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Trip Report Bermuda Trip Report July 2-9/11

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It has been five years since my last visit to this beautiful Island and left me wondering why I waited so long to return! This year I brought my two teenage daughters who had just graduated from high school, so it was a chance to revisit a few places we had been before. We were fortunate to stay at a private residence in Devonshire on the water - such a beautiful spot! I'll try to give a rundown of our activities without boring you too much!

Day 1 - arrived on an early morning flight from Halifax. We were surprised the aircraft wasn't even a 1/3 full. Hoped it wasn't an indication of reduced tourism for the Island. The flight takes about 2 hours - not even enough time to finish my movie! Flying into Bermuda is a sight that shouldn't be missed! The small Island appears out of no where surrounded by turquoise waters and the opportunity to see the reefs that have claimed so many ships in the past. Customs was quick, baggage a little slow, but we managed to get out of the airport within a half-hour. We caught a cab and the girls were in for a ride of their life. Experiencing driving in Bermuda is another activity that shouldn't be missed! For those of you thinking of getting a moped (you cannot rent a car in Bermuda) I highly recommend you leave the driving to the taxi cabs! We arrived at our destination, unpacked and headed into town. We exclusively used taxis (except for taking the ferry to the Dockyard) and while it can get expensive, it is a great way to get to ask questions about the Island and get a history lesson while you are at it. With the exception of maybe one cab driver, they were all extremely friendly. I found this year we didn't wait as long for a cab - perhaps the wide use of cell phones has changed that. While in town we had lunch at the Pickled Onion - excellent meal! A lunch for five was around $200 with a couple of drinks - not bad! The wahoo was fresh and the best we had on the Island all week. We stopped for drinks at the Bistro on the Beach - more of a local hangout. The rum swizzles weren't as good as I had remembered. Groceries were the next order of the day, and while our cart wasn't full, $400 later we left. I tried to explain to the girls everything is imported to Bermuda hence the higher cost of goods. They were shocked at the prices, I thought for the most part, they were comparable.

Day 2 - Our hostess was tired from travelling for the last week, so we decided to depart and head to Horseshoe Bay for the day. The drive along the South Shore is beautiful and when the beaches come into sight from the cliff - it is a breathtaking sight. It was an extremely hot day, and the beach was full of activity (two cruise ships were in). Great spot to people watch, play in the surf, and enjoy a book. My girls loved the beach! Horseshoe is one of the only beaches with a lifeguard. Also has changing rooms, cafe and you can buy a cold beer ($5.50 for a Heiniken and $4.50 for a small bowl of icecream). There are always a lot of taxis waiting at the end of the day, esp. when the cruise ships are in town. We headed back home for dinner and called it an early night!

Day 3 - We decided to trek into town for lunch and then head to the Dockyard for the day. Lunch was at the old establishment of the Hog Penny. We had dined here before and the food was always excellent, but I was a little disappointed in our meals. We then hopped the ferry to the Dockyard and decided to do a little sightseeing and shopping. It was extremely hot, so we didn't wander to far. We took in the glass blowing demonstration, sampled the Island Rum cakes, and browsed the small craft market before heading to Snorkel Park to cool off. Snorkel Park has certainly changed from the first time I visited. It used to be a little hut, with a small band playing some Raggae music and no entry fee. It has grown over the years and some new additions welcomed us. It was $5.00 to enter which really doesn't give you anything but access to the washrooms and changing rooms. There is a beach bar/restaurant, scuba shop, you can rent chairs/umbrellas, etc. We were going to stay for the beach barbeque but were informed it was sold out mostly to people on the cruises. There was also a "harbour nights" weekly festival happening, so we decided to stay for that. We wondered through some more of the Dockyard and settled in at the restaurant Amici which was located directly across from the market and stage where the performers were. It was an Italian restaurant with a large outdoor seating area. The food was ok but my seafood pasta was outstanding! They were very accommodating, but service was a little slow. The entertainment included goombay dancers, a comedian and a troupe of young dancers from the cruise ship. A small, but interesting craft market was present as well as several food vendors. We decided by the time we left to take a taxi home instead of going back to Hamilton via the ferry and then grabbing a cab! It was a long day, but one we all enjoyed.

