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Key words to describe Bermuda would be expensive, beautiful, expensive, friendly, expensive, safe and expensive!
Bermuda consists of roughly 160 islands many of which are connected by bridges. The key tourist areas are Hamilton, Bermuda's "downtown," the Dockyards and St. George's, the island's first capital. Bermuda is located in the sub-tropical Atlantic about 650 miles off the coast of North Carolina. It is not in the Caribbean. The Caribbean is roughly 1,000 miles to the south. But the water is just about as beautiful as any you'll see anywhere in the world.
The closeness of Bermuda makes it an attractive destination for Americans. Delta, American, U.S. Airways, Continental, Jet Blue and USA 3000 all offer flights from the U.S. Air Canada flies in from the great white north. British Airways brings in passengers non-stop from London. The Bermuda Airport is quaint with pretty pink little gates but no jetways.
Bermuda is an amazing place in that despite its small size, it has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world. As I recall, the average citizen rakes in about 38-grand a year. Don't quote me on this but that's what somebody said. There is virtually no unemployment and hardly any poverty. And while no place can be considered crime free, we're experienced world travelers and we can usually get a good feel for a place. And Bermuda felt very safe. We were told that Bermuda is one of the top five nations in the world when it comes to quality of life.
The legal currencies of Bermuda are the Bermuda dollar and the U.S. dollar so you never have to worry about having to convert your money to theirs. However we always find it nice to bring home a few examples of the local currency for the fond memories. We have several displays on our walls with paper money from the Caribbean, South Pacific, Asia, Europe, etc. Every time I walk by one of the displays a pleasant memory of that trip pops into my mind.
Overall we found the people of Bermuda to be some of the friendliest we've ever encountered in an island setting. A typical example of this was on the last day of our visit. We took a taxi from the hotel to the Swizzle Inn near the airport for one final local meal before catching our plane back home. The driver was wonderful pointing out various notable points as we motored toward the restaurant on the other side of the island. He dropped us off and then went over to the airport to pick up another fare. As he passed by the Swizzle Inn going the other direction he spotted us (we were dining outside in front of the restaurant), slowed down, honked the horn and waived! On another taxi trip we were heading from a restaurant in Hamilton to our hotel and shared a cab with a woman with a bad knee. She only had to go a couple of blocks away to the Hamilton Princess. The taxi driver, a very friendly woman, didn't even charge her although the fare would have been $4. Then on the way to our hotel, she turned the meter off briefly and gave us a little tour passing by the home of Michael Douglas, we think. I say that because no fewer than three different people gave us three entirely different venues where the star allegedly lives. Personally I trust Captain Mike back on the ferry boat with his choice! More on Captain Mike is coming up!
My wife and daughter visited Bermuda in the late 80s and loved it. However in plotting and planning to go there in subsequent years, we found the cost to be prohibitive--until we got such a great deal we couldn't afford to turn it down.
In plotting a trip we initially booked a flight to Paris after Air France offered a great introductory business class deal. Then my wife, for some reason, got the itch to fly to Buenos Aires with a side trip to Montevideo so we cancelled the Paris segment and booked the South American trip with Delta. That, too, was a sensational promotional fare. Then came a very special offer to Northwest World Perks members to Bermuda that was absolutely outstanding. First class air fare, 7 nights hotel, transfers and taxes all for less than the cost of a regular coach fare! How wonderful. For a little extra money we upgraded to what is arguably the finest hotel on the island, the Fairmont Southampton Princess.
The Southampton Princess is a wonderful resort. It's a seven story (six guest floors), big, pink hotel with over 500 rooms and it is positioned on the highest point on the island affording great views of either the Atlantic Ocean or the sound from each room. Each room comes with a nice balcony. And guests share the facilities of the other Princess across the sound in Hamilton--the Fairmont Hamilton Princess.
