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Timeless Heritage.

02/05/2004



Timeless Heritage.

Time magazine said it was one of the best places to do business, it has the world's best beaches, and some of the world's most exclusive resorts, it is steeped in tradition, brimming with wealth and at the same time utterly natural and charming. Here the coconut vendor still climbs the trees and walks with his cart through the streets to offer you a coconut for just a few pence.

Writers come here and escape to the rugged windswept shores of the Atlantic. Some stay in the Atlantis Hotel, a rustic old hotel, away from the crowd, belonging to another century. The rich and famous also come to stay on the tranquil Caribbean coast, at Sandy lane, voted in the top 10 of world resorts. They buy homes at Port St. Charles, Royal Westmoreland and at Sugar Mill. They dine at the Cliff, the Terrace at Cobblers Cove and other world-class gourmet restaurants. Individuals, Businesses, families and groups all come here and mingle in this melting pot of cultures. For this is Barbados, a tiny island set apart from the rest of the Caribbean, bustling with friendship and joy.

Here your days can unfold in a million ways; swim with the turtles, relax on the beach, sail over coral reefs, play cricket on the beach, windsurf, go to the drive-inn cinema, go to the best reggae bars, visit the heritage homes and gardens, explore caves with underground pools and waterfalls, go undersea in a submarine, dine under the stars, meet the stars, drink coconut water from the shell. It's all a matter of choice.

A British History. Barbados, like all Caribbean islands, was originally settled by the Amerindian and Carib people from South America. It was the Portuguese explorer Pedro a Campos who named the Island “Los Barbados” after the many big fig trees with their beard-like vines hanging from branches. The Island still has the bearded fig tree, along with mahogany trees, orchids, bougainvillea, allamanda and of course fields and fields of sugar cane. Sugar and rum have been an important part of the history of Barbados and there are many magnificent plantation houses, windmills and rum factories.

Historically Barbados was a very British Island. Spain passed her by on its way to South America and the Portuguese did not stay long. The island passed into British hands in 1625 and remained British for the next 340 years. It is often called little England, with names like Hastings, Worthing, Brighton and even a Scotland district. The Statue of Lord Nelson in Bridgetown’s Trafalgar Square was erected in 1813 predating its London counterpart. ( More>> )

People and lifestyles.

Today Barbados is a cosmopolitan country with a strong character of its own. It is prosperous and progressive, and still full of natural charm. The people are friendly, fun loving and warm. They fill your mind with their colourful speech, their walk, their engaging looks and their endless energy and love of life. They are children who will never grow old, no matter what their age, they insist on having fun. ( More >> )

Barbadians have won respect in the world. The Olympics 100 meters dash by Obedele Thompson in 2000 was heralded with wonder that such a tiny island would stand in the top three on the world stage. Chris Gibbs, of the legendary MerryMen band, became the first Caribbean native to swim the English Channel in 2003, and this at the respectable age of 58. In the 2003 Cross Atlantic row boat race Barbados came third with the only multiracial team, one white and one black man. Barbados sports heroes shine on the world stage. Its music too is internationally known with names like Rupee, David Kurtain, John King, Arturo Tappin becoming international stars, in the footsteps of the Merrymen who sing now for charities and good deeds. ( More >> ).

In other arenas Barbados shines too, it has won gold at the Chelsea flower show for many years in a row. It wins travel awards every year and is often nominated or listed in places to do business, for a vibrant off shore business sector, an example of good government, a stable economy and a wonderful tourism destination. It is a remarkable achievement for a tiny country smaller than most cities, of 166 square miles and 270,000 people.

Architecture in coral.

The architecture of the island is history set in coral, ballast and wood. The original historic homes and plantations were Jacobean and Georgian built with coral and ships ballast. Victorian homes came later and all along the tiny wooden chattel houses of the workers, trimmed in gingerbread fretwork, built to exacting proportions of the current style, dotted the landscape. Barbados is now a mix`of elegant resorts, postmodern commercial buildings, historic homes and wooden chattel houses scattered as if in a patchwork of history, people, style and structure. Here movie stars live beside cane cutters, the aristocracy, the artisan and the fisherman. Here the fisherman living in small wooden shack on a perfect beach, will turn down a million dollars for his home. Quality of life, enjoyment of nature; the beaches, the sea, sunrise, sunsets, starlight, the moon on the water, the crickets chirping, birds singing, mingling with friends, these things money cannot buy.

