Anniversary Celebration in the Sun
Saturday December 4 to Wednesday December 8, 2010

30th Anniversary on the beach

To celebrate 30 years of marriage, we took a wonderful short vacation to Barbados in December 2010 - timed so that our anniversary on December 6 could be celebrated in the sun! We left Canada in the morning of Saturday December 4, arriving in the afternoon of the same day and enjoyed a few days in beautiful Barbados before returning home early in the evening of Wednesday December 8.

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  • Saturday December 4, 2010

    Travel to Barbados and arrival at The House

    Our WestJet flight to Barbados was scheduled to leave at 9:40am, so we arranged for a limo to pick us up at 7:00am to get us there in good time. That, of course, meant it was a pretty early start to the day to be packed and ready to go when the limo driver arrived at our door. We could have probably pushed it back a bit, because the light traffic heading to the airport and the almost empty Terminal 3 building at Pearson Airport made it such that we were sitting near the gate with a fair bit of time to kill. The one good thing is that we had time to enjoy a Starbucks coffee while we waited.

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      The flight was called more or less on time but things got delayed once we were on the plane. The pilot made an announcement that it was necessary to go through de-icing prior to take-off because of the morning conditions. From our vantage point we could see we were in a growing line of planes heading to the de-icing area, but it was impossible to see how many planes were ahead of us. In total, the delay in take-off was about 45 minutes. Not that anyone would grumble too much - much better to be safe. The flight was fine, and by the time we landed in Barbados we had made up some of the time - landing about 20 minutes later than originally scheduled.

      The 20 minute delay turned out to be significant because it put us on the ground after a Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747 plump full of Brits. Their plane was also parked closer to the terminal building, so we were going to be behind all but the not so fleet afoot from the 747. The good thing was that our little Boeing 737 emptied quickly and we made it a quick march to the terminal building. The serpentine line to get to the immigration counters inside the terminal building was very long and didn't seem to be moving too quickly. That was a bit disheartening. It looked to us like there were just as many Brits behind us as ahead of us, so we had done a pretty good job making our way into the building but once there it was a long and tedious wait. It was also quite warm in the terminal building which made the experience uncomfortable as well as long. There were people in the line getting quite agitated. Once we finally made it to the counter, it took only a very short time for them to process the two of us so we aren't really sure why it took so long for us to reach the counter. Our bags were waiting when we reached the carousel, which meant it was just a matter of collecting them and heading to the door.

      We had arranged for a rental car, so we left the terminal building in search of where to pick up the car. Something that we hadn't considered when we booked the trip was that sunset was around 5:30pm, so with all of the delays it was now getting quite dark in Barbados. Arranging the rental car was very quick and easy, which was very good at this point. We were shown to our bright red Diahatsu Terios for the customary walk around and sign off. The interesting thing we found was that the only things not covered on the insurance were the tires and rims - which made sense once we started driving. The ditches at the side of the narrow road were deep and about a tire’s width - very easy to damage both rims and tires. Apparently many had done so before us making it now except from the insurance coverage.

      We also found out that the road signage in Barbados leaves something to be desired - we missed the route to the highway and ended up driving through more of Bridgetown than we had intended. With Linda consulting the not-to-detail road map and Gary driving on our opposite to normal side of the road we did weave our way in the dark through the poorly lit streets with the killer ditches to finally make our way back to the route we needed to take to get us to our hotel in Saint James on the West coast of Barbados. It certainly felt like an adventure so far!

      We had booked accommodation at The House by Elegant Hotels - and once we had arrived at The House our vacation truly began. We were greeted by very friendly and attentive staff and before any formalities of checking in we were asked what we’d like to drink as a welcome to The House. The check in was done comfortably at one of the couches in an open but covered common area of the hotel. The experience was quite lovely. We couldn’t see much of the ocean in the dark, but we could certainly hear it as we sat and relaxed. IT was now feeling like we were on vacation and all of the delays and adventures getting to this point faded out of our memories. After we had finished our drinks, our concierge (or ambassador in The House lingo) took us to our room. We were very pleased with the room, indeed. Within a very short time of arrival we were very happy with our choice of hotel. The room was spacious and nicely appointed. Through a set of french doors we could head directly outside to a veranda and beyond that the hotel’s pool and beyond that the ocean. The sound of the waves crashing on the shore was quite loud, but we really couldn't see it in the dark. While talking to our ambassador, we mentioned that this trip was to celebrate our anniversary and that we wanted to arrange dinner on the beach for the evening of our actual anniversary on December 6. We had previously read online that this was something The House offered in association with the restaurant Daphne's located right next to the hotel.

