Welcome to Part 2. of my two-part feature on Barbados.
Barbados is definitely an island that preserves its culture well! This was more than apparent throughout our Celebrity Cruises’ 3¾ hr, info-packed ‘Andromeda Gardens and Scenic Countryside’ tour.
The tour promised scenic countryside and it certainly kept it’s promise. Idyllic beaches and rolling, green landscapes with several interesting buildings and points of interest to visit along the way. Plenty of photographic opportunities and even some wildlife sightings. Our guide, Freddy, was exceptionally knowledgeable and very experienced – ever ready with a story or anecdote to while away the time as our bus traversed the highways and byways of Barbados as we headed towards the east coast and the Andromeda Botanic Gardens.
It was very hot the day we visited the gardens, so we ‘nipped’ from shade-cover to shade-cover in an attempt to avoid the sun’s punishing rays as we listened to Freddy’s explanations along the way. Truly gorgeous gardens but I, like several other guests, will admit to having been just that bit disappointed that we were not left to enjoy the gardens at our own pace. Still, given that the gardens are spread over a total of six acres, I suppose it would have been all too easy to get lost and lose track of time. Such things happen in such lovely places and I suspect that the voice of experience has dictated it is best to guide guests around a specific section of the garden, rather than let them loose and risk arriving back at the ship late – minus a few guests!
Insider tip: Sunscreen and a hat are a MUST.
So, back onto the mercifully cool bus on time and on with the tour – looking out for (and spotting!) green monkeys and mongoose along the way.
The green monkey is considered by some to be quite a pest in Barbados as they are known to steal – and not just crops! Not only that but there are also tales of them being quite aggressive too. So best keep your distance as they are known to be quite bold and might appear tame and friendly.
They are not…
We also learned about Barbados’ sugar cane culture – slowing down for photographs as we passed the Morgan Lewis windmill, the largest and only complete sugar windmill surviving in the Caribbean (though I have heard a whisper that the neighbouring island of Antigua might just dispute that fact). The wind-driven machinery that ground the sugarcane in the 18th and 19th centuries is still intact and the mill includes an exhibit of the equipment used to produce sugar at the time when the industry was run by wind power generated from mills such as this one – please note that we did not visit and this is not part of the tour, this is just me do a bit of research. The old plantation house can be spotted nearby and has seen better days it must be said – though perhaps not surprising since the rubble walls are comprised of boulders held together with the ‘building materials du-jour’ – a mixture of egg-white and coral dust!
And onto another highlight of the tour (though I would personally use the term ‘highlight’ somewhat loosely in this case to be honest…)
An introduction to the unique Barbados black belly sheep at Parks Farm. Two things I learned here. Firstly, its tails up for goats and tails down for sheep – and secondly, they are ‘hair sheep’ which means they don’t grow wool but have coarse hair instead.
I loved the photo stop at the dramatic coastline at Bathsheba. Legend has it that Bathsheba, wife of King David, bathed in milk to keep her skin beautiful and soft – according to local folk tales the waters at the cove are said to resemble Bathsheba’s bath in both appearance and health giving values. Can’t argue with that and I, for one, could have jumped straight in for a quick bathe right there and then! Apparently that would have been a big mistake though as, despite the inviting look of those frothy white-topped waves, it is actually quite dangerous to bathe there due to the rip tides and currents – so perhaps best to stick to the West Coast for your Barbadian Bathing Adventures.
All in all, I enjoyed the tour despite the long driving distances involved. If you are someone that likes to experience and learn a LOT about a destination during a port call, then this really is a great tour choice for you!
Hats off and a big thanks to Freddy the guide and Rawl our driver for such a knowledge packed tour.