Sorry for the delay between posts – I had an epic iPhoto-related disaster at the weekend. All I can say is never upgrade to iPhoto 11, unless you’d like all your photos completely erased without warning. Lightroom all the way from now on. Anyway…
One of the big bonuses of having this holiday with my family is that we had a built-in taxi service, in the form of my dad and his hire car (my dad LOVES to drive, so don’t feel too sorry for him). We could easily explore much more of the island this way, and I’m pleased we did as each coastline, and the inland, have very different landscapes and characteristics.
Where we stayed on the west coast is the main tourist hub, because the Caribbean sea is much calmer than the wild open Atlantic on the north and east sides. The ocean on ‘our’ side was deliciously clear, warm and calm with picture-perfect white sand and palm trees — although high tide picked up during our last few days, bringing fierce undercurrents and completely hiding the beach. Luckily we got plenty of swimming (and our snorkelling trip – more on that later) in before then! Some of the beaches got a bit crowded, but you could always wander down a few hundred metres and find somewhere new practically deserted.
We took a couple of day trips out to the north and east – the island only takes about half an hour to traverse by car – to admire the rugged coastline and spot the millions of fossils embedded into the rocks. It’s noticeably cooler this side of the island thanks to the ocean breezes, and the tang of seaweed in the air reminded me of holidays in Devon.
The inland is quite lush and green from all the sugar cane fields, and hilly in places which made travelling in our pootly little hire car a bit hairy at times. But made for some beautiful views from up high.
I loved spotting the local architecture across the island. Lots of the Bajans live in ‘chattel houses’: these were originally built for plantation workers after slavery was abolished and designed to be semi-portable in case they got moved on by the landlord, hence the precarious-looking foundations that they sit on. They have to be repainted every few years due to the ravages of the sea air, and most owners take the chance to paint their houses in a wide range of rainbow colours which is gorgeous to see.
I also enjoyed spotting colourful folk type on hand-painted signs around the island, advertising local restaurants, churches, rum shops and other services. (We ate in that last restaurant on our last day, it was great!)
I didn’t actually make it into the capital, Bridgetown, at all. We were staying in between the next two biggest towns, Speightstown and Holetown. (I say big, but Speightstown’s population is only 2,000.) Holetown has all the luxury shops and touristy foreign restaurants, but Speightstown is a bit more down to earth and everyday. Great for a wander.