      After we had unpacked a bit we decided it was time to get something to eat. We weren’t really feeling up to heading out for dinner so we opted to take dinner on the open patio near the beach. We could have just walked a bit further and go into Daphne’s but we liked the idea of a more relaxed dinner for two on the patio with the food coming from the neighbouring restaurant. The only draw back - for some reason it wasn’t the entire Daphne’s menu on offer on the patio. There was, though, certainly enough things from which to choose. We did enquire about the beach dinner we had just booked and were informed that it would include the full restaurant menu. The whole dinner was enjoyable and the setting was absolutely lovely. The House had blue lights shining out towards the ocean which made a portion of the surf visible from where we sat on the patio. We could see two couples enjoying a torch-lit beach dinner under cabanas. The cabanas were set apart from each other so the dining experience really would be private. We had been told when we booked our beach dinner that there only were two tables available. As the evening progressed it was interesting to watch the serving staff traipse across the beach from Daphne’s to deliver the meals as elegantly as one could when walking on soft sand. By the end of our dinner we could also see that the surf was getting very close to one of the cabanas. It would have been interesting to find out of their feet got wet during their dinner.

      As we left the patio following dinner we both felt the results of what was a fairly long and tiring day - so after a short stroll around the property we made our way back to our room. We figured we’d be waking fairly early to enjoy our first full day in Barbados so we weren’t going to make this too late of an evening. We’d had a very good first evening at The House are were really looking forward to enjoying Barbados over the next few days.

  • Sunday December 5, 2010

    First full day in Barbados

    We woke to the sounds of happy birds as well as the sound of the waves crashing against the shore. Our first glimpse through our veranda door gave us our first view of the ocean beyond the garden area outside our room. Was a nice feeling to finally see the ocean.

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      We got ready and then went to take in the champagne breakfast buffet that The House had on offer each morning. We found a table on the deck in the covered area and shortly thereafter were greeted by a server who brought us some good coffee as well as juice and the advertised champagne. The food at the buffet was good – and although the service to cook eggs as we wanted then was a bit slow – good to learn to arrange that first and then get the other items while the eggs were cooked. All in all it was a very nice breakfast experience. After breakfast we freshened up and then decided to talk a stroll along the beach. Even with it being morning it was hot, and we figured the afternoon would certainly be toasty. We wandered north along the beach until we had figured we’d gotten hot enough and then set back to the hotel. Was interesting to check out some of the other hotels and resorts that we had considered when we booked this trip – many of them were located in the same section of beach along the preferred west coast of Barbados. It was nice to get back into the air-conditioned comfort of our room and cool off a bit after our walk.

      The plan for the day was to do a bit of exploring of the island and take in some of the attractions that Barbados had to offer. We set off in our Terios with air-conditioning blasting away and soon realized that the under-powered vehicle really suffered on performance while it was on…well, it suffered all the time - just worse with the air-conditioning on! Our first stop was the Barbados Wildlife Reserve, known for its apply stock of Barbados Green Monkeys as well as other animals. Before entering the reserve we took a walking tour of the adjacent Grenade Hall Forest & Signal Station. There were Barbados Green Monkeys roaming around there as well, but it was the extremely slippery moss covered stone walkways that will for ever stick in our minds from this visit. Some surfaces were quite steep with even steeper drop offs and there wasn’t always a suitable handrail...so it could be quite dangerous. One can only imagine what it would be like in wet conditions. It was, though, interesting to wander around the natural tropical forest albeit in rather muggy conditions.

      The Signal Station gave us a nice view of the coast and when we had finished there we decided to head over to the Wildlife Reserve. We ended up spending more time than we had originally considered here - looking at the many animals, reptiles and birds location in the reserve. Those not considered dangerous or an escape risk were free to roam around with us humans. We found a Canadian connection while here - reading that the reserve was started as the Barbados Primate Research Centre by Canadian primatologist Jean Baulu and was later expanded/converted to its current operation as the Barbados Wildlife Reserve with funding from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). There were a few animals we had never seen before - such as the large rodent Patagonian Mara and it was interesting to see the different animals interact with each in the open environment.

