Val Brien


Val Brien

The Arrival
We were a group of ten arriving on this lovely Caribbean island from the cold and snow covered UK. We were driven by minibus to our two hotels adjacent to one another – the Blue Orchids and the Coral Mist. That first evening we met for introductions and briefing from the tour leader then went to dinner. The restaurant is attached to the Coral Mist side of the two connecting hotels, with tables set outside on the veranda. It was so lovely sitting each day for breakfast in the sunshine overlooking the beach and the beautiful blue sea, and in the evening for dinner with candles on the tables and the sound of the waves breaking on the shore.

Beautiful Bridgetown and Beyond
Our first full day was spent in Bridgetown, walking around Independence Square, Parliament Buildings, St. Michaels Cathedral, the old Jewish Synagogue and along the boardwalk by the river. As the week went on we explored Welchman Hall Gully, which is absolutely beautiful and full of exotic trees, plants and also stalactite and stalagmite columns. The gully was formed many centuries ago when the roofs of the caves collapsed. I loved this place, so shaded and peaceful. We moved on to the Flower Forest which is also very beautiful with a lovely walk along the path to a viewing spot overlooking the landscape and the sea.

One day I decided to go into Bridgetown on my own, as I had promised to find a Barbadian national football team shirt for my son. Whilst consulting my map a lady came up to me and asked if she could help. Her name was Margaret and she took me all the way to the actual shop chatting all the way. After I had successfully completed my mission, I went to find the Post Office. Consulting the map again, I was given more assistance. This time by Aiden, who also escorted me all the way chatting and introducing me to several of his friends. He told me that he was going to walk around the whole of the island, something he said he had planned to do for a long time, and finally he was setting out the following week. I wished him luck, and I sincerely hope he completed his walk. People are so friendly and anxious to help you find your way around, it seems you only have to open a map and someone will be there to offer assistance.

A Brush with the Wildlife
Another highlight of the trip was the Wildlife Reserve where we saw a lot of green monkeys as we waited to go in. Again it was a very pleasant shaded stroll around the pathways, finding tortoise, Mara (looks like large rabbit) Brocket Deer various birds and even a python. We walked from here through a small overgrown gully, and then along a path beside a field of sugar cane to St Nicholas Abby, a Jacobean house that was once a Plantation House. We also spent time at Andromeda Botanical Gardens which are very beautiful with two paths around which to stroll. I spent some time by the lily pond watching a heron trying to catch fish!

Rum Punch and Rambling
Another day, we explored the east coast path. The path was very stony and overgrown and in some parts had fallen away. I found it very hard going due to a previous ankle injury. I made it to the halfway point and decided to wait there and get picked up on the way back. It was a good decision, as the lunch stop was a Rum Shack, and that day was a national holiday, so we spent a very pleasant couple of hours drinking Rum Punch, chatting to locals and listening to music.

The Fish Market
That evening we had all decided to go together to Oistins at the fish market. After the market closes on Friday evening, the various stalls and booths open with outside seating, each vying for trade – of which there is plenty. It’s a great place with locals and tourists all together enjoying the grilled or barbecued fish and shellfish, and the air is full of the fantastic aromas. There are stalls selling craft work as well, and a band providing music with a space for dancing. I loved it and would definitely recommend a visit here on a Friday evening. Eating out is a bit expensive in Barbados, but a visit to Oistins does not work out too dear and is delicious.

Back to Reality
On our last night we all had a final dinner altogether and agreed it had been a lovely holiday. The next day after catching a few more hours around the pool we flew back to a cold and cloudy English early morning…