Travel ~ 32. Pretty in Panama.

After spending three days in Panama, I learned about the architecture, cuisine, fashion, history, sights and now truly appreciate the culture.

Culture ~ Beautiful Barbados

One of my favourite places to visit is Barbados. Definitely in my top five countries. The independent nation is very warm and welcoming leaving one intrigued by Bajan customs. Saying good morning and helping you out is customary.

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Upon arriving, Grantley Adams International Airport is open-air and breezy hub. As you exit immigration, it’s best to hire a car from Drive-A-Matic because they have the best rates and customer service. Continuing onto the island, the motorway takes you on an adventure. Through straight roads surrounded by sugar cane fields and roundabouts, you can experience everything.

Barbados is comprised of eleven parishes. Starting with Christ Church, the best place to stay is in Saint Lawrence Gap either at Infinity On The Beach or Bougainvillea Hotel for recreation with a mix of locals and tourists. I highly recommend The Cove for dancing and nightlife. Also, Graeme Hall Sanctuary is nearby off of Highway 7 for exploring a bit of swamp nature during the day. Then the town, Oistins is always bustling with fresh fish coming in from boats and ‘Fish Fry’ parties on a Friday night. Heading north, Saint Philip will take you to Culpepper Island, an uninhabited rocky area with stunning views of the coastline. Above, there is Saint John which holds a beautiful and historical Parish Church. Towards the left is one of the two landlocked parishes, Saint George where the prominent landmark, Gun Hill Signal Station has been located since 1818.

Following that, Saint Michael is home to the nation’s capital, Bridgetown where you can view a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Close by is Carlisle Bay, one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. For more excitement, examine the architecture of the Parliament Buildings, explore artisan shops, catch a cricket game at Kensington Oval, take a snapchat of Lord Nelson statue, see moments honoured at the National Stadium and just in case there’s an emergency, Queen Elizabeth Hospital known as QEH is in this parish.

Additionally, this past weekend I attended the Festival of Speed, class entertainment at Bushy Park where three time British Formula One driver, Lewis Hamilton entertained a massive crowd with his inspiration and daring attitude to be the greatest. Passing by Saint Thomas, one must visit Harrison’s Cave for natural subterranean geology education on the crystallized limestone that helped to build a lot of the island. This tour reminded me of a fifth grade class learning about stalactites and stalagmites. On the eastern side of the island, Saint Joseph is there with gorgeous landscapes at Andromeda Gardens and a fun fishing village, Bathsheba which highlights a massive picturesque rock. Up to Saint Andrew, you can stand at the highest point on the island at Mount Hillaby. It’s like being on top of the world.

Anywhere you go, a lovely lunch can be found in Saint James. Holetown, the main attraction has cute colourful chattel houses for your perfect Instagram photo and quick, boutique and romantic restaurants including Chefette (fast food), Just Grillin’ (budget), Lone Star (moderate), Daphne’s (moderate) The Tides (fine dining), The Mews (fine dining) and The Cliff (fine dining). Personally, I have been to all of these places and they each offer something special depending on your mood. Looking for something more, head down to Mullins Bay Beach Bar & Grill (moderate) right on Mullins Beach (favourite beach!!). That’s where I relax most of the time. Further down in Sherman’s, Saint Peter is my favourite restaurant on the island, The Fish Pot (fine dining).

Bajan food is flavourful including coucou (cornmeal based dish similar to mashed potatoes), roti (flat bread made from wholemeal usually filled with vegetables, poultry and/or meat), flying fish (the best fish ever!) and other types of fresh fish such as barracuda, tuna, dophin, shark, king fish, marlin and more usually accompanied by salad, rice & peas or macaroni pie. For drinks, most people sip tropical spirit infused cocktails, Mount Gay rum or the national beer, Banks. And if it’s super hot, many people cool down with a sno-cone (shaved ice and sweet flavoured syrup) or a tall ice cold glass of Mauby.

Along the Platinum Coast of Saint Peter, Port St. Charles and Port Ferdinand are great spots for viewing the oceanside. Making it to the top of the island, Saint Lucy is the only female named parish and birthplace of the first Prime Minister of Barbados, Errol Barrow.Well historic, no wonder this parish is on top. As you enjoy island life, you are bound to hear sounds of soca such as Alison Hinds, Contone, Kimberley Inniss, Peter Ram, Rupee (love him!) and then calypso from Mighty Gabby, Grynner, The Merrymen and Red Plastic Bag. The music is everything and makes my holiday better each time. The next best time to visit will be around 30 November 2016 when the nation will celebrate its 50th Independence Day. Visit beautiful Barbados!