Just a few minutes after we left Bonaire, we found ourselves landing on Curacao. This airport was easily the busiest that we saw on the whole trip – including the one in Charlotte! This is not to say that there was the same amount of traffic, pedestrian or vehicular. Just that the place was packed. Part of this was because of construction and remodeling going on. Part of it was that the poor little airport was simply overwhelmed.
While we had found online that we’d be able to catch a bus to the part of the island we were visiting (called Punda), we waited and waited for a bus that never came. Now it’s possible that we didn’t wait long enough. But we sat in the heat for at least 30 minutes, and decided we had done so long enough. We found a taxi to take us to the Hotel San Marco, where we were staying. The price of the taxi wasn’t bad – just $25 US, including tip. It was, however, much more than the couple bucks we would have spent on the bus.
Nonetheless, it was a good thing we took the taxi. Curacao was by far the busiest island we visited – or at least it had that perception. The streets in the downtown area were small and crowded, and while the hotel wasn’t far from the bus station, we probably would have never found our way there on our own. Being delivered to the front door was nice.
The hotel was of solid – but not fancy – quality, and it even had a casino on the ground floor (not that we gambled there, but it was an option if you’re into that sort of thing). After dropping our bags there, we visited the Curacao Maritime Museum. This was a nice museum, with lots of maritime information (imagine that), and the price wasn’t bad, but it was located in an absolutely horrible part of town. Luckily we didn’t really realize until we left, but it’s definitely on the wrong side of the river.
We spent the rest of the early evening wandering around the downtown area, even strolling over to Otrando (literally “the other side”, across another river). This was a much nicer area, even though it was only a few blocks from our hotel. The streets opened up and it was simply more enjoyable, not the slightly claustrophobic sense you get in the Punda area.
There were also a number of restaurants along the waterfront, in both sections of the city. We visited two while we were in Curacao. The first was a fancier place, called Bistro le Clochard. This restaurant is built in one of the old forts on the oceanfront, and the view of the water is spectacular. It was actually a little chilly the night we visited, so we sat inside, in a very cozy room, and ordered the “La Potence”, essentially a medieval mace-like metal object, with each spike skewering a piece of meat, with the drippings falling into the rice below. It was excellent for both presentation and quality.
On the way back to the hotel we caught a church band from Cleveland, followed by a group of natives performing what can only be described as interpretive dance to a series of uplifting musical numbers. It was actually really nice. We then strolled through the downtown area and headed back to the hotel for the night.