Our favorite thing about this trip was taking the complimentary hotel ferry from the Southampton Princess to the Hamilton Princess. The person who absolutely made this trip was Captain Mike Stephens who commanded the crossings several times each day. Captain Mike is a Bermudian treasure. He knows the island like very few and all along the 40 minute trip each way he served as a tour guide on a small P.A. system. We learned about VIPs currently living on the island like Michael Douglas and his wife, H. Ross Perot, Morley Safer and about past VIPs who used to live there like JFK and the wife of Charlie Chaplin. But more importantly Captain Mike was full of rich history about the island that he loves so much. We learned why the roofs of nearly all homes in Bermuda are ridged and much, much more. By the way the reason the roofs are ridged is to slow the water flow down when it rains. The rainwater is channeled into underground holding tanks and is used for fresh water. There are no freshwater streams or lakes on the island, as Captain Mike explained, so they depend on rain water for their drinking supplies. The average underground tank in Bermuda holds 10,000 gallons. Some are bigger, a few are smaller.
Captain Mike made sure to vary his trips, too. One trip he might hug the coast pointing out various landmarks along the way like the home occupied by Michael Douglas. On another trip he might give you the "ten dollar tour" and weave in and out of little islands. Everybody knows Captain Mike and they come out on their porches to wave. Mike responds with a toot on the horn.
While on board the ferry don't be surprised to look into the wheelhouse and find a passenger steering the boat--with Captain Mike carefully supervising, of course. And more often than not, those "selected" to drive the boat are pretty young ladies. Mike..........!!!!!!
Captain Mike told one funny story about passing by a condo owned by CBS 60 Minutes reporter Morley Safer. As the ferry passed by, Captain Mike would point out his condo to passengers over the P.A. Safer got wind of it and threw a hissy fit and asked him to stop. Mike politely got word to Safer that since he exposes people just about every week on 60 Minutes that turnabout was fair play. Mike says Safer eventually got so ticked off that he hauled off and moved elsewhere!
Captain Mike commands the MV Defiance. I'm not sure how long it is but he is certified to carry 100 passengers. If you stay at either Fairmont property, you simply must take a trip with Captain Mike. He is the best. We say to Captain Mike: "Catch ya later, Mate, have a "Bermuda-ful day" and thanks for a wonderful experience!"
Meet Captain Mike here.
Taking the complimentary hotel ferry is not only a fun time, it also saves you a bundle. A taxi between the two Fairmont Princess Hotels is $20 each way. Going to Hamilton on Captain Mike's Ferry once you arrive at the Hamilton Princess you just head out the front door, turn right and walk about ten minutes and you're right in the heart of Hamilton on Front Street where all the great shopping and restaurants are located. If you're staying at the Hamilton Princess which has a nice pool but no beach, no problem. You just take the ferry to the Southampton Princess and take their little trolley down to a nice beach.
The Southampton Princess was experiencing severe water problems during our visit in late June and early July. A letter was waiting in the room explaining that due to equipment failure and the current drought, guests were urged to conserve on water consumption. We were encouraged to keep the tap water off while brushing our teeth and to turn the shower off while "lathering up" with soap to conserve. The letter said if conservation was not achieved the entire water system might have to be shut down. We were happy to comply and had no problems. It was obvious that there was a big problem. Dozens of freshwater tank trucks were nearly constantly coming up the little driveway disappearing around a corner. Then we'd hear a generator fire up and run for maybe five minutes. After that the empty tank truck would return for another fill up of fresh water.
To set the scene of the Southampton Princess it goes like this. They have a fleet of blue trolleys that resemble cable cars from San Francisco. There are two stops right outside the front door of the hotel. One takes passengers down to the beach and to Whaler's Inn Restaurant. The other stop takes passengers to the ferry and to the Waterlot Inn Restaurant. There's also a public transportation bus stop there. Each trolley ride only takes about five minutes and they run at about five minute intervals.