      Our next destination was that of St Nicholas Abby, and by this point we were feeling pretty hungry so before touring the abby we made our way to a very pretty terrace at the back of the property where we had lunch - and our first taste of the locally caught flying fish. It was a nice lunch in a wonderful setting, and we could have just sat here and enjoyed the day, but there were things to do and see! St Nicholas Abbey started life as a working sugar cane plantation dating back to the 17th century and encompasses a total of over 365 acres of land. It is anchored by a house, know as the Great House, that was built in 1658. St Nicholas Abbey still produces rum today - and while we are not rum connoisseurs we definitely enjoyed the sample we tasted as we made our way around the self-directed tour. It was a very enjoyable visit. After leaving St Nicholas Abbey we decided to call our day’s touring over and make our way back to The House. Along the way we were sure wishing that more of the route was downhill to give our Terios some assistance! Climbing the hills of Barbados in our underpowered vehicle was a very humorous thing, indeed. Once there we enjoyed a refreshing drink on the deck and then we took a stroll along the beach to watch the sun set. It was both beautiful and quick.

      We weren’t in any particular hurry to head back to The House because we had made an 8:00pm reservation for dinner at a restaurant called The Tides - located a bit north of our hotel. It was too far to walk, so we’d be driving to The Tides. As we approached The House from the beach we could see a lot of movement both on the sand and the grass around the pool area - it was a large number of small red crabs moving quite quickly and then disappearing in holes in the sand. Their movements were fascinating to watch. We watched the platoon of crabs migrate from the pool to the beach and then we went back to our room to relax a bit and then prepare for dinner. The Tides had been recommended to us, and it didn't disappoint. From the greeting in the parking lot and then the hostess inside to the servers at the table we received good and friendly service and the food was lovely. The location was nice, too - sitting right at the edge of the water. It was a terrific dinner experience. The restaurant also has quite a bit of art on display so it was nice to look at that before we left The Tides. We made the easy drive back to The House and decided on a drink on the deck before retiring for the night. It was a nice way to end our busy and enjoyable day touring and enjoying Barbados.

  • Monday December 6, 2010

    Our 30th Anniversary

    Our 30th anniversary morning started with the champagne breakfast as it had done the day before - although this time we were a bit more organized on the egg front. The overall experience was the high standard we were coming to expect at The House. Our plan for the day was to enjoy breakfast and then head out to visit Harrison’s Cave, so we didn’t linger too long once we had finished breakfast.

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      It was a pleasant drive on a beautiful clear blue sunny day as we made our way there. We were getting better at navigating our way around Barbados - recognizing that if you were to rely solely on signs you’d never make it to where you wanted to go....or at least not efficiently, that is.

      Harrison’s Cave is named for Thomas Harrison - who had owned the land in the early 1700s, but really didn’t have anything to do with the cave. The first recorded exploration of the cave was in the 18th century, but it wasn’t until 1974 when its 2.3km cave stream was mapped out by a Danish engineer/cave enthusiast with help from a couple of men from Barbados. It was developed into the attraction it is today and first opened tot he public in 1981. We had been to the caves in Bermuda, so we were very interested to see the similarities and differences between the two sites. The operation at Harrison’s Cave was quite slick - and some elements had clearly not been in operation since 1981; they were far too new. Rather than walk (as we had done in Bermuda) the exploration of the cave would be done by electric tram. We found that clearly easy from a access point of view, but it did make taking photographs a lot more difficult. Harrison’s Cave is also much wetter than we recalled from the Crystal and Fantasy Caves in Bermuda - here there were plenty of drips from the cave ceiling. At times we had to stop taking photos and cover the camera to protect it from areas of significant drips. We weren’t entirely sure of the makeup of the water, so we didn't really want to take too many chances with the DSLR camera. The cave was fascinating to explore, and a very worthwhile attraction to visit while in Barbados.

      From Harrison’s Cave we decided to take a drive along the east coast of the island to see the more rugged Atlantic coast of Barbados. As we drove the needle on the fuel gage was dropping rather fast so we knew we needed to stop for gas soon - the only problem was that we just weren’t seeing any gas stations on our way. It was getting quite concerning when we finally happened upon a Shell station in Bellaire. It was such a relief. After the fact we know this was the only gas station we saw until we were close to the west coast on the return to our hotel. Fully fuelled, we made our way to see some of the rugged coastline and made a few stops to walk along the beaches and take some photos. The coast on this side was just for viewing - the strong undertow making it deadly to enter the water. The waves crashing agains the rock faces did make for spectacular views, though. The nature of the coastline makes this part of Barbados far less touristy that the west or south coasts: no hotels and restaurants hogging the Atlantic coastline. We enjoyed the views at each of the places we stopped, and without fear of running our of fuel the driving was enjoyable, too! After our stops and photo ops we took a meandering drive in the general direction of The House. We did make a stop at the West Coast Mall to have a look around - but the mall didn't really have much to offer. We did buy ourselves a snack and drink to tie us over, but other than that we found that the shopping was pretty much non existent for us. It might have actually taken longer to find a parking spot in the busy and crowded parking lot than it took to stroll around the shops inside the mall.

