Saturday, 3 December 2011

Winter sunshine and tropical rain

My recent week in the Caribbean is almost a distant memory now as the end of 2011 approaches!  December has only just begun and I feel like I am being pushed headlong into 2012 .. busy times ahead but I'm making the time to write while I can!  There's always a chance of rain and we had the odd shower during the week and a full on downpour on the Friday before we left. It all adds to the experience of a tropical paradise and is the reason why the island is so green and lush.
Having been to the gorgeous island of Barbados before, going back for another visit was no disappointment. We stayed at the Crane Beach Resort this time .. the first operating hotel on the island, which was established in the nineteenth century and situated on the South West coast. In the "Red Book of the West Indies" it was described thus ...

"The Hotel occupies about nine acres on top of a high cliff on the Southeast of the Island and is swept by fresh, invigorating breezes from the Atlantic. From its windows is displayed the beautiful sea, fringing with exquisite colors the white soft sandy beach of the hotel's superb bathing place, that has no superior anywhere in the world."

Our accommodation was superb. It was essentially an apartment by any other name .. two bedrooms, three bathrooms, sitting room, kitchen (fully fitted) a balcony on each side and a private plunge pool. For three of us it was more than enough space - truly a home from home - only set in a tropical environment. The Crane is like a village in itself and if you choose, you could stay there and not leave the grounds as everything is provided. The restaurants are diverse .. Italian, Japanese/Thai fusion and Bajan cuisine. There is a general store and a duty free shop offering a wide selection of goods.

Crane Beach
The beach is accessed by an elevator or a few flights of stairsIt never gets too crowded as it is mainly used by Crane residents although it is not a private beach.  The beach attendants are extremely helpful and friendly .. which is actually the Bajan way all over the island .. and if you like a fun beach with waves to play in, it's great for boogie boarding and body surfing.  If this is not your thing, there are beautiful swimming pools on the resort or you could go to the west of the island where the seas are calmer.  I enjoyed waking at sunrise and watching the day begin before going down to the beach to jog or walk and take in the gorgeous fresh air before breakfast.  Something I could definitely get used to!!

We took a day trip to the city, Bridgetown which is colonial in style and has an abundance of duty free goods again on offer as it's a major cruise ship stopover.  There are also safari trips, round the island tours which include the St Nicholas Abbey Plantation house where they produce Rum, a major export.

All of the restaurants we tried were exceptional .. and of course the highlight of any week in Barbados is attending the Friday night fish fry at Oistins. There are countless vendors grilling or frying fish, lobster and chicken in the outdoors .. along with music, dancing and art and craft stalls.  The atmosphere is fantastic and definitely should not be missed. Don't forget to try the famous Rum Punch ... mostly they have a mixer already prepared which I personally don't enjoy as much as a 'start from scratch' original preparation or if you're not into rum, there's the locally produced Banks beer which I hear is very mellow.

This is one place that I definitely will be returning to as often as possible .. I love it!!  Oh, just one more thing .. don't forget to take insect repellent or you are likely to get eaten alive!

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