The beach is very nice. It's a private beach and features a ton of portable umbrellas and fixed wooden umbrellas. We had no trouble finding a shady spot even when the beach was crowded. Snorkeling was pretty good right off the beach. I bumped into some very large parrotfish. I'm not sure which type they were (there are so many different types it's hard to keep track) but they were a brilliant blue color and more than two feet in length. They allowed me to snap their pictures at a distance of less than 2 feet! There were several parrots that I was familiar with including the bucktooth parrot, the stoplight parrot and some others. There were the usual grunts, Spanish hogfish (bright purple and yellow), a couple of rock beauties and the biggest queen angelfish I've ever seen. This fish must have been ten inches long and probably 5 or 6 inches tall. Unfortunately he was "on a mission" and didn't stand still long enough for me to snap his picture. The water temp in the Atlantic was listed as 80.2 by the Bermuda Weather Service. As an experienced snorkeler I'd say it was a bit cooler at our beach, perhaps 78 or 79. It was a bit cool at first but quickly felt just wonderful. Generally anything below 70 is considered quite chilly for the average swimmer.
The Southampton Princess has a very nice swimming pool and the water is nice and warm. We used to own a pool and I'd say the water temp was probably 84 degrees. All day long a guy plays the steel drums giving it a tropical feel.
Each wooden umbrella at the pool has a little red flag that has a velcro strip that can be used to keep the flag tucked up under the umbrella. If you want something from the roving waiter like a nice tropical drink or lunch, you just unfurl the flag and that will summon a server. And the hotel had a really nice touch sending complimentary ice cold chunks of pineapple and melon around to help sun worshipers beat the heat.
Did I mention that Bermuda is expensive?!!!!! The best hotels on the island usually start at around $400 "in season." Restaurants are very expensive, too. The cheapest lunch we had was $48 at a place in St. George. The cheapest dinner we had, as I recall, was around $90. Dinner at the Waterlot Inn at our hotel was $146 without any cocktails or wine but it was worth every penny (see review below). The breakfast buffet at our hotel was $25 and while good and of top quality, it didn't offer the vast choices that are offered at similar buffets around the world. One way to economize is to start the day out with some granola bars and have the hotel bring a fridge to the room and stock it yourself. Then for lunch you can make your own sandwiches, snack on cottage cheese, etc., and then blow your big wad for dinner.
I'd highly suggest that you partake of the hotel's restaurants. As I mentioned, we loved the Waterlot Inn and chose the Whaler Inn down at the beach for two dinners during our visit.
The most popular tourist destination on the island is the Royal Navy Dockyard. The British Navy actually pulled out years ago but it's an interesting place to visit. There you'll find a snorkel park, dolphin quest, historic old buildings, crafts and a ferry terminal which takes passengers into Hamilton, St. George's and other parts of the island.
St. George's Parish is a great place to visit. The St. George town setting is straight from the 1600s. It's like being in Europe but with a much more tropical feel to it. There are nice little shops and pubs. It's billed as "the old Bermuda" and "the way Bermuda used to be."
The public ferry system, by the way, is how most Bermudians commute. It's efficient, safe and fun. You can sit inside in nicely upholstered seats or head upstairs and take in a little sun during the crossing. And for about $25 for two, you can get an all day pass entitling you to not only unlimited ferry service but all public bus service on the island as well. To find out more about the ferry services on the island, check out SeaExpress (web site is painfully slow but works).
The public busses (website is painfully slow but it works) are the nicest we've ever seen anywhere in the world! They are nicely appointed inside, icy cool with air conditioning, and get you just about anywhere you want to go. Bus stops are indicated by a little pole. If the pole is pink, this indicates that the bus will be heading into Hamilton. If the pole is blue, it means the bus is heading away from the city. And the bus will have a sign on the front indicating where it's final destination will be on that run. It's amazing that this little island has a better mass transportation system than many major cities in the U.S.
This is funny. One of the biggest stories to break during our stay on the island was the fact that H. Ross Perot had gotten a speeding ticket! It made front page news in the local newspaper! He owns two houses on the island.
