Stuck in Bermuda
Imagine a place where the people are unnervingly friendly, over enthusiastic and polite about almost everything, combine this with old English colonial charm and daily changing weather patterns and you will find yourself in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, 1200 miles from America on the picturesque island of Bermuda. At barely 20 square miles, it’s over friendliness and vast horizon gives you (or certainly me) that overwhelming feeling that you are playing a starring role in the Truman Show cast, adding to the uniqueness of Bermuda.
With its strategic mid-Atlantic position, Bermuda is regularly a stopover for small yachts endeavouring the transatlantic crossing. After spending near to a week here, I can safely say that the island has more to offer than a fuel dock, troublesome weather and over expensive tourist traps for American cruise shippers.
To start with it is a fascinating place for historians and wreck divers alike, clues to Bermuda’s past are evident both above and below sea level. As an overseas territory of the UK, the colonial evidence throughout the island can be found in the form of red telephone boxes, old English pubs, right hand drives and the unreliable weather patterns. Bermuda has been part of many of the major historical events dating back to the English Civil War, so it is no surprise that historical monuments and ruins are rife throughout the island. History seeps below sea level here too, its underwater cultural heritage is full to the brim with shipwrecks and the artifacts since. Unfortunately the bad weather stopped us visiting some of the world’s greatest wreck diving spots.
Back on land, from old to new capital there are two official towns on the island. Hamilton, the new capital, with only a permanent population of 1500 can hardly be classed as a ‘city’ in today’s world but it is a hub of the island and has enough bars serving the local Goslings rum, restaurants and boutiques for its needs. The old capital, the town of St George is situated on the eastern side of the island, boasting a UNESCO status; it unlocks Bermuda’s colourful history through its quaint side streets and stone churches. Pay a visit to St Peter’s Church, one of Bermuda’s oldest buildings. If a dramatic performance is more you’re cup of tea, head to the square and witness a re-enactment by locals using the wooden stocks. Locally known as the island’s third town, is the Royal Naval Dockyard – a cruise ship magnet and the farthest West point of the island. There is plenty to do from watching glass making, sampling rum cake, swimming with dolphins, a round of crazy golf to Segway tours. Make sure you time your stay according to the cruise ship schedules or you could quite easily find yourself in a little English ghost town. There are convenient bus and ferry connections throughout the island which makes it easy to explore without having to rent a car.
Aside from exploring the towns, Bermuda offers a range of activities for adventurers and interested historians. In our time here, we explored near enough every fort on the island, fort St Catherine (a short walk from St George) has to be the most picturesque. I recommend trying out The Beach House restaurant serving up some amazing fish dishes and tasty Dark n Stormy’s after a day of exploring. For a refreshing walk, the public walking trail which runs over the bed of the former railway stretches from St Georges to the city of Hamilton, offering great views and on a blustery day can be fun walking alongside the angry Atlantic. As I mentioned we lucked out with the weather but you won’t be short of bays to swim, snorkel and dive in if the sun is shining.
With a speed limit of 23 mph and everything closing on a Sunday, nothing is to be done in a hurry in Bermuda and rightly so. A slightly odd Caribbean paradise, with tropical plants and brightly coloured houses they retain the English heritage with a tropical, carefree and friendly twist – not such a bad place to be stuck.
May, 2015 (Mid-Atlantic)