Thursday, March 13, 2014

Willemstad, Curacao

Willemstad, Curacao
Willemstad is the capital of Curacao, one of the many islands associated with the Netherlands.  
 We had decided to take a walking tour of Willemstad, so there was no rush to disembark. Passengers with booked tours line up on the pier.
Willemstad's colorful colonial architecture helped it win a lot of UNESCO Heritage site designations. 
 As we were in no hurry, we had time to stop and smell the flowers.
A panorama shot of the Noordam makes it look larger than it is. It has a capacity of a little over 1,900 passengers which is why we like to so much. We have been on cruises with over 3,000 passengers and that was too crowded for us.   
 A government building but I have forgotten the function.
The section of the town that was our walking tour destination. 
 Another government building. First clue, security guards.
Shown is the Queen Emma Bridge which connects two major sections of the town: the Punda and Otrobanda (the other side). It is a long pontoon bridge and the section I am standing on is moved to the side when a ship or boat needs passage.
Of course I got off before the bridge started to open.  
The bridge was opening for the large sailboat. Most of the motor vehicles cross the Sint Anna Bay by the bridge in the background. The Sint Anna Bay is an inlet that leads into the large natural harbor back where our ship was docked.
 The buildings were beautiful, if that is an acceptable description of a building. In the foreground is a portion of the pontoon bridge.
 The "farmers' market" stretched for blocks along this street.
Tempel Emanu-El 
The Temple Emanuel dates back to 1864. It was built when a group of Reform Jews broke away from the Mikve Israel congregation (the oldest in the Americas). The temple now houses the Counsel for Prosecution.
 A real postcard town.
Rif Fort was built in 1828 to protect the entrance of St. Anna Bay. It was well armed and had a chain that was used to seal off the entrance of the bay if needed. 
 (Fort facing the harbor). Rif Fort was last used for defense in 1942 and was armed with two 37mm machine-guns. It is now a tourist shopping mall with restaurants, bars, and shops inside the fort.
 Seems stores everywhere start Christmas early. It was November but Christmas decorations were already in place. Getting into the spirit of obtaining gifts, the store on the right had exactly what I was looking for--Dutch chocolate rumored to rival Swiss chocolate.  (As if the ship didn't have desserts galore--but we were in a Dutch settlement so if in Dutchland, eat as the Dutchmen do).    
 Back onboard the ship we were still treated with a great vista. Note the stacks on the horizon in the background. Due to its location near the Venezuelan oilfields, Willemstad became the site of an important seaport and refinery. The refinery, at one point the largest in the world, was originally owned by Royal Dutch Shell but later sold to the Curacao government.
Willemstad was a very colorful city, brightened even more by gorgeous flowers. Which we took the time to smell. No rush.

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