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A Couple of Curious Museums in Willemstad

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The very fact that tiny Curaçao has a Postal Museum was strange enough to arouse our curiosity. And after learning that it’s housed in the island’s oldest surviving building, we knew that we’d have to check it out. Later on the same day, we passed by another museum which looked to be even more unusual: the Octagon Museum in Pietermaai.

Postal Museum Curacao

The building currently occupied by the Postal Museum dates from 1693, just a few decades after the Dutch established Willemstad. Tightly packed between other buildings on the narrow, pedestrian-only Kuekenstraat, it’d be easy to waltz right by the ancient structure without ever noticing it. But it’s worth pausing to take a look, and depending on your interest in stamps, perhaps stepping inside.

To be honest, neither Jürgen nor I are the slightest bit interested in stamps, but we decided to visit the museum anyway. It’s kind of our job. When we stepped inside, the woman working there jumped to life; it’s safe to say that the Postal Museum doesn’t draw a lot of tourists. After taking our money (just $2 apiece), she led us on an exhaustive tour of the museum’s exhibits.

Her enthusiastic presence turned an experience which might have been dry into one which was rather fun. Frequently, she’d start to take her leave, saying something like, “Alright, I should let you see the rest at your own pace,” before remembering another piece of trivia which she simply had to share. And after we were done with the exhibits (all of which are dedicated to the history of postage in the Dutch Antilles) we stayed and chatted for awhile about her trips to Holland, and her distaste for Carnival.

We now walked down to Pietermaai, where we had seen signs for something called the Octagon Museum. We followed the signs onto the property of the Avila Beach Hotel, where we found an evidently old, octagon-shaped building. What could possibly be the subject matter of this museum?! Go on, I’ll give you a few guesses…

[splutter] Why, yes… you’re right! The Octagon Museum is dedicated to the life and times of South American liberator Simón Bólivar! How in the world did you guess that?!

Yes, this museum, which is only open for a couple hours on a couple days during the week, is all about the accomplishments of Simón Bólivar, and his Curaçaoan connections. Immediately before his military successes on the continent, he spent time on the island, staying in the now-vanished Plezier House in Otrobanda, and as a guest of the wealthy merchant Don Mordechai Ricardo, who owned the Octagon tower.

The museum is nicely done, with copious information on placards spread throughout the rooms. There are paintings and period furniture, as well as a copy of the Cartagena Manifesto. Although the museum itself is small, you’ll have to dedicate some time to it, if you want to read everything.

So there you have it: the oldest house on Curaçao is dedicated to stamps, and the most geometric house in Curaçao is dedicated to Bólivar. In the unlikely event of a rainy day during your stay, you might want to check out one, or even both of them.

Locations on our Map: Postal Museum | Octagon Museum

Curacao Collectible Stamps Online

More photos of the Postal Museum
Postal Museum Curacao
Postal Museum Curacao
Postal Museum Curacao
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Postal Museum Curacao
Postal Museum Curacao
More photos of the Octagon Museum
Octagan Museum
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February 26, 2016 at 9:51 pm Comments (0)

Grote Knip – Our First Beach in Curaçao

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We pulled our car into the parking lot and, for a few stunned seconds, sat in silence. We had found the perfect beach. The one which your optimistic mind envisions whenever you set off for the ocean. But Grote Knip was the very first beach we were visiting in Curaçao! Was it just luck we had already found the best one? Or… we allowed ourselves to hope… would all the island’s beaches be this spectacular?

Grote Knip Curacao

Grote Knip is found on the northwestern tip of Curaçao, near the Knip Landhuis and a smaller beach called Kleine Knip. It’s one of Curaçao’s most popular places, and we were visiting on a sunny Saturday afternoon, but even so, it wasn’t very crowded. We grabbed lounge chairs, set ourselves up in the shade of a tree, and leaned back to appreciate the Caribbean beauty.

There was an appealing mix of people around us, most of them locals. Dozens of crazy teenagers were crammed onto a floating dock in the middle of the bay, and were hard at work singing, dancing, laughing and throwing each other into the water. The foreigners at the beach, like the foreigners all over Curaçao, were almost entirely Dutch. I got the sense that a lot of them live here at least on a semi-permanent basis, as most of them were grilling. Tourists generally aren’t equipped to grill.

Grote Knip Curacao

Grote Knip is set within a cove, protected by rocky cliffs from which the more daring kids will occasionally leap. I considered joining in, but was spooked by how shallow the water seemed. It was probably an illusion, because of the water’s astounding clarity, but I wasn’t about to risk my life on that theory.

There’s a small snack shop on the beach, which serves basic grub like hamburgers and fries, and you have to rent the chairs for a reasonable price, but otherwise the beach is free to use. Our original plan was to just stay for an hour, and then check out Kleine Knip… but we soon decided that Kleine Knip could wait for another day. We were in no hurry to leave the perfect beach.

Location on our Map

Buy Your Snorkel Set Before You Leave For Curacao

Grote Knip Curacao
Grote Knip Curacao
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December 21, 2015 at 9:26 pm Comments (0)
A Couple of Curious Museums in Willemstad The very fact that tiny Curaçao has a Postal Museum was strange enough to arouse our curiosity. And after learning that it's housed in the island's oldest surviving building, we knew that we'd have to check it out. Later on the same day, we passed by another museum which looked to be even more unusual: the Octagon Museum in Pietermaai.
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