The Moment: Marveling at Curacao’s Famous Floating Bridge
One of my favorite childhood travel memories is of a visit to Curacao in the early 1980s. There were, of course, many highlights to the trip. Among the biggest: my first stroll over Curacao’s famous floating bridge, the Queen Emma. I had only heard of the iconic attraction in passing before my trip. I had also never really given it much thought. Seeing it in person, though, left the bridge forever emblazoned in my memory.
Majestic in its Old World simplicity, the Queen Emma bridge operated then, as it does today (and always has since 1888). It swings slowly open from right to left for those standing on the Otrobanda side of Willemstad. When open, its full 548 feet in length stretch astride the St. Anna Bay. This allows massive ships from all over the world entry to Curacao’s sprawling natural port, the Schottegat.
I remember marveling at the immense vessels during my first Curacao adventure. Behemoth ultra-modern cruise liners, container ships, oil tankers. All of them dwarfed the colorful buildings along the Punda and Otrobanda waterfronts as they passed. As state-of-the-art as these vessels were, though, their access remained at the mercy of this bridge. An ancient span of steel and wood floating gracefully atop 16 pontoons.
I also remember the hurried excitement of folks trying to jump on and off the floating bridge as the bell sounded to indicate it was about to open. “Riding” the bridge as it hinges open and closed is a unique aspect of visiting Willemstad that I enjoy for the sheer novelty.
Jumping on or off as it starts moving is not advisable for safety reasons, of course. That, however, doesn’t stop people I’ve seen using the bridge every time I’m here.
My visit in April 2012 brought back many of those old memories as I sat sipping an Amstel Bright at a cafe on the Handelskade and shot this video…
It was a moment right out of my childhood. (Sans the beer, of course.) Curacao’s Swinging Old Lady sashaying aside ever so effortlessly to welcome another vessel, just as she’s always done.
Thankfully, some great things in the Caribbean never change…