We have started New Year 2016 in Willemstad (Capital of Curacao) on the Made in Curacao tour on our Holland America cruise.
Our tour began with a drive through Willemstad’s city center. We saw several mansions constructed in the Old Dutch colonial style including the Wedding Cake House with many pastel colored buildings throughout. While traversing the Queen Juliana Bridge across Sint Anna Bay we got a great view of our ship in the harbor on the right and the huge Royal Dutch Shell Isla Refinery on the left. This bridge is the perfect place to take in views of the harbor and the city center below.
Soon we arrived at the Curaloe Aloe Vera Farm where the plantation owner gave us a great demonstration of the use and properties of the Aloe Vera plant. She even cut one up and gave those willing the opportunity to try it. Everyone also was given a small sipping cup of the Aloe Vera extract to try. Afterwards we moved into the product area where you could try and/or purchase many items made from the Aloe Vera plant. Unfortunately because it was New Year’s Day, the plant was not in operation.
Our next stop was at the Bon Bini factory and mansion. The original distillery for the famous Blue Curacao liqueur. This was a self-guided mini museum tour that gave the opportunity for a few snapshots before entering the Bon Bini store at Landhuis Chobolobo. Once in the store you could obtain small sipping samples of the various types of Curacao liqueur and purchase those that you liked.
The last stop was at Curacao Wines. A very nice and quaint establishment that reminded me of the small rural wineries back home. This winery is a new adventure for the area as it has the notary of being the first wine-producing farm in the Caribbean. Our guide took us through the small surrounding vineyards and showed us how the local water supply was used as an irrigation method. Afterwards we sat on the back veranda overlooking the vineyards and the sea while sipping sufficient samples of all three wines that are produced there.
At the end of our tour we were dropped back at the pier. With a few hours to spare Leslee and I decided to take the short walk into the city Centre. Most all shops were closed today, but the one notable thing we did encounter was the Queen Emma Bridge. This bridge is a pontoon bridge crossing St. Anna Bay. It connects the Punda and Otrobanda quarters of the city. What was so unique about the bridge is that as we were standing near the bridge after crossing it we heard an audible alert sound. Not knowing what was going on the bridge slowly began to move. It turned out that the entire structure was hinged and that it is moved 90 degrees in a counterclockwise direction to allow ship traffic to transit the St. Anna Bay. Way cool!