Reflections on My First Days in Barbados
Radisson Aquatica Hotel BarbadosI started out my trip in Barbados with two nights as the Radisson near Bridgetown. It turns out, I may have started at the best beach! The Radisson itself is like an older beach hotel, with some signs of wear from the constant ocean air/salt exposure, an open lobby, and comfortable rooms with bathroom that look like they haven’t been updated recently. Even with that, I’d say the rooms are comfortable 4 star level. There is definitely a tropical beach feel. The restaurant where breakfast and dinner is served is overwater, making for sea breezes and birds that dart into and out of the seating area. When you arrive, you are greeted with welcome drinks or juice, and the traditional Bajan rum cake. Bajan means from Barbados. Now we’re all in on the local lingo. 🙂 I quickly learned that the word for anyone or anything from Barbados is Bajan. Bajan money. Bajan music. Bajan people. Bajan rum. You get the idea.
Pebble Beach and Brown’s BayAfter arriving, I hit the beach. The bay is wide and calm, with crystal clear water for at least half a mile out. I swam out as far as I could, and still could see the rippling sand on the bottom. The whole island has many sea turtles. Pebble Beach in particular is known for sea turtles. The water is also calm and protected from strong currents, so it is a good place to bring the kids. There are kayak and paddle board rental options, and your best chances of spotting some sea turtles. Along the same stretch of beach as the Radisson are places to ride a jet ski, rent paddleboards, rent small sailboats or take sailing lessons, and take a boat for a scuba excursion. I opted to just swim and swim, enjoying the clear waters.
Money and Exchange Rates in BarbadosLike any country, Barbados has its own currency. As of this writing, about two Bajan dollars (BBD) are equal to one US dollar. Because the symbol for the money is the same ($), be alert that everything is not just extra expensive.
FoodThe food at the hotel tends to be a bit pricey and also was heavy on fried food with few fresh options. If I’d been in the mood for a fried chicken or a hamburger with french fries, it would have been a passable dinner, but as I was looking for fresh options I ventured out.
Island InnThe first night, just on a whim, I walked into an all-inclusive hotel, Island Inn, just across the street from the Radisson to ask about their restaurant. The menu is prepared fresh daily and they that had an excellent vegan or vegetarian option of soup, salad, main course, and dessert each day. The menu changes daily, but they were willing to let me order any of the individual items or the full meal for a reasonable price. In the end, I decided jet lag was getting the better of me. I returned to my room to just eat some fruit and a handful of nuts.
Breakfast at the RadissonThanks to a jet lag induced 4 am wake up, by 6 am the next day I’d made good progress on organizing the courses I was overseeing. And I was hungry! The breakfast at the Radisson included a spiced oatmeal, with all the delicious island spices – vanilla, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg and maybe a hint of cinnamon. It hit the spot. They also had a selection of fresh fruit, yogurt, dry cereal, as well as some traditional Bajan meat dishes.
Exploring Bridgetown, BarbadosOn the first full day, I checked happycow.net and found a restaurant in Bridgetown called The Green Lime Eco Café. I was able to walk along the beach from the Radisson down to Bridgetown enjoying the crystal turquoise water and the splash of the lapping waves on my feet. There were more activities on this beach, including water trampolines, rope swings, and floating slides. But I was focused on food, and happy that I could follow my location on the gps (that I loaded on the hotel’s wifi) and then make my way up from the beach, across the main bridge area of Bridgetown and into a small mall food court where I found the eco café tucked in a corner.
The Green Lime Eco Café.I had a fresh green juice with a lot of apple, followed by a salad with a mix of local vegetables, mung cellophane noodles, and their unique roasted brown lentils. The highlight of the meal was probably trying the mystery fruit he mentioned was rare on the island. It had the texture of marshmallow or a very dry baked squash, and a strong sweet flavor. After days of searching, and evening finding some in the local market myself, I looked at my package of dried lucuma powder and realized it was the same fruit. I had my first taste of fresh lucuma in Barbados!
Reflections on First DaysI’ve enjoyed Barbados. I’m always happier with the ocean near. Everything moves a little slower, and sometimes, that’s a good thing. I’ve noticed that even on stormy days the sun will shine. You can almost always get a glimpse of the clear turquoise water. I’ve got the salt air deep in my lungs, and the sand and ocean salt all over. Isn’t that a wonderful metafore for life? That even on the stormiest days there are moment of sunshine – and that sometimes feeling sandy and salty is the leftovers of a magical day. Next time, I’ll share our airbnb find, the island drive in a tropical depression, and my first impressions of both the east and west coasts of the island. I’d love to hear from you – what do you want to know about Barbados? Have you been here? What did you love? Until next time, Kimberly
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