We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Wednesday, December 18. 2013
Bermuda, It's a Nutty Place
Long ago, Paul Shaffer and The World's Most Dangerous Band performed a brief songlet which caught my ear.I was just out of college, and my sense of humor, as well as the tune, was off-kilter enough to generate a chuckle, as well as stick in my head for...oh, about 23 years.
Yes, that's about it. So when I was trying to think of places to take a four-day respite with the (much) better half, I thought why not someplace nutty? Bermuda was booked, my parents agreed to watch the dog and the house-bound son, and we went winging our way southeasterly. It's only a 2 hour flight from NYC, and just like that the cold weather was a temporary memory.
As far as destinations go, Bermuda isn't tropical, nor is it loaded with history to fill your every waking moment. What it does offer is pink sand beaches, solitude, and some of the friendliest people I've ever met. The weather is fairly consistent, as it is sub-tropical. While it was 36 degrees at home, we had 72 degrees and sun. Not warm enough to scuba, unfortunately, but warm enough to take in some sights and ride bikes.
Arriving early on Thursday, we wandered the hotel grounds. Grotto Bay isn't a top of the line resort, but for the price it offered what I'd classify as 4 star accommodations. Plenty of activities, if you were interested in taking part in them, a spa, a natural cave in which swimming was permitted, pool, beach, complimentary afternoon tea, and The Swizzle Inn right up the street. Our first night, we cabbed into St. Georges for an excellent dinner (I think St. Georges offered better dining than Hamilton). On the cab ride back, our mini-van was hailed by a young man finishing work.
"Where are you headed?" the cabbie asked. "I have four dollars, mid-island or thereabouts," was the hitcher's reply. Considering our ride from St. George was $12, with tip, I chuckled at the cab driver's response. "Hop in." Sure, he was piggybacking our fare, but there was plenty of room so why not? He climbed in, smiled and asked "Where are you headed?" We told him, and he replied "Going to The Swizzle? Tonight's Trivia Night and the music is good." We had heard about The Swizzle from friends, so after hearing this was the place to be, we agreed to go.
Now The Swizzle is not the place to be if you're looking for someplace for quiet or an upper class experience. Thursday is Trivia Night with the locals. I wanted to take part, but we were too late to join. We just soaked in the atmosphere, enjoyed the music (a middle-aged man from Maine playing the guitar and taking requests), and chatted with the locals. Among them, several NASA contractors who were working in Bermuda. I had no idea NASA even had a station here, but apparently they do and I got a lesson in the tracking of launches, as well as the destruction of wayward rockets. Apparently Wallop's Island had an upcoming launch, and they were down in Bermuda preparing.
I recommend a night at The Swizzle for anyone visiting the island. It's fun, the food is good, and the bartenders are Canadian, errr...I mean very friendly and polite. Much like the rest of the Bermudians I met.
We do not spend our nights out late, so we were up early the next day to visit 2 local caverns, Crystal Cave and Paradise Cave, discovered in the early 1900's. Crystal Cave was found by a group of young boys who lost their cricket ball and had the gumption to get 130 feet of rope and a kerosene lantern. I can't do the full story justice, but needless to say it's surprising the boys made it back out. Actually, when asked, the group in the cave declared it was surprising the boys even went in! But that's what adventurous young boys do. Or did, anyway. To give an idea of how much pluck these young boys had, when Paradise Cave was discovered (shortly after Crystal was found), the man who found the entrance gave these boys rope and a lantern and asked them to go in and explore the new cave! It was 1907 or thereabouts, and I really just can't see parents today agreeing to this. I admit, when asked by the guide who would've gone down, I replied I would have. Most people in our group, including my wife, shook their heads. But that's the kind of thing I did growing up in the country with my friends, particularly when the term "wussy" was mentioned. I wasn't too surprised to hear young boys in 1907 were such daredevils.
We then headed to St. Georges to explore a bit. In retrospect, we realized our itinerary was reversed. St. Georges is small and doesn't have much to see besides a few historic monuments and some great restaurants. We should've saved this for Sunday, when everything is more or less closed and we would be leaving on a later flight. I recommend, on short trips such as our 3 1/2 day excursion, seeing the rest of the island and saving St. Georges for last.
