Country number: 77
When? February 2004
Barbados is the island where the rich go to play (unless they own their own island of course). It’s beyond expensive, if you patronise the jet set establishments. I’ve chosen an independent hotel on a beautiful stretch of sand, just south of the infamous Sandy Lane Hotel. This is the establishment where the likes of Simon Cowell hang out though, of course, we can’t see them from our lowly section, as it’s fenced off. There’s a better view from out at sea and my all-inclusive package includes snorkelling on the reef, the usual windsurfers and kayaks and, wait for it, water skiing. Super fit Roscoe is very happy to take me out on his boat for lessons, so I can watch the bronzed and beautiful. Amazingly, I manage to ski for five mutes as well, on my second attempt. The other ski apprentices, all male, are less than congratulatory -none of them succeeded. To be honest, I think it was a combination of having skied on snow, good luck and not fighting the tow bar. I didn’t have the strength to do the latter.
It’s very tempting to spend my whole week on the sheltered west ‘platinum’ coast where all the resorts are and Roscoe keeps begging me to take to the speedboat again. But I feel I should see a little more of Barbados, so I take off with a car and driver for an outing.
The east coast is where tourism here all began– there was even a railway from capital Bridgetown, to the fishing village of Bathsheba, so the Bajans could go on holiday. It’s very different, remote, hardly any habitation, just the odd hut or small hotel, with immense limestone cliffs, and dramatic rock formations. The Atlantic wind and high waves make this surfing country. It’s spectacular but cool- even in the Caribbean. After admiring all the views I’m transported to the Andromeda Botanic Gardens to see a panoply of cultivated orchids and other exotica, including the odd green monkey.
They say that nowhere in the Caribbean seems to resonate with history quite like Barbados, so I also take in St Nicholas Abbey, a sugar plantation with a Jacobean mansion (built in 1658 and one of only three in the western hemisphere) and the requisite rum distillery.
A final dip into the capital. Bridgetown, in the southwest corner of the island, is notorious for its racetrack, high end shops and restaurants, elegant Georgian buildings (the area around the Garrison Savannah, two miles southeast of downtown, is now a Unesco World Heritage Site) and traffic jams. The pace is much too slow, so we don’t hang around. It’s back to the beach.
N.B. Roscoe demanded my email address, but as there was no romance involved, on my part anyway, I was surprised and flattered to receive a message a month later. Until I discovered that it was actually meant for someone else.
Barbados was British for over 300 years, starting in 1625. It became independent on November 30 1966
The name ‘Barbados’ is derived from the Bearded Fig Trees once common on the island
Barbados is 21 miles long and a smile (14 miles) wide
People from Barbados are known as Bajans
Barbados’s national dish is pudding and souse -black pudding and boiled pig’s head and feet
To see more of my photos of Barbados, visit this page.