bar and order your free drinks, they will assume that you are a guest and give it to your for free! At lunchtime a huge buffet comes out on the beach as well, feel free to dig in - no wristbands, no questions asked! Also walking into the main resorts from the beach and make use of the bars and pools, nice free day out! Best Rum Cocktails: After venturing all over the island, the best is to be had in the Mount Gay Rum Factory Tour Bar, slightly more expensive than usual but well worth it (recommend a Rum Desire)! Best Beach Bar: Mullins on the West Coast, expensive but something special! Also free sun beds and parasols (no need to be a customer) Best Value Food: Fisherman’s Bar in Speightstown, literally on the water, very quick service, generally undiscovered by tourists, hence prices are low. Best Night Out: Boatyard in Bridgetown, and mix of locals and tourists dancing
to US/UK chart music. Do a drink all you can night for around £10-£15. Don't miss: The Oistins Fish fry (south side of the island), huge meal for B$15 available from various market vendors, also bottles of beer around 50p! (Banks is the local brew, I didn't think was anything special - quite a strong taste compared to UK lager - but we drank it all the same!) Where to take your Partner: The Cliff restaurant was the most talked about, it was out of our budget and hence can't write any more on it. Drugs: Everyone is offering you either weed or Charlie; quality of weed varies from good to a bag of leaves (so I heard). Personally avoided the scene. Also prison is an option if you’re caught! Travel: Car - Take your driving licence, this island is bigger than you think and it is worth renting a car although the buses do cover most of the island. Bus - B$1.50 (around 50p) any distance trip. There are government buses and private operators. The privates operators drive like nutters, have a thumping bass beat going on (which literally shakes the bus) and their depots are slightly further out of town – although they are more frequent but don’t travel as far, and pack you in tightly! Taxi - They work on a fixed fare scheme set up by the government, so the fare they offer is as low as you are going to get - no use bargaining, our fare was £8 for around 4 miles. Tourist Attractions: * Harrison’s Cave – Too touristy by far, the only advantage of going under ground on some huge train is that’s cool (as in cold). The guide had done the tour too many times before and was in autopilot all the way through – wouldn’t recommend if you’ve seen caves before elsewhere!! * Mount Gay Rum Factory Tour Bar – fun and ends up in bar, not to long to get boring, interesting guide who enjoyed a good laugh with us – worth it! (Malibu also do a to
ur, and they have a beach next to their factory). * Horse Racing: Obviously not strictly for tourists, but racing on “Garrison Savannah” which is just outside Bridgetown happens every other Saturday except April, to get there take a bus towards to Ouitins/ St.Lawrence Gap from Bridgetown. * Cricket: At the Oval – we managed to follow a group of American tourists in, (god knows what they were doing at a cricket ground but anyway), there was no matches on at the time, but it’s pretty cool to stand in the middle of a cricket pitch surrounded by the stands. * URL’s worth visiting before you go.. http://www.barbados.org http://www.lonelyplanet.com/destinations/caribbean/barbados/attractions.htm http://travel.roughguides.com/content/12543/index.htm <br>
Barbados, situated just to the east of the Caribbean Sea, is an independent island nation in the western Atlantic Ocean. Found at roughly 13° North and 59° West, the country lies in the Southern Caribbean region where it is a part of the Lesser Antilles island-chain. Being that it is relatively close to the South American continent, Barbados is around 434 kilometres (270 miles) northeast of Venezuela. The closest island neighbours to Barbados are Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to the west, Grenada to the south-west, and Trinidad and Tobago to the south which Barbados now shares and fixed official maritime boundary with. Barbados has one of the highest standards of living and literacy rates in the developing world. Despite its small geographical size, Barbados constantly ranks in the top 30 (or 31) countries in the Human Development Index (HDI) rankings. It is currently ranked third in the Americas. The island is also a major tourist destination.