Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Beer Me!

There’s nothing I like more than a cold pint of handcrafted beer (well, maybe a few things but not many). It’s probably the first thing I’ll order at a bar or restaurant when visiting a new place. “Whatever’s local,” I’ll say. But after five months in Bermuda I still hadn’t found one, that is until my wife and I stumbled upon North Rock Brewing Company on South Road in Smith’s Parish. Dark and cozy, like a traditional English pub that got transplanted to the tropics, North Rock has five—count ‘em five!—local beers on tap. Order the sampler (like we did; see above) and you’ll get a five-ounce glass of each, including a citric German wheat beer, a straw-colored Pilsner, an English-style amber ale, a hoppy IPA, and a chocolately dark porter. But don’t let the name fool you: North Rock stopped brewing it’s own beer years ago when it handed over the job to Dockyard Brewing Company on the island’s west end. Armed with this last bit of information I descended upon the source, located at the Frog and Onion Pub at the Royal Naval Dockyard. Eureka! To my delight I found the same five beers on tap, in an equally inviting English pub, significantly closer to my Southampton home. Best of all, the beer is brewed on-site so the suds don’t have to travel very far to get to your glass. Pair that with killer burgers and satisfying pub grub and it’s quickly become my new favorite place. Tour the brewery on Monday evenings from 6pm-8pm and be sure to stop in on Monday, Thursday, and Friday nights, when local guitarist Tony Brannon plays rousing cover tunes from 7pm-10:30pm. And if you’re looking for me, well, I’ll be at the bar.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Deal of the Day

Assuming you pounced on yesterday’s airfare sale from JetBlue—in case you missed it roundtrip flights from JFK to Bermuda were around $160 for one day only—you’re Bermuda bound with no itinerary in sight. Right? Well, let the deals keep coming because as you’ll see nothing’s cheap here in Bermuda. (Side note: This is a painful fact of life that I quickly determined to be true after searching the island high and low for a six-pack of beer cheaper than $11.60. Ouch!). Last week I told you about the upcoming Bermuda Music Festival, a three-day star-studded event that will feature the likes of Quincy Jones, John Legend, Erykah Badu, Kenny Rogers, James Ingram, and more. It’s sure to be a dynamite show and the good news is visitors can now buy discounted tickets: Travelers who book any flight or hotel package to Bermuda on between now and October 12 will save 30% off the purchase of a one-day ticket or a multi-day pass. That makes a $110 ticket to the festival’s final night, including a much-hyped performance of Michael Jackson’s Thriller on Halloween, a slightly more affordable $77. That’s the good news. The bad news? You’ll probably fork over around fifty bucks for a taxi from Hamilton to Dockyard (on the island’s western tip where the concert is being staged) but such is life in Bermuda. Of course you can always take the bus for three bucks—it's reliable, safe, and best of all, bubblegum pink. After all, the show must go on.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Shameless Self Promotion

It's not every day one makes the pages of the New York Times. That's why I'm especially proud to point you towards my latest story, published in yesterday's travel section. Titled 36 Hours in Bermuda, it's all you'll ever need for a quick weekend to my new twenty-one-square-mile, mid-Atlantic home. And I made sure to cover all of my faves: Happy hour at Newstead (see above, from photographer Matt Nagle), golfing at Port Royal, snorkeling in Church Bay, dinner at Mickey's—without a doubt Bermuda's best and brightest. So give it a read and by all means, let me know how you liked it. With hope it'll whet your appetite for a few days in paradise, but even if it doesn't perhaps this will: JetBlue just announced Sample Sale fares from select U.S. cities valid for travel from October 6 to December 16. JFK to Bermuda? $79 each way, but you've gotta purchase your flights before midnight tonight (for more information, go here). So read up and act fast. When you get here take a walk on Warwick Long Bay. I'll be the guy sipping a rum swizzle.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Did You Know?

Like other idyllic playgrounds within a quick flight from major U.S. cities (Palm Springs, California, anyone?) Bermuda too is home to its fair share of celebrities and power brokers. More than you’d think, actually. And although there are a few Hollywood A-listers here—like Michael Douglas and Catherine-Zeta Jones who own a home in Southampton—the roster is more like a Who’s Who of political and financial circles worldwide with most addresses ending up in Tucker’s Town, Bermuda’s ritzy east end hideaway. (See that old fort in the picture above? It used to protect the entrance to Castle Harbour, the body of water that Tucker's Town overlooks). First up, New York City Mayor and financial whiz Michael Bloomberg, who’s ocean view home reportedly cost $10.5 million—pocket change considering he’s worth some $16 billion with additional homes in Manhattan, Vail, and London. Ross Perot has a lavish spread in Tucker’s Town too, although unlike most of his wealthy neighbors the former presidential candidate and Reform Party leader can trace his family roots to the island. (Ever heard of the Perot Post Office? That’s Bermuda’s oldest mailroom, named after William Bennet Perot who was Hamilton’s postmaster from 1818 to 1862. And no, the pointy ears don’t run in the family). On-again off-again Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has a pad here too, a mansion named Blue Horizon also in, you guessed it, Tucker’s Town. When he’s not dodging allegations that he paid young women to party with him in his homes in Rome and Sardinia, he’s here, presumably paying young women to party with him in his home in Bermuda. What a lovely addition to the neighborhood (tongue planted firmly in cheek). Other T Town residents include Ed Trippe—son of Pan-Am Airways founder Juan Trippe—and professional golfer Nick Faldo, who’s rumored to be redesigning St. George’s golf course this year. So, you wanna party like Bermuda’s rich and famous? Then rent a room at Tucker’s Point Hotel & Spa—unveiled in April and just around the corner from the similarly named hood, the luxurious resort boasts an 18-hole golf course, a trendy whitewashed beach club, and a sumptuous guests-only spa (doubles from $340). Just try to keep the celeb-peeping to a minimum.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Where I've Been

