I had always wanted to visit the Caribbean, so when my parents declared that Christmas was to be spent there I was excited about the thought of a sunny winter holiday, and a new destination to tick off the list. The problem with winter is that you have to travel long haul for sunshine, and to be quite honest as much as I love to travel, I would take a European destination and a 3 hour flight over first class long haul any day of the week. I really struggle to sit still.
The 10 hours flight on Virgin Atlantic (as much as flying on the iconic 747-400 is my fave thing to do), was bearable but for me 9 hours too long. I do love take off and landing, but the cruise isn’t my favourite as for someone who trains every day at the gym, and a general expert in fidgeting, it is almost torture to have to remain sat down. I have some coping strategies for ‘Long Haul for the Incredibly Impatient Passenger’ which I will publish shortly.
We arrive and it is raining, by the way I am the type of person who experiences extreme weather conditions on trips, so when people say they went to Dubai and it was about 42 degrees at night, I managed to get 60mph winds and rain for a whole week, and I might add, it was cold, talking jeans and hoodie cold (obv I only had bikini and skimpy stuff with me in an Arab country). But that another story and can be found in my Dubai blog. Likewise I managed the record heat wave in Ibiza this summer – with a 31 degree heat at 22:00pm. So for us to get rained on during the ‘dry season’ (December-May) in Barbados when the travel agents will swear blind it is pure sunshine, was not a big shock to the system.
We didn’t land too late but it was dark already, when you are used to going to Spain on your holibobs you expect to be strolling around all evening watching the sunset, in Barbados this is short lived and it is already dark by 6pm ish. The traffic is also quite bad on the island, another surprise! I totally missed New Year celebrations as I was stuck in traffic for hours. I sound very negative but I promise to get to the good bits, and there are many.
I always enjoy places where I have little or no expectations, and I think my issue with Barbados is I had such high expectations. So much so, I went back to see it again a year later with an open mind. I stayed with some of my friends who were crew, so a very different trip, and I have to say I still came away thinking that it isn’t worth 10 hours on a flight no matter what seat you are in.There is one thing I do rate highly about this place, and that is the food. Maybe I didn’t think much about that or have expectations but the food blew me away. Flying fish salads, blackened mahi mahi, bread fruit, most of which you will find in some of the incredible restaurants on this island, even the dodgy looking beach shacks are really worth stopping by for a fish butty and a banks beer. Then sit on the beach to fine dine watching the locals catch some flying fish, they will be more than happy to show you their catch of the day if you go over to have a look.
One of the things not to miss and was my favourite thing to do was visit Oistins Fish Fry, which is in Oistins and specifically on a Friday night, there is traditional music, street food (and if you ask for any recipes they will tell you they are secret family recipes), watch some local street dancing – like proper street dancing, and soak up the Bajan Friday night life, which is very relaxed and a lot of fun.
Few little facts, Barbados is classified as one of the 66 top high income economies, I assume most of this is from Sugar. They have one of the world’s biggest sugar industries. So they are to blame!It is of course, a British colony, which means seeing signs identical to our M60 on the roads. This is weird as you expect to not see that in the Caribbean right? It was like driving on our motorway with the same signage, and in the rain. It could not have been less ‘Caribbean’. There is obviously more to it than just that, but all the same, after flying for 10 hours it took me by surprise that I was almost on the M60? I think I have made my point now, first impressions do last a lifetime though.
To surmise, yes it is worth a visit, I think there are much nicer beaches in Europe for less flying time, the food is amazing, the people are really lovely, if you want a winter sunshine holiday it is a good destination (although I would struggle to decide over Barbados and Dubai for winter sunshine if pushed). However, twice is enough for me, Barbados sounds better than it is, and is overrated in my opinion.