Upon arrival at Ocean Spray Apartments I was impressed by the beautiful manicured lawns and laden coconut palms swaying in the moonlight breeze. I arrived VERY late (my flight was delayed by 5 hours!). I was greeted by a very friendly and courteous man whom considering it was 3am had a smile on him as wide as if it was 8am in the morning and the beginning of a busy work day. I was lead round the corner and up a set of stairs, already in evidence by the white fence were a few surfboards...pertaining as I later gathered to some surfers who were staying there since that particular bit of the Island is know for it's surfers waves. I was handed a key and upon depositing my (extremely heavy!) bag, the gentleman courteously retired back to the front desk. I was greeted by a large room, brilliant white walls and a bed with white soft sheets which although I have a Queen size bed in London felt like I was on a deluxe King-size. The self-contained kitchen was clean and had all the necessary appliances and every basic utensil needed to cook with. I wandered into the bathroom and was ecstatic to find a DOUBLE cupboard (WITH hangers!) and IMMACULATELY clean (I'm VERY fussy about cleanliness..NOTHING worse than travelling and finding someone else's hair in the bathroom sink!!!) very large bathroom. There was a beautiful ample shower with both...Upon arrival at Ocean Spray Apartments I was impressed by the beautiful manicured lawns and laden coconut palms swaying in the moonlight breeze. I arrived VERY late (my flight was delayed by 5 hours!). I was greeted by a very friendly and courteous man whom considering it was 3am had a smile on him as wide as if it was 8am in the morning and the beginning of a busy work day. I was lead round the corner and up a set of stairs, already in evidence by the white fence were a few surfboards...pertaining as I later gathered to some surfers who were staying there since that particular bit of the Island is know for it's surfers waves. I was handed a key and upon depositing my (extremely heavy!) bag, the gentleman courteously retired back to the front desk. I was greeted by a large room, brilliant white walls and a bed with white soft sheets which although I have a Queen size bed in London felt like I was on a deluxe King-size. The self-contained kitchen was clean and had all the necessary appliances and every basic utensil needed to cook with. I wandered into the bathroom and was ecstatic to find a DOUBLE cupboard (WITH hangers!) and IMMACULATELY clean (I'm VERY fussy about cleanliness..NOTHING worse than travelling and finding someone else's hair in the bathroom sink!!!) very large bathroom. There was a beautiful ample shower with both hot and cold running water, and a large sink area (more than ample room for ALL my toiletries!) with a large mirror that had a flattering spot-light shining down on it. Realising I had hit the jackpot in terms of accommodation standards I promptly passed out in the delicious soft sheets. The room was tastefully decorated with just 1 picture (I don't like it when hotels have a myriad of naff pictures on the walls..I spend all my time wanting to take them down!!)..had a comfortable table with 2 chairs and a kind of 'bureau' with a large (full-length I am glad to say!!!) mirror above it. The bed had two VERY tasteful bedside tables on each side with unobtrusive lamps upon them (more than enough light for reading but NOT so bright that it gives on a headache..a common bug-bear I have encountered in the past!). I woke to glorious sunshine flooding my room, it is then that I noticed I had a beautiful balcony with a table and 2 chairs in beautiful natural wood (no cheap plastic chairs here clearly!) which proffered me a view straight over the palm trees and right onto the ocean. I could hardly believe my eyes!!! I literally stood and blinked a few times at the incredible view before gathering my wits and realising I was in Heaven, I was at the aptly named Ocean Spray in Barbados!!!!
