A mere 9 hours flight from Europe, the sun shines all year round. Barbados is our destination today, an island paradise in the heart of the Caribbean. You will be surprised to learn just how much this island has to offer.
“Island in the sun” brought both its singer, Harry Belafonte, and its subject, Barbardos, into the international limelight. It is no coincidence that this island on the eastern most point of the Lesser Antilles is called “Little England”. The parliament building, a Nelson memorial and Trafalgar Street still bear witness to the island's multifarious past.
My TV-team and I begin our tour in Bridgetown. The capital with its innumerable duty-free shops is a shopper's paradise. However, the actual sights are situated rather more inland. We set off to discover them. Barbardos enjoys 3000 hours of sin a year, but today we are going to escape the heat and go under cover for a while.
Barbados needs to be explored because the island is not just a beach holiday destination. Man has always been fascinated by subterranean caves and grottoes - they inspire his imagination. The most beautiful drip-stone cave on Barbados is “Harrison Cave” - a dream world literally dripping in stalagmites and stalactites. There is also a wildlife reserve in one of the small mahogany woods which was set up by a private research centre and open to the public. It provides a natural habitat to more than 50 species which the visitor can observe at close quarters. The main objective of the wildlife reserve is to preserve endangered species - and the owners are obviously being highly successful. The song of rare humming birds to carried by the tropical wind and the gentle rustling of the sugar cane accompanies us from here to the most beautiful colonial villas of the island. It was actually thanks to the somewhat unprepossessing sugar cane that the colonial masters were able to make their fortune. The so-called Caribbean gold resulted in an equally profitable age of trading and slavery. The what were then small-scale planters soon became powerful sugar barons.
The “Villa Nova” is a typical country house from that period and is now owned by an English aristocrat. The 300-year-old “Suburry House” is the south-east of Barbados has also remained in private ownership. It is possible to visit the rooms if you make an appointment in advance, or even to book the rooms for special events. Why don't you and your family take a trip back in time - in true style of course. Whether you want afternoon tea, dinner, or even a wedding reception - the lady of the house will arrange it for you providing the staff, the finest porcelain, silver service and the corresponding ambience. In the past, the wealthy villa inhabitants had over 30 servants. The men looked after the coaches, the women took care of the master's rooms and the tasks in the kitchen. It almost seems as if the country has forgotten its tim e in bondage. Today, Barbados is proud of its colonial heritage.
With its colourful little houses, miles of golden sand, eclectic range of music and an all-year-round temperature of 28 degrees, Barbados is the picture of happiness. Sam Lord, the famous or rather infamous pirate had his Sam Lords Castle built on his favourite island. The Georgian manor house is now a luxury hotel and is located on the island's most beautiful beach which is where the former castle owner used to perform his evil deeds. In those bygone days lanterns would be hung on the coconut trees, to make incoming ships believe that they were the lights of Bridgetown , so that the pirates could board them and plunder their cargo. We listen sleepily to the old tales and are carried away by the Caribbean dream.
On Barbardos there are dreams for hire - villas shaded by the mango trees and the island's flamboyant bushes. In the morning you are woken by the sound of the waves breaking on the shore. Later, whilst enjoying a swim in the pool, you can contemplate at leisure the delicious breakfast awaiting your approval in the dining room of the “Great House”, an airy white pavilion with light-coloured furniture and a service par excellence.
Fruit cocktails with pineapple, papayas and bananas lend the days its first hint of sweetness. Renting a villa is a personal luxury which makes it possible to have a totally independent and private holiday atmosphere.
The path leads us farther inland. On a hill in St. John , one oft island's 11 communities, is St. John's , an Anglican church. The graveyard, with tombstones dating from the 16th to 19th century is well worth seeing. Each February the locals celebrate the landing of the first settlers on the island in 1627. Nearby, on the Atlantic coast, is Coddrington College which was built in 1702. The former residence of Christopher Coddrington now belongs to the church. It is actually the oldest college of theology in the western hemisphere. Time for a picnic. We enjoy a sardine sandwich, Banks beer and for dessert, passion fruit before plunging back into the water.
Naturally, you can also dine on the beach - with fresh fish guaranteed every day. Mingle with the people there - the people of Barbados are extremely friendly - and perhaps they will invite you to join in a game of dominoes, the country's national board game and which is also great fun. On the west coast, we discover an idyllic piece of Hollywood . The baroque palace “Leamington Pavilion” is a delight to the eye - an example of one of the many villas that can be rented on Barbados . The majestic setting of this private residence made of white coral is crowned by the dining room's magnificent view of the park. Such a dream temple costs up to 30,000 dollars a week - including butler, cook and gardener!
Four spacious bedrooms and several salons are at the disposal of the guests - all with a view of the park and the private beach. The airy verandas provide the ideal place to sit when the Caribbean sun is too hot. The once modest summer house was luxuriously upgraded in the 80s by star British architect, Nick Haslam. Lady Di and Joan Collins are just a couple of the people who have since enjoyed a romantic tete-a-tete there. In the summer evening, the distinctive chirping of the grasshoppers is yet another melody that makes this sunny island unforgettable.
* This special feature "Barbados" has been one of more than 300 Portraits, produced by Nathalie Gütermann for her TV-Shows 'Nathalie's Lifestyle' and 'Nathalie's Art of Living' that were broadcasted between 1990 - 2003 in Germany and in 15 countries world-wide. The content has been updated with actual information in 2004 for Nathalies-Lifestyle.com © 1990 - 2004. The reproduction or other use of any text, photographs, etc. needs the prior written permission of the Chief Publisher.