One of the best parts about traveling—or living overseas—is sharing your experiences with friends and family around the globe. Whether it’s telling a funny story, offering tips on where to eat, or showing off a new favorite photo, recounting your travels is half the fun. Fortunately for you there’s Where I’ve Been, the ultimate social networking site for travelers. I stumbled upon the website just the other day, while researching hotels for an upcoming story. Had I been one of the millions of Americans using Facebook however, I probably would’ve heard about it sooner. After all, Where I’ve Been has consistently clocked in as Facebook’s most popular travel application since its creation in 2007. Now with nine million users and counting, the wildly popular application has morphed into a wildly popular online community—and after a few simple clicks I’ve quickly figured out why. Take its maps for example, which are clearly the site’s coolest feature. Once you sign up (free and painless, by the way) you can create one of Where I’ve Been’s interactive maps, basically a personalized color-coded atlas that lists where you’ve been, where you’ve lived, and where you’d like to visit—a mixed bag of worldly optimism and bragging rights. Even better are its user-generated profiles with photos, video, and honest-to-goodness reviews of popular cities, hotels, and attractions worldwide. You can even pose questions to other users. For example, if Jane Q. Traveler stayed at the hotel you just booked, you can find out just how comfy those beds really are by sending her a direct message. How about that? Finally for last-minute deals and worldwide news, be sure to sign up for Where I've Been's Twitter feed, useful travel bits 140 characters at a time. So what are you waiting for? Go check it out. Because your trip doesn’t have to end once you get off the plane.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bermuda, I Salute You

Last week I told you about a local children’s nursery that recently got broken into. Terrible story. Not only did the thief steal a laptop computer and cash from the Kiddie Academy in Pembroke, the crook apparently nabbed the kids’ chocolate milk, something that still makes my head spin. Unfortunately the authorities have yet to find the culprits but I’m happy to report that Bermuda has rallied around the nursery, very much coming to its aid in a dreadful time of need. First up, loved-and-hated Premier Ewart Brown who donated a computer from the government’s IT department. Next, security company Integrated Cabling and Security Systems offered to install a new security system. Staples-esque store TOPS Ltd. donated a photocopier, plus reams of paper and stationery. And finally the owner of Mystix Designs, an interior decorating company, has offered to paint a child-friendly mural on the walls of the nursery, all free-of-charge. It’s wonderful to see the community pull together in such a meaningful way. Even more surprising was the compassionate response of nursery owner Sharon DeSilva. In this article from last week's Bermuda Sun, reporter Sirkka Huish writes about an email making the rounds, sent by DeSilva herself. Titled “Message to the Culprits,” DeSilva writes how she’d like to help the miscreants who trashed her business rather than punish them adding, “If you really don’t care how your actions have affected the lives of so many innocent people, then I will pray for you.” Well, kudos to you Sharon! And double kudos to you Bermuda! I can’t say that I’ve ever witnessed such an immediate and overwhelming outpouring of generosity (although in all fairness both the good and the bad are easier to spot in such a small place). Let’s just hope it doesn’t have to happen again.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Science Class

The Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS) has been making waves (no pun intended). In February the 106-year-old research institution was heralded for contributing a chapter on the Sargasso Sea to National Geographic’s “Ocean: An Illustrated Atlas,” an in-depth study of the world’s oceans co-authored by renowned oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle and Linda Glover, who sits on BIOS’ board of trustees. And in August The New York Times' T Magazine raved about the institute’s weekly hour-long tours, every Wednesday at 10 a.m. when a representative guides you through its research labs, “where experiments might involve converting algae into biofuel, observing the mating quirks of arrow crabs or investigating the rarity of cancer in sea urchins.” Heady stuff indeed, so I decided to see what all the fuss was about. Admittedly the weekend was a perfect time for a visit since the institute was hosting its annual Marine Science Day, an open house with mini research cruises, wacky science demonstrations and an “Ask a Scientist” tent where visitors could toss questions to experts about coral reefs, climate change, marine biology and more. Best of the bunch was a guided tour of the institute’s 168-foot research vessel Atlantic Explorer, a massive ship seemingly straight out of a Clive Cussler novel (see above; my wife and I were not-so-secretly hoping that Dirk Pitt and/or Admiral Sandecker might surprise us onboard). We learned about the ship’s main functions—how among other things it measures the ocean’s temperature, salinity, and density with a fancy submersible pod called a CTD—and were shown its intricate radar screens on the bridge, certainly a visit worthy of all the hype. Now if only the institute’s experts can figure out why all Bermuda’s fish are dying