Sugar, white gold, as it was called made Barbados prosperous in the early days of British rule. Sugar’s wealth built the great plantation homes, solid structures of coral rock, furnished with mahogany, standing now as a heritage of grandeur. Barbados natural coral limestone, cut out of the terraces of the sea cliffs, became the distinctive building blocks of the stately homes, setting Barbados apart from its neighbors with their mostly wooden buildings in the Caribbean style. The Caribbean climate of wind, rain and heat, led to the gable roofs, the big open verandas, the hurricane resistant low rectangular shapes, and the sturdy shutters of the sash and jalousie windows. ( More >> )

Things to do in Barbados.

There are spectacular submarine and underground adventures sailing, deep sea fishing, scuba diving and watersports of all kinds. There is horse racing at the Savannah, polo at Holders, Surfing at the soup Bowl in Bathsheba, a wild life reserve and two major golf courses. For myself I think one of the most outstanding ways to spend a Sunday is to have brunch at the Lone Star Garage, a restaurant on the west coast. Get there as early as 11:30, and order the eggs Royal with a bottle of wine. Take a break from lunch for a swim with the turtles that feed off the reefs in front of the restaurant. The green turtle and the hawksbill, once an endangered species, play there now and there are daily catamaran trips to swim with them. After your swim move to a beach umbrella for dessert and coffee. Swim again and return for a cool drink at sunset. Its rather decadent but a treat and a memory that will last forever.

Duty free shopping is good and if you take along your passport you will be able to buy electronics, perfumes, jewelry and, strangely, wool and cashmere sweaters all at great prices. More >>. For something more local walk to the Cheapside market and mingle with the wonderful and colourful ladies that sell fresh locally grown fruits and vegetables, Nutritious and delicious all served with personality and a smile. But don't shoot your camera without asking. Children usually love to be filmed and will pose endlessly for you, walking up and down the road with a varying swagger if you indulge them.

For night owls there is a wide range of live music from jazz to reggae, something for everyone almost every night of the week. At Holetown, on the West coast, check out the Mews for soft soulful guitar and sax, and across the road at the rum shop, Caribbean music. When one bar has its music break the band plays on across the street. In the St. Lawrence Gap on the South coast, the Ship Inn, the Reggae lounge and Mcbrides play music almost every night. Salsa dance lessons at Baku on the west coast and Sweet Potato on the south are fun to watch even if you do not care to try your feet to the latin beat.

The dinner theatre is Caribbean in flavour, but the music is international. You will not be disappointed with the quality of the sound. The sax man at Plantations will get you on your feet to applaud if not to dance. But no one fails to dance, the music and the mood of the night life is infectious. You will be bobbing at the bar when not on the floor. People bob at the bar here a lot, they walk down the street with a song in their head and a dance in their step. If you stay here long enough you will be dancing down the street too. More >>

Where to Stay.

There are many, many options; from guesthouses, private villas, apartments to fine resorts, from one to five star. Resorts range in price, facilities, style and location. There are country inns, plantation homes, fun and eclectic places, cozy intimate and romantic hotels and of course luxurious comfort and elegance with resorts like Cobblers Cove, an English Country House style hotel, with spacious comfortable rooms, courteous staff and excellent food. A member of the prestigious Relais & Chateaux, Cobblers Cove is one of the best loved hotels in the Caribbean. The best way to find the perfect match is to use the travel planner at More >>. This is an expert system that matches your mood to resorts, information and activities based on keywords you select. RealHolidays will provide you with your own website and links to operators and information of interest to you. With it you can book on-line, get assigned to an agent close to you, work with a destination specialist in Barbados or just save it for a rainy day.

Getting to Barbados.

From Spain the best route is through the UK. Both Virgin and BA offer scheduled flights. There are charter flights and many tour operators offer package deals with air.

To plan your itinerary and check which resorts and activities best match your mood – use the Barbados.org holiday planner at http://RealHolidays.com. RealHolidays is the designated tour operator of Barbados.org, the website of the Barbados Tourism Encyclopedia.

For general information on Barbados see Barbados.org

##### END!!!! =============

Copyright: Ian Clayton, AXSES. 2004 iclayton@axses.net


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