A Travellerspoint blog

Q: What Time Is It...?

A: No clue...

sunny 26 °C

Losing track of time seems to be a characteristic of the people on the island. "Bermuda time" is about 30 minutes to an hour behind real time. We fit in quite well.

We had our anniversary dinner at Blu, a restaurant encased in glass with a view of the island and the sun setting over the ocean. As the orange glow dimmed to red and cascaded over the green landscape, the scattered white rooftops took on the same hue as the early sunset and acted as the lights on a tree; dimmer dialed to romantic. The food was impecable, some of the best seafood on the island, and new wine favourites were discovered. Since we were in a relatively calm state of mind we decided to go to the Hamilton Princess hotel to seek a lounge-type atmosphere. To our disappointment the entertainment of the night was non-existent. Luckily of the servers informed us about the party happening at the Snorkel Beach Club. We hopped on our cycle and took a 40 minute drive to the far western tip of the island.
The outdoor beach club was packed. An energetic, drunken crowd danced to intermittently playing music by DJ's who thought talking into the mic and switching songs every 4-9 seconds was "in". We had a drink and danced as long as the music allowed and dove another 30 minutes back home under clear, star littered skies through a calm summer breeze.
We stayed up all night and drove down to Elbow Beach Resort to watch the sunrise. Although the the skies were clear, the horizon had storm clouds blocking the fine line between the ocean and sky. Initially I was not please but a man setting up the beachfront restaurant beside us said exactly what I needed to hear in order to fully appreciate the moments to come: "Isn't it wonderful? The sunrise is different every morning, just when you think you've seen them all..."
This helped me embrace the spectacle's perfect imperfection. The rays burst through the cloudscape wherever the tiniest break would allow and I managed to get a few decent shots to share with you.

Later the same day we went "caving". Yes, with flashlights, climbing down ropes into the deep unknown, watching our step, the whole nine. The bottom of the cave had a pool that leads from one vast chamber into the next. Obviously my flashlight died but luckily I brought my phone as backup since it works great as a flashlight (flashlight app...awesome). However this only works if you have the battery power to back it up. We made due with the remaining two weakening light sources and managed to get back out of the cave alive.

Have you ever seen a Galapagos Turtle? Well if not they are about the size of a park bench and move just as quickly. I caught one trying to mate with another, a slow affair, and the female just wasn't having any of it. The male begrudgingly backed off when the toddler next to him ruined the moment that was clearly never there.

On a similar note, John Lennon wrote his last album during his stay in Bermuda so some local organizations put together a tribute concert with local and international artists to raise money for charity. Despite all of the talent we spent most of the nights with friends, drinking and making plans that would clearly never come to fruition based on level of ridiculousness alone. We managed to somehow get ourselves into the VIP section that had one of those miracles of modern society; the open bar. Jess assured me she would manage to get backstage to mingle with the artists, of this I had no doubt, so I said I would be impressed if she got on stage.
It all seemed to easy for her, she was backstage within 10 minutes and on stage 10 minutes after that, singing and dancing during the final songs of the night where all the artists were onstage closing the night.
Figures.

Seeing as how we were all relatively drunk we hitched a ride to a party at some hilltop mansion where a local band was feeding music to those still on their feet by the second open bar of the night. We met many new people and found that most Bermudians our age cannot wait to get off the island. They travel more than any other group of people I have ever met and many leave on little or no notice to see and live in other parts of the world. This doesn't surprise me since the tiny nature of the island became evident once we realized that we cannot walk down the street in Hamilton without having people yell "HEYY!!" from across the street or driving by on cycles. And we had only been here for about a month at this point, I could not imagine 20-30 years of life on this island.

Obviously all of the plans made that night went out the window (for everyone) when it came time for the inevitable hangover. So in an effort to take it easy we went to the semi-annual Gombey festival in da backatawn ("the back-of-town" for those with lighter coloured skin). The Gombey represents a celebration of the freedom from slavery, the costumes are loose, colourful, feathery and incorporate large headdresses with masks. The festival took place in a tennis stadium which did not make for the most picturesque scene but it was the dance and music that mattered. The music consists of drums, many drums, and the rare flute which is almost rendered inaudible due to the many many drums. Teams from all over the island compete, some Gombeys are as young as 3 years old, some as old as 60. It is a gathering meant to uplift the spirit and promote unity amongst all ages.

