Rainbow Architecture of Curacao!

One thing will strike you as you walk the streets of Curacao is its brightly coloured building. Imagine bright pinks, yellows, blues and greens greeting you down almost every street. Chances are, your Curacao accommodation will also be brightly coloured, or at the very least will be surrounded by a range of rainbow coloured buildings.Think Caribbean paint colours with Spanish and African influences, and you will get a picture of what the architecture is like in Aruba. The capital city of Willemstad is the main hub of the rainbow buildings, and is well worth a visit from your Caribbean villa.

The Dutch have been on Curacao since 1634, which is why a lot of the architecture resembles that of Dutch cities like Amsterdam. Fairly recently, the island changed from being part of the Netherland Antilles, and is now actually its own country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

The buildings don’t just maintain themselves however, and require a lot of work to keep them as sparkly and bright. It is not an uncommon sight to see a local up a ladder topping up the paintwork of their home.

The entire city of Willemstad has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1997 due to the fact that the town showed significant town planning and architecture as well as the organic growth of a multi-cultural community.

The most photographed area of the city is Handelskade Punda, and for good reason. The colourful European style buildings are reflected in the waters of the harbour, and is a great place to witness the exuberant mix of cultures, language, history and beauty of such a small island.

But what is the reason for such colourful buildings? In 1817, Governor-general Albert Kikkert got plagued with recurring headaches, which he blamed on light that was glaring off of the white buildings. He passed a law that all buildings must be painted in pastel colours, leading to the rainbow colour explosion of the city. Be sure to visit the streets of Willemstad on your Aruba holiday.


Cheapside Market!

If you are looking for a truly local shopping experience in Barbados, then look no further than the many town markets that can be found all over the island. No matter where your Barbados villa is located, there is sure to be a market nearby. In these markets you will find locals selling everything from fresh, exotic fruits to homemade, authentic gifts that you will struggle to find anywhere else.

What’s more, it can be great fun talking to and haggling with the stall owners as they try to convince you to purchase some of their wares.

Cheapside market is likely to be one of the most popular markets in Barbados. It is an area that the government has designated to local artisans to display and sell their produce, as well as plenty of fresh local foods. The market is located in a large open building in Bridgetown, and is filled with rows and rows of market vendors selling jewellery, crafts, meat, vegetables and more. It is also a great place to look for your next clothing purchase thanks to the vintage stalls upstairs.

As the name of the market suggests, everything is very reasonably priced, so you are sure to bag a bargain. The majority of the stall owners will be willing to haggle, and are more likely to slash their prices if you want to buy in bulk.

The best time to visit the market is on the Saturday, when the area really seems to come to life with colour and people. This tends to be when the locals come out to do their shopping, so you’ll get a real sense of the hustle and bustle of daily life.

Just opposite the market is an area that is known as Temple Yard, which is dedicated to local artisans who are not only selling their wares, but they also create them. Expect to see leather goods, foods, carvings, art and more, and makes a great spot to grab a bite to eat after a long day shopping.

It is an excellent place for you to witness Barbadian culture at its finest, and is also the ideal spot to find and buy a unique and genuine souvenir to take back to your villa in Barbados.


Aruba Festival!

There is always something going on in Aruba, from its lively nightlife to its busy shopping scene. It is no wonder people flock to the island year after year to stay in one of the many Aruba villas on offer.

One of the busiest and most popular towns to stay in is the town of San Nicolas. Although there is likely to be something going on all through the week, Thursday nights in San Nicolas are when the streets really come alive, thanks to the Carubbian Festival. San Nicolas is an old refinery town which the locals lovingly call Sunrise City, and is a great place book accommodation in Aruba.

The festival is a celebration of the culture and heritage on the island and features plenty of dancing and live music shows as well as a colourful parade as part of the finale, where all the spectators are asked to join in and participate.

