Claudia and Trish
The first place we go from the bus station is the "new market", a large and airy covered space filled with vendors of produce, fish and meats, handicrafts and jewelry, personal products, and all sorts of items of interest and curiosity.
From there,we wander through the colonial streets of Punda. Willemstad is divided by its wide, deep commercial channel into two sides, called Punda and Otrabanda. Punda was and is the upscale side of town. Three hundred year-old buildings now house businesses like Tommy Hilfiger, Guess, diamond and luxury jewelry and other high end shops, which cater to cruise ship passengers and other, mainly Dutch tourists with money to spend.
I love the mix of colors and patterns.
Next we walk on to the old fort, still housing government offices.
From there, the waterfront is only a few steps away, with quayside cafes and coffee houses where you can enjoy a capuccino and watch the people and boats go by.
The hundred-year old pontoon bridge.
But we don't stop here. We turn back toward the center of town to get something to eat. Passing an art gallery, more "dushi" (meaning "sweet") local shops....
...and what would Girls' Day be without shoe shopping!
By now we are famished and ready for lunch. We head to the Plaza Bieu, the old market which has six kitchens inside, with cheap and cheerful local dishes favored by the people who work downtown. It's the best place to taste generous, inexpensive servings of local cuisine. If you leave hungry, you have only yourself to blame!
(People who know me know I was an epidemiologist and food safety instructor and inspector for 32 years...the food is piping hot and prepared fresh while you watch,and the turnover is brisk. While conditions are rudimentary, it's a pretty safe place to eat!)
And here's what you get! Delicious beef stew, slow-cooked in a mildly seasoned tomato-based sauce, accompanied by rice and sweet fried plantains, and with a side of funchi, similar to a creamy polenta or cornmeal mush, and definitely a great comfort food! Also available are goat stew (delicious), fried kingfish, grilled whole red snapper,whitefish filets, and chicken entrees, as well as Chinese food. For dessert you can get a tasty pumpkin pancake, rather like carrot cake, with raisins and spice. Inexpensive, nutritious, and fast service too, which is unusual here in the Caribbean. There's never a need to cook supper after a lunch like this.
Heading back to the bus station, we pass by the floating market, where we can pick up fresh and inexpensive seasonal produce from Venezuela before we head home.
With backpacks loaded, we head back to the bus stop and return to Fisherman's Harbor at Spanish Waters, there to find our men grinning because they also enjoyed their Womanless Wednesday as much as we did.