Balancing city culture and country calm
Curacao is the most colorful place I’ve traveled. Ever. Showing off with Dutch architecture splashed in Caribbean color, plus a sultry set of natural assets (read: coral cliffs giving way to Swarovski crystal-sparkly water), don’t hate her because she’s beautiful.
In case a geography lesson is in order: Curacao sits on the cusp of the Caribbean Sea between Aruba and Bonaire in an island trio known as the ABCs. Bonus: only 35 miles North of Venezuela, the tropical paradise is outside the hurricane belt!
When I visited Curacao, the more research I did pre-trip, the more I gleaned that I’d have to balance the city and the country. After all, the main city, Willemstad, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the country is rimmed with ribbons of white sand and 65 individual dive sites.
Viewfinder Tip: Curacao’s country is breezy and the city is sweltering – the island is only 12° North of the equator! Pack loose, breathable clothes to handle the heat.
My Curacao quest started in the city. Taking a taxi from the airport into town, I found out my taxi driver spoke four languages – English, Dutch, Spanish, Papiamentu – and was learning a fifth, German. A new flight path from Dusseldorf was about to start, so the tourism board was offering language lessons to hospitality workers. He planned on mastering the language. I was in awe (and excited to meet more multilingual locals)!
In Willemstad, I spent the whole time wandering the famously walkable city on foot and through my lens, capturing the pastel hues coating the cityscape. My only stops were for more multilingual chats – I wanted to practice my Spanish – beer, misters, and air conditioning. (Why yes, I would like a gust of cool air with my duty-free lipstick. Seven lipsticks later, my husband cut me off.)
Curacao’s color and Queen Emma Bridge
Braking for beer proved to be a much cheaper cool-down than my lipstick-slash-air conditioning method. Really, it’s the restaurant misters I was most into, but I had to order something to get access! Sitting beside St. Anna Bay under the shade of a yellow umbrella, I sipped Amstel Light after Amstel Light (one of the island’s local beers) enveloped in a cloud of mist. Ahhhh.
To me, this perch was primo because it overlooked the historic and still-operational Queen Emma Bridge – steered by a captain – connecting Willemstad’s once divided districts. When ships approach the deep-water port, the bridge shifts to one side, when the coast is clear, it swings back into position. Best part: you can either hitch a ride (for free), or run to land before the bridge boogies.Watching this meandering marvel, I was like a kid in a museum. Come to think about it, sitting within a UNESCO World Heritage Site, I was in a museum, of the open-air variety.
Once my camera’s SD card was nearly full of building, bridge, and beer shots, I headed for the hills to the Westernmost part of the 38-mile island. The transfer was easy (read: included) because I’d chosen to stay at a boutique hotel duo, Kura Hulanda Hotel & Spa in Willemstad, and the Lodge & Beach Club in Westpunt. Here, my agenda was more in keeping with the pace of Curacao’s countryside: sleep, eat, beach, read, snorkel, repeat. Basking in the breeze, it was just me, my husband, and Curacao’s natural assets. Ok, and a bottle of Amstel Light!
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