Bermuda is a fraction of the mountain that it sits on. Below the surface of the water, many reefs and ridges surround the island and leave only one passage for ships to gain entry to the inner ports. For this reason, there are over 200 shipwrecks around the island, some of which you can dive or snorkel at. Fort St.Catherine was the main fort that protected this entrance and from its highest tower you can see the far eastern and western tips of the island; it is the only spot in Bermuda where this is possible, so naturally I made a 360 degree panoramic out of it.

We visited many galleries and even started some volunteer work at a local museum. Local art is promoted heavily here. In fact, Bermuda is all about Bermuda and Bermuda type things. It does get a bit much to handle but I understand the economic need for this is at an all time high since the tourism industry here has taken a beating in the last couple of years. Talking with some of the locals I realized there are people concerning themselves with this problem and coming up with great ideas, some as drastic as massive dredging and cutting away some large pieces of an inner island so larger ships can make it into Hamilton (cruise ships have gotten too large to safely make it to the Hamilton Harbour). When the current government decides to listen to the people then Bermuda may have a chance to recover. Complaints about the current government are so numerous I am baffled they are in power. But that whole thing is for another type of blog, just though I might get a bit economic with it for a change.

We saw the musical "The Producers" which was hilarious both on purpose and by accident.
We also went to a very amusing dinner theatre production known as "Death By Disco" which was incredibly low budget, served cold food and did not actually involve a death.
We went helmut diving out in the reefs with Hartley, a man who had the fish trained better than his assistant, Andrew, who "forgot" about the trip that day and was asleep. Hartley had to call the gas station around the corner from Andrew's house to have the attendant go and knock on his window. Then after he made contact, Hartley decided to go take a 20 minute boat ride in Andrew's direction (since it was on the way to the reef anyways) and pick him up in Mangrove Bay. Well we got there and still waited another 15 minutes for Andrew to show up in a cab. His first words? "Hey everyone. Hey Hartley I need $20 for the cab". Laughter ensued. At this point Jess thought, "that guy looks familiar" but couldn't place him. We got to the reefs and dove down to see corals feeding, fish stopping and going according to Hartley's command, we even held a large snapper for a photo op (free of charge thanks to Andrew's memory). The underwater world is fantastic, simply unbelievable. I have been snorkelling in reefs a few times before, a few days for this dive even, but to walk alongside one on the ocean floor is something else. Of all of the touristy things have done, this is my most recommended, provided Andrew wakes up. Oh and it turns out Jess saw Andrew in the newspaper a week earlier for running his wife off the road....nice guy though.

So far there have been but a few tropical storms and a couple of hurricanes. No biggie. Sandy popped in to water the plants, we high-fived and she left to go destroy the Eastern US. I did not see that coming. She seemed so pleasant.

Most of this entry was written poolside at the Fairmont South Hampton Princess because the wind down on the beach is a touch irritating so I guess this will have to do, Oh welllll.
Yuck, I hate people like that, and this place is littered with them. Looks like one of them spent 4 hours in a tanning bed just to accessorize with gold watches and necklaces. Looks like a well roasted chicken with a show on MTV.
Honestly though, we usually come here to use the hot tub at night, we haven't been questioned yet. Too bad charging drinks to a random room number is out of the question. It is very easy to get kicked off the island. Or if you're a local it's easy to get locked in; caught with a joint? Don't bother looking up travel destinations for the next 12+ years, after you get out of jail of course.

I will be writing my final entry soon. I know this one took a while but a lot has happened. More on that next time.

-Martin

Posted by Martin Bathke 09:41 Archived in Bermuda Comments (0)

Clear Blue Skies.

With a chance of Hurricane

sunny 30 °C

As official beach bums we decided to hit every decent beach on the island. We have covered most of the south coast and of all of the islands "best" beaches we have maybe 1 or 2 left to explore. I use explore because most beaches have massive rock features on either side that contain caves and grottos and secret coves. I learned of a secret caves that only some of the locals know about but Hurricane Leslie is putting a hold on my expedition. The surf here is getting more intense every day due to the upcoming storm but the skies remain blue from end to end. The large surf makes the hilarious art of body surfing pretty fun. It gets pretty crazy when you are standing in water up to your hip but a wave twice your size comes along and pretends like you don't exist. Next thing you know you're upsidedown on the shore with a stomach full of salt water and an itch to do it again. I actually thank Leslie for that. Also, it is suppose to rain 50+mm all weekend and folks on the island are having Hurricane Parties as is custom before a storm this size. Bring snacks and drinks and candles and you are all set for a night of survival. Thanks again Leslie.