All the staff were courteous and extremely friendly...as a single traveller (for MOST of my life), my experience has been that one needs to feel like the place one is staying at one is are made to feel like 'part of the family' (this has NOT always been my experience when abroad!). I very quickly felt as if I was 'part of'. Since I'm not a 'breakfast' person I did not indulge in the beautiful platters of fruit and cereals on offer. There was a great selection of teas and the coffee was great (finicky about my morning cup of coffee!!). I am a yoga teacher by trade so was delighted to find the beautiful natural wood yoga deck..EXPERTLY surrounded by lush plantation, offering both privacy AND covering from the sunlight IF one was silly enough to decide to practice at Midday. There was a wonderful yoga teacher on hand who offered classes every afternoon. Pretty set on my own style, I was able to practice in complete silent solitude early in the mornings. I do regret (now!) not having taken a class but to be honest my practice has been fairly laking of late and part of the reason for my trip was to 'find my centre' once again so by the time I had done my morning practice I was too tired to do an afternoon as well (much to the shame of the physical condition my body is in, and the lack of vigilance over my own practice!!!). After a luxurious shower in my massive shower unit I decided to explore....the manicured lawns have ample deckchairs scattered around them...if one walks 2 mins to the left one comes across 2 'private' beaches...basically little spots with perfect pink sand that lead into the aquamarine sea..not believing my luck I wanted to settle there for the day but being adventurous by nature I wanted to walk further on and discover what else lay on the shoreline. About 3 mins later once hits the 'Sufer's Spot' a surfing resort full of VERY avid surfers..2 minutes further round and I could NOT believe my eyes...stretched before me for as far as the eye could see, was a totally pristine picture perfect beach...and to my UTTER joy..not a deckchair or other human being in sight!!!! (Too many of my holidays of late have seen me venturing to the local beach only to be confronted with HOARDS of tourists battling for deckchairs!!!). Still not completely believing my luck at having found what essentially I felt was my own stretch of beach I settled under a palm tree to read. There are houses dotted along and behind the beach so at no point did I feel unsafe or totally isolated...a couple of locals walked by throughout the afternoon and gave me a wide berth simply acknowledging me with a polite nod of the head when I insisted on having eye contact. At around 4 pm 2 other tourists showed up and settled a good 1/4 mile away from me...at one stage a family of tourists excitedly marched passed me as their kids where dashing in and out of the water..clearly feeling even more adventurous than I was and on an even longer exploration of the shoreline. For me..THIS was enough...I needed absolutely nothing more. I had left grey, cold dark London in desperate need for some R&R...the incredible vista proffered from Ocean Spray Apartments and the beautiful vast expanse of empty beach was ALL that I was looking for.
Lunch is offered at Ocean Spray and as much of the produce as possible is actually provided from the Organic Fruit Forest which is owned by the owner of the Apartments. At home I only eat organic (what I put into my body is VERY important to me and I'm NOT about to ingest a whole load of chemicals when I eat a piece of fruit!!). Since I travel a lot I have always resigned myself to eating whatever is available..I was fairly incredulous that I was able to keep to at least part of my chosen dietary values. I am someone who CAN taste the difference between organic and non organic food stuffs and I can honestly say that the lunch time salad on offer was indeed a delight to the senses. The lettuce was crunchy and full of flavour, the coriander bursting with aromatic delight and the dried fruit pieces perfectly complemented the salad..it was not unlike the kind of salad I would make for myself at home.Again I was overjoyed that for once I was not having to compromise my dietary values.
Dinner is offered on a Thursday night (an exquisite dining experience in the culinary magic which is Mamu's Cafe, indeed an Indian Dinner night which is prepared with and by the owner whose charm, friendliness and willingness to talk one through the dishes matches the delightful burst of flavours and integrity to Indian cooking that one would expect IN India (I have travelled extensively in India and I can heart on hand say it IS ONLY in India that I have tasted dishes equal to the authenticity of the plates)..In London whether it's because the spices used have been grown without the aid of natural sunlight or even in high class restaurants that import spices from India..the dishes just never taste quite like they should...I was INSTANTLY transported and had to remind myself I was in Barbados and NOT in India..a true culinary delight my only wish that it happened on more than 1 night a week!!! Definitely NOT to be missed if one stays at Ocean Spray Apartments!!! Dinner was rounded off by my selection of the home-made chocolates...now like my coffee, I am VERY fussy about my chocolate. Not in a MILLION years ( I am used to eating Raw Chocolate at home) did I expect the ginger explosion of sheer delight that met me when I bit into one of them. I was (and STILL am!!) utterly astounded when it was explained that the owner makes the chocolates himself...these chocolates a worthy of a top shelf in my local Health-Food shop where Chocolate bars are sold for up to £9 a piece. A TRUE culinary experience that I will not be forgetting in a hurry..my wish being that I could've packed my suitcase full of them to be able to stash at home and eat throughout the year!!! Actually an export worthy piece of sumptuous delight!!.
