Stunning pink sandy beaches, exceptional scuba diving, and the 25th PGA Grand Slam of Golf in Bermuda, what more could you possibly want?
Island hopping in October 2007, took Edward F. Nesta and I to Bermuda for the 25th PGA Grand Slam of Golf, a 3-day tournament held from October 15-17, 2007 at The Mid Ocean Club, which for golf enthusiasts is the opportunity to watch golf at its best.
Planning our trip, we learned that Bermuda is actually not a single island, but rather a string of 138 coral islands and islets, is the second most remote island in the world, and is not in the Caribbean, but in the North Atlantic Ocean, 1045 km (650 miles) east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and 1529 km (950) miles north of Nassau, Bahamas, and is Britain's oldest Colony.
Bermuda's slogan is "feel the love" and the party began at the Bermuda International Airport in Hamilton, where the Native Percent Band entertained visitors during the short wait in the Bermuda Customs line with some rhythmic island music.
Once we passed through Customs, we picked up our luggage, and the party continued with Bacardi pouring a selection of their rums, which certainly provided a warm welcome to the 54 square km (21 square mile) island.
Driving cars by non-residents of Bermuda is illegal, so for this trip, Edward was able to leave the driving to someone else, namely our driver Eugene Bickers, who picked us up at the Bermuda International Airport in Hamilton after our non-stop 1- hour and 35-minute flight from JFK in New York.
Mr. Bickers gave us a running commentary on the history of the island as well as pointing out the sights as we passed the Botanical Garden and the famous Horseshoe Beach, and the fantastic hues of the hibiscus hedges with flowers of white, yellow, red, and pink, the white and a variety of pinks of the oleanders, and the intensely colored bougainvilleas gave evidence that we were indeed in a semi-tropical paradise.
What really captivated my eyes though were the brilliantly colored houses made of plastered stone or plastered concrete block with interesting stepped roofs that were originally made from limestone. When the houses were built, water holes were dug under the house, and the limestone that was removed, would be used to create the roof. The roofs are very heavy and are hurricane proof, in that although they may lift up, they will not blow off the house.
Houses painted in shades of tangerine orange, deep lilac, yellow, pink, green, turquoise, and white, dotted the landscape. Of particular interest was the small house next to the main house, topped with a pyramid-stepped roof, which I learned from speaking with an architect, is called a Buttery. This would have been the coldest place in the house, and where butter was kept. The ball on top of these roofs is called a Buttery Ball.
We arrived at the 593-room and suites hotel, The Fairmont Southampton, the host hotel for the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, and had our first celebrity spotting, when we saw Lee Elder, a champion on the Senior PGA circuit standing in front of the hotel.
Since we arrived at the hotel early in the day before our room was ready, we continued the Bermuda party ambience having Rum Swizzles made with Gosling's Black Seal Rum before having lunch at the Cabana Bar & Grill at the beach. During our stay we also had lunch at Jasmine Lounge, and had dinner at the Water Lot Inn, and their award-winning restaurant, the Newport Room.
We found time in our schedule to explore the undersea world by diving with DIVE Bermuda to have an up-close look at the sea life and two of Bermuda's famous wrecks. Bermuda's rocky coastline has claimed many ships, and there are 53 shipwrecks to dive.
We explored the nearby towns of Hamilton and Saint George's, as well as attended the exciting 25th PGA Grand Slam of Golf. Read about scuba diving and the 25th PGA Grand Slam of Golf in the Adventures sections and about The Fairmont Southampton in the Hotels and Resorts section.
The Fairmont Southampton
101 South Shore Road
Toll Free: +1-800 441-1414 Canada/United States
After spending the morning soaking up the sun watching the golf clinic with golfing tips from 2007 Masters Champion Zach Johnson, 2007 British Open Champion Padraig Harrington, and 2007 U.S. Open Champion Angel Cabrera, followed by the Pro-Am PGA Grand Slam of Golf, where the many celebrity golfers included Dr. the Honorable Ewart F. Brown, JP, MP, Premier Minister of Tourism &Transport, as well as Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, it was time to explore the city of Hamilton.
There are 9 parishes of Bermuda, and Hamilton, the capital of Bermuda, population 4,000, founded in 1793, is located in Pembroke Parish. We began our exploration at City Hall, at the suggestion of my mother, Victoria, who had previously visited Bermuda, and highly recommended that we visit both City Hall and the Bermuda National Gallery.
We were fortunate to have the opportunity to experience Living with Art (October 9, 2007 until January 3, 2008) Modern & Contemporary African American Art from the Collection of Alitash Kebede, an exhibition of 75 works from 39 important African American artists.
