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Trip Report A return to Bermuda.

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Who we are: My brother and I visited Bermuda the second week in December. It was his first trip, for me probably the fiftieth or so.
Our mother died this past summer. She and I had often visited Bermuda together . She encouraged my brother, an avid birder and walker, to go. We got a small refund of a prepaid policy which I suggested he use for airfare. My husband and I gave him the rest of the trip as his Christmas present. He told me several times how special the trip was because it was a gift from Mom and us. We had many conversations about our parents on the trip and it eased the ache of this first Christmas without either of them.

Where we stayed: We stayed at Fourways Inn on Middle Road. I am very partial to this property and have stayed here about ten times. It is small, quiet and has a very charming ambiance. The public rooms are gorgeous, very old Bermuda. We were upgraded to a two room suite with private patio overlooking the pool and gardens. Breakfast, included in the rate delivered to the room, is a generous pot of coffee or tea, fresh fruit (melons, grapes, pineapple) and six pastries (croissants, muffins, and sweet rolls). The on site restaurant is one of the best on Bermuda. I posted a full review on T/A.

Fourways is an easy walk from the grocery store (handy as rooms have microwaves and fridge), the bus stop, the ferry stop (Darryl's Wharf) and the Bermuda Railway Trail. The beach is about a twenty minute walk from the hotel. Beach privileges are at Coco Reef Hotel.

Holiday bargain: Fourways was $125 per night plus tax and service, sixth night free except for service charge. This made it a better buy than the sale at the Fairmont with service, resort fee, and tax added to the $99 base rate.

Transportation: I rented my bike from Mrs. Thomas at Elbow Beach Cycles. Although I have been riding for well over forty years, I find her refresher safety course helpful and very thorough. Riding the bikes today is not what it was years ago. Traffic is much more congested and faster. Many people, particularly visitors are injured or killed on Bermuda roads. There is no shoulder on most roads and those walls are quite unforgiving.
Mrs.Thomas is very professional. She or one of her staff will pick you up at your hotel. The bikes are in very good condition and she test drives the individual bike she rents to you. Her prices are competitive with the larger operations like Oleander.

My brother preferred not to ride a bike. He and I bought transportation passes (these can be purchased at the main terminals in Hamilton or any post office and are a bargain) . We took the ferries primarily but did use the bus a couple of times when it was raining (I do not like to ride my bike at night or in the rain, so I rely on the super public transportation system Bermuda offers for those times). We also enjoyed many long walks along the Bermuda Railway Trail.

Where we ate:

I think the best meals I had were at Fourways, Splendido at Horizons and the Tamarisk Room at Cambridge Beaches. All three were really exceptional. Ascots is an old favorite of mine as well. The meal there was very good and the service was excellent; but, it seemed to be a bit more expensive than some of the other options. Blu is also quite good. I missed it my last visit, so was glad to be able to be accommodated this trip. The HogPenny which I have enjoyed for years was not really up to snuff. Service was fine but the food was pretty bland. We tried Mad Hatters, which I had heard a good deal about. It is fine but the menu is overly ambitious. There must have been fifteen specials on for the night. Service was slow and not very polished. I thought the food was fairly ordinary. I posted reviews on T/A.

Spa: I went to Cambridge Beaches Ocean Spa. I have tried a number of spas in Bermuda and I like this one best. It is quiet and the service staff are very professional. The setting is lovely. I highly recommend calling to inquire if there are specials being offered.

Bermuda Passport: This is a complimentary discount coupon booklet offered by a number of hotels off season. It is comprehensive and worth checking into if your hotel offers it. It had spa, shop, restaurant and cycle discounts.

Highlight of the week: The Bermuda Holiday Boat Parade. I think almost eighty boats were entered. It was great fun and the fireworks were fabulous. I plan my December visits particularly so I can attend the boat parade. It was a big disappointment to have it canceled last year.

Why I go off season: Although it is off season, the weather is generally quite pleasant, perfect for long walks on the beaches (which are virtually empty!). The Goodwill golf tournament was held the week we were there (seeing one of the teams in identical kakhi pants and black polos with the words "Be Original" emblazoned on their hats gave my brother and me a good laugh). The night of the boat parade temps were in the high sixties. I had on a light jacket and was comfortable. I will note that most Bermudians were in parkas and Uggs, but to me the weather was fine. The rates are dramatically lower than in high season. Bermuda has had a serious dip in tourism. If you are considering going, call the property in which you are interested. Many are offering deep discounts. Bermudians take holidays seriously. There are parties, decorations and holiday spirit overflows. If you get stressed by the holidays go to Bermuda where no demands are made on you except to have fun. It was great!

Bermuda is changing and like most old fogies I hate some of the change. There were a number of reports about the increase in violent crime. Three gang related homicides in December alone! I was repeatedly warned against walking alone in the evening. Litter which used to be very uncommon, is noticeable. The drivers on bikes seem to be trying to intimidate or scare other drivers. I think I was the only driver doing the speed limit, the bikes are very fast. One thing which really struck me was the noise from car radios. I guess the saddest thing was seeing the Waterloo House as it is being torn down. I stayed there many times and I hate to see it go.

But change is inevitable and I hope that some of the new construction and businesses will help Bermuda thrive as tourism declines. I for one will be back, time just gets away from me in Bermuda. I go with the best of intentions to do all sorts of things but it always seems the morning I leave I still have most of them to do! It is another world.

Best wishes for the new year.

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