After recuperating my frazzled mind and nerves and slowly restoring myself back to 'me' I decided it was time to 'do something'. I'm not a surfer (nor do I have ANY real inclination to try) so I opted for the Fruit Forest Trek. Having spent a week and a half eating the delicious produce from the Fruit Forest I decided it was high time I paid the land a visit. I booked in with a mother and daughter and all for of us (the owner leads the trek himself!) set off in his sturdy Land Rover. Climbing up into some of the highest points in Barbados, the Fruit Forest Trek is NOT to be missed...at first one passes flat land.. all the way historical points of interest and local history is passed on by the knowledgeable owner, whether it be local crops (unfortunately now vastly under-produced!) or the incredible sight of an Old Cane Mill shamefully left to decay into nothing when it is plain to see the fantastic opportunity it provides for something like a filming studio (it's location and haunted atmosphere PERFECT for a multitude of both current modern 'space' able to be converted into anything with the right lighting and indeed perfectly apt for any multitude of 'Horror' films just as it is with it's domineering metal structures and eerie abandoned atmosphere. Excited as we were nattering away and asking questions the owner kindly (upon request!) drove us to the local Orchid Garden. His willingness, openness and kindness in full effect since the mother had wanted to visit the day before but hadn't got round to it.
The blooms captured on camera indeed a sight to behold, perfect as postcards in and of themselves...having been to many and Orchid Farm around the world the Bajan Orchids are just as beautiful and perfect as an Orchid to be found in ANY tropical climate. Orchid Lover's take note!!!
The journey up to the Fruit Forest a dizzying sight of beautiful views as we climbed ever higher. Once arriving onto The Fruit Forest land one is confronted with a thriving nursery. Herbs, spices and beautiful baby palms all reaching into the glorious sunlight, growing to a size where they can be safely transplanted into the land. The tour takes one across a stretch of land with incredible baby pineapples just starting to bud with fruit and up into what feels like 'Virgin' Forest. From that vantage point one can see across the valley just quite how far this luscious forest stretches. All through the trek indigenous plants are pointed out..for example the rather interesting 'Prickly Palm' a palm tree which is quite small in stature but has incredible spikes all over it. Wanting to keep true to the nature of the land, there is no mass bedding of row upon row of the same fruit tree. The team have planted the fruit tress according to the lay of the land. Walking down and through this incredible Forest (indeed we all agreed it felt like we were in the Amazon jungle, or in a Rainforest in the Far East!!) we reached the plantain and banana trees. The owner's joy at seeing the fruition (FINALLY) of some plantain totally infectious...marred only (much to MY joy because I love monkeys!) by our witnessing a monkey stealing one of the plantain, giving a look to us which can only be described as a grin, and scampering off with it! His stolen spoils carefully and preciously held in his right front paw!!!. Both the fact that no pesticides are used and the method of planting used by the owner are a testament to the incredible vision of the owner. Being a nature lover it is VERY clear that this land with and all contained within are loved by the owner and the team that work it. Having started to grow his own Cocoa trees he hopes one day to make his delicious chocolates from his own Organic Cocoa beans!!! It was explained that the goal is to be completely self-sufficient for Fruit and Vegetables within a couple of years. As we all know the trend in Europe since the Global Crisis towards self-sufficiency for food one can only view the owner as a visionary who has already embarked on for what many of us know to be the right way forward for mankind. If the delicious food and where it's grown or the idea of hiking don't tempt you be assured that the views are worth the trip in and of themselves. A breathtaking panorama awaits you as you view the Forest valley below you stretching out until one's gaze hits the sand and sea nestled just underneath your horizon. Indeed breathtaking is an understatement. A few deep breaths taken whilst drinking in this idyllic panorama with one's eyes, listening to the absolute silence save for the Fruit Forest rustlings, is enough to remind one of the beauty of this planet our duty as humans to safeguard it. Any thought of the office or the day to day daily grind vanish into the ether, as utter beauty is beheld!!More
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