Willemstad is like a bit of the Netherlands brought to the tropics. Pastel-colored Dutch-colonial buildings with gabled roofs line many of the streets. You might, for just a moment, think you are in Amsterdam, until you notice the palm and divi divi trees growing on the sidewalks and in little courtyards.
This Caribbean port really lends itself to a walking tour. Within a very small area you can see a floating food market, a restored fort from the 17th century and a lot of statues and monuments.
Although this city of 140,000 people is often called "cosmopolitan," that seemed like a stretch. Quaint is a much better word to describe this multi-cultural community that lies just off the coast of South America.
As with the rest of the Caribbean, there is a distinct West Indian culture, with little hints of its European roots. Its main charms lie in its distinctive architecture and compact size.
Flickr photo by cphoffman42