Beautiful Curacao

Beautiful Curacao

 

Bon Dia!

Last month, I took  an amazing trip to Curacao!    Did you know Curacao is one of the cheapest islands to travel to during the winter?   Airline tickets drop as low as $300 and hotel accommodations start at $96 during the winter months.   If you’re on a budget like me, it’s the perfect travel destination!

Curacao is the most colorful island in the Caribbean, it is known for its brilliantly hued buildings and beautiful beaches.   You’ll fall in love with just exploring and learning more about the culture.

 

The Weather
Curacao is beautiful all year round!  It’s not extremely hot, they have the perfect weather.   One of the best things about Curacao weather is that the island is generally not affected by hurricanes, the hurricane frequency is about every 28 years.  The last hurricane to hit Curacao was Hurricane Felix in 2016.

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The Culture
Life in Curacao is just as laid back as it is on any other island in the Caribbean.  I had to remind myself when service was slow, that I was used to everything being so rushed back home.

Most of the people on the island are Afro-Caribbean, however there are also many Dutch, French, Latin American and Asian people on the island as well.  It’s a melting pot just like America!

Kokomo
Curaçaoan man outside of Kokomo Beach

While English is widely spoken on the island, we took time to learn the local language Papiamento, it’s a mix of Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch.

Some of the phrases we learned were:

Bon Dia – Good Morning
Bon Tardi – Good Afternoon
Bon Nochi – Good Night
Ayo – Goodbye

We also learned the term “Dushi”, which sounds like a bad word but it actually has a beautiful meaning:

dushi

There’s very little crime on the island, the local jail only has 75 inmates.  Clearly, a huge difference from here in the US.

For the most part, the people are friendly.  We did run into a bit of racism in the Jantiel area of the island.  Nothing too extreme, just a lot of pointing, staring and laughing.   We brushed it off and continued to have a great time.

 

Exploring
The Punda District in Willemstad is known for its’ colorful buildings.  Buildings in the area used to be all white.  Word on the street is, the Governor of the island suffered from severe headaches which he believed stemmed from the brightness of the sun hitting the stark white buildings.   He ordered that all buildings be painted any color but white.   It was later discovered that the Governor had a large share in the islands only paint store… #shadyboots

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Colorful buildings in Willemstad

 

Street Art is EVERYWHERE… every corner we turned we found beautiful murals

 

One of my favorite things about Willemstad was the shopping.  There were so many cute shops and restaurants in the area.   I highly recommend stopping past Bamali, it’s a cute accessory and apparel shop in the middle of the Punda District.  It’s owned by a woman name Marjorie and she makes everything in the shop by hand.

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The hat I had made by Marjorie, designer and owner of Bamali

 

While you’re in Willemstad be sure to buy a Chichi.  Chichi’s are symbolic in Curacao, they represent the older women in our lives that we hold in high esteem, like mothers, grandmothers, mentors, aunties etc.  The Chichi statues are curvaceous and beautifully painted.  I didn’t buy one, but I def took a pic with one… and I may or may not have checked to make sure she didn’t have breast cancer.

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Me and the Chichi

 

Oh and be sure to stop by the Punda Love Heart to “Love Your Love”  before you leave Willemstad!  The Punda Love Heart was created to celebrate the local artists in the community.  But, love locks have a deeper history.  Over 100 years ago a school mistress and a Serbian army officer wrote their names on a lock and placed it on the Bridge of Love in Serbia.  This tradition spread throughout Europe and people have “locked their love” on bridges all across the continent including the Ponts de Arts Bridge in Paris.

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Punda Love Heart
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Locking our love

 

As I mentioned before, the beaches in Curacao are amazing.  We were fortunate enough to get to two of the beaches, Kokomo and Mambo beach.  The most popular and most beautiful one is Klein Knip beach.   I can’t speak for Klein Knip beach, but be sure to bring water shoes with you to the beach, the rocks in the water are slippery and kind of painful to walk on.

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Panoramic view of Mambo Beach

 

Kokomo Beach has the cutest swing in the water that is perfect for snapping a pic for the gram.  Unfortunately, my lack of upper body strength and coordination wouldn’t allow me to get on the swing.  I’m determined to able to get on it next time!

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Sunset view of the Kokomo swing

 

Food in Curacao
Food is a major part of my decision to travel to Curacao.  One of my foodie friends told me how good the food is in Curacao and she was right! Everything we ate in Curacao was absolutely amazing!  It’s a big difference from the junk so many of the restaurants here in the US serve.  I didn’t see one McDonalds while we were there, but they love Subway – I saw quite a few of them.   I highly recommend Zest Beach Grill in Jantiel, Mistral Bistro in the Punda District in Willemstad, and De Visserij in Piscadera Bay.   Fresh seafood is incredibly inexpensive and will not disappoint.

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Shrimp basket, fried tuna, french fries and “funchi hassa” (fried polenta)  – De Visserij

 

Here are a few things I wish someone told me before I left:

  • Taxis are expensive, rent a car it will cost $40 per day. We spent $250 on taxis in just three days. (someone actually told me this but I thought I knew what I was doing)
  • Racism is Alive and Well – Certain areas like Jantiel seem to not like persons with highly melanated skin. It’s nothing too extreme but it’s definitely noticeable.
  • DO NOT stay at the Floris Suite Hotel, they have cockroaches, the rooms smell like mildew and the customer service is terrible. Even TripAdvisor will make you think this hotel is beautiful… trust me it’s not!
  • If you like to partake in libations, bring your own alcohol, the majority of cocktails we had were severely watered down.
  • Don’t leave without visiting Klein Knip beach… the locals call it Kinippa
  • Bring mosquito spray, the mosquitoes are definitely hungry down there. Oh, and beware of the flies… there are a lot of flies!
  • When you go to Mistral Bistro, ask Robert to make you a Rum Punch… its BOMB!
  • Stay at the BijBlaw (pronounced BAY-BLOWWWWW),  the hotel is beautiful and the food is bomb!
  • Bring cash with you, they accept US currency everywhere!
  • Oh, and remember “Dushi” isn’t a bad word!

