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Explore Barbados features:


Extensive Introduction

Just 21 mi. long by a "smile" wide, Barbados is an island of dramatic contrasts and offers many picture-postcard terrains. The island's shape has been compared to that of a ham, a leg of mutton, a pear-shaped emerald, or a lopsided pear with the stem end pointing north. It has been nicknamed "Bimshire" or "Little England" because its land, reforested with green and yellow slopes of sugarcane fields, came to resemble the motherland. For such a small island, there's an enormous amount to take in. Its gentle W coast, graced with pink and white beaches, contrasts vividly with the rough and ragged eastern-facing Atlantic coast. Its smorgasboard of beaches is complimented by fantastic panoramas, densely-foliated tropical gullies, and breathtaking stretches of craggy coastline. The island's geological history has transformed it into a living laboratory for studying the workings of the earth, from the nature-rendered ecological effects of erosion in the Scotland District to the manmade transformation of a heavily forested island into a vast plain of sugarcane.


The most detailed flora and fauna descriptions of any guide

Famous worldwide as an ornamental, the heliconia lends an infusion of bizarre color and shape to the island's landscape. The name of these medium to large erect herbs comes from Helicon, a mountain in southern Greece believed to have been the home of the muses. There are thought to be around 200-250 species. Relatives within this category include the banana, the birds-of-paradise, the gingers, and the prayer plants. The family name Zingiberales comes from the Sanskrit word sringavera which means "horn shaped" in reference to the rhizomes. Each erect shoot has a stem and leaves which are frequently (although not always) topped by an infloresence with yellow or red bracts. Each infloresence may produce up to 50 hermaphroditic flowers. Leaves are composed of stalk and blade and resemble banana leaves. Flowers produce a blue colored fruit which has three seeds. Lured by the bright colored flowers and bracts, hummingbirds, arrive to pollinate the blooms. The birds spread pollen as they fly from flower to flower in search of nectar.


Folkloric details found in no other guide

Duppies may take various forms, the most notorious of which is the hag. Customarily the wife of a planter, she would shed her skin nightly, transforming herself into a ball of fire in search of blood to consume. If one came across the temporarily-vacated skin, rubbing it with pepper or salt would prevent her re-entry and ensure her demise. Hags, however, are believed to be an extinct species today. The last one was exterminated some 70 years ago.


Practical travel information

RENTING A CAR: Avis and Hertz are among those renting from the airport. If you show a valid US or International driver's license, a temporary Barbados license will be issued for B$10. This is available from Hastings, Worthing, and Holetown Police Stations and at the Licensing Authority offices at Oistins, Christ Church; the Pine, St. Michael; and Folkestone, St. James. The best choice, however, is to get it at the police window in the airport. Car rental companies can also make arrangements. A permit is required for motorbikes (70-90 cc maximum available) or mopeds; helmets are required by law. You must be able to show either a motorcyle license or a driver's license with a motorcycle endorsement.



ST. MICHAEL'S CATHEDRAL: Honoring the archangel, the present day edifice stands on the site of the orginal small, primitive structure. The first building was replaced with the Church of St. Michael (consecrated in 1665) which was, in turn, destroyed in 1780 and replaced by the present structure in 1789. This was extensively renovated and changed after it was damaged by the 1831 hurricane. It became St. Michael's Cathedral in 1824. It remains essentially Georgian in appearance, but also incorporates Gothic Revival-style additions, including pointed arches in the round-topped windows and trefoil clerestory windows. Its neglected military cemetery is filled with the tombs of dignitaries and soldiers -- many of them in their teens and early twenties -- who fell victim to plague and yellow fever. Be sure to note the inscription commemorating Robert Hooper and the painted memorial to Thomas Duke, Treasurer in 1750. You will also see the Braithwaite memorial, the Francis Bovell memorial, and the monument recording the tragic death of Mrs. Letitia Austin. Sir Grantley Adams, the island's first premier, also lies interred here. The barely legible tablets set into the floor date from the 17th C. A good time to visit is on a Sun. afternoon when Sunday School is in session. The nation's barristers, clad in wigs and gowns, assemble here for the annual Assizes Service and you'll see the processional cross. At Sun. morning services, the angelic voices of the choirboys -- dressed in high ruffed surplices and red gowns -- ring out clear and true. They sang at Westminster Abbey during the summer of 1971.

ANDROMEDA BOTANICAL GARDENS: Begun by the late Iris Bannochie in 1954, Andromeda, the island's most famous garden (tel. 433-9261), is now administered by the National Trust. It is well worth a visit, and you should allow at least an hour. Flowers in these gardens cling tightly to the rocks and take their name from the mythical Greek maiden who was tied to a rock as a sacrifice for a sea monster. The massive boulders here -- as wide as 27 ft. (9 m) -- were toppled by torrential flooding. Trees include the fustic, bearded fig, whitewood, pop-a-gun, and maypole. The lily pond, bridged by a causeway, has night- and day-blooming lillies on opposite sides. This separation allows both types to flourish because, if they were planted together, the day bloomers would soon crowd the nighties out. Ingeniously-designed bridges and paths criss-cross the gardens. Some are made of local sandstone, others of brick; some have grass, others are concrete slabs decorated with leaf imprints. Flowers include begonias, hibiscus, red ginger lillies, and bougainvilleas. In one special section, orchids jut straight up. A swimming pool was built in 1956 and the excavated soil was used to construct a terraced garden. There are large palm and orchid gardens, which -- as with the entire grounds -- can be explored. Singing birds complete the picture in this serene setting ,one which combines a British sense of orderly restraint, an E. Asian design, and a tinge of Caribbean mysticism. It's open 9-5 daily, except certain public holidays. Admission is B$12 for adults, B$6 for children. Be sure to follow the walking tours. Iris's Walk takes 20-30 min., and John's Path takes around an hour.


Places to Stay

ACCOMMODATIONS: Operated by travel writer Uschi Wetzels, Sea-U! (tel. 433-9450, fax 433-9210) is a remarkable guesthouse. Uschi first happened upon the location while staying in Bathsheba and researching her travel guide for the nation which is published by the Marco Polo series. Struck by its beauty, she came up with the idea of a guesthouse. Although newly constructed, it resembles a traditional Caribbean-style home. The attractive rooms have fans, mahogany beds, and great views from the porch.. Local calls are free, and fax and Internet services are available. An informative village tour is included in the rates. Rates are US$90 for the four studio apartments (with kitchenettes) and one guest room. plus 7.5% VAT. Delicious meals are US$6 for breakfast and US$ 20 for dinner. Special packages are available, and vegetarians can be catered to.


Useful Tips ( a sample of the hundreds included)

JB's Mastermart, in Sargeant's Village in Christ Church, does double duty as Super Centre JB's, the only Bajan supermarket to be online. You can order your supplies before arrival and have them delivered to your apartment. http://www.supercentrejbs.com/


Page after page of detailed information...

Photos, tips, charts, maps, and more...

Sample Pages

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