|Photo by Todd DeFeo / (c) 2011|
By Todd DeFeo / (c) 2011
WILLEMSTAD, Curacao -- One could spend hours watching the activity in St. Anna Bay.
Perhaps the most interesting attraction in the harbor isn't the massive oil tankers and cargo ships heading in and out of the bay. Rather, it's the Queen Emma Bridge.
The famous floating pontoon bridge, which first opened in 1888, connects the two sides of Willemstad -- Punda and Otrobanda. Throughout the day, as various boats come and go, the bridge will open to allow traffic to pass -- for just a few minutes for smaller boats or the better part of an hour for larger vessels.
The current bridge dates to 1939 and was overhauled in 2005-06. The bridge -- nicknamed "The Old Swinging Lady" -- is as much a part of the city's landscape as the Punda's colorful buildings that line the waterfront.
When the bridge first opened, it was a toll bridge and was open to vehicle traffic. Anyone not wearing shoes could cross for no charge. Today, though, there is no toll, and while the bridge is vital to the city's foot traffic, the bridge makes for a heck of a tourist attraction.
When the bridge is open for extended periods, pedestrians can cross the bay in a free ferry.