Among the many featured artists in the exhibit, we saw works by: Norman Lewis, Charles Alston, Palmer Hayden and Lois Mailou Jones from the 1920s-1930s Harlem Renaissance period, Romare Bearden, Jacob Lawrence, Alma Thomas, Charles White, Elizabeth Catlett from the Works Progress Administration era in the 1940s, and Contemporary artists Herbert Gentry, Richard Mayhew, Ed Clark, Mel Edwards, Al Loving, Bill Hudson, Betye Saar, and daughters Alison and Leslie Saar. One of my favorite pieces of the exhibition was Emilio Cruz's large-scale commanding pastel, Tree of Life, 1992.
For additional information on Alitash Kebede and the artists featured in Living with Art, please visit www.A-R-T.com/LWA/. For information on upcoming exhibitions at the Bermuda National Gallery, please visit www.BNG.bm.
The Bermuda National Gallery is open Monday - Saturday from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm, and is closed on Public Holidays. There is free admission.
Bermuda National Gallery
City Hall & Arts Centre
17 Church Street
Telephone: +1-441 295-9428
Fax: +1-441 295-2055
Continuing up Church Street, we visited the Anglican Church of Bermuda the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity built in the Gothic style and consecrated in 1911. Inside note the impressive stained glass windows. Visitors can climb to the tower Monday - Friday 10:00 am - 3:30 pm. Admission is charged for the Tower. The Cathedral is open Daily from 8:00 am - 4:45 pm. Free Entrance.
The Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity
29 Church Street
P.O. Box HM 627
Hamilton HM CX
Telephone: +1-441 292-4033
Fax: +1-441 292-4043
We walked up the hill to Fort Hamilton, built during Bermuda's massive fortification as a result of the American Civil War (1861-1865). Construction of the fort began in 1868 and ended in 1888, although the fort was not finished. The fort was restored in 1964 and opened as a public park in 1967. There are cannons and shells on display, lovely gardens to stroll, and the fort also affords wonderful vistas of Hamilton.
Fort Hamilton is open Daily from 9:30 am - 5:00 pm. There is Free Admission.
Happy Valley Road
We browsed in the many shops along the side streets and on Front Street where we admired the architecture of The Cabinet Building and the World War Memorial. Visitors permitted when the Senate is in session. The Senate meets on Wednesdays at 10:00 am.
The Cabinet Building
Front Street and Parliament Street
Telephone: +1-441 292-5501
Another interesting historical building is the Sessions House (Parliament Building), where The House of Assembly meets on Fridays at 10:00 am. Visitors are permitted when in session. Proper dress required.
21 Parliament Street
Telephone: +1-441 292-7408
In the evening, we returned to Hamilton to have dinner at Greg's Steakhouse where the ambience was every bit as tasty as Chef Colin Lloyd's cuisine. A few of our dinner selections included Beef Short Ribs, Dry rubbed, secret Gosling's Black Rum sauce, and sweet slaw; and the New York Strip Steak, Certified Angus Beef® sirloin char grilled finished with maitre'd hotel butter accompanied with twice-baked potato and fresh asparagus with Hollandaise sauce. Read about Greg's Steakhouse in the Restaurants and Chefs' Recipes sections.
39 Church Street
Telephone: +1-441 297-2333
Fax: +1-441 297-2335
We visited the town of Saint George's, population 1,600, located in St. George's Parish, and named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. We began at King's Square, starting with a visit to Town Hall built in 1782, where the Town Crier rang his bell to greet visitors, and we posed in the stocks located in the square.
Debra and Edward Hanging Around in St. George
Directly opposite Town Hall is The Bermuda National Trust Museum, housed in The Old Globe Hotel built between 1698-1700, where we watched an interesting 12-minute video on the history of Bermuda and its African and European heritage, and learned that Bermuda rests on a section of a submerged volcano.
In addition to the fascinating history and architecture of the building, the museum has a wonderful collection of artifacts including information on many of the wrecks including the Marie Celeste, which sunk in 1864, and one was of the shipwrecks we saw while diving.
The Bermuda National Trust Museum is open Monday - Saturday from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm. Admission is charged.
The Bermuda National Trust Museum
The Globe Hotel
Duke of York Street
Around the corner from The Bermuda National Trust Museum is Saint Peter's Anglican Church, built in 1612, the oldest Anglican Church in continual use in the Western Hemisphere. The church is also an important site on the African Diaspora Heritage Trail.
Important pieces in the church include a cedar Dole Cupboard, circa 1640, that held charitable offerings for the poor and is believed to be the only one of its type remaining in the world; the font, approximately circa 1450, was brought to Bermuda by early sailors; the 17th century triple-decker pulpit; the communion table built by the original settlers in 1612; the communion chalice hallmarked 1625-6; and the old cemetery on the grounds of the church.