Numerous cruise ships visit Bermuda each year. You'll see many during your visit if you go during the summer season although the government strictly regulates the number of ships coming and going each year to prevent overcrowding. Currently mega cruise ships dock at the Dockyards. There's one berth there for the biggest ships of 'em all. In downtown Hamilton, there are two berths for fairly large cruise ships but not the giant ones. In St. George, there are also two berths for big but not giant ships. During our stay there was a proposal to change this arrangement. As I recall the proposal called for a change in Hamilton and in St. George. Hamilton would be given one berth instead of two but that single berth would accommodate the biggest of the mega ships. The two St. George berths would be upgraded to allow the mega ships there, too. So the end result would be that on any given time on the island, the maximum number of cruise ships docked in port would go from five down to four.
During the summer season you'll see plenty of "land" birds around the island. In order, we saw sparrows, starlings, kiskadees, pigeons and crows. The kiskadees are, by far, the prettiest birds with striped black heads and yellow bellies. The kiskadee was imported to Bermuda from Trinidad in the Caribbean in 1957 to control lizards and flies. But as often in cases like this, it has backfired. Lizards aren't a problem but the kiskadees have proven to be a menace to the island's fruit crops. Also during the summer season, you'll see the most famous bird in Bermuda -- the Bermuda long tail. They're also called the cliff-dwelling tropic bird and you'll see them flying in and around cliffs and over the water. Interestingly these birds winter on the Sargasso Sea happy to just float around this area of the Atlantic until summer where they return to nest and frolic in Bermuda. If you click on the Sargasso Sea link above you'll see that this area shifts around depending on currents. Winter visitors will find a much larger selection of birds to watch as migration takes place.
As for land critters I saw only one during our entire stay. What appeared to be a brown anole blitzed by a stone fence doing a mile a minute. And while we didn't see any of 'em, we heard a million tree frogs singing their tune. Tree frogs are found on some but not all islands. We've heard them do their thing in San Juan and perhaps the loudest chorus came on the island of Barbados. To hear the tree frogs in Bermuda, click here.
There are no rental cars on the island but plenty of rental scooters. To keep traffic down car ownership is limited to one per family. Interestingly during our entire stay, we didn't see one, single American car, mini-van or SUV. Most were from Japan although we did see a few VWs from Deutschland.
You're familiar with Bermuda shorts, right? Well they were invented here and they are widely used by men during the summer months. Typically a businessman will be attired in a navy blue blazer, light blue shirt, a brightly colored tie, bright red or lime green colored Bermuda shorts, and knee high socks. That's the dress code during the summer and the first time you see a dude dressed like that you do a double take. Then it becomes normal.
The weather during our stay was wonderful and at the same time awful. It was wonderful for tourists because we didn't get a drop of rain. The daily high averaged 83 and the overnight lows were in the mid 70s. It was awful for the locals because of drought conditions. Typically Bermuda picks up 5 inches of rain in June. During our trip, June ended with just .64 inches of rain. Freshwater tank trucks were scurrying around the island desperately refilling near empty tanks.