      Having not actually eaten lunch, we were glad we were to be back at The House in time for the afternoon tea - with a very appealing tray of small sandwiches and sweet pastries being served with our choice of tea. It was lovely and relaxing to sit under the open area shaded from the sun to enjoy this pleasant respite. Following our tea break we took another stroll along the beach as the sun set. Even though we had experienced it before, it was still quite amazing to watch how fast and how early the sun went down here. The conditions were a bit different than the day before - which gave us a varied although equally beautiful sunset. We took a few photo and enjoyed the stroll on the soft sandy beach in the wonderfully pleasant Barbados early evening. It would have been easy to stroll for a long time but we needed to return to our room to freshen up after our day out in the sun and heat.

      As we were nearing the end of getting ready for dinner there was a knock on the door - which turned out to be a delivery of champagne compliments of The House to celebrate our anniversary. That was a nice surprise, and made the finishing touches for our anniversary dinner just a bit more festive. Our cabana was nicely set for dinner as we arrived at the edge of the beach to be greeted by our server for the evening. Our dinner was wonderful - the food and service both being good, and it was very private as we sat on the beach and ate the sounds of the waves hitting the shore. The staff was attentive, but not intrusive at all. All in all it was memorable way to celebrate our 30th anniversary, indeed. It was interesting to have such a nice dinner and be able to play in the sand with one’s feet! When it came time for dessert our server brought what we had each ordered plus a decorated plate with a couple of chocolates. It took a moment to recognize that the nicely written wish on the plate actually said Happy Anniersary, but it was a nice touch even if missing the letter v. It was really just one cute and humorous thing to remember of an already unforgettable celebration dinner at the end of a wonderful day on which we marked our 30 years together. Was a great day! It was funny to note after that we hadn’t previously had such a nice dinner where we had to rinse the sand of our feet after, but this time for sure needed that after we returned to our room! Our plan for tomorrow was a relaxing beach day, which we were definitely ready for after two days of touring around Barbados.

  • Tuesday December 7, 2010

    A Relaxing Day in Barbados

    We started this day as we had the previous days - with a wonderful champagne breakfast at The House. The food was always fresh and tasty, and the coffee was always excellent! All that made for a great start to the day. Our plan for a beach day meant we were in no rush at all to enjoy the breakfast and the beautiful Barbados morning.

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      Following breakfast we found a location to set up for the day with a couple of beach chaise lounges, a table and an umbrella. Even fairly early on the morning it was quite hot under the Barbados sun. Our pale Canadian skin appreciated the protection of the big umbrella supplied by The House. It was an extremely relaxing morning and the colours of the sand and the beautiful blues of the sky and sea made our view wonderful. The rhythm of the waves breaking as it they approached the shore was almost hypnotic. Servers from The House came by to take orders and a few times just brought items such as iced ace cloths, towels and bottled water for guests to enjoy. That was nice. About the only “work” we had to do was reposition the umbrella to match the movement of the sun. By about the time we decided to take in lunch we wandered over to the covered deck area and enjoyed a very tasty version of the local flying fish - served battered with sweet potato fries and avocado dip. Yummy, indeed. The lunch was supplied by the adjoining Daphne’s Restaurant and we really enjoyed it.

      After lunch we returned to our chaise lounges to relax the rest of the day way. It was nice to interrupt the relaxing with a refreshing dip in the ocean. The waves were fun and the undertow was reasonably strong. As the afternoon continued a few local men gathered to fish in the area with small nets that they would throw from the shore. We were doubtful it would effective, but indeed they did catch fish this way. Our beach server for the day (Termaine) was one of our favourites at The House. For the afternoon he brought by ice-cream bars and fresh fruit cups as well as taking our drinks orders. His attentive and friendly service was certainly part of the overall enjoyment of the day. We snoozed and relaxed the afternoon away until about 4:30pm when we returned to The House’s deck area to take in some afternoon tea. Nicely, the sandwiches and scones and treats were varied from the day before. The service and the overall experience was the same good level provided by The House. We were certainly liking this place.

