A Perambulation around Paramaribo: Part 4

So, continuing with my second expedition around Paramaribo, after walking down palm tree lined streets (which provided welcome relief from the relentless equatorial sunshine – on a brief aside, I got rather sunburned last week when I was out, so this week I took more precautions – the old long sleeved shirt and linen trousers routine, along with my “Indiana Jones-esque” hat.  Luckily it seems to have worked this time!).

I’d just reached the part of town where the mosque and synagogue are. They’re very close to one another, as in, right next door.  Middle East take note – you can be friends!

Mosque (left), synagogue (right).

Mosque (left), synagogue (right)

Unfortunately they were both closed, but they were rather picturesque nevertheless.  The synagogue, like the cathedral, is also built out of wood and dates from the seventeenth century.

The wooden synagogue

The wooden synagogue

The mosque was stunning.  I’ve always rather liked Islamic architecture.  I find that it is very elegant with all the domes, arches and geometric patterns, and this mosque was no different. Unfortunately there was no muezzin singing to complete the experience while I was standing outside, you can’t have it all I guess!

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Finally, having crossed off two more sights in the city, I decided to amble back towards the hotel/office.  I took a different route, in order to maximise the areas of town that I’d see.  Passing the block where Readytex was (where I bought my flag – see this post), I eventually emerged at the waterfront by the Central Market.  I’d definitely like to visit the market again before I leave, but decided not to today (it was starting to get rather quite hot at this point)!  Instead I continued along the bank of the Suriname river down the charming Waterkant (a key part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Historic Inner City of Paramaribo), past the Central Bank of Suriname.

The Central Bank of Suriname

The Central Bank of Suriname

As it’s a Saturday today, the bank is of course closed.  I’m aiming to go back one weekday though, as there’s a Numismatic Museum there that shows the history of money in Suriname.  It’s open 08:00-14:00, so I could always go in the morning before work, we shall see. Continuing along this road brought me back to Independence Square. I passed the National Assembly before returning to the office.

The National Assembly

The National Assembly

A Perambulation around Paramaribo: Part 3

Yeah!  It’s back once more (and I’m too lazy to think up a new title, so that’s also part of it).  Today is another quiet day (as work that was going to be done today ended up being given to us yesterday, which means it’s already been done – if that makes sense)?  Anyway, enough of that.  I’ve once more been out around the city, this time ticking off a couple more of the Lonely Planet sights.

The aim for the day was to go and have a look at the city’s mosque and synagogue.  However, the first building of note that I passed was the Foreign Ministry.

The Foreign Ministry

The Foreign Ministry (on the right)

Continuing along the road, I passed the cathedral (see my previous post for pictures) before heading down a road on the left.  I’d noticed on the map that there was a small square that looked like a park, as it was on the way to the mosque and synagogue, I thought I’d have a look.  The building in the centre of the grassy area was the Reformed Church.

The Reformed Chuch

The Reformed Church

Continuing down the palm lined streets in the hot Saturday morning sunshine, I enjoyed the Dutch colonial architecture that pervades the city.

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A little farther along, I came across some rather picturesque overgrown houses.  It reminded me of the old houses in Britain that have creepers growing all over them, a bit like Lincoln College at The Other Place, but with a more tropical atmosphere.

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Emerging on yet another street, I’d reached the area where the mosque and synagogue are, but, like the previous expedition, that’ll be in a separate part!

A Perambulation around Paramaribo: Part 2

There are two reasons why I decided to split up my trip into a multipart extravaganza.  The main reason is because one long post would have been exceptionally photo heavy, and secondly, because the internet is very slow here, and it would have taken an age to upload all the other photos.  Oh, and because everyone loves a multipart special!

Anyway, picking up from where we left off from yesterday, on my journey around the central area of Paramaribo, I’d reached the wooden cathedral of St Peter and St Paul.  It was rather striking, and is built entirely out of wood (as far as I know).  Crossing the road, I went inside.

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Unlike the mediæval stone cathedrals of Europe, this one was very light and airy inside.  This was definitely a good move, given how hot it was outside.  Being in the shade was a refreshing change at this point, as I’d been out in the sun for the best part of an hour and a half (and being of Northern European descent, my skin was getting a rather sound beating from the sun)!

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With the cathedral having been seen, it was time to make my way slowly back to the hotel where I was staying (and where the office is situated).  En route, I stopped by Independence Square (which I’d passed on my way into town, but hadn’t stopped at).  Various important government buildings surround the square, including the Presidential Palace, the Finance Ministry, and the National Assembly.

The Presidential Palace

The Presidential Palace

The Finance Ministry

The Finance Ministry

Moving round to the riverside edge of the square one finds Fort Zeelandia.  Originally built by the Dutch, it was extended and reinforced by the Brits (Fun Fact: it turns out Suriname was one of Britain’s colonies for a bit, but it was swapped for what is now New York as part of the peace settlement reached at the end of the Second Anglo-Dutch War).

