It’s been a while since I’ve joined Cynthia, Courtney and Mar for Friday Five, so I decided to check in and see if I felt inspired by this week’s topic. Today’s topic, it turns out, is “5 Things I Like About My Favorite City.” As I contemplated my favorite cities, found it difficult to pick just one; I’m an all-around travel junkie and have found something to love in almost every city I have visited.
Then it dawned on me that I do have one city that always tugs at my heart, an entire island actually, that makes me smile just thinking about it:
Since Curacao is tiny, I was originally going to share my 5 favorite things about the entire island, but as I started creating my list I actually found it very easy to list many things I love specifically about Willemstad, our downtown. So many actually, that I am going to split this post into two, which is quite perfect for Curacao’s downtown, which is also split in two by the its harbor.
I’ll start with Punda, which was established in 1634 by the Dutch. Punda originates from the Dutch word “punt” (point). There is so much to see in Punda that a list of 5 is really not enough. If you’re heading to Curacao, let me know and I’ll give you a longer list, but here are my 5 Favorite Things About Punda!
1. Handelskade – Punda is probably most famous for it colorful buildings, which lined up on the St. Anna Bay are known as the Handelskade (business wharf).
The entire downtown is a Unesco World Heritage site thanks to these beautiful buildings, like Penha building and there are many other beautiful buildings downtown and in an area of the city known as Scharloo.
As you wander between the colorful buildings don’t miss out on these wall art gems, a nice addition to our colorful downtown.
2. Plasa Bieu – The Plasa Bieu (old market) used to be Curacao’s main marketplace. The market has now moved to a larger place right down the road, and the Plasa Bieu has become a lunch hall that gets super crowded!
It’s the best place to get local food [okay 2nd best, because I have a family friend who always cooks me the best typical foods like giambo (okra soup), komkommer stoba (cucumber stew) and karko (conch)].
I love getting a hearty stew, soup, or fried fish followed by a sweet arepa di pampoena (pumpkin pancake).
3. Floating Market – Another famous market is our Venezuelan floating market. For many decades, Venezuelans have sailed forty miles from Venezuela to Curacao to sell fruits and vegetables at the floating market.
Check out Uncommon Caribbean for more about the float ing market.
4. Pietermaai – Pietermaai is one of the neighborhoods that was founded right outside Punda’s original city walls and is named, as I recently learned from my dad, after one of my ancestors Pieter de Mey, who in 1710 decided to live outside the original city walls, because the city was becoming too crowded.
While for a while much of Pietermaai looked like this:
A revival of the area now means it looks like this:
There are apartments, hotels, restaurants and bars popping up everywhere in Pietermaai and it has become a super fun place to hang out. One of my favorite restaurants, Kome, is there. I also recently hung out at Miles Cafe and I’ve heard great things about Mundo Bizarro. Gaby over at Sand & Stilettos can tell you all about it and my dad will be happy to give you a history lesson as he’s learned a lot while he’s been exploring our family history!
5. Swinging Old Lady: Officially called the Queen Emma Bridge, the pontoon bridge that connects the 2 sides of Willemstad is known as the Swinging Old Lady, because it opens up whenever a boat enters our harbor.
If you’re in a hurry to get to Otrobanda, when the bridge is open, there is a ferry, but personally, I think it’s quite fun to get stuck on the bridge.
More about our swinging old lady at 1000 Awesome Things About Curacao.
And a bonus: Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue, a synagogue built in 1732 with sand covered floors! Read more about it at 1000 Awesome Things About Curacao.
Stay tuned for a visit to the other side of town, which is fittingly called Otrobanda which means “Other Side.”