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What to Wear and How to Sort Your Money in Barbados

The Real Girlfriends of Barbados, 2011

Ladies and the gents who love us, the Barbados Food Wine and Rum Festival is fast approaching and it’s almost time to go! Have you begun packing yet? While I’ve really just started in my head, I think Shannon’s luggage is already set beside her apartment door! I’m late, but if you’re like me, you’re wondering ‘What do I need to bring? How dressy should I get? Where can I get a damn bathing suit (if you’re on the Northeast Coast of America or in Britain)?’ Here’s the skinny:

It’s too late to shop online for a one piece, believe me I’ve tried, but you can count on the shops at one of the malls like Limegrove upon arriving into Barbados. Ultimately, I’d pack, or buy, one bathing suit per day so you’re not up scrubbing your clothes at night and hoping they’re dry in the morning for a beach run. You should be using that time to eat or drink.

If you arrive on Friday, the evening’s events are casual. Oistins is a shorts and sandals event, as I shared earlier. Be prepared to walk and/or dance in the dirt, in a good way.

Looking at the FWR schedule, the cooking demos, like Red Rooster chef Marcus Samuelsson’s presentation on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. at the Hilton Barbados Resort, are more relaxed and Sizzle Street, the street food fair, will be too I imagine. A nice look that you can eat in without feeling stuffed into your clothes is perfect, then get gussied up for Ambrosia at the Lion Castle Polo Estate. But again, wear something that is comfortable and can withstand a few glasses of wine and a number of mini-plates. Stilettos and tight dress shoes will only make you sad. Wear a heel or a loafer you don’t mind standing in for a few hours because there was a party after this event last year. If your shoes, ladies and gentlemen, only work for 90 minutes, you’re in trouble.

On Sunday, dress casually during the day, whether you hit the Rum Tasting at the Mount Gay Visitors Centre — we went last year and I fell in love with a bottle of Mount Gay 1703 — or the Paul Yellin demo, you’ll want to be able to weather spilled food or drink on your clothes if worst comes to worst. But come Sunday night, do it up for The Cliff. Break out your best cocktail dress or light-weight suit pant and collared shirt that will let your nibble for two hours without your table mates noticing your expanding belly.

In September, during our Parlour recon trip, Shannon mentioned something interesting to me, she’d put all of her vacation money into an ING Direct account. ING is an online bank that delivers a higher interest rate on any savings deposited into their institutions. More importantly, these banks don’t have ATM fees because they have no brick and mortar locations for you to visit so when you’re pulling out Bajan money at the airport or elsewhere, you won’t incur any fees. Now, you probably can’t escape the international fee of spending your money abroad but after looking at what seemed like three fees per purchase on my American Express bill after our last trip, I’m sorting myself a travel account too. Call or visit ING Direct’s website to see their rates or find another online bank that tickles your fancy but make sure you’re aware of the international fees your bank charges before you head to Barbados, or anywhere else, so you won’t be unpleasantly surprised later.

Upon arriving in Barbados, I’ve learned its easiest to just head to the nearest ATM and pull out money rather than going through the bother of exchanging American dollars or British pounds for Bajan currency. In the Bajan Grantley Adams airport, there’s a bank with an ATM on the south side of the complex, toward where departing travelers check-in for their flights. Once you exit baggage claim, turn right and pass the food court, which includes Chefette, which is the Bajan Kentucky Fried Chicken essentially, a fountain and an eating area with tables. Continue on, past the passenger security check-in, and a souvenir store or two and on the right will be the bank and the glorious ATM. I usually pull out about $100 Bajan to cover the cab to the hotel and my initial moves around the island.

And with that, can’t wait to see everyone in Barbados this weekend! Make sure you try everything because that’s part of the Food Wine and Rum adventure, right? Go home with a story to tell!


Last 5 posts by Hillary Crosley