For the whole time we have lived in Barbados (all 15 months), people have been raving about the Carnival Victory. This cruise ship leaves San Juan, Puerto Rico on Sundays, and arrives in Bridgetown Barbados, the following Wednesday. This is the only other spot you can embark and disembark the ship and Carnival reserves a small number of cabins. Since Ian and I wanted to see some of the other islands while we are living in the Caribbean, we thought this would be an easy way to do so.
It was very exciting to see the ship docked at the wharf in Bridgetown, and it looks soooo much bigger than I thought. And I think this is one of the small ones. After checking in and dropping off our luggage, we went to the side to watch the ship cast off.
In the distance, you can see the Hilton hotel, this was where we stayed on our first trip to Barbados, while looking for a place to live. We used to be able to see the cruise ships from our balcony, never imagining we would be on one ourselves.
Another ship was docked beside us, and yes, it was even larger.
You can see the very busy port, like all the other islands, everything arrives in Barbados through here.
This little tugboat was making sure we got out ok.
Imagine my surprise, when the captain of the ship started backing up the ship into this channel on preparation for turning around. That is a very good driver!
We left Bridgetown at 5:00 so within an hour it was dark, and after dinner and all the various entertainments on the ship, sleep was calling my name. I could sleep all the way to our first destination, St. Lucia.
One of the nicest things about cruising was the easy on/easy off arriving at the other islands. No hours (at least that is what it feels like), waiting to go through immigration, just walk off the ship. While we were in St. Lucia, we were going to have lunch with a friend of mine. David Leeman is a gardener in Toronto, and he volunteers at the Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens every winter. He has come out to Barbados and visited us, we even went to the Barbados Garden Show earlier in the year, but this would be my first chance to visit him.
The cruise ship docked in Castries, which is the capital city of St. Lucia, and we were heading to Soufriere, so after finding a taxi, we began the 1 1/2 hour drive and got to see some sights on the way.
Look at our cruise ship in the port, another one was entering as we were driving up the hill.
St Lucia is very hilly, and it takes a long time to drive along the coast. The road has a lot of “Z” curves, it reminded Ian and I of visiting Switzerland, lots of honking as you go around the corners, warning of your approach.
Marigot Bay was where the original Dr. Doolittle was filmed back in 1967. I remember seeing this when I was a child, and I loved it! Now I shall have to watch it again, to see how this bay looked back then.
The fishing villages are beautiful, the bright colours showing up from a distance.
We drove through the rain forest on our way, and I was astonished to see tree ferns growing wild be the side of the road.
And at last, the Pitons rising majestically in the distance.
Since we had time, we went to Sulphur Springs, St. Lucias ’drive in’ volcano. As soon as you get near it, you can smell the sulphur in the air. According to our guide, the volcano acts as a safety valve, releasing small amounts of pressure, equalling, no major eruption. But watch out if all the animals flee, they are one of the predictors for an eruption.
You can see the minerals in the water, they have hardened over the years.
Although lots of people were partaking in the mud baths, we were on our way for lunch, maybe another time.
We finally arrived at the Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens to meet David.
The Old Mill
Such a beautiful place and lunch was yummy, including a green banana salad, I had never heard of it before. We ate at the Old Mill, which was originally built to crush sugar cane back in 1765.
After the collapse of the sugar cane industry in St Lucia, it was used to crush limes for the oil, and then later in its life, generate electricity for the town of Soufriere.
This aqua duct (over Ian and Davids head) was used to bring water from the river, and power the wheel for the electricity.
In another part of the garden are the baths that were originally built in 1784 for the troops of King Louis XVI. The mineral baths which are fed by a hot spring, are full of minerals and are thought to be therapeutic. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to test that thought, and I was crushed when the battery went on my camera, so sorry, no photos. But Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens has their own website, so you can get a look at them there.
I just got a photo of the entrance to the private baths, look at the maidenhair ferns that have self seeded in the wall. You can also visit David Leemans blog, he has lots more info and photos of the lovely place he calls home in the winter.
P.S. David just e-mailed me some photos that he took during our visit in St. Lucia, a couple more photos of that amazing wall,
I believe these are garden areas that he designed himself, very talented,
Next stop, St. Kitts…