First time to the Caribbean and it did not disappoint! Buckle your seatbelts, sit back and relax cuz this is going to be quite a bit longer than my normal 2 paragraph blog! Haha.
Where to even begin!! I wanted to book a sun getaway and wanted to do something other than an all inclusive in Mexico. I had never been to the Caribbean so explored a few options there. St. Lucia, St. Martin, Turks and Caicos, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Jamaica… I had a couple very close friends mention Barbados and how they absolutely loved it! After exploring it a little bit, that was the spot!
Barbados is not an easy spot to get to from the West coast of Canada. There are no direct flights so we flew through Toronto and 14 hours later, we hit the gorgeous Caribbean island of Barbados! Upon arrival and on the cab ride to our Air BnB, it seemed as though we had just hit any other tropical destination. Luscious vegetation, palm trees, sunshine, 30 degrees… but it gets better!
Honestly this was an amazing country to visit! First and likely my absolute favourite thing about the island is how incredibly friendly the people are. Our cab ride was about 30-40 minutes from the Airport and on the way, the driver basically gave us the history of the island and answered so many of our questions. The Air BnB was less than exciting, slightly frightening but lets skip over that part… (numerous bugs which I dont like and killed, a few gecko’s which I swept out of the house with a broom).
As it is in any new country, it takes a couple days at least to “figure it out”. Got in around 5pm, dropped the luggage and went for a run along the beach. I under estimated the waves (which Im not surprised about) and running shoes were soaked about 3 minutes in. Found a cool little restaurant on the beach which conveniently was in the midst of a happy hour (with complimentary appies) to watch the sunset!
So after the beach run and the sunset of night one, I’m pretty in love with this island! Obviously! But it really just gets better and I wanted to just out line some of the highlights. Every day is 30 degrees and sunny! Dont listen to the weather network app. A few days it said “mostly cloudy” and it was 30 degrees, sunny, with like a total of 27 minutes throughout the day with a slight cloud cover… Um ya, I’ll take that any day!
The beaches are spectacular! And we found some pretty awesome ones! Likely the favourite was Carlyle Bay. About a 10 minute walk from Bridgetown, here you’re just south of some of the Beach Clubs, in the midst of a lot of hotels, but you’re getting crystal clear turquoise water, plus just steps to the amenities you want. And when I say amenities you want, I mean some fantastic local food and of course rum bars. One thing to mention is while lying on the beaches of Barbados keep an eye out for the yellow/sand coloured crabs. They dig holes in the sand, pop out at the most unsuspecting of times, have 2 beady black eyes and are creepy as fuck! Actually they are scared shitless of humans and if you spray sand at them they, scurry back into their holes in the sand.
Let’s talk about rum bars… which also correlates with local food. According to our host at the Mount Gay Rum factory (yes I did a tour, and yes, it was spectacular), there are 1800 rum bars on the island. The population of the island is approximately 280,000 people, according to one of my taxi drivers… I googled it and that is very accurate (285,000 ish). So there is one rum bar for every 158 people! This is my kinda country! Anyways… The best thing about a rum bar, is they would serve you a bottle of rum, a bottle of coke or whatever mix you want and a bucket of ice. Then you pour at your own pace! Haha. You can even leave with the bottle. These being right across the street from the beach presents quite the convenient problem as you can see. But likely the best part of the whole rum bar experience was the local food. They all (and I visited quite a few of the 1800) had small kitchens with a few cooks. They were buffet kinda style where they had a few items every day. Jerk chicken, grilled marlin, fried pork, macaroni pie, grilled veggies, scalloped potatoes, rice and beans. The spices and flavours I experiences were unlike anything you find at home!
I could talk about the food for a long time so lets move on. Beer! Bank is life in Barbados! The official beer of the country! Or so it says on the bottle. Advertisements for this beer are everywhere. Seriously, everywhere! Most of the rum bars have the same special, 4 Banks for $10 Barbados which is $5 US. Yes you heard me correctly, 4 beers for $5 ($6.75 Canadian I guess). Safe to say I had a few Banks while on the island.
Sooo much to do on the island! One day visited the Animal Flower Caves. This is the most northern part of the island where the Caribbean Sea meets the Atlantic. Some fantastic photos of the caves you will find on my instagram. I mentioned the Mount Gay Rum factory… Super cool history it has. How they literally just stumbled across the process in which to make rum from molasses. Molasses used to just be a by product of manufacturing sugar and they needed a place to get rid of it. Well how the tables have turned for the wiley ole molasses!
A big highlight of the trip for me was my very first catamaran! I have never ever snorkelled before, can you believe that? I had my doubts, I thought sure this boat ride will be fun ish and I’ll get unlimited booze but is it really worth the money? Yup! I think it was for sure! I was seriously blown away with the staff, and I do not ever take saying that lightly with service jobs. They were super enthusiastic about everything going on, they were over the top accommodating when it came to making drinks, they were charismatic and comical on the speaker directing the day. All in all I have nothing bad to say about them at all…. Oh wait. One small thing. One of them told me (while standing on the top rope) that Im not allowed to jump off the boat from the top rope. I looked back and said “ok I wont do it anymore” and jumped. Oh well! The snorkelling was actually really cool. Saw a couple sea turtles maybe like 15 feet away from me. Saw a really cool old ship at the bottom of the ocean. And I learned hot to breathe in a snorkel which is much harder than I thought. Apparently your body goes into automatic shock when you put your head under water which I was unaware of. I figured it out quickly though I think. Boat ended with a wicked sunset, a few more drinks some reggae jams. All in all a fantastic experience!
One thing that took us a few days to figure out is that the orange city buses are not as scary as they look! At first glance, fairly dated, crammed full of people and driving recklessly… ya sounds like you want to avoid these. But tried it one day and instead of a $40 taxi ride, its $1US to ride these things. HOLD ON TIGHT! Remember I said they looked reckless from the outside? Wait till you’re in one swerving around corners on the narrowest of streets that barely first a car going each way. Sidenote: they don’t really have side walks so you are trying to avoid pedestrians on both sides! You kinda get used to it though and by the second day we kinda liked it! Reggae music blasting! Getting a wicked core work out in trying to hang on for dear life around the corners. As I mentioned before, literally everyone we met was super friendly. The drivers, the people collecting money, the patrons on the bus. As soon as you walk on they’d ask, “where are you headed”… “ok thats no problem, I’ll let you know where to get off”. I’m white as fuck, so they could tell pretty easily I was a tourist. Word of advice… If you go to Barbados, take the buses! They are awesome!
I went for a run every morning… Yup! every morning! Why? That’s a great question, but one of my goals for 2019 is to do something active everyday, and since I didn’t have a weight room, it was running every day. Remember that bar I mentioned at the beginning? That had the good happy hour? Ya, we went there a few times for cheap drinks and on the last day the bartender says to me… “are you the guy thats running along the beach?” Hahaha. Yup, that’s me.
So many cool places! Holetown for some great restaurants and the Holetown Festival which is every February (likely the best street food I’ve ever had). Bridgetown for some local shopping, great food, local produce, restaurants, beaches, rum bars, and beach clubs. Overall it was such a great experience and a fantastic trip. I’d for sure go back! Even missing my connection and staying a night in -15 degrees in Toronto couldn’t bring my spirits down. But then again, big picture right. I have so much to be grateful for that how could I let such a small thing like missing a flight affect me? I didn’t.
Back to work!