Visiting Barbados: A Conversation with Alessandra Pollina
This month, we’re interviewing women from all over the world and asking them about their experiences traveling to the Caribbean. We had the privilege of speaking with Alessandra Pollina about her experience visiting Barbados. Here’s a glimpse into our conversation.
Tell us about yourself! What do you do when you’re not traveling the world? Where do you live? What made you decide to go to your most recent destination?
I run a public relations + marketing communications business based in Boston where I work with local small businesses as well as offer digital products on my website so that people around the world can learn and take charge of their own PR + marketing needs themselves. I live in Boston, which is cold many months of the year, but my husband was born and raised in Barbados, and we try to go there at least once a year. This most recent trip was the first time that we brought our son, who was 10 months old at the time, to visit his father’s hometown and meet his family, so it was a really special trip.
How long did you go for? How did you spend your time?
We went for two weeks. The first week our best friends from Boston came with us and we took them around to all of the main destinations. We went to restaurants, tourist attractions, and beaches. We love to take one day to drive all around the island and stop at the more out of the way beaches and random little street-side bars for snacks and cold drinks. You can drive all the way around the whole island in one day.
What were your most memorable experiences? What were the biggest disappointments?
One of the most memorable experiences is always the catamaran boat tour, on a boat called Cool Runnings. They take you out for a whole day, providing a light breakfast and coffee and juices in the morning, and a buffet style authentic Bajan lunch, with unlimited rum punch all day. There are two stops, one to get off and swim with turtles, and one to snorkel with fish at a coral reef and old shipwreck. One day the girls went to the spa at one of the Hilton hotel and had the most relaxing day. That was like nothing I’ve ever done before and was the most amazing day. We had access to the pools and beach at the hotel for the rest of the day, and were able to explore everything at the hotel too. It was really fun to have the day of ‘resort living’ experience since that’s not something I’ve ever done before. There were literally no disappointments on this trip at all. Every day in Barbados is paradise.
What do you wish you knew before you went?
I was pretty well informed, because this was my third time on the island, and my husband knows it like the back of his hand. But one thing I tell people before they go is to bring American cash, rather than exchanging money when you get there. They’ll accept $1 US in place of $2 BD everywhere, but if you exchange at a bank you’ll get a little bit less than the 2:1 ratio because it’s technically slightly off, so you’ll lose money. Also, I recommend using airbnb to find a great place to stay.
Any favorite restaurants/hotels/hostels/sites you’d like to recommend? Tell us what made them great!
So many! The most amazing restaurant if you’re looking for a fancy night out, with no expense spared is The Cliff. It’s the most gorgeous restaurant, literally on the edge of a cliff right over the water which is all lit up at night. The food is so delicious too. For a more authentic Bajan experience, you have to try the side of the road bars and get whatever fish they are frying up that day. Everyone is so friendly and genuinely wants to share their food and culture, so they will be happy to suggest what to get and probably even offer you a sample, so just go with it and don’t be shy. You have to visit Oistins on a Friday night where there are tons of stalls selling fish and other specialties. My favorite one is Roslin’s- the line gets long but it’s worth it. Oh and you have to stop and get coconut water from anyone and everyone selling it on the side of the road- sold in jugs or straight out of the coconut with a straw- so refreshing and delicious.
Is there anything that women specifically should know before they travel to your destination?
Everyone is really friendly and really wants you to have a good time. People will be helpful and chatty, and it’s really fairly safe compared to many Caribbean countries. But you should still be aware of your surroundings and be smart.
Photo Credit: Berit Watkin