Sunday Special – Bridgetown, Barbados


The Caribbean island of Barbados has sun and beaches to spare as most islands in the Caribbean Sea do. As much as I am looking forward to upcoming travels to warmer climes and would love to showcase that aspect of Barbados, I have chosen instead to take a look at the capital of this sun-soaked isle: Bridgetown.

Carlisle Bay in Bridgetown, Barbados – Photo is Public Domain (
PontificalibusCarlisle Bay, BarbadosCC0 1.0 )

This vibrant and colourful capital city is home to 110,000 people, lying on the southwest coast of the island. Often referred to as “The City” by locals, it is a wonderful mix of history, culture, and modernity. In 2011 UNESCO added Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison to their list of World Heritage Sites. This area of the city has retained much of its historic layout and architecture (including the serpentine layout of medieval roads) for centuries. The examples of colonial-era British architecture and St Ann’s Garrison show some of the roots of commerce, the port, and the military standings of its history.

These days it has a variety to offer those visiting here. The history of course is the backdrop as is the sea. Carlisle Bay, a natural harbour, is the place to go for fun water sports, sun-seekers, and taking in the local cuisine. Head to the Careenage, the waterfront of the city and stroll along the boardwalk to take you along various points of interest in the city. Once you have seen the sites you can shop to your heart’s content at local markets, cool malls and designer shops. As for you rum aficionados I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that Bridgetown is where this amber elixir was born. Bridgetown certainly seems to be a wonderful place to spend some time while on this warm island.

Bridgetown, Barbados – Photo credit:
Barry haynesBarbados Parliament and Central BankCC BY-SA 4.0

Sunday Special – Cape Verde (Cabo Verde)


Now this week I did pick an island nation! And why not? Today we will check out Cape Verde (or Cabo Verde) which lies 570 km / 350 miles west of Africa in the central Atlantic Ocean and is made up of 9 inhabited volcanic islands and 8 islets. It had been isolated and uninhabited until the 1400s CE when it was colonized by Portugal. In later centuries it was, sadly,  a major port in the slave trade due to its location. After the end of slavery the island saw a marked decline in economics until it became another popular port and stop in the shipping industry. The Portuguese then incorporated it into an overseas department in 1951. Seeking independence, Cape Verde gained it peacefully in 1975. Today it is a stable, democratic, liberal, and among the highest developed countries in Africa.

The capital city of Praia is located on the southern tip of the island of Santiago, which is also the largest. Santiago is where most of the population lives though the other islands do offer activities and interests such as hiking, beaches, snorkeling, surfing, culture. Here are a few more bits of info:

  • Santiago – The landscape is varied and ranges from beach to mountain, steppes to valleys. The capital city of Praia offers plenty.  The plateau area contains many older buildings and architecture such as the old city wall, the Presidential Palace, and Praia Cathedral. Rumour has it that some of the best waves are found around Praia so this makes it a good location for surfing. 
  • São Vicente – This island is home to the town of Mindelo which is considered Cape Verde’s cultural capital with traditional music being played regularly at cafes and restaurants along with modern pop music. Meandering around town you can take in the Mercado de Peixe (fish market) and a local market. Windsurfers and surfers can take to the water on beaches.
  • Boa Vista – The third largest island it is renown for its sandy beaches making it a paradise for sun worshippers looking for quiet getaways. The Cape Verde music of Morna originated on this isle. It is also a protected haven for loggerhead turtles as a result of the work of The Turtle Foundation which also looks for volunteers to help protect these gentle creatures.
  • Sal – Once a spot for the mining of salt this now small and flat island is building its tourism industry. With barely any cloud cover this island is perpetually sunny. Trade winds provide impressive conditions for surfing and windsurfing for much of the year. 

The remaining island all have something to offer, even if for a short duration. Cape Verde strikes me as a place where you will not be bored yet still retain a relaxed vibe while visiting.

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Beautiful Chaves Beach on Boa Vista Island, Cape Verde – Photo credit: RomazurChaves Beach in Boa VistaCC BY-SA 3.0

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Catching some wind on Sal, Cape Verde – Photo credit: CayambeCape Verde Sal kitesurfingCC BY-SA 3.0

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A misty day on the island of Santiago, Cape Verde – Photo is Public Domain (XanduÓrgãos, Santiago, Cape Verde, marked as public domain, more details on Wikimedia Commons)

Sunday Special – Maldives


Continuing on with islands, we’re taking a look at the Maldives [really I did not plan this – it wasn’t until after I picked this location that I realized it was an island destination :-)] . When I think of this South Asian destination set in the Indian Ocean, I think luxury hotels, azure waters, and blankets of white sand beaches. And also that it is sinking. Actually sea levels are rising and since the Maldives islands are the lowest country in the world,  this is a concern. In 2009 their government stated that they aim to make the country carbon neutral by 2019. In fact some of the inhabited islands may need to be evacuated and abandoned due to climate change. Geographically Maldives is far from a simple archipelago. It has over 1,000 coral islands that lay in a double chain of 26 atolls spanning 298 square km / 115 square miles. These atolls and islands lay above a submerged mountain range. And all the islands are surrounded by stunning crystal clear lagoons. Approximately 200 islands are inhabited with the capital city being Malé.

It is a country that has been one of the poorest in the world. Fishing and and boat building has traditionally been its main industries. In recent years tourism has flourished. Luxury resorts abound and tourism for its beaches and underwater marine life continues to grow. If you want to steer away from the high-end resorts there are a number of guesthouses to choose from as many locals have built their own as a business. The marine life in the Maldives includes corals reefs, over 1,000 species of fish, several species of dolphins, whales, sea turtles, mollusks and much more. Due to warmer sea water temperatures, coral bleaching is a growing concern. It seems a beautiful part of the world yet it is in distress. 😦

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Capital city Malé, Maldives – Photo credit: Shahee IlyasMale-totalCC BY-SA 3.0

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Beach at one of the islands of the Maldives – Photo credit – Nevit DilmenMaldives 09813CC BY-SA 3.0

 

Sunday Special – Sardinia, Italy


Note: I apologize for note posting the last couple of weeks. I’ve had some personal issues to deal with. Though I will continue on now.

Time for island life! Let’s head to the Mediterranean Sea to Sardinia. This autonomous island of Italy is the second largest island in the Med. The island has numerous languages spoken there and all of them share equal recognition.  The capital city is Cagliari which is also the largest city.  The main draws of this destination are the lily-white beaches offset by the bluest waters. Along with beach life comes water sports along the lines of windsurfing, boating, surfing, scuba diving – to name a few. Although these are the biggest tourist draws there is some more to this warm and balmy island.

Heading into the interior of the island will take you away from the tourist crowds to where some locals reside. The topography is rocky and hilly with some of the oldest rocks in Europe. Much of them are part of the Gennargentu Range. There is even a ski resort in the area and Gennargentu National Park.  The interior also is home to a number of ancient megalithic structures dating back to the Nuragic Civilization of the Bronze and Iron Ages. Appearing to be buildings, these Nuraghes are listed with the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It would seem you have a bit of variety on this Mediterranean island. Perhaps I’ll have to make a trip out there one day soon.

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The clear and blue waters of La Pelosa Beach, Sardinia – Photo credit: goldpicasa, Stintino, La Pelosa beach – panoramio (1)CC BY 3.0

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One of Sardinia’s lush beaches – Photo credit: trevis_lu (Luca Giudicatti), Spiaggia rosa, isola di budelli, sardegnaCC BY-SA 2.0

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An ancient Nuraghe found on Sardinia, Italy – Photo credit: WikibiroGonnesa-Seruci02CC BY-SA 3.0