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We took a trip to Bridgetown (so called because of this bridge, in case you're interested).. We got ourselves booked on a bus which left from our hotel in the morning and came home around 2pm or thereabouts.. We were a bit worried that it wouldn't leave us with enough time, but we shouldn't have - as it turned out, there's not that much to do in Bridgetown :o)

See, the whole place is set up for tourists. There don't appear to be any shops for the people who live in Bridgetown, at least not that we could find (and it's not like I didn't drag us down back streets just for fun).. Evidently they know where their economy gets its money from, and have really gone after the tourist dollar. Not wishing to go against that, we did our Duty Free shopping on Broad Street. The shops don't really sell much authentic merchandise (though there are various jams made out of tropical fruits), but rather sell things that are designed to appear authentic..

Of course, some things were clearly very authentic.. I can't say that I understand the appeal, necessarily, but Naomi seemed to like the little guy well enough :o)

It just didn't seem so good for things like clothes, which is a shame because I'd been rather looking forward to sorting out a new wardrobe while I was there of clothes for the summer... And really, while we benefited from a weak US dollar, the prices weren't actually the steal that we had imagined they would be - in most cases, prices were roughly comparable to what we'd pay back home. Except where alcohol is concerned, of course, so we grabbed a couple of litres of Vodka - Smirnoff Vanilla and Absolut Peach. Honestly, you wouldn't believe how inexpensive the alcohol is, and that's stuff that they've imported there themselves - the home grown rum is sinfully cheap.

On our way into Bridgetown, the bus driver passed this diner, and recommended it as a good place to get some lunch.. So when we got hungry, feeling a little adventurous, we went there to have some authentic Bajan food, rather than visit the KFC on the main street or anything like that.. After first walking into a bar by mistake, we eventually found our way up to this small diner (i.e. a couple of rooms) with floors and ceiling that weren't quite parallel..

Naomi had Flying Fish with Cou Cou, which is basically deep fried flying fish with a sort of maize gloop with gravy.. This picture best illustrates how it all comes together.. It's the national dish of Barbados, with Flying Fish being the national animal of the country (as evidenced by this pavement from The Gap and these decorations at the airport). You get the idea.

Of course, being a bit cowardly, I myself had chicken - as far as I can tell, it was basically a whole half chicken, deep fried.. It was actually delicious, I have no idea quite how they make it so nice, but it was awesome - any regret I might have felt over not trying something a bit more local was easily undone by the fact that it certainly didn't taste like chicken prepared in this country :o)

After that, having completed our shopping, we decided to do a bit of sight seeing.. On our wander, we saw their Parliament buildings - we were told several times that Barbados has the third oldest parliament in the Commonwealth (after the UK and Bermuda). They're very proud of their history there (boasting about their Nelson statue that's older than ours, for example), which is kind of odd because of the general assumption that a lot of people have that nations founded on slavery and exploitation tend to reject their former identities.. The country only became independent in 1966 (this was their first Prime Minister), so you'd think they'd still have "issues", but apparently not :o)

We spent the rest of our time walking around the harbour, checking out the yachts.. There are obviously more than a couple of wealthy people who like to spend time there, and I can see why :o)

By the time 2pm came around, to be honest, we'd seen everything that needed to be seen, and were kind of looking forward to getting back to the hotel. So back to the bus we went.. Speaking of which, their buses are kind of funny.. They have two sets of two seats, with an aisle between, but then there's a fifth seat which folds down across the middle.. So you fill up the bus, then from the back forward, you put those middle seats down. In an emergency, I have no idea how you're meant to get out of the bus with the aisle blocked, but fortunately we didn't have to find that out :o)

I think that became a bit disjointed by the end.. Oh well.. The upshot of the whole thing, of course, was that by leaving at 2pm, it meant we still had a decent chunk of the afternoon left for relaxing on the beach, exploring, etc.. But that's all an entirely different story :o)

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Weird. In the background of the Nelson statue is a Canadian Bank: RBC (Royal Bank of Canada). I know some of the Canadian banks have Carribean operations, but it's weird to see the logo of my bank in Barbados.

Actually, it seemed like RBC were everywhere in Barbados.. and we met a few Canadians while we were there too.. I'm guessing that it's quite favoured by you Canucks as a place to escape the winters or something (English speaking, Commonwealth, not-America...)

The Carribean in general is a pretty great spot for us: it's not too far away, english speaking, nice weather... Also, unlike the US, there's no embargo on travel to Cuba, so that's also really popular.

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