The airport departure drill is a bit interesting in Bermuda. You cue up at the ticket counter and 20 feet behind the desk you see some women with gloves on just itchin' to search your luggage. They're so anxious to stop most travelers that they are practically salivating. Sure enough after we got our boarding passes and headed toward U.S. Immigration a lady (airport security) flagged us down and asked to search one of our checked bags (more about that in just a second). She superficially searched through the one bag while all the time smiling and being pleasant. Then we continued down the way and took a dog leg at the duty free store. After leaving the duty free store--all the time with all our checked bags still with us on a cart--we entered the U.S. Immigration cue. We had already filled out our U.S. Immigration form and we were stamped back into the U.S. So at that point we had technically reentered the U.S. even though we were still on the ground at the airport in Bermuda. And this is the weirdest part of all. There were no "Customs Officers" in sight. There were no green lanes for "nothing to declare" or red lanes for people with items to declare. But again after clearing U.S. Immigration another local lady---not a Customs Officer but an airport security officer in a orange shirt---pulled us aside and searched the very same bag that had been searched before. This woman had a bit of a nasty attitude and did a superficial search at best. Once boarding began my wife snapped a picture of our Northwest A-320 out on the tarmac and another Gestapo type security dude standing under the plane gave her a dirty look and gestured not to take pictures. What the hell are they trying to hide there? We've only been told not to take pictures at one other airport and I can't remember where. Aruba is another airport where you completely clear immigration and customs before ever leaving the island. This is nice since when your jet arrives back in the U.S. you're done. You go straight to baggage claim without having to worry about immigration and customs.
Formal, smart casual or casual attire? I was somewhat intimidated about what to pack. All of the travel books called for at least smart casual attire in restaurants. So I packed a sport coat and tie just in case. Here's what we found to be reality. While some restaurants even had "warning" signs about refusing to seat those who were not properly attired, we found every restaurant to be pretty relaxed. Not as relaxed as in many islands down south in the Caribbean but still pretty casual. The most formal restaurant we sampled was the Waterlot Inn where they "suggested" jackets for men yet we found people coming in wearing sneakers. One guy actually came in wearing sandals and his shirt tail hanging out. Let's put it this way. We didn't see any restaurant turning away business.
While restaurants on Bermuda were certainly good, we found that they tended to get a little bit too "foo-fooey" with fish presentations. I actually made up the term "foo-foo" for a sauce that is too fancy and overpowers the flavor of the fish or meat. When the sauce covers up the flavor of the fish what's the point of ordering fish? But hey, that's my own opinion. One interesting note. You'll find only one American fast food outlet on the island -- KFC. All other American fast food joints were banned by the government years ago but I guess the single KFC chickens flew in under the radar before the ban was initiated.
PERSONAL RESTAURANT REVIEWS
CITY OF HAMILTON
The Pickled Onion is a large pub on the second story right on Front Street. When there's a cruise ship in town it will be so close that you could throw a rock and strike it! Our lunch started out with an order of fried calamari and it was great. I also sampled some famous Bermuda fish chowder and it was quite good laced, as they always do, with hot sherry pepper sauce and black rum. For our main courses we each went with fish and chips. The generous serving of fish was served in a basket but it was hard to break off chunks of fish on top of the fries. The fish was good but not outstanding. You can dine inside or outside and we chose to sit outside and watch the hustle and bustle of Front Street down below. Tab without alcohol $62. Their web site is here.
The Lobster Pot came highly recommended from everyone we spoke with so this was a must do place. We got there ahead of our scheduled reservation--around 5:45pm--and were immediately seated. I'm told there's often a long wait. I started out with conch fritters and my wife went with a cup of conch chowder. In my opinion the fritters were awful. Soft instead of crunchy on the outside and on the inside hardly any conch flavor. The inside had the consistency of Thanksgiving dressing back home. The dip was some fancy banana concoction, as I recall. My wife actually loved 'em. Her soup was odd. Conch chowder is nearly always either Manhattan (red base) or New England (creamy base). This was yellow in color. It was good but had little conch flavor if any. For my main dish I chose the wildly popular local fish called rockfish. I asked the waiter to prepare it as if he--as a local--was ordering it. He said he would go with the light curry sauce. My wife got the same fish prepared with bananas and onions. Each fish came in a little baking dish and it was HOT. Mine was so hot that the edges of the fish were crisp. The inside of the fish was so hot it burned the roof of my mouth. And the butter curry sauce, while good, absolutely overwhelmed the fish so I had no idea of what the fish actually tasted like. In looking back at the menu, a "Cajun" sauce was listed and maybe that's what it was but it tasted more like curry to me. Two things here. Fish should be cooked until "just" done. This was way over done. And the sauce should compliment the fish and not overpower it. My wife's was a bit better and the sauce was light enough that you could actually taste the flavor of the fish. I know I'm stepping on a lot of local toes by saying negative things about this beloved restaurant but I do know fish and I'm always honest in my reviews.. We've lived in some of the seafood hotspots in the U.S. including New Orleans, Boston, San Francisco and Tampa. We've sampled the finest seafood in Europe, Asia, the South Pacific and the Caribbean. And while living in the Tampa Bay area of Florida we had our own fishing boat and caught hundreds of GAG grouper, red grouper, scamp grouper, black sea bass, grunt, mangrove snapper, amberjack, cobia, etc. So we know our fish. Things could have been done much better at this restaurant based on our one and only visit. I hope you'll find things much better on your visit. Tab with wine $138. Web site here.
