February 26, 2019

Sights to See: Bridgetown, Barbados


BRIDGETOWN  The capital of Barbados, Bridgetown is the island’s epicenter and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The city center was originally where the old Indian bridge was in town, then became known as “the bridge,” then “bridge town.”

Bridgetown was the first stop in the Caribbean for the African slave trade.  Until 1807, all slaves entered the Americas here, by the trees on the bay.  They were “washed, cleaned, and shined” as cargo for sale.

lovely lady stands before the spot where all slaves once entered the Americas, in Bridgetown, Barbados
lovely lady stands before the spot where all slaves once entered the Americas, in Bridgetown, Barbados


Today the town is clean and safe and features an eclectic mix of low-end vendors hawking everything from homegrown vegetables and fruit to underwear and cleaning products.  It maintains a medieval serpentine layout depicted on High Street and Swan Street, which is historically known as “Jew Street.”

colorful building in Bridgetown, Barbados
colorful building in Bridgetown, Barbados

Parliament Buildings  Trafalgar St.  Barbados is the oldest continuing parliamentary democracy outside of England, and is the third-oldest parliament in the world after Britain and Iceland.  Bordered by National Heroes Square, the parliament buildings (also known as the "public buildings") are two spectacular neo-Gothic-style structures.  Both buildings were constructed of coral limestone between 1870 and 1874 and are now designated as UNESCO sites.

Parliament Building in Bridgetown, Barbados
Parliament Building in Bridgetown, Barbados

The building that houses the Senate and House of Assembly features beautiful stained-glass windows depicting British monarchs.

The other building bears the clock tower and houses the National Heroes Gallery and Museum of Parliament. Museum entry includes a tour of the parliament buildings (M & W-Sat 10am-4pm; closed Tu & Sun.)

More than 15 additional important landmarks are in the immediate area, including The James Blackwood Screw Dock, the only one of its kind remaining in the world.

Sometimes, if you're lucky, you'll witness a special parade through the town.  Look for the colorful women dressed as Mudda Sallies and the agile men dancing as Shaggy Bears.

Mudda Sallies dance in parade in Bridgetown, Barbados
Mudda Sallies dance in parade in Bridgetown, Barbados


Shaggy Bear dances in parade in Bridgetown, Barbados
Shaggy Bear dances in parade in Bridgetown, Barbados






Bethel Methodist Church  Bay St./Probyn St.  Built in 1844, this historic church has a small graveyard in the back.

exterior of Bethel Methodist Church in Bridgetown, Barbados
exterior of Bethel Methodist Church in Bridgetown, Barbados


small graveyard in back of Bethel Methodist Church in Bridgetown, Barbados
small graveyard in back of Bethel Methodist Church in Bridgetown, Barbados


Nidhe Israel Synagogue and Museum  246-436-6869.  Museum:   M-F 9am-4pm.  US$12.50/BDS$25.  Built in 1654 by Dutch Jewish settlers, this Sephardic Jewish temple is the earliest (or oldest, depending on your point of view) Jewish synagogue in the Western Hemisphere.  These early Jewish settlers introduced windmills to the island in the 17th- and 18th-centuries, when more than 500 dotted the island. Jewish visitors can research family histories.  A full mikvah (a ritual bath house) has been restored, and a large cemetery is adjacent.  This major archaeological site remains under excavation.

exterior of Nidhe Israel Synagogue and Museum in Bridgetown, Barbados
exterior of Nidhe Israel Synagogue and Museum in Bridgetown, Barbados


interior of Nidhe Israel Synagogue and Museum in Bridgetown, Barbados
interior of Nidhe Israel Synagogue and Museum in Bridgetown, Barbados


mikvah bath at Nidhe Israel Synagogue and Museum in Bridgetown, Barbados
mikvah bath at Nidhe Israel Synagogue and Museum in Bridgetown, Barbados


The Characters of Town--Historic Walking Tours  (246) 826-4002.  Colorfully costumed character-guides provide historic stories as they lead visitors through the town.

The Characters of Town walking tour in Bridgetown, Barbados
The Characters of Town walking tour in Bridgetown, Barbados






More things to do in Barbados.

More ideas for travel adventures in California and the U.S. and around the world.

images and videos ©2019 Carole Terwilliger Meyers 


February 20, 2019

Introduction: Barbados


BARBADOS


High Street at Swan Street in Bridgetown, Barbados
High Street at Swan Street in Bridgetown, Barbados


A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE ISLAND
          Located 1,600 miles southeast of Miami (about 62 miles east of its nearest neighbors, the Windward Islands), Barbados is the easternmost Caribbean island.  Measuring just 17 miles long and 14 miles wide (166 square miles total), it is a tiny island.
          In the 15th century, the indigenous Kalinago people were conquered by the Spanish.  In 1627 the British took over.  They colonized the island and brought African slaves to work the land and build up the island’s sugar cane industry.  The sugar revolution made Barbados wealthy and also the heaviest populated place in the world.  It was a center of agriculture and trade, and at one time became the second-largest shipping port after Boston.  Barbados was strategically the best place in the Caribbean for a garrison, and St. Anne's Garrison defended England’s power in the West Indies.
          It is interesting to know that the term “Barbados’d” is used to note that a person was kidnapped and forced into slave labor in Barbados.  But many slaves managed to escape and turned to piracy.
          Slavery was abolished in Barbados in the 1830s, but the island remained under British rule until 1966, when black islanders were given the rights to own property.
          The earliest settlements were in Holetown, Speigeltown, and Bridgetown

colorful building on main artery through Barbados
colorful building on main artery through Barbados


CONNECTION WITH SOUTH CAROLINA
          There are strong ties between Barbados and South Carolina.  Indeed, Barbados is the only country to found a U.S. colony (South Carolina), and 7 of South Carolina’s first 21 governors were Barbadian.  And that is just a bit of that story.  Learn more about the connection at the Barbados and Carolinas Legacy Foundation.


