The first station on our trip is Willemstad, Curacao. Curacao is an island close to the Venezuelan coast (ca. 60 km). It is part of the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao). The three islands build the Netherlands Antilles and are now more or less independent from Netherlands. We enjoyed the island very much. It is a Caribbean island, however very civilized and fully conform to the European/western way of life.
Willemstad, the capital of the island Curacao is well known for the colorful buildings around the Sint Ana Bay which are now UNESCO culture heritage. The most important building is La Penha (the old stock exchange).
The Amsterdam fort was built in 1635 is now a government building.
During a stroll through the Banda we saw wonderful colourful beautiful restored houses which are used now by banks, embassies, lawyers, doctors etc.
Banda and Otrbanda are linked by the swinging Queen Emma Bridge, a mobile bridge that regurarly swings open to let huge ships pass through the channel. When the bridge is open, a shuttle boat carries the people from one side to the other.
The quarter Otrabanda is on the other side of the Sint Anna Bay. The former Riffort is now an important sightseeing point with lots of restaurants, bars and coffee shops and hotels. From the upper level you have an breathtaking view over the bay.
The Christofle National Park located ca. 50 km west from Willemstad. It spans over several hills with lots of cacti and iguanas and there are some wonderful views over wave-battered limestone cliffs.
Curacao has a lot of wonderful beaches and amazing diving and snorkeling spots. So I decided to take a diving course and I am very proud that I successfully finished it and I am now a certificate open water diver.
In Willemstad we lived in Frangipani Apartments (***** out of max. 5).The apartments are located ca. 10 km from downtown Willemstad close to the sea. There are six apartments of different sizes built around a pool of ca. 12 m length. We had a large apartment of ca. 40 qm with a large living room with a small kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. We could sit down outside either by the pool or in front of the flat entry on a small wooden terrace. The whole resort is very green and full of tropical plants. The apartments are quiet. An iguana family live free in trees in the resort. They enjoyed very much our presence. The resort is behind a security gate (card access only). The resort is very nice and cultivated. The owners are daily there and take care of the flats. However a car is a must. The next supermarket, bus station and coffee shop are ca. 3 km away, there is partially no sidewalk and after 7 pm the streets are quite dark.
We have enjoyed Curacao. It does not have that many top touristic sightseeing points but you can find on the island a lot of wonderful beaches and diving/snorkeling spots. The island is cultivated and has a relatively high standard of life. The way of life is close to the western one.
On Jan 10 we flew to Sint Maarten/St Martin, the second stop on our Caribbean trip.