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Morning in Bridgetown, Barbados

Cathedral Church of St Michael and All Angels, Bridgetown, Barbados

Resolving to “beg for forgiveness, rather than ask for permission”, after breakfast of oatmeal and a banana at the Garden Café I walked down stairs and out onto the pier. Checking Google Maps, the Anglican cathedral was a half hour walk and two-and-a-half kilometers away in bright warm sunshine. Outside the port gates just beyond a rotary, I shared a taxi with a couple heading to the beach, getting dropped in downtown several blocks from the church, $2 lighter. As I approached the church grounds, I determined that a funeral was about to start, and opted to head instead to the Catholic cathedral by foot.

St Patrick's Roman Catholic cathedral, Bridgetown, Barbados

Backtracking on Broad Street, I took Probyn Street across a bridge (the old wharf inlet) past several interesting buildings I planned on returning to examine. At the corner of Bay Street stands a lovely building, the Bethel Methodist Church, which went on my revisit list. Bay Street has numerous beach bars and lodgings options as it curves along the waterside. Approaching Jemmottes Lane, St Patrick’s Roman Catholic Cathedral stood, surrounded by a parking area with a stone wall, topped by a chain-link fence. Mass appeared to be underway, so I shutoff the camera and slipped into a pew in the rear.

More than just a Mass, there were 5 concelebrants, and the bishop was sitting off to the side in the cathedra. For a late Thursday morning, there was a substantial crowd in attendance. As the service progressed, I figured out that this was a special occasion, the seventy-fifth birthday of a significant worker/volunteer named Marion. Wooden beams supported the wood planks of the vault, with white plaster walls and columns lining the nave. Plenty of light and cross ventilation were the result of both ground level stained-glass and clerestory windows. (These windows were adorn with the emblems of the many British regiments who had worshiped therein 1848-1906.) Once Mass and the birthday congratulations were over, the bishop blessing the attendees on his exit, and I was able to explore. As the celebration had been video’d, I was given some pointers by the cameraman to significant items about the nave and sanctuary. Most significant was a painting from Martinique, of the Trinity being praised by natives.

Nearly an hour later, I exited and headed back up Bay Street. At my right turn corner I stopped to check out the brilliant white of the Methodist church. Opposite was the shell of a theater, with Empire emblazoned above the doorless entrance. At the next corner, Golden Square Freedom Park had a curved wall, half way around a grass circle, where brick tiles memorialized Barbadian residents in a celebration of 600 years of island history – The Builders of Barbados Wall. Continuing, as I approached the bridge, off to my left were a clock tower and a second stone tower: a destination for me once I visited the cathedral.

My walk had taken another half hour. Approaching the Cathedral Church of St Michael and All Angels, the hearse had departed and the crowd at the entrance was leaving. As a woman began circling the interior, closing the windows’ shutters, I was able to appreciate the interior. First catching my eye was the large pipe organ over the entry in a loft which extended over the side aisles. Dark wooden pews filled the nave floor, under a redwood curved vault. My eyes were drawn to the front, with the quire under a curved half-dome of dark wood, surrounded by flat white plastered walls. A light iron screen gated the quire from the main altar sitting on a short, raised platform at the head of the central aisle.

With permission, I went up into the quire to see the high altar under a ciborium supported by pale yellow columns. A double rank of carved dark wooden choir stalls ran along the sides with the bishop’s cathedra and the archbishop’s chair facing one another. Looking back, out through the screen with its gold cross raised high over the entry path, I enjoyed the light filled nave. As I strolled to the rear and the entrance, I was feeling very comfortable and spiritual.

Outside, the grounds were filled with grave markers. The belltower is perhaps 3-4 stories tall, about the height of the neighboring palms. I headed towards that clock tower I’d seen, but the building now houses a historical museum, and was closed for renovations. I checked my notes for what else I was to find in Bridgetown, as I had little other interest in the downtown business/political center of the capital, and hailed a taxi.

My driver offered to take me to The People’s Cathedral, a church where he sometimes worshiped. Not an actual cathedral as there is no bishop or diocese (the episcopal definition), I still was curious and took my pictures, both inside and out. He then took me to the George Washington house.

Washington and his brother had lived in Bridgetown in the 1750s, and that dwelling has been made into a museum, which, on my visit, was closed. I’d missed a note (set off to the side) regarding the presence of the Nidhe Israel Synagogue, a conservative (Sephardic) congregation dating back to the mid seventeenth century and sole synagogue on Barbados.

Charging US$40 for my tour, I was a bit surprised when the driver dropped me at the rotary before the entrance to the port.

Maybe a half kilometer walk, I found a hat pin as I strolled through the Duty Free area and headed to the pier to board. As had become my routine, I had lunch at O’Sheehan’s: a Rueben and a Hoegaarden draft, followed by cheesecake topping a brownie. All were excellent.

After lunch I took an hour nap. Seas had been rough overnight, causing a hanger in the closet to tap the door. Rested, I collected my electronics and headed to the pool deck on fifteen. Looking over the rail, I noted that the pier area was a heavily industrialized sector, with a lot of shipping and receiving structures and equipment. Off to the side were two other cruise ships: those passengers had a much longer walk to the exit than we on the Epic had.

After getting some pictures, I got comfortable with an Arnold Palmer (I got very proficient at making those at the beverage dispensers) and transferred the roughly 90 pictures from the morning to my backups. And handle emails while I had working “free” Internet.

At 5 I joined Denny in the solo lounge for a glass of red wine. He had to open a new bottle for me, as the one in the wine safe had begun turning. Then on to Maltings and the single’s group, where I arranged with Jenny (from Charlotte) to use our second dining package to head to the Italian restaurant up on the fourteenth deck. La Cucina was reached through the buffet and down a flight of stairs. I’d grabbed my sports jacket and was in long pants, as this was a special treat. Jen was staying up in the exclusive section above the buffet, the Haven. She had invited the group up to sample the luxe treatment earlier, which I’d missed.

Without my journal, I took pictures with the phone of the menu and wine list. Our starter was Bresaola (thinly sliced air-dried beef) with arugula, which was okay. For my primi, I ordered the gnocchi di patate al pesto. I didn’t know that there were other types of gnocchi than potato, but the menu spelled that out. I scored big time with my secondi: osso bucco alla Milanese, which was a slice of braised veal shank. Fall-off-the-bone tender, super-flavorful, delicious, it was served on a bed of saffron risotto. We opted for a bottle of red, a ’18 Borrigiano “Il Borro”, which we finished with our mains; I’d had a glass of rosé with my pasta. I was full, so I only finished half my dark chocolate torte with raspberry, with the uneaten half being delivered to my room the following day. (I got a whole fresh torte.)

We hung out at the bar after dinner, and at 11 headed back to “Howl at the Moon.” As we entered, the band was walking in, so we were able to share our enthusiasm and praise at how entertaining they had been. I’d met Josh, the dark-haired one, when I first boarded, and he’d given me a quick tour of the public areas of the ship. On this occasion, I learned a bit more, as I’d been picking up their biographies over the course of multiple visits. Each male had assumed a nickname, and I remember that one was now from Vancouver, BC but originated in the Canadian plains. Another was based in Montreal, probably the shaved head. With a high tenor, the third was a ginger, and shared his joy and smile frequently. I wound up staying past midnight.


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