As well as tradition carnival activities, there are also a range of arts and crafts set up around town, as well as specially organised events for the children. Once you have had your fill of the festivities, there are plenty of food and drink stalls where you can try some of the island’s tastiest delicacies. Local artisans have stalls selling their wares, such as delicious coconut candles whose scent fills the air throughout the entertainment.

The ticket price allows you access to seats for the show, which overall will last around 4 hours, as well as a meal token.

Since its beginning, the festival has been held once a week on a Thursday, but from now on it is set to only take place once a month. If you have not booked a villa in Aruba during the dates of the annual festival, then this makes for a great, smaller scale alternative.


Best viewpoints in Barbados!

Barbados has some fantastic natural landscapes, and there is no better way to see the island in all its glory than by visiting some of its most stunning viewpoints. No matter where your luxury villa rental is located, you are sure to have one of these viewpoints nearby. As the majority of them are quite remote, they are easiest to get to if you have a hire car, so you can include them in a day trip exploring the island.

Animal Flower Cave

Located in the upper part of the island, the Animal Flower Cave offers stunning views of the wide expanse that is the Atlantic Ocean. You’ll feel on top of the world standing on the cliff edge that looks down into a foaming natural pool. You can enjoy a meal at the cliff top restaurant or take a guided tour of the caves below.

Bathsheba


This is one of the most other worldly of all the views in Barbados. Stunning boulders fill the area which are actually rock formations that have broken away from ancient coral, and add to the unique landscape. It is a must see for anyone renting a house in Barbados.

Cherry Tree Hill

Even the name of this viewpoint sounds attractive. The steep climb up the hill will be well worth when you reach the top, it as you will be rewarded with stunning views of the whole of the east coast of Barbados. The road that leads up to the hill is lined with mahogany and offers some beautiful photo opportunities.

Ragged Point Lighthouse

If you want to see the beauty of a Caribbean sunset, then Ragged Point Lighthouse is the place to be. With the sea stretching out in front of you, and the Barbados countryside all around, it should definitely be on your list of scenic viewpoints to visit on a day trip from your Barbados villa.


Celebrity spotting in the Dominican Republic

There is a valid reason why so many tourists flee to the Dominican Republic every year. In addition to the golden beaches and sunny weather, there is also an abundance of things to do and see. As such, it is hardly surprising that many celebrities are also attracted to the Caribbean shores of the Dominican Republic.

Casa Q in Puerto Plata

The country’s proximity the United States has helped create a constant stream of celebs arriving throughout the years. Being just a short 1.5-hour flight from Florida, and 3.5 hours from New York, it is easily accessible.

The main attraction for celebs seems to be that it offers an ideal escape from their hectic everyday lives. They enjoy a villa with a private pool in the Dominican Republic just as much as the rest of us do.

Stars seem to count on the fact that they won’t be mobbed by reporters and photographers the minute that they step off the plane, and the many ultra-lavish, exclusive hideaways ensure that they will get this sort of privacy. Even real estate has been catching the eyes of many celebs, from seafront villas in the Dominican Republic to country estates, this Caribbean island has become a playground for the rich and famous in recent years.

Luxurious villa views

Singers like Jennifer Lopez, Enrique Iglesias, and Shakira have all come to see what the Dominican Republic has to offer. Actors such as Vanessa Williams, Vin Diesel, Angelina Jolie, Matt Dillon, Mimi Rogers, Marcia Gray, and many more have also been spotted walking along the island’s beaches and streets.

Additionally, even politicians and royalty seem to enjoy the Caribbean way of life, with former presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush frequently jumping on a plane to the island, and the King of Morocco is known to have thrown a lavish party on the island.

If you want to live a life like the rich and famous, rent a house in the Dominican Republic and enjoy the high life for a few weeks!


Cuban cooking classes

Cuban food is varied, fresh, and plentiful, full of strong flavours and natural produce. Although there is a huge range of restaurants and bars around the country where from you could sample some Cuban delicacies, there is nothing better than being able to cook it yourself in the comfort of your accommodation in Cuba.

