For an island that brews one of the world’s finest spirits (Mount Gay Rum) it’s not a little ironic that its most famous son is called Sobers. Barbados is not an island for alcoholic temperance or indeed temperance of any kind yet here I am returned, almost intact, from ten days of sunshine and pepper sauce with not much more than peeling shoulders and dim memories of watching the rugby (England 24: France 22 – what a match!) in a grocery store drinking Banks beers at 75p a bottle.
A cheeky Easter holiday is always a great idea if you can get away and yes, I did pack my running shoes (I took the Newtons; bit of a statement) and no I didn’t do much running. What I did do was swim with turtles, dance at the Oistins weekly fish fry on friday night, monoski (yeah-man, still got it), eat for England (Lobster at “Lobsters Alive”) and of course drink to Olympic standards whilst trying to maintain a sense of decorum.
It’s been 25 years since me and Mrs G went to Barbados for our honeynoon and so we decided to go back to see how (if) things had changed. We nested at Crystal Cove on the west coast which has only 80 or so rooms; it’s not top notch but it’s very friendly and comfortable too. Barbados has developed significantly in that time and is probably the most expensive and desirable Caribbean island but it is worth a visit. Prices have surged with the arrival of Cliff Richard, Simon Cowell and Mr Abramovich but it still has charm, a local feel and if you keep clear of the more expensive resorts it’s good value too.
The North Point gives you a grandstand view of Atlantic rollers crashing into the cliffs below. You can stand in safety to watch waves the size of cathedrals do battle with menacing black cliffs. Each swell is like a line of double decker buses, six abreast, driving headlong into Westminster Abbey. Awesome is too small a word.
Farley Hill, built in 1818 was once the home of Colonial sugar plantation masters and is now an ivy-clad ruin but the wind through its overgrown brickwork still speaks of the slavery and oppression that was once orchestrated there.
Running is not an option. The pavements are sporadic and broken and the narrow west coast beach is segmented by rocky outcrops round which you can swim but not run. So I walked inland and uphill, covering some four miles. The weather was about 28 degrees day and night and not condusive to exercise. I forgot to take water and had to stop at a Rum Shop. It was closed but I was given fresh cold water to drink and returned to the hotel sufficiently hydrated.
You have to love this island and its people; it’s more than beautiful and proud of its heritage. I was made more than welcome and I left wanting more.