Fort Zeelandia

Fort Zeelandia

The final stop on my two hour expedition was to the Palmentuin, the oldest park in Paramaribo, and a national monument.  It was a delightful place (aside from the warnings not to visit it at night from the FCO).  However at midday it was very peaceful.  It contains around 1,000 palm trees, giving it an exceptionally tropical vibe.

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After this, I strolled back to the office before grabbing lunch.  All in all, a very enjoyable and interesting morning!

A Perambulation around Paramaribo: Part 1

Due to various reasons, too numerous and tedious to list here, there has been no work to do since I arrived in Suriname on Tuesday evening.  I have however been required to man the office with my colleague during office hours.  Sadly this has led to exceptionally itchy feet being developed (figuratively speaking of course), as it seemed a bit of a wasted opportunity to sit in an office with nothing to do, whilst in a country one is highly unlikely to ever return to again.  Fortunately, my colleague this morning (for we work 7 days a week the entire time we are out here) said I could have a couple of hours off to have a look around.  Said colleague instantly became a hero in my book, and I seized the opportunity with a slightly manic level of enthusiasm.  Having a quick look at Lonely Planet webpage for Paramaribo, it lists the sum total of nine things to see (at the time of writing).  Of these, there are more or less two duplicates, leading to a realistic count of around seven things to see (although the Cathedral isn’t listed on that site).  Anyway, without further ado, let’s get down to business.

A tradition that I started during my Chilean exploits, I have bought the national flag of each country I have been to, and so top of the to do list was the need to acquire a Surinamese flag.  Fortunately I’d done my homework, and I knew exactly where to buy one.  There’s an arts and crafts shop called Readytex that caters to tourists, and so this was the first target of the day.  To get there I walked along the riverside, and enjoyed the colonial architecture and saw the Suriname River, along with the bridge and the wreck of De Goslar (link in Dutch), which was sunk in 1940 and has been there ever since.

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After buying my flag, I took a quick detour to look at a church, and went in search of the Central Market.  This was enormous, with all sorts of fruits, vegetables, and fish on sale from a plethora of vendors.

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Inside the covered area of the market was an enormous array of stalls, selling more fruit and vegetables.  There was also an upstairs section where clothes and other assortments were available for purchase.

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Looking at the ground floor of the market from the staircase up to the first floor

Next door to the main building of the market was another, smaller one that sold a variety of herbs and other odds and ends.

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After exploring these various stalls, I headed back out into the baking equatorial midday sunshine, and ambled to my next destination, the wooden cathedral of St Peter and St Paul.  That is where the next instalment will continue from.

Gooooood Morning Suriname!

So I have arrived.  The flights were long and uneventful, especially the transfer at Amsterdam Schiphol, but I am at least here.  It’s a stark contrast to the UK here, with temperatures of 30C all year round (much nicer than the 6C I left behind)!  Upon stepping off the plane, I was greeted with a smell I’d only encountered once before, in London.  It was the smell of the rainforest (hardly a big surprise given that the airport was in the Amazon!).  (In London the same smell may be found inside the Palm House at Kew Gardens in case you’re wondering why there’s a rainforest smell in London).

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Paramaribo is a rather quaint capital city.  There are no high rise buildings to be seen anywhere, and many of the houses are built in the style of Dutch houses.  Palm trees are found everywhere, and there are (what I assume to be) tropical birds singing.  Unfortunately, given that I’m working here rather than holidaying, I won’t get to see much of the city, but such is life.  Something is better than nothing though of course!

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Today is fairly quiet aside from a couple of meetings (in reality this equates a casual chat with various people), but tomorrow the work is likely to ramp up some more.

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Ticking Over

It’s been a while since my last post (partly due to the fact that the internet was down in my flat – not ideal), but what a lot has happened!

First of all, I had a delightful week or so in Devon with my family, which was a great chance to relax a while away from work.  We were staying in a small town near Kingsbridge, and basically just enjoyed the scenery.  The house we rented had brilliant sea views, and my father and I went on a long hike along the coast one day.  We also went to several pubs, one of which has beams nabbed from a wreck of one of the ships from the Spanish Armada in 1588.  We also planned to go sea fishing with some family friends who were holidaying in the same village at the same time on their fishing boat, but unfortunately the sea was too rough (due to the wind).  Ah well, such is life.

Back in Surrey, things have been going well.  A couple of other new grads started two weeks ago, so they’ve been settling in.  I’ve spent a lot of my free weekends in London seeing various friends, and it’s been a lot of fun catching up with them all.

RS and I built our new computers last Tuesday which was enormous fun.  Quite tense at some stages (mainly the installation of the cpu and cpu cooler), but luckily it all works well.

Work wise, everything’s great.  The job is still really interesting and enjoyable, so that’s rather lucky.  I should be going on a business trip soon, so that should be rather exciting!