The Hog Penny is Bermuda's most famous pub. It's just off the main drag on Burnaby Hill. The tour books described it as being a little worn down but we found it absolutely delightful. It is a tightly packed little place with six bar stools and a few tables crammed closely together in two separate rooms. The "hostess" was less than charming and barked out that it would be a thirty minute wait. We said "no problem" and used the lag time to shop. Once back at the pub we started out by sharing an order of onion rings. I tried the Bermuda fish chowder (I ordered it as often as possible to compare recipes and get a real feel for it). The onion rings were perfect and were more than enough for two to share. The soup was a little different that most others I had sampled. It had bigger chunks of fish and veggies in it. Like with all Bermuda fish soup, it was laced with hot sherry pepper sauce and a dose of black rum. For my main course I had fish and chips and it was good. The second best on the island in my experience. My wife had a fish sandwich and fries and it was good. This was one of our favorites on the island and has been popular with generations of diners. I can't find the check for this one but as I recall, the tab without alcohol here was around $69. More info here. See drink menu here.
Portofino was another highly recommended restaurant specializing in Italian cuisine. We arrived here around 5:45 and found that it didn't open until 6. So we went next door to a bar called "Splash" and had a beer to kill off the time. We returned to the front door at 6pm and it wasn't open. A pompous looking guy came out and set some of the outside tables with silverware while ignoring the growing line of hungry customers. He disappeared back into the inside portion of the restaurant. A little sign on a string on the door still said "closed." Around 6:06 another pompous dude came out, flipped the sign from closed to open, said nothing to the growing crowd, and then went back inside. Alas, the place was open. Once seated we ordered starters. We shared an order of garlic bread and calamari to start. The calamari was good. Unusually large rings of squid lightly fried and served with a marinara sauce which was also good. The garlic bread absolutely sucked. It appeared to be four slices of regular white bread lightly toasted with garlic butter and a dense coating of something green. Probably parsley but we're not sure. For $2.50 it wasn't worth the trouble. My test of any Italian restaurant is linguini with red clam sauce so that's what I ordered. It was okay but nothing to write home about. My wife had a special of the evening - four sea scallops on a bed of spinach. I remarked that it looked like a small serving and she said it was just perfect. However maybe not because as soon as we got back to the hotel I caught her munching on some granola bars! This is the most popular Italian restaurant on the island from what we could tell and while it was good, I wouldn't rate it great on our one and only visit. Tab with wine $99. More info here.
Waterlot Inn was, by far, the fanciest and most expensive restaurant we sampled and it was well worth it! It's part of the Southampton Princess Hotel but a stand alone establishment and a five minute trolley ride away from the main hotel. Overall this was our favorite dining experience. The place is elegant and wait staff extremely efficient but not stodgy. They are very courteous. I started my meal out with a bowl of Bermuda fish chowder. It came in an elegant and fancy bowl and was the best chowder I had on the island. My wife skipped the starters and ordered some Pellegrino water (and 9 bucks a bottle). I ordered the 22 ounce porterhouse steak cooked very rare and it was outstanding. My wife went with a rib eye cooked rare and she was very pleased, too. Everything here is ala carte and I went with an order of outstanding garlic mashed potatoes which I shared with Cindy. We each finished with coffee and my wife had a rich Brule for dessert. This was an outstanding experience. Tab without any alcohol $146. Hotel restaurant web site here.