That said, St. George (and Bermuda) was settled in 1612, shortly after a ship headed to Virginia, Sea Venture, wrecked with no loss of life on Bermuda's rocky coast in 1609. All but two of the passengers continued on to Virginia. The remaining two were joined by a third later that year, and the Virginia Company sent 60 settlers. Of course, one of the first things they built was a church, the oldest continuous functioning Protestant church in the Western Hemisphere, St. Peter's. St. Peter's dates to 1620, though it has been expanded several times. Within St. Peter's are many artifacts, such as the baptismal font which predates Bermuda and is from the 1500's. In addition, there are statues of an early Saxon king and his wife in the entryway.
The Church also boasts "The Queen's Pew", which is reserved for the Queen when she visits, but is otherwise used by the island's governor. There is also an altar made of Bermuda cedar which is from the original church, and a "Dole Board". The docent in the church explained the term "The Dole" (welfare) is derived from this "Dole Board", in which parishioners placed foodstuffs, which were then taken by those parishioners in need.
St. Georges is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which had little or no meaning to me. But our first day and a half in Bermuda was fun, interesting, and the food was excellent.
The remainder of our trip will follow tomorrow, but let me add this about eating in Bermuda. Bermudians enjoy their rum, and it's good rum. Gosling's Black Seal. It features in many of their dishes, as well as their two primary drinks, the Dark and Stormy (Black Seal and Ginger Beer) and the Rum Swizzle (named after the Swizzle Inn, which apparently created it).
My favorite food was the fish chowder. I like fish, but not frequently. However, I ate fish at every meal in Bermuda and really enjoyed every dish. I also had the chowder every day. It's a dark chowder, with a tomato base. Add Black Seal Rum and Pepper Sherry and you've got a tasty treat.
It's worth remembering everything in Bermuda is expensive. The cheapest way to travel is bus, and not all of us are cut out for that, even with a system as well run as Bermuda's. Figure the price for almost everything to be about one and a quarter to one and a half times as expensive as New York City. It's an island, after all, and everything has to be shipped in.
Posted by Bulldog in Our Essays, Travelogues and Travel Ideas at 17:44 | Comments (8) | Trackbacks (0)
Trackback specific URI for this entry
Display comments as (Linear | Threaded)
Mrs. BD and I love it, but only in swimming season.
We like to stay at Cambridge Beaches, and like to rent a Whaler to go out snorkeling on the offshore reefs. And just to zoom around.
Also, we tend to use the motorbikes to get around.
Yes, Bermuda Fish Chowder is good stuff.
Agree, it's a fine place, though my experience was a little different than yours.
The jailer asked what would you like lads, we responding with fantasy and unfamiliarity with being incarcerated. The meal no matter the order, was the same though, dinner and breakfast. Two slices of white bread, a modicum of cheese, and a dash of mayonnaise. Sense of humor those jailers. Even had my picture published in the newspaper.
Hell, the whole episode is a very funny story, but I'll not bore the readers.
Yes, BD, the 50 cc. Hondas, perfect for the island and the occasional visitor both.
You're all just so damn friendly. Like the Bermudians. I suppose Bermuda is where Canadians who want to be warm move to.
Ah, yes, Bermuda. Your article brought back lots of memories. I spent... in total, almost 2 years there, as our US Navy patrol squadron deployed there pretty regularly in the early 70's. I was a young, broke, sailor, but it was still lots of fun.
Water; You know there are no springs or aquifers there, right? All the fresh water is rain water; the white roofs and white hillsides catch all the water they can and store it.
A friend of mine won a free trip to Bermuda in 1970. His girlfriend couldn't go so he asked me to go. We stayed at the Castle Harbor Hotel, which was quite nice for two young hippies. We somehow got hooked up with some rich Brits and went to a party every night. The natives smoked this sweet hashish rolled into joints. It was like putty, but very good stuff. The things I remember most were the flat frogs on the sides of the road and getting caught urinating in public twice by the same black lady cop. I think she liked me. We also got stopped for speeding on those motor bikes. The cop said he clocked us at 58 mph going down hill.i don't think they had radar back then so he must have based it on how fast he was going on his BMW bike when he caught up to us. He said that he would have us deported if he caught us speeding again. All in all, it was a fun time and a great experience.
I thought I was the only one who remembered Shaffer’s Bermuda jingle.
My Hawaiian broker buddy got a free trip to Bermuda....
He admitted that it wasn't worth the plane ride.
It can't hold a candle to Hawaii.
But, if you're on the East Coast... all is forgiven. We understand.