CURRENT ISLAND


character guide in Bridgetown, Barbados
character guide in Bridgetown, Barbados

          The African influence dominates the island’s cultural expression in art, music, dance, and food.  But Barbados is also affectionately known as “Little England” because nearly half of its tourists come from the U.K.  Thus British cricket and high tea are popular activities.  And everyone speaks English.

art in Champers restaurant in Barbados
art in Champers restaurant in Barbados

          Barbados is located below the hurricane belt and therefore not often impacted by hurricanes, which usually stay about 200 miles north of the island.  The last one that hit the island was in 1955.  However, it affected by tropical storms, including Kirk in 2018.

vegetable stand in Bridgetown, Barbados
vegetable stand in Bridgetown, Barbados

          A haven for nature lovers, Barbados offers a big and mountainous interior.  Considering it is such a small island, there's a broad range of things to do here. The capital city of Bridgetown holds impressive colonial buildings, and both it and the historic garrison are designated UNESCO World Heritage sites.  Island sights include sprawling sugar plantations, historic museums, beautiful botanical gardens, and deep caverns.  The island's tropical beauty includes white and pink coral-sand beaches, and warm ocean waters welcome swimming, snorkeling, surfing, and diving.

pink hibiscus in Barbados
pink hibiscus in Barbados

  And many unusual animals are found here.  One of the few Caribbean islands with monkeys, Barbados is home to the green monkey--which arrived here from Senegal and the Gambia in West Africa around 350 years ago.  It has flourished through 75 generations, and there are now are around 7,000 on the island.  The unusual black belly sheep has no wool and looks like a goat.  Giant snails are sometimes spotted slithering along the sidewalks, and whistling frogs can make quite a clatter.
          Traditional Bajan cuisine is a melange of African, Indian, Irish, Creole, and British influences.  The island has plenty of fancy fine-dining restaurants with gourmet menus and is the only island in the Caribbean to have its own Zagat guide.  Popular everyday fare includes exotic flying-fish sandwiches, macaroni pie, and a vast assortment of pepper sauces.  And this island is where the grapefruit originated.  Barbados claims to be the birthplace of rum.  Derived from sugar-cane, rum is amazingly made with just molasses, yeast, and water.  This tasty drink is served throughout the island.  Corner rum shops are perhaps the most popular places to imbibe, and the island has somewhere between 1,500 and 18,000--depending on who you’re talking to.  Similar to English pubs, these shops are uniquely Barbadian and are hubs of Bajan social life.  Backs beer--a light crisp pilsner style--is the local favorite.

colorful rum drinks at Harrison's Cave in Barbados
colorful rum drinks at Harrison's Cave in Barbados


More things to do in Barbados.

More ideas for travel adventures in California and the U.S. and around the world.

images ©2019 Carole Terwilliger Meyers

February 12, 2019

Good Eats: Taco la Gardenia, San Antonio, Texas


Taco la Gardenia  1805 N Pine St., Government Hill, (210) 229-9702.  Prices here are rock bottom, and most everything is very good.  Favorites are the enchiladas verde, the sope, and the locally popular “puffy tacos.”  I hear the chilaquiles is also a don’t miss.  However, the day I chose to dine here for the first time, our order took FOREVER.  One blind customer complained loudly to the server when his meal finally arrived, “What did you do?  Go home and cook it from scratch?”  Our wait had approached an hour, but I remained mostly content noshing on the delicious salsa and chips.  Our waitress finally explained to us that a cook had quit and one of the servers had been pulled in to help in the kitchen.  I will return because I adored my sope.  Next time I’ll order two.
          In a little nook off the main dining room, a bakery purveys pan dulce items.

interior of Taco la Gardenia in San Antonio, Texas
interior of Taco la Gardenia in San Antonio, Texas


breakfast menu at Taco la Gardenia in San Antonio, Texas
breakfast menu at Taco la Gardenia in San Antonio, Texas


taco menu at Taco la Gardenia in San Antonio, Texas
taco menu at Taco la Gardenia in San Antonio, Texas


menu at Taco la Gardenia in San Antonio, Texas
menu at Taco la Gardenia in San Antonio, Texas


sope at Taco la Gardenia in San Antonio, Texas
sope at Taco la Gardenia in San Antonio, Texas


enchilada verde at Taco la Gardenia in San Antonio, Texas
enchilada verde at Taco la Gardenia in San Antonio, Texas


pan dulce bakery at Taco la Gardenia in San Antonio, Texas
pan dulce bakery at Taco la Gardenia in San Antonio, Texas

Taco la Gardenia Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 
See a painting of Taco la Gardenia at Cinnabar art gallery.



More things to do in San Antonio.

Great ideas for travel adventures in California and the U.S. and around the world.

images ©2019 Carole Terwilliger Meyers