It had been nearly 40 years since I had last visited Curacao, and quite frankly, it was very run down. I remember our tour just took us to the front street section of town to see the pretty buildings, but much beyond that, it was a town filled with drunks and prostitutes, so instead our tour took us out of the old part of town to see a modern church and a modern resort ideal for tourists. This trip was much different. As I understood from our tour guide, the Dutch banking industry has heavily invested in Curacao, and especially in revitalizing the historic areas. So this time, our local tour guide had much to show us, including the restored historic buildings of downtown.
Our first stop was a hotel, Kura Hulanda Village and Spa, that encompasses several of the old city blocks. It’s been lovingly restored and accessible to us with our tour guide taking us through the city streets that wind through it. We also learned why the upkeep on the buildings is so expensive in Curacao. Most of the old buildings have salt in the concrete, which creates what he called “Wall Cancer” where it eats its way to the surface and peals the plaster from the inside out. The facades of the buildings have to be redone at least every 10 years. He pointed out the restored buildings and the buildings that still needed restoration.
Our guide then took us through the old town of Willemstad. Again, most of the buildings on this side of town had also been restored to the bright colors and were now home to apartments and cafes appealing to the young bank interns that come to the city.
Following our drive through town, we headed out the the Blue Curacao factory where we got to see how it is made and taste the famous liqueur in its original flavor plus many other verities, We then got to enjoy it in an icy cold mixed drink, which was very refreshing.
Following our refreshment, we headed out of town to see some of the scenic countryside outside of the big town. It is there that I discovered what I want to do all day during my next visit to Curacao: Grote Knip or Playa Kenapa, a beautiful cove beach with sparkling white sand and clear turquoise waters. I could spend all day in a place like that with an occasional refreshing drink in between my time snorkeling with the sea turtles.
Quite frankly, after seeing that beach, the rest of the day seems like a blur. We stopped at a little road side cafe that served up a great lunch and then we went on to see some of the North island’s rugged coast and caves, but I couldn’t get that beautiful beach off my mind.