Reggae Fest, Rum and Flying Fish: It's
When was the last time your lunch leapt
right into the kitchen and proclaimed itself ready to be eaten? It's not
much of a stretch to imagine that happening if you're dining at the Waterfront
one of the most popular eateries in Bridgetown, Barbados. The café
sits on the Careenage marina, an inlet of the Caribbean Sea not far from
where flying fish show off their aerodynamic abilities, launching themselves
out of the glistening waters and gliding up to 150-feet through the air.
Water Front Cafe
A flying fish has never actually "flown"
right into the cooking pot at the Waterfront Café but the airborne
seafood makes a big splash on the restaurant's menu nevertheless. Flying
fish with cou-cou, a cornmeal and okra mash, is the national dish of Barbados
and a specialty at the Waterfront where it comes drenched in Caribbean
fish broth and with a side of tender plantain. If you munch your lunch
at one of the Waterfront's outdoor tables you might get the idea to get
out on the water and try your hand at catching your dinner; that's easily
arranged since an array of modern sport fishing boats are moored only steps
away and available for charter. Sightseeing and snorkeling cruises can
be booked here too but if you want to land a yellow fin tuna or perhaps
a Wahoo this is the place to start.
Barbados is relatively large compared to
most Caribbean islands and there's a lot to explore no matter what direction
you head in. Many visitors roam just the southern part of the island around
Bridgetown where there is a representation of all that delicious Barbados
offers. This area has many affordably-priced places to stay; check into
the Silver Sands Resort www.silversandsbarbados.com
and you'll have all the comforts of home awaiting when you're not playing
on their pristine (and yes, silver sand) beach.
The Silver Sands is a short ride away from
Oistins where there are beachside parks, restaurants to sate your craving
for Mahi-Mahi, lots of bars and nightclubs and plenty of stalls selling
everything from fresh fruits and veggies to souvenir Barbados kites. If
you never leave this area you'll have all the makings of a fun vacation
at hand but you'll also miss a great deal.
About an hour north on the coastal highway
you'll find Barbados' famed Platinum Coast where tony resorts and homes
hug the shoreline. There are incredible photo opportunities here; it's
quite a sight to see the condos where the yachts of millionaires are lined
up mere yards from their homes, bobbing patiently in the warm Caribbean
until it's time to sail off to parts unknown.
From the Platinum Coast head east and you'll
soon be traveling through vast expanses of sugarcane fields. Cane was once
the major lifeblood of Barbados and it remains an important industry for
the island even though tourism is now top dog. Besides being refined into
sugar the cane is used to make molasses which in turn is transformed into
rum; a spirit that originated in Barbados. Driving through the fields of
cane waving in the breeze, about in the middle of the island, you'll crest
Barbados' high point and a spectacular view of the east coast comes into
This side of the island butts up against
the Atlantic Ocean; the beaches are gorgeous and sandy here too but this
is not the place to swim as there is a strong undertow present. Comb the
beach or take in some sun on the Atlantic side before you head back to
Bridgetown where you can find out more about how cane is turned into rum
by taking the tour at the Mt. Gay Rum Distillery www.mountgayrum.com.
Mt Gay's Rum
Rum has been distilled in Barbados since
the 1600's and Mt. Gay, having started in 1703, is the oldest purveyor
of the beverage. The tour, given several times a day, offers an informative
video presentation, a chance to view the equipment used to distill and
package the liquor, an inspection of the raw ingredients and of course
a sampling of the product. A generous tasting of four Mt. Gay blends is
included with the tour and you can buy an additional rum-based cocktail
afterwards if you choose. About forty percent of Mt. Gay's output is consumed
in Barbados but Mt. Gay's gift shop has bottles of all sizes for sale if
you'd like to export a little for personal use.
If you come to Barbados in April you can
add some sonic dessert to your menu by attending any or all of the events
presented at the Barbados Reggae Festival www.thebarbadosreggaefestival.com.
The festival was started six years ago by local promotions man and music
impresario Al Gilkes. Gilkes and two other men had for years been promoting
smaller events and decided to join forces to bring Barbados a world-class
festival that draws music and sun lovers from all over the world.
This year's Barbados Reggae Festival kicks
off on April 18th with the Reggae Beach Party featuring Jamaican acts Mr.
Vegas, Konshens, Ding Dong, Pumpattae and a host of Barbadian acts. The
beach party is a warm-up for the following weekend when the big indoor
Vintage Reggae Show & Dance takes place featuring legendary acts like
Marcia Griffiths, Ken Lazarus and Biggie Irie on April 23rd. The festival
closes out on the 25th with Reggae on the Hill in Farley Hill National
Park which happens to be where the Harry Belafonte film Island in the
Sun was shot. Richie Spice, Maxi Priest and Luciano headline the show
along with more than a dozen other acts including local artists Hotta Flames,
Buggy Nhakente and Supa Ruben.
American Airlines has regular flights to
Barbados and many cruise ships stop there as well; I arrived in Bridgetown
aboard the Fred. Olsen liner Braemar www.fredolsencruises.com.
For more information: www.visitbarbados.org
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