The dawn found us in port in Bridgetown, Barbados on the morning of Wednesday the 25th of January. The island of Barbados had been on my “must go” list for a few years now. Articles I’d read in Islands Magazine and Caribbean Travel & Life had piqued my interest in the island and I had to get there.
I’d received warnings from people who’d been there. “Watch out downtown, it’s seedy. We stayed at the resort.” Now, I’ve never been to a resort, that’s on my list of things to do… all-inclusive of course (more on that when I cover Sint Maarten). So, I went forth with the warning of seediness in my mind. When getting into port, you must bear inmind… you’re on a ship. You dock in a port. Ports can be, and usually are, loud and dirty. Compared to many other ports, the one we docked at was pretty clean.
Mr. Muse and I had the Barbados in Bloom tour booked, as it stopped at Orchid World, Andromeda Botanical Garden and Codrington College. We were the first to arrive for the tour and Michael, our guide, popped us into the nicely air-conditioned van. Our fellow tourists trickled in and we were on our way. Orchid Quest was lovely, and while not all of the grounds had plants in bloom, they had an abundance of Vanda orchids that were flowering. I don’t have any Vandas around the house, but Mr. Muse was taken with them, and we may end up adding one this year (I collect orchids).
Michael gave a wonderful tour of the island, told us to ask questions (and we all did), and answered everything from what the major resources of Barbados is (water and people) to education (required between ages of 5 and 16, punishable by law), to healthcare (some of the best in the islands AND free to all Barbadians). We arrived at Andromeda Botanical Garden and were handed a guide to walk one of the trails. We’d taken quite a while at Orchid World, so didn’t get to spend a lot of time at the botanical garden.
Mr. Muse and I made our way around the trail, following the signs and reading the descriptions of the variety of plants. We made our way back to the van and then it was off to Codrington College to see the grounds. Because we were running behind, we didn’t get more than a handful of minutes at the college, but I did get to see some frangipani trees in bloom. Once more we piled into the van and made our way back to Bridgetown so Michael could get his next tour. He took us the round-about way so we could see as much of the island as possible, answering our questions and telling us about the people of Barbados.
Once back in Bridgetown, it was time for lunch and we could make our way to downtown via cab, go back to the ship or look for something right at the shops in port. Mr. Muse spotted a sandwich board sign for Millie’s Snack Bar advertising $2 flying fish and Banks beers, so we went to check it out. This was THE BEST meal I had on the islands on this trip. The. Best. (don’t you hate with people put a period between each word?)
Mr. Muse ordered the Flying Fish sandwich and I perused the selection in the case. I opted for the Flying Fish and the rice and beans, asked “what is that?” for another item and was told that it was Cou-Cou (a polenta-like dish with seasonings and okra), and that I was on my way to ordering the national dish of Barbados. Well, so close, let’s go for the whole shebang! A slice of white sweet potato was added along with some lettuce and greens. We were told to grab a seat, so we did, and as we waited for our food, we watched a parade of people come through, take a cursory look at the goods and leave. BOY! Were they missing out!!!! One man even walked away in disgust uttering, “Well… it’s not a hot dog.” WHAT?! Yeah… he said that.
Our food arrived and as we ate with gusto, Millie joined us while she had her lunch. What a lovely woman! Mr. Muse and I had a lovely conversation with Millie, asking her about her lunch stand, the costs of Flying Fish, etc. I highly recommend eating at Millie’s. The regular tourist crowd all stopped at Coconuts and drank (there is food as well), but Millie’s is the real deal; it’s where the locals eat. The flying fish was FAN-TAS-TIC. It had a spicy breading and was deep-fried. The rice & beans were some of the best that I’ve ever had. Cou-cou, while different, was really very tasty – even Mr. Muse liked it, and sweet potatoes – I like those. **Update! I forgot to say that the local Banks Beer is very tasty; it was quite refreshing on a hot, tropical day and was perfect with flying fish!
After lunch, I snapped a few pictures, mailed some postcards and then did some shopping before heading back to the ship. I really enjoyed the time I spent on Barbados, but would like to go back again. Until that happens, enjoy the photos!