Cruise Day #4: Curaçao...

This was not only our first time to Curaçao, but the ship's as well. Located approximately 40 miles north of the Venezuelan coast, this island is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. It has a population of over 150,000 in an area of 171 square miles.

We rented a car and did a driving tour around the island. Our first stop was Fort Nassau (1797). When the Dutch arrived in 1634, they began building forts at key points around the island to protect themselves from foreign powers, privateers, and pirates. This one, one of the best preserved, has had an interesting history and afforded us outstanding views.

The birding was an added bonus. How beautiful are these?!

A must was a history lesson and some tastings at Senior Curaçao Liqueur Company. According to displays here, the Jewish Senior family came across an original recipe for this delicious drink, flavored with the dried peel of the laraha citrus fruit, in 1896. In 1947, they bought the Landhuis (Dutch for "country manor") Chobolobo in Willemstad, where the distillery has since been housed. As this company is the only one who uses lahara fruit from Curaçao, it has been permitted to put the word "genuine" on its labels.

At one time, there were 110 of these Landhuis here. Now only half remain.
After returning our rental car, we headed to the island's capital, Willemstad, founded by the Dutch West India Company. Prior to this time, Curaçao had been ignored by colonists because it lacked gold deposits. However, the natural harbor of Willemstad proved to be an ideal spot for trade. Commerce and shipping — and piracy— became Curaçao's most important economic activities. Then, in 1662 the Dutch West India Company made Curaçao a center for the Atlantic slave trade. Many Dutch colonists grew affluent from the slave trade, and the city built impressive colonial buildings. The architecture blends Dutch and Spanish colonial styles. The wide range of historic buildings in and around town has resulted in the capital being designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
To walk to the capital, one must cross the Queen Emma Bridge, a 551 ft long pontoon bridge. Interestingly, this bridge swings open to allow the passage of ships to and from the port. The bridge was originally opened in 1888 and the current bridge was installed in 1939. It is best known and, more often than not, referred to by the locals as "Our Swinging Old Lady". On our return, the alarm sounded, and the bridge opened, while we were on it. We had to wait over 30 minutes for it to swing back, but it was such a unique experience, we delighted in it.

We returned to the ship tired but happy! How wonderful to explore such an interesting, new place with no expectations but of having a blast... it was a success.

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Nick and Deb's Excellent Adventure said...

Looks beautiful there! Lots of cool history too😍

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