This is going to be my first trip to Barbados and despite having travelled around the Caribbean on several occasions before I’m still nervous about what the next 7 days have in store…
I really shouldn’t have worried about the flight, BA Club World was fantastic and after a Champagne pre-departure drink I was asleep on the flat-bed before the plane had left the runway at Gatwick (despite being offered the allure of A La Carte dining at 39,000 feet)!
Some 8 1/2 hours (and a really refreshing sleep) later we arrived in Barbados wide awake and raring to go.
Bridgetown Airport was really easy to negotiate and the new terminal was really modern with luxuries I’d not seen in other Caribbean airports in the past. The trip to the hotel was quick and easy and (thanks to some newly re-laid roads) as quick as advertised in the brochures!
I’d been to The Caribbean several times and had never experienced any adverse weather so was a little cautious to be travelling in the “Hurricane Season”. I was even more surprised when I got up in the morning to the usual Caribbean heat, opened the doors onto the balcony to be faced with the type of rain that reminded me of Manchester at that time of year! Not to be put off though it was straight down to the pool for a swim before breakfast and then off to pick up the hire car so we could have a look around the island.
Because I’d heard that there are so many different things to see and do on the Island, our first day was spent driving all over the island and getting our bearings about where things were and making mental notes about what we really wanted to visit later that week. I was really surprised to find how easy it was to drive and even more surprised to hear that the car horns were used to say “hi” to anyone and everyone you drove past (it got really quite noisy when you’re driving through Bridgetown) as opposed to rather than the less polite use they’re put to back home!
The Crop Over
The middle of the week and the one part of the trip that I’d being looking forward to and dreading in equal measure… “The Crop Over”. It’s a five-week summer festival whose origins can be traced back to the 1780’s, (a time when Barbados was the world’s largest producer of sugar). At the end of the sugar season, there was always a huge celebration to mark the culmination of another successful sugar cane harvest – the Crop Over celebration.
We spent the morning making our costumes and mentally preparing ourselves for the carnival we were about to take part in through the heart of St Lawrence Gap…Great fun! The steel bands were out in force, the street jugglers and stilt walkers joined us, as did a large number of the locals I only hope the public we subjected to the sights and sounds enjoyed the afternoon as much as we did!
After the hectic day spent on the “Crop Over” parade it’s time to kick-back and relax, no better way to chill out than take a Catamaran Tour from Bridgetown up the west coast and relax swimming with the local turtles. The beach in front of Sandy Lane was one of the best I’ve seen and we were soon joined in the sea by the “locals”.
Since my visit, my opinion of Barbados has completely changed from the pre-conceived ideas I had. I found it to be a really relaxed island that still manages to deliver the 5* standards that I look for from my own trips. Full of Caribbean charm and flavours, the food is fantastic, the rum unbeatable and the beaches are amongst the best in the world.
Chris says :
Must do: Hire a car and see the island off the beaten track, it’s great fun, great value and really easy to do.
Must see: Being a sports fan my number one would have to be a cricket match at The Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, but the Mount Gay Rum factory is a close second.
Must experience: The “Roots & Rhythms” Caribbean dinner show followed by dancing the night away in one of St Lawrence Gap’s many clubs or bars.