Roseau Dominica: Charming Caribbean Capital – Part 1

Hurricane season is here – and the heat and humidity are turned up high!  As you might imagine, the Nature Island is showered with rain, sometimes gentle and sometimes fierce at this time of year.  Although it doesn’t stop me from hiking, I am mindful of approaching storms and  inclement weather, as there are increased risks of flooding and landslides.

It’s no matter really – I can still get a good work-out around the capital city Roseau – and a sauna on the streets if I am there in the heat of the day.

This charming Caribbean capital is filled with history, gorgeous views and diverse shops and houses – both old and new.

For me, this town provides endless fascination, as its mood and temperature can dramatically change from early morning to late afternoon.  And every day is different too!

I like to walk up to the top of  Morne Bruce, which was once the island’s largest military fort.  It is situated above the Botanical Gardens.  It’s a lovely spot to take in a bird’s-eye view of Roseau on a quiet Sunday morning or a late afternoon, when the sun is sinking low over the Caribbean Sea.  The roughly half hour climb up the road is steep and is  good preparation for any future foray into the forest!  The following pictures depict some of the sites/sights  seen from above the town:

The 12,000 seat cricket stadium features prominently when looking down from Morne Bruce. The Botanical Gardens are in the foreground.

People often light memorial candles at the base of the Morne Bruce Cross which overlooks Roseau.

Behind the cross, one can gaze inland up the Roseau Valley to Morne Micotrin (Macaque), a dormant volcano.

Scotts Head is seen in the distance when walking up or down the road to Morne Bruce.The village that appears to be in front of the promontory is Pointe Michel.

The only cannon left on Morne Bruce from the 18th century seems to protect Roseau from an imaginary invasion.

The Roseau Public Library is among my favourite hang-outs in town.

Once back down from the Morne, two of my favourite haunts are found nearby on Victoria Street, on the  southern approach to the downtown part of Roseau.  I love the Roseau Public Library – and that’s no exaggeration!  This stately building is just over a century old, and was actually built with funds donated by American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie. I credit this little library with expanding my tastes in literature and always offering me books of interest to take home and enjoy every week.   It’s a comfortable place to study or write, and they have wireless internet too.  The book choice is broad.  I’ve read classics, current and past best sellers, Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winners, foreign authors in English translation and little known gems of literature. I’ve even expanded my familiarity with past and contemporary Canadian and West Indian writers.  There are many generous donors, including authors, expatriates, the Canadian Consulate, the U.S. Embassy and some cruise ship lines.  The library has an online public access catalogue (OPAC), so you can look at their collection, no matter where you are!

The main entrance to the Fort Young Hotel on Victoria Street. This establishment is a very popular place to socialize and/or stay awhile.

As I continue towards the town centre, I always pass by and sometimes go into to the historic Fort Young Hotel, which was originally built in 1770.  It became the Police Headquarters in the mid-19th century and then was converted into tourist accommodation in 1964. However, it was demolished by Hurricane David in 1979 and did not reopen until 1989.  It’s a very popular spot for a cool drink, a seaside meal, special events and meetings. Their famous Friday Happy Hour always draws a crowd.  It’s a great place to meet and greet friends – both old and new!

Remembrance Day 2012 at the Cenotaph in Roseau Dominica. The President of Dominica, Eluid Williams is in the dark suit in the centre of the photo.

On the way to the Bay Front and the Cruise Ship Pier, I take note of the War Memorial (Cenotaph) at the round-about on my right.  That’s where I attend the official Remembrance Day commemorative service every year.  Across the road, Peebles Park offers benches and shady trees, as well as a bandstand, which is always used by the Government Band for its ever-popular annual Christmas Concert.

The cruise ships can anchor  at the pier on the Bay Front in downtown Roseau. Photo by Edwin Whitford

During the cruise ship season, I really enjoy

A number of cruise liners anchor at Roseau during the tourist season (Oct. - Apr.)

A number of cruise liners anchor at Roseau during the tourist season (Oct. – Apr.)

watching those massive boats anchor along the pier.  It’s also fun to see them off.   I always hope that all the passengers who disembarked on the Nature Isle had a truly wonderful day.

The Dominica Museum is a great place to learn more about Dominica’s history and culture. The Tourist Information office is on the ground floor of this building.

In order to refresh my memory about Dominican history, geography, geology and culture, I occasionally re-visit the Dominica Museum, which is directly opposite the Cruise Ship Pier. It’s filled with artifacts, maps and displays.  I always come away with a better understanding of this country and am constantly in awe of its unique attributes.  Then I like to go behind the Museum and walk around the Old Market.  This particular cobblestone square is rife with history. It was a public gathering place for meetings, as well as slave auctions and punishments in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.   In addition, it was a market where at one time the trade was fruits and vegetables. This is now in another site called the ‘New Market’ – to be described in  another post.   These days, colourful stalls showcase and sell crafts, clothing, local music, and other products of interest to visitors and residents alike.  I enjoy purchasing trinkets, locally made products, T-shirts and beach wraps from the friendly vendors for gifts when I travel to Canada.

This old fountain stands over what was once a well for potable water in the Old Market Square.

The quaint Cartwheel Cafe on Roseau’s Bay Front is situated in a sturdy stone structure that has endured for more than a century and a half!

The friendly staff at the Cartwheel Cafe serve up delicious dishes and make everyone feel at home!

By now, I’ve been walking and looking around for a couple of hours.  It’s time for some refreshment at the Cartwheel Cafe (448-5353), which is  just a few steps north on the opposite side of the Bay Front from the Cruise Ship Pier.  I usually devour their Dominican breakfast, and especially enjoy the codfish plate.  If I’m just looking for a snack, I’ll typically munch on a couple of tuna-filled quiches.  Their local lunches are always large and flavourful. These tasty meals hit the spot after a big work-out (such as this amble around town!). I usually end up taking home a slice of their delectable chocolate cake for later –  in my estimation it’s the best in Roseau!

My walk around Roseau will continue on another day.  In the next post, I’ll be showing you some diverse streetscapes.  They’re an awesome mix of old and new!

References:

Honychurch, Lennox. Dominica: Isle of Adventure. Second Edition. (MacMillan), 1995.

Honychurch, Lennox.  Historic Roseau: The Capital of Dominica. (Paramount), 2000.

SHAPE (Society for Heritage, Architecture, Preservation and Enhancement. Self-guided walking tour: Historic Roseau. (booklet).

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2 comments on “Roseau Dominica: Charming Caribbean Capital – Part 1

  1. Susan Weeks says:

    So nice to see and remember all the places on your tour of Roseau. Lots of good memories there.

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    • gwendominica says:

      Yes, we did enjoy our yoga at Fort Young Hotel and breakfasts afterwards at Cartwheel Cafe. Glad this review brought back pleasant memories for you. Stay tuned for more! : )

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