 

 

I really hope you’ll check out Curacao!  I promise you won’t be disappointed!

Ayo Dushi!! (Goodbye Beautiful)

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Surviving a Long-Haul Flight

Surviving a Long-Haul Flight

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If you’ve got big plans to go to that amazing destination that’s on your bucket list, chances are its going to require a long flight. Personally, I love long flights.  But for some, long flights are the absolute worst!  They don’t have to be though,  long flights can be really comfortable and a breeze to get through as long as your are prepared.

Here are a few tips to get you prepared for your long flight:

Wear Comfortable Clothes
Nobody wants to be stuck in restrictive clothing on a long haul flight.  So be sure to wear loose and comfortable clothes that you won’t mind being in for 10+ hours.   My go to outfit for travel is leggings, a long sleeve t-shirt, and a long cardigan.  It gets cold in the cabin so it’s important to dress in several loose layers so that you are as comfortable as possible during your flight.  

Make sure your footwear is loose and not too snug since your feet may swell at high altitudes.   Those hideous slide sandals everyone is wearing these days are perfect plane shoes and they definitely come in handy when going through security.

Oh yea… and wear compression socks to help with your blood circulation.  When purchasing your compression socks, be sure to get the right size because if they are too small, they can be painful to wear.  I’ve gotten the wrong size before and ended up with painful bruises on my legs. 

Reserve a Comfortable Seat
Mannnnnnnnnnnnn! I remember when I was flying back from Sydney two years ago, I picked the worst possible seat ever.  I misunderstood what I was seeing on the seating chart and selected the seats in the middle of the plane, so there were four people sitting with me.  I got an aisle seat, but the woman next to me ordered a beer every time the flight attendant offered beverage services.  Needless to say, I got up six times during our 15-hour flight to let her go to the bathroom.  I tried to switch seats with her but she refused.  The lesson I learned, pick a seat you can be comfortable in and not have to move around much.  I’ve gotten a window seat on just about every long-haul flight I’ve taken since then.

A few other seating tips:

  • If you want to avoid children, don’t sit at the front of the plane.  The front of the plane is typically provisioned for families with small children and infants on international flights.
  • If you feel you’ll want to move around a lot, be sure to get an aisle seat. 
  • For more leg room, opt to sit in an exit row.  Be sure that you understand the responsibility that comes along with being seated in an exit row before you select your seat.

Prepare for Sleep
If you’re on a long haul flight, most likely you will be on a plane for half a day or more.   For this reason alone, you’ll want to make sure you are as comfortable as possible.  Be sure to pack a light blanket (I’m scared to use the blankets provided on planes), ear plugs, an eye mask and make sure you invest in a really good neck pillow. 

You may also want to consider buying some form of a sleeping aid in case you find yourself having trouble sleeping.  My go to is Zzzquil, they have a medicated version, as well as, an all-natural vegan supplement. 

Bring Your Own Snacks
You’re guaranteed to get a meal on a long-haul flight.  However, you may not get food when you really want it.  On my most recent flight, I had pasta for breakfast and hash browns w/ tofu scramble for dinner.   You may find yourself attempting to sooth the pains of hunger and silence the loud growls of your stomach.  I always try to pack a few snacks for the flight just in case I find myself getting hungry while waiting for the food trolley to come down the aisle.   When packing snacks, opt for foods that can easily fit in your carry-on luggage and can be reached easily like cereal bars, trail mix, or granola.

Stay Hydrated
The air in the cabin is very dry and there is a high chance that you may become dehydrated during your flight.  It may be a good idea to bring an empty water bottle on the plane with you so that you can fill up when the food and beverage trolley comes around.  This way, you can stay hydrated in between food breaks.  You should also make sure that your skin is hydrated as well, so be sure to bring some form of moisturizer with you.  Avoid using sprays like rose water and hydration sprays as the cabin air mixed with the sprays makes the skin even drier.

Charge Up
Make sure all of your electronic devices are charged up.  While many airlines offer outlets to plug up electronics, it’s been my experience that the outlets don’t provide the best power.  The last time I plugged my phone up to a USB port on a plane, my phone was at 26%. Cut to a few hours later, my phone was still on 26%.   You don’t want to find yourself bored on the flight because you forgot to charge up your iPad.

Select a Good Airline
This probably should have been the first tip.  There is nothing worse than an uncomfortable international flight.  So, be sure to research airlines before booking your ticket.  The cheapest airline may not always be the right choice; depending on your needs.  I selected Ethiopia Airlines for my flight to South Africa and I quickly regretted my decision after boarding.  

While there were awesome food choices, there was no Wi-Fi, the legroom in each row was less than any other airline had flown before, and the seats were old and raggedy.

The mistake I made was going with the airline that had the cheapest rate, without researching the airline.  Lesson learned.

By following these guidelines, you are sure to have a comfortable experience during your long haul flight.    Have you taken a long flight before?  How did you survive?

 

Jennifer