Whaler Inn is also a part of the Southampton Princess Hotel and is a stand alone restaurant down at the beach. Actually it sits just atop the beach with nice views. We dined at this very nice indoor/outdoor restaurant twice. On our initial visit I had a cup of Bermuda fish chowder with the traditional hot sherry pepper sauce and black rum. It was excellent and one of the best I tried on the island. For my main course I chose the Bermuda triangle, or something like that. It was a combination of fresh tuna, salmon and a scallop and shrimp skewered with a slab of sugar cane. Each came with a different sauce. The tuna was cooked very rare at the suggestion of the chef and everything was very good. My wife went with Atlantic sea bass with some sort of foo-foo sauce and she enjoyed it. On our final trip to the Whaler Inn I started with a very expensive Jonah crab cake and it was marvelous. My wife enjoyed an exotic soup--banana pumpkin or something like that. It was different but very good. My wife ordered the fresh rockfish with some sort of foo-foo sauce and enjoyed it. I went with a cod special of the evening. It had hollandaise sauce and other curious flavorings. Unfortunately the sauce overpowered the fish and the only way I knew it was cod and fresh cod was by the way it flaked. Tab on first visit with wine $135. Tab on second visit with wine $167. Hotel restaurant web site here.
Henry VIII is a pub about a five minute cab ride from the Southampton Princess Hotel. It is favored by locals and tourists alike and their Sunday brunch is said to be the most popular in Southampton Parish. We made a reservation and were immediately seated and just nano seconds later made our first assault on the big spread. It was quite impressive. Tons of fresh fruit, miles of cold cuts, salads, deviled eggs, freshly shucked oysters, shrimp and even rock crab claws. Moving on to the main deal they featured rockfish almandine (I guess), sweet and sour shrimp, Asian noodles, mussel pie, chicken in some sort of sauce and a carver was on hand to dish out roast beef and ham. To end the meal they featured a fabulous cheese board and, according to my wife, an incredible dessert section in an adjacent room. Was it good? Yes, for the most part. The rockfish, unfortunately, was dry and had a fishy taste to it. Not good at all. The sweet and sour shrimp were good. The roast beef was extremely well done, no good for my preference. The chicken was very dry. For my taste, the local mussel pie was the big hit. Very, very tasty. The salads were all well done, too. I was thirsty that day and wound up going through four diet Cokes with the meal. They were small, probably only 5 or 6 ounces. Those diet Cokes set me back $14 alone! Be aware that refills are generally not free on this island. Tab for buffet without alcohol $77. Their web site is here.
Tio Pepe is an Italian restaurant a short hop from the Southampton Princess Hotel and a very popular place. For one thing, prices aren't quite as steep here as at other nearby establishments. Tio Pepe is about a five minute taxi ride from the Southampton Princess Hotel and is very popular with locals and with tourists. We were promptly seated and placed our orders. I started out with a cup of Bermuda fish chowder and it was excellent. As always it was laced with sherry pepper sauce and a dose of black rum. My wife ordered fried calamari and it was quite good. Oddly enough this place sets a minimum amount per meal. My wife's original choice was not costly enough so she upgraded to a chicken breast with a cheesy sauce. She said it was okay at best. I went with the linguini with clams, mussels, calamari and baby shrimp. This, by far, was the most tasty Italian dish I had on the island and one of the best renditions of this type of food I've ever had anywhere in the world. The sauce was a buttery, tomatoey, garlicky delight. It wasn't too thick but it was heavenly. My wife finished her meal off with some sort of rich dessert. Neither of us can remember what it was but she liked it! One odd thing about our experience here. When we entered it was hotter than blazes inside. We both developed a powerful sweat. Then mid way through the meal, somebody decided to flip the air conditioning on. Why they waited so long is anybody's guess! Tab with wine came to $137. Web site here.
