Our last stop … a place I had always heard of as a child — a place everyone claimed to be paradise. They were NOT all that wrong!
When we first pulled into the port around 8am I was (in all honesty) taken back a little, thinking the captain and his crew had docked us in the wrong location — this was not the port all the travel brochures show, this seemed to be more the “freight dock”. But then once up on deck I realized how lucky we were. The Carnival Fascination, which had been joining us in several ports along the way was at the “real” (as in the travel brochures) dock .. but it was A LOT further away from the entry to the city than we were. Besides, walking past all those open doors was a treat. Yes, this was the freight dock, but inside those doors were pallets upon pallets of fresh produce and walking by those doors provided .. .well, the smells of paradise. Not to mention the calypso musicians getting you into the groove as you approached.
… historic Bridgetown
Closer to the port (actually a $2[US] shuttle / $5[US] taxi fare) is “Old Town Bridgetown”. Traffic in this area is heavily RESTRICTED, creating a circle around an area 3 blocks wide x 5 blocks long. The streets have been turned into sidewalk extensions to allow merchants additional area to display their goods. It’s very-much a market atmosphere. EVERYthing and ANYthing you could want — you can find, it’s just a matter of REALLY looking for it. There are no fancy shelves with perfectly pressed and packaged items.
You’re on vacation. It’s time to explore – and I found no better way to kill some time on the island than walking the streets and checking out the local produce … their obvious “knock-offs” they try to sell as “the real thing”. There is CHARACTER here. And while it may seem endless, the number of people trying to get you to buy something, a simple “no thank-you” and they leave you alone.
There is NOTHING fancy in “Old Town”. Pole planters go unfilled (from the looks of them, for many years). Roll-away coolers filled with ice to sell cold water and occasionally pop. There are no benches to sit down and collect yourself on – this is a moving market. It was TOTALLY AWESOME!.
… the modern city
In “the city”, shopping takes on a whole new perspective. The “stores” are now inside and air-conditioned. The store fronts are guised with mannequins in the highest fashion. People are walking to and from their moored crafts along the spotless boardwalk. The big name brand stores are EVERYWHERE.
Yes, its nice to have everything we have at home right there. It’s NOT so nice to be bumping into other tourists as they rudely push their way through to get to that item they so desperately want.
Downtown Bridgetown is … in essence “A MALL” away from a mall. Personally, it just has no character.
… the beaches
Most everyone wants to head to the beaches. The warm Caribbean waters, the alluring rays of sunshine, some of the softest and whitest sands, and the PRICEY COCKTAILS. Chances are, if you’ve been on a cruise the past 5-7 days, you’ll run into many of the people you have been fighting with over a lounge chair around the pool. Now … you’re fighting for the best spot to lay your towel on the beach. The sun you’ve been absorbing on the ship — its the same sun you’re getting now. And the salt water you’re swimming in, is basically the same too. There is one exception — you get waves on a beach.