BERMUDA – A WEE BIT OF ENGLAND WITH A DIFFERENCE
Bermuda has been called a tiny chunk of England that floated away in search of better weather. And for the past couple of centuries it has been the playground for British and European royalty, socialites, money barons and celebrities from around the world seeking sun-drenched pampering. Today, thanks to easy access by cruise ships and airlines, Bermuda is a unique destination of soft adventure, romantic interludes and just plain fun for those of us without royal or upper-class lineage.
Shaped like a giant fish-hook, this self-governing British territory is a cluster of 150 small islands located 1,070 km (665 mi) off the coast of North Carolina. Eight of the largest islands linked by causeways and bridges comprise the 21 square miles of inhabited land.
One of the wealthiest countries in the world because of its offshore financial center, it combines ancient forts, tiny stone churches, pubs, spectacular golf courses, cricket and tea-time with hibiscus flowers, and pink sandy beaches.
Encircled by protective coral reefs and miles of soft pink sandy beaches, Bermuda is not only a delight for snorkelers and sunbathers alike, but offers a British experience without crossing the Atlantic.
Its two major towns, St. George and Hamilton, are each different in character with populations of 1900 and 900 respectively.
Founded in 1612, St. George – on the southeastern end of the island - is a World Heritage site with cobblestone streets just wide enough for horses and carriages and a waterfront promenade and boardwalk that provides a feel for the territory's first English settlement. Colonial buildings on and around King's Square include the 18th-century building that still serves as the town hall .
The capital city of Hamilton, in north mid-island, replaced St. George as the capital in 1815. Front Street, lined with rows of distinctive, pastel-colored buildings, houses the main ferry terminal, department stores, banks, restaurants and is where parades and other local activities take place.
Britain fortified Bermuda as the "Gibraltar of the West" with the building of the Royal Ship Yard in 1809. Today the meticulously restored Dockyard, located at King’s Wharf, located at the furthest western point of the archipelago, is a must-see complex with its restaurants crafts market, arts center, Bermuda Maritime Museum, historic Commissioner's House, cinema, and Clocktower shopping mall.
There was a close link between Bermuda and the Confederacy during the American Civil War, one so close that the town of St. George was once described as "a nest of secessionists". The old Globe Hotel, once the headquarters of Confederate agents, is now the Confederate Museum on Hamilton’s King’s Square with period furnishings and informative displays.
Eating out in Bermuda is a seafood feast of Bermuda lobster, mussel pie, conch stew, fish chowder laced with sherry peppers and rum, and shark. Other seafood includes rockfish, red snapper and yellowtail. Local drinks and cocktails use Caribbean rum as a base, and have colorful names such as Dark and Stormy and the famous Rum Swizzle.
Keep in mind that Bermuda goes “formal” after 6pm so if you’re wearing Bermuda shorts, you’ll be required to have knee-length stocking as well. Jackets are often required for men in upscale restaurants for dinner.
A variety of accommodations range from large resort hotels such as the Elbow Beach Resort, The Loren at Pink Beach and Fairmont Southampton with their spas, swimming pools and broad beaches to B&Bs, and uniquely Bermudian cottage colonies.
Getting around is easy, but restricted. No rental cars are available in Bermuda. Visitors get to their destinations from the airport by taxi or pre-arranged mini-bus.
Residents are limited to one car per household. But, scooters proliferate. If you rent one be mindful that traffic is left-hand drive. The local hospital earns a lot of money repairing the limbs of tourists who rent the two-wheelers.
Modern ferries are a unique and wonderful way to get around Bermuda. The have low-emission diesel engines, low noise, low wake, sewage holding tanks, wheelchair access, comfortable cushioned seats and a concession stand for coffee, tea, soft drinks and food.
Shopping can be expensive because everything is imported and ships that come in filled with goods return with no Bermuda-based items. Bermuda-made articles are the best buy - handicrafts, pottery, cedar ware, fashions, records and paintings by local artists.
IF YOU GO:
Currency is the Bermuda Dollar which equals $1US that can also be used everywhere.
Where to Stay: Suggestions: Elbow Beach Resort, The Loren, and Fairmont Southampton
PHOTOS: By Toshi
1. The Harbor at St. George
Travel Writers' Tales is an independent travel article syndicate that offers professionally written travel articles to newspaper editors and publishers. To check out more, visit www.travelwriterstales.com
All material used by Travel Writers' Tales is with the permission of the writers and photographers who, under national and international copyright law,
retain the sole and exclusive rights to their work. The contents of this site, whether in whole or in part may not be downloaded,
copied or used in any manner without the explicit permission of Travel Writers' Tales Editors, Jane Cassie and Margaret Deefholts,
and the written consent of contributing writers and photographers. © Travel Writers' Tales