Saint Peter's Anglican Church is open Daily from 10:00 am - 4: 30 pm. There is free admission.
Saint Peter's Anglican Church
Duke of York Street
Telephone: +1-441 297-2459
Located a short distance from King's Square is The Deliverance, a replica of a ship built in 1610 to bring the survivors of the shipwreck Sea Venture to Virginia; and opposite in the park is a statue of the British Admiral, Sir George Somers. The Deliverance is open daily from April - November. Admission is charged.
Telephone: +1-441 297-1459
We took a walk to visit Fort Saint Catherine, approximately 1.2 km (0.8 mile) from King's Square and located at the east end of St. George's and stopped along the way to admire the imposing Gothic structure of the Unfinished Church. Construction of the church began in 1874 and it was to replace Saint Peter's Church, and would have been able to seat 650 people, however financial and other factors halted the construction, and the church was not completed. The Unfinished Church sustained hurricane damage in 1926, and now is maintained by the Bermuda National Trust.
Continuing our walk we passed Tobacco Bay Beach a sheltered bay, and finally Fort Saint Catherine came into view at the top of the hill. We toured the inside of the fort where we learned about Bermuda history and the shipwrecks, saw the weapons and other artifacts, and later walked outside along the ramparts for a spectacular view of the coastline.
Fort Saint Catherine is open daily, with the exception of Christmas Day. Admission is charged.
Fort Saint Catherine
Telephone: +1-441 297-1920
Fax: +1-441 297-2355
Another interesting museum that we visited is the St. George's Historical Society Museum founded in 1920, and housed in Mitchell House, built in 1731 by Major Walter Mitchell, a wealthy merchant, as a gift for his son, that was the first stone house in Saint George's, and features 7 fireplaces. Mr. Archer, a former slave, later purchased Mitchell House in 1842.
The museum has a wonderful collection of fashion including ladies fans, clothing, snoods, hats, of which my favorite was a ladies blue velvet smoking hat, shoes, and hair ornaments. Other historical items include dolls, bottles, money, surgical tools, longcase clock, and furniture, as well as the oldest on record, a recipe for Bread of Cassava Root written by Master Lewis Hughes, proudly displayed in the kitchen, along with a wealth of kitchen utensils.
The day that we visited, Mrs. Jeannie Olander, President of the Saint George's Historical Society was at the museum, and provided us with an in-depth look at this treasure of a museum, along with information on the special black and white photographic exhibit that is usually kept in the archives.
St. George's Historical Society Museum is open Monday - Friday, April - November from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm, and Wednesdays only from January - March from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm. Admission is charged.
St. George's Historical Society Museum
Duke of Kent & Featherbed Alley
Telephone: +1-441 297-0423
Shopping is a must in Bermuda, and one of the many shops that we visited was The Guerlain Boutique. There were many perfumes, cosmetics, and other toiletry items offered at a 50% discount, which naturally, I took full advantage of purchasing Hermes perfumes.
The Guerlain Boutique
Telephone: +1-441 297-1525
Whether your interest is boating, golfing, scuba diving, horseback riding, history, shopping, or just relaxing at the beach with rum cocktails, Bermuda offers something for everyone. Come to Bermuda and "feel the love."
Important information for Bermuda
The currency for the Bermuda is the Bermudian Dollar. As of October 2007, the exchange rate was 1 US Dollar (USD) to 1 Bermudian Dollar. The Bermudian Dollar is divided into 100 cents. Bermudian coins are available in the following denominations: 1, 5, 10, 25, and 1.00 dollar. Banknotes are available in the following denominations: 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 Bermudian Dollars. Establishments accept US Dollars so there is no need to exchange US Dollars into Bermudian Dollars.
The electric current in Bermuda is 110 volt. Time in Bermuda is Atlantic Standard Time (DST), 1+ hour EST. It is illegal for non-residents of Bermuda to drive cars, however mopeds and motor scooters are available for hire, and other forms of transportation include taxis, buses, and ferries.
As of October 2007, United States residents traveling to the United States from Bermuda must complete an immigration form and pass through United States Customs at the airport in Bermuda before boarding the airplane. Once you land in the United States, you pick up your luggage and exit as if you were on a domestic flight.
All liquids (liquors, perfumes, etc) purchased in the Duty Free shop at the airport in Bermuda must be packed in your checked luggage before dropping off your checked bags and passing through security. It is a good idea to bring extra large size zip-lock plastic bags to hold any liquid purchases before you pack them in your luggage.
Please read other articles on Bermuda in the Hotels and Resorts, Restaurants, Chefs' Recipes, and Adventures sections.
For information on Bermuda, please visit the website www.Bermuda.com or call them at: 1-800-223-6106 (in North America).
© November 2007. Luxury Experience. www.LuxuryExperience.com All rights reserved.