In many of the main cities and towns, you will find local markets that stock all the ingredients that you will need for Cuban dishes, the majority of which would have been grown in the immediate area.

One of the best ways to learn how to cook Cuban style is to take a cooking class. Although you will find classes no matter where your Cuba villa rental is located, the hub of cooking class activity seems to be Havana. There are countless tour operators that offer this as an excursion, and it is easy to find one that meets your preferences.

Taking a class is great way to learn about the daily life of a Cuban, that starts first thing in the morning with a trip to the local market. In Havana, these markets are names mercados, and it is where Cuban people purchase their fruit, vegetables, and meat. Once you have purchased everything you need for the dishes that you will be cooking, your tour guide will take you back to the kitchen to begin your culinary adventure.

There are a range of Cuban dishes that you can try your hand at making, the most common of which include:

  • Ropa Vieja – This is a Cuban-style shredded beef dish that is often served with rice and accented with olives and capers.
  • Chicken Stew – This is not chicken stew that most people know; it draws flavours from the alcaparrado and contains a mix of pimento-stuffed olives as well as capers and sweet raisins.
  • Fish with Escabeche Sauce – Made with lots of garlic, sliced yellow onion, bell pepper, and bay leaves, this dish is a Cuban favourite.

Once you know how to cook some of these amazing dishes, you will never have to leave your vacation rental in the Caribbean again!

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Urban farming in Cuba

Many people choose to rent a villa in Cuba so that they can experience how it feels to step back in time. It is not uncommon to see decades-old cars driving down the street and buildings rich in history, dating to the 1950s. Cuban agriculture is another factor that seems to have stood the test of time.

In 1991, the country’s economy seemed to collapse overnight due to the collapse of its trade partner, the Soviet Union. During this period, Cuba lost its source of affordable agricultural tools and machinery. Lacking this modern equipment, Cuba suddenly had to abandon their former industrial agriculture and make the switch to urban farming. No longer were farmers using chemicals and machinery that required fuel; instead they were forced to transition back to traditional methods such as using machetes, composting worms, and oxen-drawn plows. If you have a Cuba holiday rental in the countryside, you will see some of these methods at work.

Along with farmers, individuals have also begun to utilise any land that they own to grow their own produce and raise animals. During the worst years of the financial crisis, residents could even purchase baby chicks from the government, take them home, and raise them in their backyards.

Although much of the country’s economy has bounced back, it seems like the farming sector has changed for the better, and now there are thousands of urban farms across Cuba.

No matter where you rent a house in Cuba, It is likely that you will see many local homes with windowsills lined with crops, and livestock wondering around in front yards. Local markets burst with fresh, organic produce that you can purchase to cook your own delicious Cuban meals in the comfort of your Cuba accommodation.

If you are interested in this aspect of the country’s history and want to learn more about urban agriculture, there are specially arranged tours available wherein visitors can interact with local farmers to gain a unique insight into their individual histories and methods, a side to Cuban that many people miss out on.

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Havana’s ‘Golden Mile’

While there are many wonderful locations to rent a house in Havana, many long to stay as close as possible to the Golden Mile, right in the heart of the city’s historic centre. The Golden Mile is located at the Paseo del Prado end of the Obispo, a busy pedestrianised street that’s a true hub of activity. 

The Golden Mile is where you’ll find some of Havana’s best restaurants, most lively bars, and even the Tourist Information Office, which can be useful if you can’t remember how to get back to your Havana accommodation. It’s arguably one of the best preserved parts of the Old Town.

When you picture Havana in your head, you picture the Golden Mile. This is a place of old, cobbled streets that feel uneven underfoot, it’s a place of colonial architecture of days gone by, and it’s a place where the  Havana holiday home waits to welcome visitors to Cuba.

Street musicians fill the Golden Mile with soft music, and flower sellers add a touch of colour and vibrancy. Cuba is very much a country where old meets new, and that’s exactly what you get when you stroll along the Golden Mile.

