The first stop on our Caribbean cruise on the Celebrity Summit was the island nation of Barbados. Twenty one miles long by 14 miles wide, Barbados is home to nearly 300,000 people if there are not ships in town. Our ship was one of about five docked there that day, meaning the population on the island grew by more than 10,000 for a short time. Talking to the locals, that’s pretty normal for this time of year.

Meghan was happy to show off this Welcome to Barbados sign at the port.

Meghan was happy to show off this Welcome to Barbados sign at the port.

Having never been to Barbados, we booked an excursion called “Best of Barbados” through Celebrity Cruises that would take us around the island to see some of the highlights of the tropical wonderland. Our ship was parked right up front meaning that we didn’t have to walk as far as folks on other ships (a good thing when the ships park front to back and are over 1,000 feet long) so we were able to walk right up through the terminal to where the buses are parked for the excursions. We found our bus, got on, and sat down. Sort of. I’m not sure I’ve ever been in a seat with such a small amount of legroom.

As you can see from this picture, leg room was quite limited on the tour bus we took around Barbados. Steve is 6'4" and could barely fit his legs into the seat.

As you can see from this picture, leg room was quite limited on the tour bus we took around Barbados. Steve is 6’4″ and could barely fit his legs into the seat.

The tiny amount of legroom was a small price to pay, however, in order to see the wonderful sights on Barbados. We drove for about 30 minutes while our guide explained some of the history of the island and its sugar industry as we headed toward our first stop: St. John’s Parish Church.

St. John's Parish Church in Barbados

St. John’s Parish Church in Barbados

The first church was built on this site in the 1600’s, with the present-day church completed in the early 1800’s. The church is high on a hill with some amazing views around it.

The views from the back of the church were absolutely stunning - even on a cloudy day.

The views from the back of the church were absolutely stunning – even on a cloudy day.

Behind the church is a graveyard that dates back to the first church building.

The cemetery at St. John's Parish.

The cemetery at St. John’s Parish.

There was a wall around the cemetery, presumably because people are just dying to get in, which, if you saw the incredible view, you’d understand why. From St. Johns, we folded ourselves back onto the bus and headed toward our favorite stop of the day, Orchid World.

We had a great tour through Orchid World where we learned about all of the plants and birds there.

We had a great tour through Orchid World where we learned about all of the plants and birds there.

Once there, our guide led us down a beautiful path and shared with us examples of local plant life. We learned about plants like the Traveler’s Palm and how early travelers knew they could find drinkable water in it.

This Ravenala plant is often called the Traveller's Palm because it can be bent to produce water for weary travelers.

This Ravenala plant is often called the Traveller’s Palm because it can be bent to produce water for weary travelers.

Notice the bottom left stem of the green plant where it is broken off. This is likely where gardeners cut the plant to get a drink.

Notice the bottom left stem of the green plant where it is broken off. This is likely where gardeners cut the plant to get a drink.

We also walked through structures that held hundreds of beautiful orchids. This took a while because people kept taking pictures–and if you look at some of the photos Ann took, you can see why.

The flowers at Orchid World were just beautiful.

The flowers at Orchid World were just beautiful.

The exposed root systems from the orchid plants were so interesting. Personally, I have never been able to keep them alive.

The exposed root systems from the orchid plants were so interesting. Personally, I have never been able to keep them alive.

Our Barbados journey had a third stop, (I lived for any opportunity to get off the bus and stretch my legs) a signal station that was largely unremarkable save for the amazing vista over the countryside and ocean from the tower where the soldiers stood to pass messages around the island using a series of flags. Beautiful view, but when it started to sprinkle, we were happy to get back on the bus (until it was time to sit down, anyway) and head back to the port.

Back in port, we stuck our noses in a few of the shops, found a postcard, a stamp, and dropped it in the mail.

mailing postcard

We wandered back out toward the ship, reminiscing about all the wonderful things we’d seen that day. We were glad to be on vacation, in a new place, and seeing new things. The trip was still young–this was the first of five ports of call–and we were looking forward to exploring more sites in the days to come. Next stop — St. Lucia.

Have you been to any islands in the Caribbean? What was your favorite? Let us know, we’d love to hear from you.

  • Have you always wanted to visit @thepioneerwoman lodge in Oklahoma? We’ve got a new blog post today with 12 tips to make your visit spectacular. Our website link is in our bio. And if the lodge is not open for tours when you can come, no worries! There are plenty of great things to see and do when you @visit_the_osage and @pwmercantile I’m Pawhuska. #pawhuska #pioneerwoman #drummondlodge #ranch #postcardjar #reedrummond
  • This is our first spring in Osage County, Oklahoma, and we are in awe of these trees!! It is a red bud and is the state tree of Oklahoma. They are everywhere around here and we love spotting the bright pinkish purple blooms among the green trees. So much beauty in nature. #redbud @visit_the_osage  @travelok
  • Sitting in our hotel room in Venice, we could look out across the busy canal toward St. Mark's cathedral. The fact that it's an island city makes it different from any other city in the world. Water taxis zoomed around, larger vaporettos chugged past, as well. Occaisionally, a cruise ship would glide past our window. Tourists from all over the world came to take in this spectacle, yet to the locals, who drive boats down tight canals with ease, this is what normal life looks like. The world is indeed a large, interesting place. Have you been to Venice? ⁣
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  • Seeing this photo takes us back to the the cooking class we took last summer on the island of Mykonos in Greece. We went to a woman's home, learned about Greek culture and history, and then prepared a meal using fresh ingredients from the garden in her back yard. Suffice it to say, it was one of the most delicious meals we'd ever had. But perhaps even better are the memories of the warm welcome we received as we entered her home and the glimpse into the lives of real people in another part of the world. ⁣
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  • Trust us on this: there is nothing that relaxes more than kicking back in a hammock in the shade on a beach in the Caribbean. Except maybe leaving that relaxing spot and getting back on a cruise ship for cocktails and a gourmet dinner. What do you do to relax on vacation? ⁣
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  • Near Valdobbiadene, in the heart of Italy's Prosecco region, is a bar with no bartender. You simply go inside, take the wine or beer you want from the fridge, and leave your money to pay for it in a box. We weren't sure who the owner of this bar is, or even who keeps it stocked. What we do know from the cards and notes they've left is that people from all over the world have come here and respected the honor system. It's amazing how honest folks will be if you just show a little trust. ⁣
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  • Ahhh...the Piazza del Campo in Siena! We absolutely loved our time here, sitting at a sidewalk cafe, sipping delicious Chianti Clasico wine and savoring the some of the best lasagna and pasta carbonara we'd ever had. While there, we noticed a number of people drinking some kind of orange colored drink. Our waiter explained it was a spritz of some sort. We asked if it were good. She shook her head and said that only the Americans seemed to like it. ⁣
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  • This barn at at @Calamus_Outfitters in @visitnebraska serves as a reminder that this really is a working ranch. The Switzer family has poured their hearts and souls into the land. We think it's pretty neat that they're willing to share this piece of the beautiful Nebraska Sandhills with visitors. Have you been to the Nebraska Sandhills? ⁣
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Making the most of midlife.