Last Friday Jess and I were wondering what to do post beach, you know, because there are such limited options here. So naturally we check the mailbox, as most people in our situation would, and we discover an invite to the Reefs Resort's nightly themed events. Lucky for us it was Latin Night on Fridays so we figured why not. 7-11 it said. We should up, fashionably, at 9pm to find that all of the food has been packed away and that DJ iTunes was in charge. We decide to dine at the Coconuts restaurant in the resort. Named the most romantic restaurant on the island, the lower balcony sits right above the water with the waves gently crashing the wall below and an ocean as far as the eye can see. Conch was the appetizer of choice, since I had never tried it before, and I couldn't have been more pleased. Tiny portions (as expected) but so delicious that you just cannot imagine having them not be a part of you're experience. Bermudian Rock Fish is probably the best fish I have ever had. The flavour is unlike any fish I know so I cannot even compare it to something. Succulant is the word that comes to mind. On a bed of couscous it layed and presented itself to our tastebuds. Paired with a nice sauvignon blanc it was pretty much the perfect meal in the perfect place on a perfect night. It was during this meal that we reflected on how we ended up here in the first place, and the fact that we are here at all became a bit baffling. This obviously triggered a trip down memory lane and we hypothesized what all of you are up to in this moment, and how much we miss you. We finished off the night with a raspberry mojito on the upper terrace, taking in some last minute latin vibes from the DJ.

The next day we went grocery shopping for the first time. Jesus H. Christ is it expensive here. Island robbery is what it is.
But hey we saved up money for this very reason so we made due and as luck would have it we forgot the phone number of Maria who said she would come and pick us up once we finished. On the way out of the store though, Jess was greeted with blessings from a man with no hair and a great beard. He insisted on driving us home after he popped inside to grab a few things. We accepted. On the drive home we learn about his position as the Chairman and Minister of Warwick Parish (the main residential parish on the island). This became apparent when through his open window he yelled BLESSINGS! BLESSINGS! to any pedestrian who would be fortunate enough to be on our path home. He was well received and many car horns were heard along the drive (here it means hello, and not...you know.

Lucky for us we stumbled upon the 17th annual sandcastle competition at Horseshoe Bay, obviously sponsored by Redbull.
The level of creativity was great, a lot of people were thinking outside the bos this year, said one of the judges. In the photos I added, the only one that resembles an actual castle won the Adult category (figures) with the rat in the cheese in second and the couch in third. The anti-chicken eating sculpture won the overall champion. There was also a tourist category, the winners made a Bermuda house sculpture and won a weekend stay for 2 at the Fairmont Royal Princess with dinner included. Not bad at all. I wish I knew about this ahead of time.
Post beach we enjoyed strawberry cheesecake and espresso up the street and waited about a half an hour for the bus that never came. We took a taxi.

The next day was scorching heat outside so we closed the shutters and spent the day indoors catching up on Breaking Bad. Yes we are addicts, of the show. Too bad the second half of this season doesn't air for another 8 months. So cruel.

Monday was another full beach day, nothing more to say really except I'm pretty much black now.

Tuesday we picked up a scooter that we rented for 2 weeks. We took it into Hamilton which is maybe a 10-15 minute ride through winding road and rolling hills. We went for dinner at the Pickled Onion which is pretty famous on the island. We had a Lemon Wahoo Pizza - wahoo is one of the locally caught fish, very very good - and we also tried the Fish Chowder for the first time. The chowder is an island wide dish, served at pretty much every restaurant and at the same price, very chunky and fishy (obviously) and I will be sure to get it again.
We walked down the street after the kareoke in the bar became too much to handle and we ended up at Hog Penny. This bar was the inspiration for the 'Cheers' bar in Boston. A local artist (from Etobicoke) was doing his one-man perfomance, singing and playing guitar, while we chatted with the locals. We met Chris, the manager of the Swizzle Inns, yes both of them, and Milton, a prominent figure in the events scene on the island. These two will be good connections to have during our stay.

Surprise surprise we ended up at the beach again the following morning (if you get sick of hearing about it let me know). Followed by more grocery shopping and a quick dinner since we had to head back to Hamilton to catch Harbour Nights on Front St. It is basically a collection of local artisans and vendors with some live music in the mix. As is custom by anyone in Bermuda holding a guitar, we get pointed out amongst the crowed and sang about, it was absolutely hilarious walking down the street and having a guy sing (about Jess mostly) as we were walking by his restaurant venue.
We explored for a while and then headed to the Swizzle in St. George for a pitcher of Rum Swizzle and some more live music.

