Barbados served as our final stop in the Caribbean before the six-day transatlantic crossing. Having done an island tour on our first visit twenty years ago, we decided to mix it up a bit (literally), with a bit of a downtown tour, a rum distillery visit, and one last snorkeling hurrah! Our stop in Bridgetown could accommodate all of these interest within easy walking distance. The British architecture, similar in style to St. Vincents, sported beautiful coral stone work, clean lines, and archways along a lovely and active waterway parallel to the main coast. The beautiful Parliament buildings and St. Michael’s Cathedral provide a lovely backdrop to a statue of our armless buddy, Lord Horatio Nelson, in Hero’s Square (formerly Trifalgar Square), right across a very picturesque bridge and some enticing drinking spots surrounding Independence Arch and square. Inland we passed through interesting alleys to get to the old Nidhe Israel Synagogue (one of the oldest in the Western Hemisphere). These buildings all house museums (and the parliament ones were closed on Tuesdays, the day we happened to be there), but no matter, we were on a mission! All this time in the Caribbean meant we needed to hit at least one rum distillery, and we saved the first and best for last! The Mount Gay Rum Distillery is reputedly the first rum distillery in the world, started by two men named Gay and Sober! They figured out how to turn a profit by taking molasses, the by-product of extracting sugar from sugar cane, and distilling it into rum. They age their rum in bourbon barrels from Kentucky, since true bourbon barrels can only be used once. The tour included a taste of their Eclipse, which we thought ironic that we had done some wonderful bourbon tasting in Kentucky while enjoying the solar eclipse last year. Seems like our time at Mount Gay was meant to be! We couldn’t take alcohol on the ship, so instead we invested in a taste of their $300/bottle rum, which was more like a cognac and worth every penny. I also discovered a new favorite drink, called “Corn and Oil,” which is made of rum, a local bitter, and a squeeze of lemon. That would easily become a habit in Barbados!
Ready to cool off, we hit Brandon’s beach just right across the street. Fran relaxed while I did my last snorkeling of the trip. While the snorkeling itself was nothing special, the sparkling white sand beach, cool clear water, and fun with the fishes was memorable as the end of an era. Goodbye, Caribbean, we loved you! See you next year!