03 Mar Barbados: sea turtles & searching for Rihanna
The decision making process which led to the Greek and I booking flights to Barbados was an odd one, to say the least. We were sitting in the living room in our pajamas one lazy Saturday morning, Googling something no doubt to settle an argument. Some way or other, we ended up on image results, and both spotted a photo of a ridiculously gorgeous tropical beach. Barbados, the caption said.
“How much do you think flights to Barbados are?”, the Greek asked.
And mere minutes later, having discovered that return flights didn’t actually cost a whole lot more than the ones to Greece from Italy in August, we were already planning our trip for the winter.
I’d actually never really fancied visiting the Caribbean, if I’m totally honest. I like architecture, cafe culture, history and landscapes. I like places I can walk around. My favourite destinations are places like Berlin, Sicily, South Africa. I’d actually only really been converted to beaches at all since meeting the Greek and spending my summers in Halkidiki. So this holiday booking was a bit out of character for me.
Barbados turned out to be a lot of fun though, even for a non-island lover like me.
We found an apartment to stay in at a reasonable price near Dover Beach (possibly should’ve looked at the costs of everything before booking flights – Barbados is expensive and 10 days there nearly bankrupted me), and we used a contact (my friend Jack’s dad, who’s lived on the island for years now) to help rent a car. We were actually lucky to find one when we hadn’t booked in advance, and this is something we learned about small islands – everything is limited, so you do have to be a little bit organized.
Across the road from where we were staying was a gloriously Caribbean beach, complete with little huts selling fruity Rum Punch (beware: it’s delicious but it’s lethal – more on that later). The Caribbean hospitality is something else. Everywhere you go, people start chatting to you (every now and again a few of these people will try to sell you marijuana, but that’s neither here nor there). We were immediately befriended by the owner of one of the huts, who called himself “Daddy” and told us stories about the island, only half of which we actually understood thanks to his incredibly strong Caribbean accent mixed with local words which really don’t exist in English.
Most of our time in Barbados was spent on the beach. Much like the first time I went to Halkidiki, we aimed to see a new beach every day, and did just that. The Greek also reluctantly admitted that some of the beaches were maybe better than the ones in Greece. In his defence, there’s not much in it.
4 of my favourite sandy spots were:
Mullins, for the rum punch. It’s a beautiful beach, and also has a beach bar where you can get food and drink. But around the corner from the official beach bar, there is a hut selling rum punch. It is honestly the most drinkable fruity delicious liquid, and doesn’t taste alcoholic at all. But don’t be fooled – after one glass, the Greek and I were in the sea in hysterical laughter, and realized that maybe there was some rum in it after all.
Bottom Bay, for the Caribbean Factor. You can’t swim here because there are huge waves, rip tides, and all sorts of other perilous things, but it’s exactly what youd expect a wild Caribbean coast to be like.
Carlisle Bay was aesthetically not my favourite, but has to go on the list because I saw an actual real life turtle while swimming there, which was one of the most incredible experiences I’ve ever had. Incidentally, taking a mask/snorkel to the sea wasn’t such a dorky idea in the end. Here, we met some Americans who Started a conversation with, “Oh. My. God. Have you tried the jerk chicken sandwiches?” and proceeded to sing their praises for probably 15 minutes. So I’m gonna guess that somewhere in the vicinity, you can find some of those.
Crane Beach is another beaut, although we went on an afternoon which was a bit cloudy and ended up having to drop our coconut cocktails and sprint back to the car when the heavens opened and we realised all our belongings were about to be drenched (including my absolutely-not-waterproof-at-all DSLR).
When we did take a break from the beaches, we took a tour of the Mount Gay rum distillery, including a tasting of some surprisingly drinkable spirits (a bit of a weird thing to do before even having lunch, but there are no rules in holiday, hey?) and some stocking up of bottles to bring back to Italia.
We explored Bridgetown which is a sweet little place, although admittedly theres not a whole lot to see. We ate a lot of yummy things, including a street food feast at the Oistins Friday Fish Fry – the Greek, who doesn’t eat fish, was like a man possessed. That’s how good this fish is. We also had a fancy dinner at Juma’s, where the newly fish-loving Greek had a plate of barracuda and induced the strongest case of food envy I think I’ve ever had.
We also took a catamaran trip around the island, which was a very American tourist thing to do, but they did feed us well, show us the way to more sea turtles, and point out where Rihanna lives, so it was worth it despite the tourist factor.
I even miraculously managed to talk the Greek into going horse riding on the wild East coast – he’d never been before and was a bit alarmed when the guide just pulled one reign left and said “left”, the other right and said “right” and finally pulled on both and said “stop”, warned him that he might have to jump off because his horse liked to roll over in the surf, and that was the end of the instruction phase. But it all went smoothly, we walked through the wilderness, cantered down the beach, and then got picked up by a jeep while the horses ran back home, adorably unaccompanied.
It wasn’t the kind of holiday I’m used to, and I did find it strange visiting a place which isn’t full of fascinating things to see, but I have to admit, Barbados is a colorful, happy, sunny, beachy paradise, and what it lacks in architecture it more than makes up for in delicious seaside cocktails.