The ride home was amazing. Having the warm Bermuda night breeze engulf us as we ride the winding roads throughout the island really made me feel lucky. I started laughing on several occassions as to how ridiculous it feels to be here sometimes. Also followed by the ocassional WOOOOO!!!!! from both of us. "Absolutely surreal", I thought.

We ended last night in the most expected way. Watching American Psycho. And yes it was my first time seeing it. And yes I have been living under a rock apparently. And yes it was awesome.

Well that is pretty much it for this first week and a bit. I'll be in touch soon.

Till then,

Martin

Oh ya and they drive on the other side of the road here. So backwards right?

Posted by Martin Bathke 07:09 Archived in Bermuda Tagged hamilton Comments (2)

The time has finally come.

Spent long enough talking about it....

sunny 28 °C

After having my carry-on turned into a second piece of luggage because it was almost double the allowed weight we got onto the plane to find our window seat was no such thing. The flight attendants were very friendly and chatty (one of them talked to us for about 5 minutes with her food cart blocking the isle) and the captain sounded like he was on mushrooms in the cabin; constantly laughing and joking and making funny voices over the intercom. He informed us that it would be 28 degrees upon our arrival. Obviously I freaked out since that sort of heat is meant for desert dwelling reptiles, and Jess apparently.

We arrived on schedule and were greeted by Maria (Jess' cousin who in graciously letting us stay with her for the duration of our trip). Maria wastes no time and takes us on a 5 minute drive to see the Crystal and Fantasy Caves. You can see from the pictures that they are clearly millions of years old; those stalactites take 100 years to grow 1 cubic inch. Tourists, back in the day, broke off most of the tips in both caves, animals. Regardless, the caves are erie yet beautiful and made me feel like I was in the movie Alien, except it was lit with a lovely warm glow instead of infested with those double-mouthed mutants.

After the caves we went on a 4 minute drive to the Swizzle Inn for some long awaited Bermudian cuisine.
I had a burger with bacon and cheese and a side of fries. It was amazing.
The Rum Swizzle is Bermuda's first national drink followed by the Dark and Stormy. Both are incredible yet I prefer the Dark and Stormy because the ginger beer/rum mixture is unlike anything I have ever had.

Upon arriving at the house on the top of Pearman Hill in Warwick Parish we got a tour of the place and had a hard time accepting that this whole thing was actually happening. The view, the air, the sun, the breeze coming off of the ocean, the birds, the puffy clouds that are just passing over the middle of the Atlantic for seemingly no reason at all, it just made me smile.

Cousins came by. Jess has many, many cousins here.
First Tony, great guy, lives on the water with his family and I cannot wait to drink with him, something tells me he has stories.
Lucy joined us for dinner. I Love Lucy. She is very well-spirited and has a great sense of humour. Hopefully we will see more of her soon.

The four of us talked into the night and as the early birds left and went to bed Jess unpacked her things and I went on the hunt for a proper blog site. I finally settled on this one 2 days later. Shut up it's a big commitment! This was the underdog so I went with it.

In the morning (afternoon) when we woke up we headed down to Horseshoe Bay beach and spent some time getting acquainted with the local salt water with a side of Dark and Stormy. In the video I posted you can see the beach and if you look close you can see the little white life guard post. Jess is right next to it. The climb up there was cool, the climb down the other side even better. I managed to snag a self portrait (my profil picture) while down there. Yea i know I'm lame but you know it looks kind of cool and you would have done the same thing.

We walked back on the road and got to know the area a little bit, took about 45 minutes but when you are walking along a road that has multicoloured houses sprinkled on the hill on one side, and turquoise ocean on the other, it goes by pretty quick.
Obviously the whole island has beaches surrounding it so there is one right at the bottom of the hill which is a 5 minute walk. That's the "morning dip" beach, and the "going for a run on the beach" beach. Can't wait for that to become a regular thing, maybe I'll even get in shape.

So there you have it, the first couple of days on the island. Today we are heading down to Long Beach (where we are) and walking to Horseshoe Bay along the water. Should be a good stroll. I'll post again soon with more pictures and all that.

Till then,

Martin

Posted by Martin Bathke 09:07 Archived in Bermuda Comments (1)

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