Freeport Seafood Restaurant was the first place we sampled after arriving on a Saturday afternoon. It looked pretty close (in fact we could easily SEE the area from our hotel balcony) but because the taxi had to wind around a long string of land to get there it turned out to be an expensive evening. The total taxi fare coming and going was about $50 with tip. I chose this place because it seemed like the kind of place where locals would gather. Those are usually my favorite types of places on islands. I called ahead and was assured that reservations were not necessary here. So we hailed a taxi and arrived there about 7:30. There weren't very many diners but they were all locals. One picnic table was occupied outside and there were two other tables occupied inside the restaurant in addition to ours. The server was a really nice woman. When she asked me what I'd like as a side dish with my meal I asked her what they offered. She started off by mentioning peas and rice. I said: "Stop right there. Sounds perfect." She smiled broadly figuring that I enjoyed local cuisine. Peas and rice (rice with a few beans) are popular on many islands. I chose to start out with a bowl of Bermuda fish chowder, the first I would sample on the island and it was great with the sherry pepper sauce and black rum. My wife got conch fritters and they were very good. For my main course I got the seafood platter. It consisted of a few fried shrimp straight out of the Mrs. Paul's box (or so it would appear), some nicely fried scallops (almost certainly frozen) and a few skinny filets of fish that could have started out fresh, I'm not sure about that. The meal came with lifeless vegetables (carrots, green beans, etc.) and peas and rice. Unfortunately the peas and rice had been sitting around way too long. They were dried out, lifeless, and flavorless. My wife chose a local favorite of many islands--curried goat. It was good although nothing to write home about. Tab with wine $83 but remember that $50 cab ride, too!
The White Horse Tavern has an unbeatable location right next to where the cruise ships dock in the town of St. George. It sits directly on a channel if you chose to dine outside. And if you have a scrap of hamburger bun leftover just toss it into the water and watch the spot tail grunts fight over it! We started this lunch off with a "Bermuda onion" figuring it would be similar to the one we get at Outback Steakhouses here in the U.S. However it was awful. They took a large onion, somehow split it up a bit but leaving a huge, center core, dusted it with flour and deep fried it to half doneness. Disgusting! The rest of the meal was good. We each had the White Horse Burger which was a half pound bacon cheeseburger and quite tasty. It came with fries and a salad. Tab with no alcohol $48.
The Swizzle Inn was on my list of places to hit yet it was a long way away from our hotel. But then I got to thinkin' that it's right next to the airport. So on our last day we had a cab take us to the pub where we had our last meal on the island and then we segued over to the airport to catch our jet back home. The Swizzle Inn is famous for the national drink of Bermuda - the Rum Swizzle. Even though I usually can't even think about downing a cocktail until five in the afternoon I had to try one at lunch and it was good. Had quite a kick to it. They have a saying at the restaurant: "Swizzle in and swagger out." But they also encourage people to drink responsibly. For our last meal I started out with conch fritters and they were absolutely wonderful. The best on the island and some of the best I've ever had anywhere in Florida or in the Caribbean. My wife chose bean soup with Portuguese sausage. There weren't very many beans in it but it was good. For my main I got fish and chips--the best I had on the island. My wife got a curious "grilled" fish and cheese sandwich and it was good. Tab with one Rum Swizzle with tip (this was the only place where a 15% tip was not automatically added to the bill) was $74. Their web site is here.
here to view on-line
menus from many Bermuda restaurants.
SNAPSHOTS FROM BERMUDA
Princess Hotel & Southampton Vistas
Currency is the Bermuda dollar however it is on a par with the U.S. dollar and both currencies are gladly accepted.
IMPORTANT: All Americans visiting Bermuda now need a valid passport.