Day 4 - Thought we would do a glass bottom boat tour so we headed back to the Dockyard. Most of the activities used to be out of Hamilton Harbour, but with the Dockyard being built up especially for the cruise ships coming to the Island, most of the operators have moved to that location. We grabbed a cab into town and decided to catch the ferry. Missed the last ferry before lunch, so grabbed another cab and drove to the Dockyard to ensure we didn't miss our reservations on the boat. We asked the cab driver to take us a long route for more of a sightseeing trip for the girls. We drove past several familiar landmarks and I was quite suprised to see the condos that had sprung up at the old Belmont hotel site. We used to stay at a private residence here, so it was said to see so much development. The glass bottom boat ride was great. Not sure what most people thought they would see, but I always love being on the water. The crew was friendly and found out our young guide was our neighbor and had also schooled in NS. The only thing I found this time was the number of boats at the wreck location made it seem too commercial. The jet skiis that zoomed around were annoying as well! We made our way back to the Dockyard and had a few drinks and snacks at the Frog and Onion before making our way back to Hamilton via the ferry. The ferries are now highspeed and it is only about a 25 minute ride. It cost $4.00/person one way. If you are in Bermuda for more than a couple of days and want to get around by ferry or bus, buy a pass. A sheath of 16 tickets was only $30. We did a little shopping downtown Hamilton and purchased my linen tea towels at The Linen Shop. Another trip to the grocery store and we headed home to barbeque steaks. The steaks are Black Angus and some of the best beef we have eaten!

Day 5 - This was a girl's spa day. We were treated at the Southhampton Princess and what a spot! The hotel is very majestic and you can see it from several points around the Island. Very old and gracious, it is the type of luxury you remember from old movies. We were greeted by the doorman who joked with us and told us to enjoy our day. When we left, he remember us and made sure he asked the girls how they enjoyed the spa. The spa is quite spectacular and large. We were greeted at reception and then a short tour by one of the staff. They showed us to the ladies locker room where we donned our fluffy housecoats and waiting in the lounge for our treatments. We all had a massage and pedicure (it was lovely). We had lunch by the indoor pool and while it was good, the food wasn't what I had expected. Lunch was two bento boxes and a caesar salad with shrimps, tea, smoothie and a glass of wine ($110). Our waiter was attentive and we had a pleasant chat. The view from our table was incredible and our overall experience excellent! We went into Hamilton that evening for their Harbour Nights celebration which is probably the best spot to go. Lots of people, way more vendors and a bit more excitement. We ate at Barracuda's - the food was ok but nothing special. Dinner for 5 of us was around $350 including 4 apps, 5 entrees, two desserts and drinks.

Day 6 - The kids decided they wanted to go back to Horseshoe Bay. My husband joined them and left me with our hostess to relax by the pool and enjoy a leisurely lunch at the local pub. The North Rock Brewing Company is a lovely spot and they had great burgers. Lunch (two burgers and 4 beer was $65). Gratuity is included on most bills. We stopped at the local market to pick up a few items and then cabbed it back to the house. Walking on Bermudian roads that don't have sidewalks (sidewalks are typically only found in town), is an experience in itself!!!! My husband and I would walk most mornings, but it is really not recommended. That evening we dined at the Coral Beach Club's seafood buffet. Dinner was served on the terrace and a live band played soft music in the background. Later in the evening, quite a few couples would dance. Coral Beach is a member's club, but an old establishment itself. Perched on cliffs, it is quite a site to see. One of the taxi drivers told us they will be investing quite a bit of money in it to expand. The girls giggled at the odd color jackets and Bermudian shorts a lot of the gentlemen were wearing (lime green and pink!). Our waiter "Chummy" was from Sri Lanka and very friendly.

Day 7 - Our last full day on the Island and quite sad about it. We spent the morning lounging by the pool and taking in a little more sun. We walked to Devonshire Bay beach to see if we could purchase some fresh reef fish, but to our dismay, no fisherman were there (we missed them Wed and Thurs). Around 2, we headed to the Crystal Caves and the girls did a tour. We shopped in the well appointed gift store and then relaxed with a cold drink at the cafe. The Cafe's food looked excellent, and several cab drivers were dining there. The homemade fishcakes looked like ones my Mom used to make and the cook who sat and chatted with us confirmed they were the same recipe! We then wandered over to the Swizzle Inn to have a late lunch and a few drinks. The food was excellent and I have to say, some of the best we had.

Would I return to Bermuda - yes! I love the Island and its people. Although it is expensive, the strength of the Canadian dollar doesn't hurt. The first time we visited, I think our dollar was in the 50 cent range. The one thing the girl's were amazed at was the lack of fast food restaurants - there is only one KFC on the Island.

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