Bermuda


My latest travel adventure took me to Bermuda. The cruise ship docked at the Royal Naval Dockyard in Hamilton.

With cabs lined up just as you exit the ship’s yard, I hopped into the first van and off I went. My cruise pals (and early morning risers – I am a nighttime gal, meet me at the disco!) were already lounging at the beach in Horseshoe Bay, so that was my destination. Lucky for me, cab driver, James, was very knowledgeable about his island home and not shy about it. No matter where you are in the world, a talkative cab driver who has great tips and insight is a real gem. Be sure to show your appreciation because I have also had angry as well as dull cab drivers – boo.

The weather was gorgeous! Clear blue skies, turquoise waters, and long stretches of beautiful coastline. Beyond the blessing of a fabulous climate, the second thing that struck me was the architecture. Hey, I come from a family of architects and I am a City Planner – it’s in my blood. Bermuda’s Colonial history explains the presence of Georgian architecture (and the various pubs offering a cool pint). This British influence does not take away from the island charm, but rather adds to its character. The boxy, two-story style of this architecture is generally designed with great symmetry including the placement of fenestration. The Bermuda twist on this traditional style: brightly painted structures with stark white, cement-coated roofs.

Not only was it charming to have this visual island flavor, the structures appeared to be well-built and quite durable. According to James, the traditional Bermuda roofs are comprised of coral limestone, originally a natural resource on the island. The limestone slates are attached to the roof frame and then the joints are mortared. A layer of cement is coated over the entire hipped roof along with paint, which creates a finished product that looks like perfectly layered vanilla icing. James indicated that the roof is so solidly constructed that it probably wouldn’t need many repairs within your lifetime. More importantly, this roof design fairs very well in hurricanes – a must for Caribbean islands. While we are busy worrying about plywood and shingles, these island dwellers are enjoying solid overhead security. What is the saying – we all just want a roof over our heads and food on the table? Well, they figured out that first part quite well.

James also filled us in on the water harvesting efforts. Each and every dwelling unit is required to have water storage. The island does not have a natural fresh water source, an obvious challenge to inhabiting this great place. The aforementioned limestone roof directs rain water into a below grade cistern. The paint on the roof, by the way, is non-toxic to help keep the water uncontaminated. Tiny bacteria-eating fish are placed into the underground system, which naturally clean the harvested liquid. This isn’t just a great way to be “green” kids, this is a way of life. All rain water must be collected, cleaned, and utilized. When you live on an island, nothing can be wasted. James joked that the stingy government would not give you a glass of water, but would gladly give you the bacteria-eating fish so you can supply your family with the water you need to live. As a strong-willed L.A. girl, the more opportunity to be independent and self-sufficient , the better.

Bet you didn’t think this was going to be a lesson in smart design and sustainability. All right, for those of you waiting for pics of beautiful beaches (and maybe a couple of bikini shots – sorry, I am a pasty white Irish girl and that ain’t gonna change), here we go.

The beach at Horseshoe Bay was breathtaking. Powdery sand that nestles like sugar between your toes and warm water that begs you to frolic in its waves. This was a great spot to visit for an afternoon. The rock formations on either sides of the beach delightfully framed this little oasis. I attempted to create a little photo shoot on one of the rocks, but quickly realized how sharp it feels against bare skin. You can’t tell, but I am not sitting on the actual rock – I am holding myself just above it’s jagged edges. Still, it was gorgeous and I loved sharing the sunny day with my hubby and pals.

I should note that as much as I love seeing amazing beaches like this, I do tend to shy away from our pal the sun. Mostly because we are not normally good friends and have had bad break-ups in the past. I have learned that pasty white Irish girls are not meant to be golden brown sun-worshippers. Most people don’t believe I am from Southern California, the land of orange celebrities. Regardless, I promised myself that on this trip to the Caribbean, I would stock up on SPF 85 and diligently apply so that I wouldn’t miss out on all the sand-in-places-you-don’t-want moments. I am so glad that I did! Loved every moment. Doesn’t hurt that Horseshoe was equipped with shuttle buses for day transport, a rental place for umbrellas and chairs, café for a quick bite, and a bar within walking distance of the water. Cheers!

Silly Stacey Story: My husband, Aaron, thought I would chicken out and hide in the shade. So much so that he didn’t bring his swim trunks to the beach. After I threw off my cover and headed for the waves, that poor guy was shocked (and delighted). He had to hit the water in his cargo shorts. He was so soggy wet in the cab ride back to our floating hotel that he had to sit on a towel. But was wearing a big smile all the way. Apparently, a bikini-clad wife gets a “like” on his Facebook page.

For those looking for souvenirs to take home, the Royal Naval Dockyard has an indoor mall and a variety of outdoor shops to peruse. Jewelry, pottery, glasswork, rum cakes, and trinkets. There was also a pub for those looking for a chill meal and a drug store. That last one is pretty convenient if you’ve ever traveled with aging parents or fallen ill far from home.

I highly recommend Bermuda. It was charming, the people we encountered were friendly (thank you, James!), and the view was just over-the-top gorgeous. I should mention that the golf course and resorts we passed were lovely as well as the general cleanliness of the island. This is definitely a spot I would love to visit for a romantic getaway.

Sites I liked, researched, and pulled information from:

http://thebermudaroof.com/

http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/article/0,,636457,00.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horseshoe_Bay,_Bermuda

http://www.magellans.com/store/guide/Countries___Bermuda?Args=

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgian_architecture

And when you are not traveling and just want a furry friend to snuggle up with, consider a rescue pug (okay, it doesn’t have to be a pug, but doggy adoption is a great way to go!). Check out the local adoption sites in your area.

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