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We chose to take one of the shortest trips we’ve taken in years – a one week trip to Curacao – to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary on May 13th.  Curacao is a Caribbean island about 40 miles north of Venezuela.  It is part of the Netherland Antilles; therefore, the primary language is Dutch and primary currency is Gilders although English and Dollars are readily accepted. 

The first day of our trip was a very long travel day.  We had a very early start getting up at 3:00AM; yes, 3:00AM!  We had a 6:00AM flight from Albuquerque to Dallas.  Then a 10:30AM flight from Dallas to Miami.  On the last leg of our trip, Miami to Curacao, we choose to upgrade to business class and we enjoyed a wonderful dinner with excellent wine.  We landed at the Curacao airport at 7:15PM and quickly obtained our luggage and cleared immigration and customs.  When we did so, we were greeted by a transfer agent who drove us to The Renaissance Hotel (an upscale Marriott property) at Fort Rif (more below).  We checked in and were upgraded to a beautiful seaside room on the fourth (top) floor with great views of not only the ocean but also the elaborate pool area and some of the many boutique shops.  We were both very tired so we enjoyed a gin & tonic on our balcony and called it a very full day.

The balance of our time in Curacao was spent between exploring Willemstad, its capital city on foot, and taking a one day guided tour of the rest of the island which included some great snorkeling.


 Willemstad is divided into three major districts – Otrobanda (“the other side”), Punda (“the point’) and Scharloo.  A large saltwater channel which leads into Willemstad’s protected harbor separates Otrobanda from the other two districts; Otrobanda being on the west of the channel while Punda and Scharloo are on the east side of the channel.  They too are separated by a small arm of the channel.  Punda is the primary commercial area in the city while Otrobanda is considered to be primarily a residential district.

The Renaissance is located on the southern point in Otrobanda and is incorporated into Fort Rif.  Fort Rif is a UNESCO World Heritage site which was built in 1828.  The Fort sits at the edge of the entry to Willemstad’s protected harbor.  It’s built of coral stone with walls that are almost five feet thick.  In times of war or during times of pirate attacks, 56 cannons were stationed on the Fort’s perimeter.  Quite the deterrent!  Now, the Fort itself houses shops and restaurants which adjoin The Renaissance. 

When walking along the canal which separates Otrobanda from Punda, we got our first glimpses of the old Dutch-style warehouses located in Punda along Handelskade.  They are all painted in beautiful contrasting pastel colors.  On our first trek into Punda, we had intended to cross-over using a pontoon bridge (Queen Emma Bridge) originally built in the 1880’s but it had been retracted to allow a huge oil tanker to pass into the harbor.  So, instead, we walked to the ferry terminal to catch the free ferry which runs between Otrobanda and Punda when the bridge is retracted to allow ships access into the harbor.  While making the crossing (which only took about five minutes), you get some great views of the Handelskade area as well as being able to enjoy a seat out of the sun (yes, it’s hot and humid in Curacao).

While in Punda, we spent our days exploring many of the small streets and pedways which are loaded with shops and restaurants.  We really enjoyed our visits to the Floating Market.  This is a produce market where individuals from Venezuela sell fresh produce.  They bring the fruit and vegetables from Venezuela to Curacao in their small boats.  Then, they put out stands along the canal which separates Punda from Scharloo.  Behind the stands they anchor their boats and live in them there until it’s time to return to Venezuela for more produce.  The Floating Market is very colorful and there are always many shoppers making lots of purchases.  Interestingly, we visited two supermarkets in Willemstad and neither one carried much produce. It’s hard to compete with the Floating Market! 

We did venture into Scharloo via the Queen Willamena Bridge from Punda.  Schalaroo is the area of the city that was originally inhabited by many Jewish people. However, it is an older part of town and doesn’t have the tourist offerings of Punda.  It is an area of re-gentrification and likely will be developed in the future.  

Another sight in Punda is the Central Market.  It’s a circular, open-air building which houses a variety of vendors selling all sorts of goods and crafts.  Down the street from the Central Market is The Marshe (the “Old Market”).  It’s a huge building where local foods are prepared in individually owned food stands.  You can buy a cheap meal and then enjoy it while sitting at long tables shared with others also enjoying a great lunch. 

On most of our treks into Punda, the Queen Emma Bridge was out across the channel.  It’s an interesting walkway because it sways with the winds and tides due to its supporting pontoons.  In other words it floats on the bay.  However, it too offers great views of both Otrobanda and Punda, depending on which direction you are walking.

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The entry into the Renaissance Hotel
Our fourth floor room
(located in the red section)
Ed on our balcony
(a great spot for an evening cocktail!)
The Historic Fort Rif, now
part of The Renaissance
The fort and its sea wall
If you look carefully, you see
tons of crabs on the move
The brightly colored warehouses on
Handelskade with the Queen
Emma Bridge in the foreground
A closer view of these beautiful warehouses
A narrow pedway full of shops
The Floating Market which
features produce from Venezuela
The backside of The Floating Market where
the vendors live in their boats until
it's time to return to Venezuela
for more produce
The Marshe
(The eateries in the Old Market)
A view of the Queen Emma Bridge
with the colorful warehouses as a backdrop
Fort Amsterdam, now the
Seat of Government of Curacao
Ed with one of the cannons
at Fort Amsterdam
Temple Emanuel  in Punda
Lindy enjoying the beach/pool at
The Renaissance

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            Our island tour was arranged prior to our arrival in Curacao.  We booked a full day tour of the island, including doing some snorkeling and enjoying a picnic lunch. 

