Bermuda: Third Time's a Charm?
With sun, sand as soft as sifted flour, and blue-green water, the island is pretty appealing--despite what I'd been saying for years.
After the Railway Trail, we continue walking, now along the South Shore beaches--all the way from half-mile-long Warwick Long Bay (with six people on it) to the island's most famous beach, Horseshoe Bay. In between are coves with waves crashing against the rocks and small beaches that are insanely romantic, if you're with the right person.
Jim will be the first to admit that he can be a geek--he's a scientist--so he's not quite as mortified as I am by the helmets we have to wear on our Segway tour. Segways are those electric scooter-like contraptions that you move by shifting your weight.
The guide, Rob Territo, makes me go first. I immediately get heckled by a teenager in an AC/DC shirt. "Yeah, rock it, man!" he says. I ponder running the twerp over, but he'd have to be impaired somehow for me to do any damage at 2 mph. Even then, the odds favor him, as I'm not exactly adept at maneuvering my "personal transporter."
We have earpieces through which we hear Rob's spiel. The tour of the Dockyard, which includes admission to the Bermuda Maritime Museum, is surprisingly interesting. I say "surprisingly" because I hate being talked at, and I get frustrated when I have to listen without being given a chance to talk. Rob keeps apologizing for being so informal, even though we insist that we prefer it. Once he really loosens up, he fiddles with the Segways so we can access the faster speed--up to 8 mph.
ON PREVIOUS VISITS, I was always rushing. This time, if we don't walk places, we take the ferry, or maybe the bus. Riding the ferry is so much more pleasant than driving a moped. We sit on the deck, savoring the air and the sun and views. Bermuda is shaped like a fish hook, so much of its landmass is shore line, either on the Atlantic or the harbor.
Salt Kettle House has several nice places to chill out, including a front lawn with turquoise Adirondack chairs and a back lawn where a pair of ducks flirt with us, literally shaking their tail feathers. But we tend to hang out in our room, or rather, outside it. The only upstairs room, the Tower Room has windows on all four sides and a balcony overlooking the front yard and the harbor beyond. Each evening, we sit and watch the sailboats bobbing in the dusk, drinking Hatuey beer or gin and tonics.
At $120 a night, the room is a steal, especially when we factor in the breakfast--the French toast is a revelation--and Hazel's wise advice. She knows when to ignore guests, and she knows when to engage them.
I understand that on an island where pretty much everything is imported, food is going to be expensive; I just want it to be better than disappointing. Hazel's restaurant recommendations pan out nicely. At Silk, despite what Hazel says, the food is entirely Thai, and it's a treat to eat food with spice in it. (The only spice I recall from my first visits was found on curly fries.) We also eat at Bistro J, because we can see the blackboard menu from the window and I'm a sucker for sticky toffee pudding. I even recommend a lunch place to Hazel: Coconuts, a pretty outdoor restaurant at The Reefs, an upscale resort, where the lobster and mango salad is served in half a conch shell. I ate there in 1999 and loved it; Jim and I have lunch there, and the waitstaff is as chipper as I remember.
A FEW MONTHS after Jim and I return to New York, we go to dinner with Laura (his wife) and Adam (my partner). Jim and Laura are thinking about a last child-free trip. They're talking about the Hamptons, the Adirondacks, Philadelphia.
"Are you nuts?" I ask. "It's November! Go someplace warm! Go to Bermuda!" Jim nods his head--he's tried this already--but Laura is wary. I rave about how it's only a 90-minute flight from New York, how safe it is, how you can use U.S. dollars. I rhapsodize about the beaches, the sound of the rain on the roof at night, and the tree frogs chiming in their bell-like tones. I tell Adam and Laura about Mickey's, right on Elbow Beach, where the waiters look like Hare Krishnas with their shaved heads and loose white uniforms. I even explain how on the way home you pass through U.S. immigration at the Bermuda airport, getting the bureaucratic red tape out of the way early.
In other words, I rave about Bermuda like a man who genuinely likes it.
Airfares have dropped since JetBlue started flying to Bermuda (from New York JFK airport) last May. We paid $370, including taxes, to fly American from JFK, down from what I remember being more like $600 a decade ago. USA3000 also flies to Bermuda from Baltimore. Visitors arriving by air now need a passport; passengers arriving by cruise ship will need passports as of January 1, 2008.