But the Old Town isn’t just about the Golden Mile. In fact, there are many reasons to rent a villa in Cuba in this part of Havana. Not only are you near the city’s cultural district by the Paseo del Prado, which features a number of museums, but you’re also just a stone’s throw from the grand El Capitolio building.

Although there are some travellers who enjoy staying close to The Malecón, others prefer being close to the Obispo, and the Golden Mile. However, whatever location in Havana you choose, it’s hard to go wrong. The city is such a fascinating place, with something new to see around every corner!

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Cuba’s long history of baseball

Baseball is the national sport of Cuba (even though many young Cubans would now say it’s football!), and if you’re on holiday in Cuba during the high baseball season between November and May, then it’s well worth catching a game and cheering on the local team.

A Long History

There is a very long history of baseball in Cuba, and interestingly it’s one of the only major aspects of Americana that survived the revolution. There was, however, a very noticeable and dramatic shift from a professional to an amateur system to remove monetary incentive, with revolutionists firmly believing that money was corrupting the sporting world. Baseball remains an amateur system in Cuba to this day.

The Industriales

If you’re relaxing at your Havana villa on a game day, you’ll undoubtedly hear the cheers for the local team: the Havana-based Industriales, or the ‘Blue Lions’ (so named for their blue uniforms). The Industriales are said to be the city’s most successful baseball team, having won the Cuban National Series 12 times between 1963 and 2010. The team’s home turf is the Latinoamericano Stadium, which holds 55,000 people. It’s located in Central Havana, close to many Havana holiday rentals for quick and easy access.

Seeing a Game

If you’re keen to see the Industriales in action, then aim to rent a villa in Havana during the peak season. Bear in mind that schedules can — and do — change regularly.Tickets can be purchased in Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC) from the stadium.

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Five lunch stops in Puerto Plata

When you’re lounging at your Dominican Republic vacation rental, soaking up the sun and enjoying a relaxing holiday, it’s easy to rely on your kitchen’s contents for a sustainable meal. But if you’re craving some authentic Dominican food or simply want the dishes you would find in your own home town, it’s best to hop in your rental car and drive to the town of Puerto Plata for the widest culinary variety. Here are five great places for you to grab some lunch in Puerto Plata!

Views from Big Lee’s Beach Bar.

Big Lee’s Beach Bar

If you’re seeking traditional American fare, try Big Lee’s Beach Bar! It is run by an American from Chicago who retired in Puerto Plata seven years ago. You can enjoy a beach view while you eat, not to mention the relaxed and playful atmosphere that always surrounds the beach area. Try their specialty of beer-battered fish and chips, featuring their freshly-made French fries.

Kaffe

Looking for indoor/outdoor seating in a relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere? Look no further than Kaffe. They have a beautiful outdoor area, half uncovered and open to the warm Caribbean sun, the other half covered by a patio. From the lush, tropical vegetation to the quaint, antiquated furnishings, this restaurant offers a unique dining experience. They serve Caribbean-style cuisine, with some International influences as well.

Green Jack Restaurant

Sleek, modern and beautiful are the best words to describe the Green Jack Restaurant. With fantastically decorated indoor and outdoor seating, you can enjoy a cool lunch inside, or check out the ocean breezes outside, surrounded by lush greenery. The food is mainly Caribbean-style but the menu also has vegetarian and vegan-friendly options. It is part of the Playa Dorada complex with friendly waitstaff, unique food, and delicious drinks.

Playa Dorada.

Sebastian

Craving Italian on your island adventure? Check out Sebastian! Their covered patio seating area is brightly colored, clean, and fresh. You’ll get cool breezes with a beach vibe, though not on the beach. There is a full bar, amazing Italian cuisine, and delicious desserts.

Los Charros y Los Pinches Chaparros

Mexican and Latin food are all the rage at the Los Charros y Los Pinches Chaparros restaurant. Their beautiful, clean interior offers a full bar and delicious dishes for everyone to enjoy!

With your palate satiated, head back to your vacation villa in the Dominican Republic for a long, satisfying siesta.

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