We began the tour at 8:30AM when our guide, Sander, arrived in a converted open-air jeep which seats up to eight individuals.  We were lucky in that our group was only four individuals.  It was also nice that on the back of the jeep were two huge thermos jugs – one with ice cold water and one with ice cold lemonade.  We enjoyed both throughout the day during our stops (it was impossible to try to drink any thing while hanging on in the back of the jeep whether on paved road or off-road). 

The tour began by driving north out of Willemstad along the east side of the island.  Once we drove past the backside of the airport, we turned inland to do some jeep touring (i.e., touring on very bumpy unpaved roads and/or dirt treks).  This is a very arid part of the island.  We were able to see a variety of birds, lizards, livestock (sheep and goats) and lots of cacti and plants.   

            We stopped at Keuba di Brua Cave and left the jeep to explore the cave on foot using flashlights.  The cave is still growing (witness stalagmites and stalactites) and is home to numerous small bats.  After our explorations inside the cave, we returned to the jeep and enjoyed a snack of fresh pastiche.  These are locally made snacks where dough is stuffed with meat, cheese or chicken fillings and then fried.  Yummy! 

After leaving this area, we proceeded through a family farm/ranch to reach a paved road to continue our explorations of the eastern side of the island.  We then drove to Shete Boca Park.  This park is the place where seven rivers once flowed to the sea in close proximity to one another.  We once again went off-road to get as close as possible to Boca Pistol.  We had to hike over ancient coral rocks for about 15 minutes each way to reach this amazing blow hole.  It was a treat to the senses – both seeing and hearing the sea rip into the land. 

After returning to the jeep, we were all thirsty and tired.  So, we returned to the park entrance which had some shaded picnic tables.  There we enjoyed locally made salads (one tuna, one chicken and one egg) on fresh buns.  Again, very tasty. 

Upon leaving Shete Boca park, we drove through the northern part of the island and through the village of Westpunt, as we began our trip south on the western side of Curacao.  While the sea is unbelievably rough on the eastern side of Curacao, the western side presents a calm and welcoming sea.  We stopped at high ground to be able to look down upon a beautiful beach.  We then drove further south to a sheltered beach for snorkeling.  We had hoped to see sea turtles but they weren’t there that day. 

We were able to spend a little over 30 minutes in the water and took our first pictures using an underwater camera.  The area we snorkeled was a protected lagoon so there wasn’t too much tide or wave action.  We were able to see a variety of fish as well as corals. 

At 4:15PM, it was time to head back to Willemstad.  The 45 minute ride was very windy (as Sander warned it would be).  We arrived back near The Renaissance just in time to see a huge cruise ship exiting the canal.  Sander stopped so that we could jump out and take photographs of the monster.  Then, we returned to the hotel after a very full and interesting day.  Sander was a great guide – very informative and very entertaining.  Explore Curacao did a great job in organizing the tour and we highly recommend it to others. 

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This is the desert side of Curacao
which is covered with different types of cacti
A pair of Cara Cara birds (Hawks)
Ed actually captured these Cara Cara mating
Another shot of this beautiful desert
Lindy by a giant cactus
Lindy at the entry to Keuba di Brua (Brua Cave)
Lindy inside the cave
A view of the cave's interior
A stalagmite that is continuing to grow
Bats hanging upside down in the cave
Look at this colorful lizard we spotted
We're now entering Seven Rivers Park, the
confluence of seven rivers reach the ocean
The blow hole known as Boca Pistol
Another view of Boca Pistol
Us at Boca Pistol
Look carefully to spot the iguana
One of the beautiful beaches on the
non-desert side of Curacao
Ed is taking snaps of fish as we
snorkel in a sheltered bay - this
one is a Parrot Fish
This guy is really purple
Again, a couple of beauties
against a background of coral
Here's a whole collection of different species
This big guy is accompanied by a
tiny fish which occasionally cleans the big one
Another Parrot Fish
Curacao's National Bird sitting in a tree
near the beach.  It's a Trupial or
Orange-Breasted Oriole

[ T O P ]


We truly enjoyed our time on the beautiful island of Curacao!  It was a wonderful place to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary and begin our 31st year of wedlock.  When you travel with your spouse who also is your best friend, you know in advance whatever adventure you undertake will be great because you’re together! 


P.S.:  Our return travel was a bit of a pain.  We were up at 4:00AM on May 14 in anticipation of a 5:00AM transfer for our 7:15AM flight.  However, when we went to the lobby, we were told that our flight had been postponed until 8:00PM – almost 13 hours later – due to mechanical problems.  Talk about time to kill! So, we went back to our room until 1:00PM and then checked out of the hotel.  We transferred to the airport at 1:30PM and found a VIP lounge where we could wait (for a fee) in a semi-cool place with cold beer and some nice wines.   

We finally boarded our plane at 8:45PM (it actually was the incoming plane from Miami that arrived at 7:15PM; our originally scheduled plane was still on the runway awaiting parts).  We arrived in Miami at ~11:45PM and cleared immigration.  Unfortunately, our bags didn’t arrive on the carousel.  We believed (and it was true) that the bags arrived on the 3:00PM flight from Curacao but no one was willing or available to assist us.  Since it was too late to catch a flight out of Miami, American arranged for our accommodations at a nearby hotel.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get to our room until 2:00AM as we continued to try to get our luggage out of baggage storage.   

We returned back to the airport at 8:00AM and finally obtained our luggage with the assistance of personnel available to “Priority” clients (i.e., American flyers with status).  We were then switched to earlier flights and we finally returned to Albuquerque at 6:30PM on Sunday, May 15.

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