Willemstad, Curacao

I really liked this port.  Curacao has a strong Dutch heritage which can be seen in the colourful buildings along the harbour.  Many of the buildings date from the 1700s and the old neighbourhoods and city centre were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. I took a tour in the morning which went out to an old plantation house built in the 1700s.  The current family has owned it since about 1900.   It used to be a summer home but  the mother of the current owner was an artist and turned it into an art gallery which it still is.  I have a picture of the centre hall.  There was a lot of vegetation around it so I could not get a good exterior shot.  I include another plantation house so you can see what they look like.  We also went to a herb garden run by a woman who started it herself.  She planted many trees in addition to the herbs and she makes soaps, shampoos, teas and medicinal products for sale.  She has also built replicas of slave quarters to give you the idea of how they lived. The red and yellow house is a replica of a house that was made from tin from the old Dutch Shell plant. A very knowledgeable guide gave us a 45 minute tour of the various trees and plants discussing their medicinal properties.  We had a general tour of the west end of the island before returning to the ship.  I then set out  for a self guided walking tour of the town.  It is on both sides of the main harbour and each side can be accessed by a pedestrian pontoon bridge (photo) which is moved to the side when a ship, such as ours, enters the harbour.   Free ferries do the crossing when the bridge is open.  The main town has many old buildings all painted in bright colours. The street facing the harbour is quite pretty. ( photo)  There are two very large markets.  I have a  picture of a basket of multi-coloured chillies.  The final picture is of the Government House.  This is the final port of this first week.  We return to Fort Lauderdale and then set out again for a different itinerary next week.

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