There’s only ever one good reason to get up at 4am, and that’s vacation. Still, it’s always pretty painful to experience. Minneapolis was in the throes of a 95+ degree heat wave, so at least it was nice outside when we went to the cab. We hadn’t had a break from heat in a long time.
Our 6:30am flight (on which we got our own row: SCORE) took us to Atlanta, where we had just enough time to use the bathroom and eat breakfast before heading off to Bermuda. The flight time was a total of 5 1/2 hours, which wasn’t bad at all. We also got to fly through tropical storm Bret; I wasn’t really aware that we were in a storm til the captain announced it while I was in the bathroom, and suddenly I almost got knocked over. Hey, I peed in a tropical storm! Exciting!
We landed around 3pm, got to exit the plane via the back door onto the tarmac, and headed off to stand in line at customs and immigration. After customs, we picked up our bags and had to stand in another line to hand in our tourist cards. From there, we were free to go get a cab and head to the hotel.
It’s about a half-hour ride from the airport to Hamilton, the main city. The island might be only 21 square miles, but the three main roads are all narrow and winding, and the speed limit is 35. We got a great tour from our cab driver along the way, too. Also, we immediately noticed how every roof in Bermuda is the same: they’re all white with many tiers, and an angled runner spanning the whole roof. That’s to collect rainwater, since they have no other source of fresh water on the island. (It’s the reason everything is so notoriously expensive, too: it’s almost all imported.)
Since the Barritt’s people were booking flights and the hotel for us, we hadn’t found out where we were staying til just a couple days prior. The minute I looked the place up on Tripadvisor, I knew they were treating us very well. The Rosedon was gorgeous.
The lady at the front desk was so nice I wanted to hug her. She explained about their beach shuttle, free breakfast served wherever you prefer, the daily tea at 4pm, and their honor bar and kitchen, where you could take whatever you wanted and just leave a note for the charges. The porter took us to our room, which overlooked the central courtyard behind the mansion, and the swimming pool. We unpacked a bit, then decided to walk into Hamilton and do some looking around. We wanted dinner and rum, in whichever order they might present themselves.
We knew that Bermuda was pretty traditionally British in that the shops were only open til 5 or 6pm (and not at all on Sundays, so I was glad for the timing of our trip). We didn’t realize that restaurants were similar to those in Europe as well: they served lunch til around 2, and then closed down til dinner at 5:30 or so. We were really hungry, but only had an hour or so to kill. We wandered up and down Front Street, then went up to the rooftop bar at Muse for a drink. They were closing down for a private event shortly, so we finished and headed to the main-level bar instead. There we encountered the first Bermudian who was not the friendliest person on earth: the bartender. She poured us a couple rum swizzles, though, so we didn’t mind.
Round about 5:30, we walked over to the Hog Penny for dinner. It’s a famous pub, so we had to check it out.
The server was awesome. The food was pretty good (it’s occasionally tricky to find anything vegetarian there, but I did alright), and the drinks were great. It was there that we learned the proper way to serve a Dark & Stormy: it’s not the same proportions as, say, a rum and Coke, which is how it’s usually poured in the US. It’s more like a gin and tonic. Short glass, Gosling’s, a bit of ice, topped with ginger beer. Way more potent and less sweet than we were used to. Perfect.
After dinner, we decided to stop and take a look around a local liquor store, to have something for our room (and the pool). We picked out a couple of beers we hadn’t seen before, then made a discovery that would change our lives: Scrumpy Jack. Just based on the name alone, we had to buy it. We also found something called WKD that I made Matt buy, because it reminded me of the C-Ice he had to drink in Mexico. (It was also Irn Bru and vodka, so he didn’t object.) The amused cashier told us that in Bermuda they called it ‘champagne wickets’. In retrospect we were pretty sure it was actually ‘wickeds’, but we liked the idea of it being a reference to the upcoming Cup Match. ‘Champagne wickets’ stuck.
We put on our bathing suits, grabbed a couple cans of Scrumpy Jack, and headed to the pool to swim. There were two duck fountains perched on the edge, and tiny birds kept visiting them to drink from the water shooting out of their beaks. It quickly became a requirement that a lap would involve a trip under the duck-fountains. You had to avoid getting sprayed in the head, though.
Around 8pm, we showered, changed, and headed across the street to the cocktail lounge at the Fairmont Princess. It was very fancy, and we saw a huge concentration of local businessmen there in Bermuda shorts. That never got old. Also, Matt met Mark Twain in the lobby:
We had a couple drinks there, then headed back into Hamilton for dinner (lunch was at 5:30, so 11pm seemed about right). Our first stop was Pickled Onion on Front Street. As we sat down, our server told us the kitchen was just closing up, but that he would go see what they could do. We got our food order in at the last second, which was good since we were about to fall over. We then ordered drinks and watched the cover band set up. They were amazing.
And while they didn’t know ‘Seven’ by Prince (my request, of course), they played ‘Kiss’ for us Minneapolitans instead. (One thing we noticed very quickly about Bermuda: almost every place only played the greatest pop hits of the 80s and 90s. No local music, no reggae, almost nothing popular. Very strange.)
The Pickled Onion was fun, but I wanted something more… local? So we headed down the street to The Beach, which I assumed would be awesome because their tagline is “the shame of Front Street” and they advertise that they’re open til 3am. It was definitely more local, but not as interesting as I had hoped. The bartender was kind of crabby. They were playing American hip-hop (and showing videos on TVs). Regardless, we had rum and were sitting 50 feet from the ocean, so there was nothing to be too distressed about.
On the way back to the hotel, Matt and Bally hopped in the birdcage for a picture, and to celebrate 23 hours of awakeness!