      We had dinner booked at a highly rated Barbados restaurant called The Cliff - that was conveniently located close to The House. We decided that we’d make the fairly short walk to the restaurant for our 7:30pm reservation. Prior to that we needed to shower off the day, so after a short walk on the beach it was back to our room to get cleaned up and dressed for dinner.

      We arrived at The Cliff at our reservation time, and rather than head straight to the table we made our way to the bar for an aperitif. From the bar we had a lovely view of the ocean that was nicely illuminated around the restaurant. We could also see where our table for dinner was located. A small jazz ensemble was performing in the bar area and it was nice to sit and enjoy a drink in this lovely setting. The singer in the ensemble was particularly good.

      At about 8:00pm we were ready to head to dinner, so one of the servers led us to our table on the edge of the water. From the first approach of the table serving staff we knew we were going to enjoy dinner here. They were well trained servers. The food at The Cliff was excellent and the entire evening was wonderful. The Cliff had certainly earned its reputation. The ambience, the service and the food were all terrific. It was a very enjoyable and memorable night and a fitting way to end our last evening on the island.

      We strolled back to The House after dinner...wondering a bit if it was the smartest choice. With the lack of lights and narrow roads without sidewalks most of the way it was a bit dangerous as cars passed by in the late evening. We did, of course, make it safely back to The House and with that our relaxing and final full day in Barbados was drawing to an end. It had been a really enjoyable day, and now only that end of vacation sadness was creeping in our thoughts as we anticipated the trip home.

  • Wednesday December 8, 2010

    Final Day in Barbados and Travel Home

    We rose early to get started on packing for the home trip before heading to our last champagne breakfast at The House. It was a time to reflect on the wonderful few days we had shared on this beautiful island and feel a bit sad that we hadn’t planned a slightly longer trip. We both thought that this would not be our last trip to Barbados, we had really enjoyed our time here. We had also really enjoyed our time at The House and thought it was a great choice for the type of getaway we wanted. It had been a terrific venue for celebrating our 30th anniversary.

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      Following breakfast we spent a bit of time on the beach for one last short stroll along the beach and then relaxing on the beachfront just outside The House. We said our goodbyes to some of the people we had met during our stay at The House and sought our some of our favourite servers to bid farewell and express our thanks. We stayed outside as long as we thought we should - until it was about time to head back to our room for the final finishing touches to our luggage. We left The House with enough time to take a more relaxed drive to the airport with a route that would take us through Bridgetown to see the sights there. It was a nice drive with a bit of exploring here and there to give us a feel for the southern end of the island. We concluded that we certainly selected the better area of Barbados to stay.

      Returning the rental car at the airport was easy and surprisingly quick based on our general experience with how things move in Barbados. Once checked in at the WestJet counter we made our way through security and we set of in search of a place to get something to eat while we waited for our flight to be called. We also needed to change into clothes that would better suit arrival back in Canada. We weren't the only ones doing that - seemed that most people were preparing to return to cooler environs.

      Boarding our flight home was delayed slightly, but other than that the experience at the airport was pleasant and quite efficient. The flight home was smooth and by evening time we were back into the cold air of Toronto. One thing we had both noticed immediately was it felt like we were back into the buildup for Christmas...into the cold air and plenty of Christmas decorations everywhere. We had seen some while in Barbados and it just looked so odd....but now back it was just as it should be. We were home.

      It had been a wonderful few days in the sun and as we said before - we will return to Barbados!

Barbados Image Gallery

Morning walk along the beach in Barbados
The beach near our hotel - The House
Colourful glass bottom boat
Looking up to the sun through some shade
The entrance to The House in Barbados
Cuban Iguanas at the Barbados Wildlife Reserve
View from Signal Station
Art shot on the beach in the late afternoon
Barbados sunset
Barbados sunset
Nighttime view near our room at The House
Inside Harrison's Cave, Barbados
View on the rugged Atlantic side of Barbados
Looking towards the bar area of The House
Ocean view from The House
Barbados sunset
Gary & Linda on the beach for a 30th anniversary dinner
Enjoying a relaxing day on the beach
About WHITEonline

WHITEonline is the digital home of Gary & Linda White. We’ve been married since 1980 and live just outside Toronto in Ontario, Canada. Linda was born and raised in Toronto while Gary was born in London, England and moved to Canada at the age of 11. We enjoy travelling and taking photos while we travel. WHITEonline provides the opportunity to share some of our photos & experiences.

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