When you take someone out of her "normal" frenetic world and place her in an entirely serene environment, you'll end up with a newly refreshed, less frazzled individual with full-blown dementia. My complete synapse breakdown (aka Bermuda trance) occurred the second I cleared customs. To elaborate, Bermuda has a way of instantly lulling you into a hypnotic state, where all you want to do is frolic on the beach, work on your suntan, and completely leave your itinerary planning in the capable hands of Bermudian hosts. While my carefree disposition sounds innocuous, several unfortunate repercussions ensued after being completely unencumbered in paradise.
Repercussion #1: I can't seem to recall what we ate or places we visited.
Repercussion #2: I barely took any photos, which is a complete departure from my usual, snap-happy self.
Repercussion #3: Since I can't remember important details, I waited a month after my trip to start writing travel updates knowing that the longer I procrastinate, the worse the amnesia gets.
As you can imagine, it is absolutely terrifying for a highly detailed travel blogger to experience temporary brain fart on the road. A blog with no content or details? Say what? To avoid any further damage, I enlisted the help of my hosts to recount (and ultimately salvage) important trip details. I definitely owe them a cocktail or two.
Speaking of cocktails, I decided to get into the post-paradise blogging “spirit” by preparing a Dark ‘N’ Stormy: 2 oz. Gosling Gold Bermuda Rum, 6 oz. ginger beer, and lime for garnish. This drink is endemic to Bermuda and frankly a must have for those visiting the island. Since I'm already on this topic, the following is a happy hour recommendation for thirsty, first time visitors.
Marina Nights at 1609
Located at the Hamilton Princess & Beach Club, 1609 is the go-to destination during Friday cocktail hour, which typically starts at 5pm. What can you expect during this weekly outdoor gathering: a flock of locals and tourists happily queuing up for drinks, swaying to music, and likely sipping a highly potent Rum Swizzle - often referred to as Bermuda’s national cocktail. I was fortunate enough to sample two of these fruity concoctions while transfixed (Bermuda trance strikes again) on the adjacent Hamilton Harbour. Be prepared to wait in long drink lines since this is clearly the place to be at the end of the workweek.
Timing is everything - July 4th Festivities
I only had 2 short days to gallivant and explore. Thankfully, one of those days landed on July 4th. If you live anywhere along the US Eastern Seaboard, I highly recommend booking a quick, 2-hour flight during the July 4th holiday. Elbow Beach hosts yearly firework displays dating back 25 years, which I never would have expected since Bermuda is a British Overseas territory. What can Bermuda offer that the US can't? The answer is fewer crowds, warmth (even at 9:30pm), and fire dancers. It gets better. Imagine watching the colorful light display while your bare feet are firmly planted on a lush, sandy beach. Pyrotechnics in paradise? Yes, please.
Note: If you're looking for pre-fireworks dinner, Sea Breeze (at Elbow Beach, Paget Parish) offers an entire gamut of food choices + drink selections. I recommend sharing several tapas/sushi plates since most items on that menu are too good to pass up. Overeating and gluttony are expected.
Tip #1: Service charge is already included, so make sure you don't double up (unless you want to).
Tip #2: Bermudian dollar is on par with the US dollar, so there's no need to exchange currency while you're there. Many places will gladly accept your Benjamins.
4th of July would not have been the same without a 5+ hour sailing excursion. While being sprawled across any Bermuda beach can be spectacular, nothing beats a close-up view of the Bermuda coastline from a 17-foot O'Day Sailboat. These self-guided, semi-covered sailboats can be rented from H2O Sports. If you're lucky enough to have locals with you, you can chart your own course and navigate the beautiful turquoise waters sans guide. Here are recommended stops: Daniel's Head, Vixen Wreck, Pompano Beach Club (West End), Ely's Harbour, and Watford Bridge, which showcases the world's smallest drawbridge -measuring only 32 inches wide.
My hosts prepared an incredible lunchtime feast, which we happily ate while anchored at Ely's Harbour. The water there was incredibly calm, which also made it the perfect spot to disembark for a quick swim and lollygag along the shore.
Tip #3: Get plenty of sleep the night before and don't inhale gas fumes while on choppy water. I didn't follow my own advice and felt queasy for part of the ride. Have that plastic bag ready just in case. Thank goodness I didn’t need it. Aside from that, this outing was amazing!
It's hard to imagine that any hostility existed between the US and Britain, but Fort Scaur is proof that animosity definitely escalated during the mid-nineteenth century. Quick historical tidbit: The fort was built to protect the Royal Naval Dockyard from possible land attacks. Britain feared that US forces would retaliate since Britain backed the Confederacy during the American Civil War.
Fort Scaur is a short drive from Mangrove Bay Wharf and features a massive 64-pound rifle. Definitely a must-see if you're visiting Sandys Parish. Since it's located at the highest hilltop, you'll enjoy incredible views of the Dockyard and Somerset from every possible angle.
This blog wouldn't be complete without a few additional restaurant recommendations since I definitely stuffed my belly on several occasions.
Pickled Onion - This is a highly popular restaurant/bar on the main strip (Front Street). It is perfectly situated across the Harbour so I recommend requesting a table on the outdoor, tiled balcony even when it's blazing hot and humid. The views are worth it. The Pickled Onion recently won a Best of Bermuda 2015 accolade - "Best Place to Shake a Leg". Since I was only there for lunch, I didn't get a chance to showcase my dance moves (lol). Apparently, the restaurant transforms into a casual nightclub with live entertainment. Maybe I'll catch one of their performances the next time I visit: http://www.thepickledonion.com/entertainment.html
Harbourfront - This place is absolutely stunning. I have to make up for my aforementioned, epic photo fail by including a link to the restaurant photo gallery. http://www.harbourfront.bm/gallery. If you want fine dining with incredible ambiance, book your reservation. Although I can't remember what we ate (possibly a sushi roll and beef entree), I do believe that everything on the menu is a culinary home run. My relatives (one is a chef) frequent this restaurant often so Harbourfront must be doing something right.
Grotto Bay Hotel - Since I was antsy about catching my flight to Spain, my hosts chose a brunch location within close proximity to the Bermuda airport - roughly 7 minutes away. Grotto Bay's Sunday buffet is exceptional and includes an extensive selection of sushi, cheese, salads, hot entrees (prime rib, oxtail, turkey, baked mac and cheese), and desserts. I recommend exploring the hotel grounds either before or after your meal. I was able to take a few snapshots of the garden and bay prior to my departure, and it was definitely a memorable end to a wonderful getaway.
2 days is not enough time to fully explore Bermuda's culture, nightlife, beaches, caves, town, etc. Luckily, this was my second trip in 6 years so I was able to see more of what Bermuda had to offer the second time around. Worth several more repeat visits since I clearly need to invoke my Bermuda trance once in a while, preferably on this incredible beach (Elbow Beach). Til next time, Bermuda!