24 hours in Paramaribo

| Johan van Rijswijck

Paramaribo is undoubtedly one of Latin America's nicest cities. I will take you to Paramaribo for 24 hours.

The clock and the time

24 hours in Paramaribo, it sounds almost contradictory, because Surinamese generally have a quieter pace. They refuse to squeeze a certain number of activities into a defined timeframe, as we Dutch people are often accustomed to. "You Dutch have the clock and we Surinamese have the time", is not for nothing a winged statement. With this blog article I give you an idea of what you can do in Paramaribo. I don't blame you when you decide to spread the activities over several days because of the tropical climate.

Breakfast: Central Market on the Waterkant

Start the day early, like many inhabitants of Paramaribo, to take advantage of the pleasant coolness of the morning. It is the ideal time to visit one of the many markets in the Surinamese capital. The most famous is the Central Market on the Waterkant. The market is a true explosion of scents and colours. Get some nice fresh fruit to start your day well.

To do: City Walk

Discover the centre of Paramaribo with a city walk led by Dutchman Peter Duker. Peter became attached to Surinam many years ago and decided to live there. The walks are enormously fascinating, because Peter, as a Dutchman, explains the cultural differences very well and he always opts for very original perspectives. For example, why does the statue of Wilhelmina look out over the river and why did a cyclist get a fine in 1902 at the Kerkplein? You will find out all about it during the city walk through the historical centre of Paramaribo. Peter has set out a treasure hunt for children, which makes it fun and educational for them too.

Lunch: Zus en Zo

Around one o'clock the city walk is over and then you can walk via the Palmen Garden to the eatery Zus en Zo. It is a relaxed place, where you can eat a delicious sandwich. Try, for example, a Surinamese hot chicken sandwich or a Batjaw sandwich. A sandwich with dried and salted cod prepared in a spicy Surinamese way.

Tip: If you are in Paramaribo on a Friday, you can enjoy live music at Zus en Zo. Absolutely recommended for a pleasant evening out.

Do: Plantations of the Commewijne

After lunch, visit the plantations of the Commewijne which you can easily reach from Paramaribo. A number of plantations such as Peperpot, plantation Bakkie and Frederiksdorp have been restored to their former glory. With a visit to one of these plantations you will learn more about the colonial history.

In this context a visit to plantation Mariënburg is also highly recommended. This large plantation with factory is completely dilapidated, but it tells the story of the uprising of the Javanese and Hindustani contract workers. The now 85-year old Mr. Soekardi, grew up and worked in Mariënburg. He wrote a book about it and despite his advanced age he still works as a guide. He believes that the story about the plantation and history of Javanese and Hindustani contract workers should not be lost.

Do: Spot Sotalia dolphins

In the afternoon, take a korjaal, a typical narrow Surinamese boat, and a guide from the Commewijne river. Your guide will take you to the estuary where the Commewijne and Suriname rivers merge to flow into the Caribbean Sea. At this point you will have the opportunity to spot one of the rarest dolphin species. This is the habitat of Sotalia dolphins, a species only found in the Guyana Islands. My daughter called this the most extraordinary thing she had ever experienced.

Dinner: The Javanese Quarter Blue Ground

At half past seven, when evening falls, you will arrive in Blauwgrond, the Javanese district of Paramaribo. It is an absolute must to have a bite to eat here as well. Sometimes it feels as if you are in Indonesia. You will find many Javanese restaurants here, called Warungs, where delicious rice tables are served. I myself had a delicious meal in Mirosso.

Evening out: a drink at 't Vat

If you walk towards your hotel after dinner, you are not far from 't Vat where you can end your day with a drink. 't Vat is a concept in Paramaribo. It has a terrace, where both tourists and residents of Paramaribo come together for an ice-cold Parbo beer.

Stay the night: Royal Torarica

After a long day on the road in the colourful Paramaribo and its fascinating surroundings, I can imagine that you are looking forward to a lovely bed in a good hotel. For us the Royal Torarica is the best option in Paramaribo. The hotel is situated close to the historical centre of Paramaribo but overlooks the Suriname river and has a lovely garden that connects the hotel and its terrace with swimming pool with the riverbank.

Source photos: Royal Torarica

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