Friday, September 18, 2009

Jerk of the Day

You’d think that on such an idyllic island people would behave themselves. Sadly burglary and petty theft have been on the rise (gang violence too, but that’s for another day). Open the pages of the Royal Gazette and you’re bound to read a story about someone getting robbed or a worried letter to the editor about how he or she is afraid to live here. Just yesterday the newspaper published a note signed CONCERNED CITIZEN OF BERMUDA that started like this: “Here I sit by my window every night looking out wondering who’s coming down the road. We have been robbed three times and numerous houses in the area have been as well. The public better get ready because they are coming, it’s only a matter of what day and what time.” Sure, it’s a hearty dose of fear mongering but the letter does raise a point. Take this latest story for example. It was reported yesterday that thieves broke into a children’s nursery, the Kiddie Academy in Pembroke, and stole a laptop, $100 cash—and here’s the worst part—chocolate milk belonging to the children. The story goes on to say that the burglar also grabbed a bottle of wine from an office party before starting a fire in the building too. Really? You need to steal the kid’s milk? Whoever you are Mr. Thief, you just won my Jerk of the Day award because that’s about the most despicable heist I can imagine (although I suppose if you nabbed a bunch of wheelchairs from the old folks home that would be one worse, but I don’t want to give you any ideas here). Having lived in New York City for most of my life I understand crime and with hope, the ways to avoid it. But on an island as small as Bermuda the bad always seems worse, an opinion clearly voiced by CONCERNED CITIZEN and the countless letters that flood the paper each day. Bottom line: I don’t claim to know how to get Bermuda back on track, but it might just start with a class trip to the dairy.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Shameless Self Promotion

No, a herd of buffalo wasn’t suddenly discovered in Bermuda (although there’s a huge rock formation in Church Bay that’s a dead ringer for the beast of the American west). To the contrary, that photo was snapped on the plains of Yellowstone National Park by the one and only Joshua Cogan, acclaimed photojournalist and undoubtedly The Funkiest Man on the Planet. Check out his work here, it’s world-class stuff (click through the portraits and you’ll see images of Ted Kennedy, Anthony Bourdain, and Usian Bolt among others). When you’re done scope out Live Hope Love, a project about living with HIV in Jamaica that he worked on in cooperation with the Pulitzer Center. Fortunately it pays to have such talented friends, which brings me back to that photo. Last summer Josh and I road tripped through western Wyoming, a four-day ramble through Jackson Hole, the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Cody, Thermopolis, Lander, and back. You can read all about it here or support your local Barnes & Noble, Borders, or Hudson News and pick up a copy of the September issue of Budget Travel magazine. It was a stellar trip and the third in a collaborative series starting with a road trip through Joshua Tree National Park in 2006 then another looping across Puerto Rico in 2007. As you’ll see, we tracked herds of bison through muddy paths, enjoyed the Cody Nite Rodeo under the stars, and explored the majestic Wyoming landscape that Andsel Adams made so famous. Then of course there are the things you won’t read: Whiskey at the bar of the Irma Hotel, jerky at every meal, endless laughter. But I guess that’s the best part about “living the dream,” as Josh and I like to say. We’re not sure where the next road might take us, but we’re certain they’ll be a surprise at every turn.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


I remember it like it was yesterday. Two weeks before I moved to Bermuda I was sitting in my doctor’s office for a routine check up when he commented that he could never move to the island because, “there’s nothing to do, there’s no culture, no music.” Apparently he knew this because he’d visited Bermuda for a weekend conference a few months prior to our conversation—a whopping two-and-a-half days stuck in the ballroom of the Fairmont Hamilton Princess. No disrespect to the good doctor, but he’s got it dead wrong, especially about that last part. No music? How about Mary J. Blige? It was just over a month ago when she performed at the National Stadium along with two-hit-wonder Alan, ahem, Robin Thicke. (Part of me was hoping Richard "Boner" Stabone might show up and yes, we were that close to the stage). It was a rollicking performance and one that kept the crowd on its feet for a good two hours. Best of all there’s more on the way. According to Urban Mecca, the Bermuda Music Festival rolls into town at the end of October—a three-day, star-studded gathering from the 29th through the 31th led by legendary musician/producer Quincy Jones. He’s bringing a slew of friends too including Wyclef Jean, John Legend, Erykah Badu, James Ingram, Kenny Rogers, Michael McDonald, and more. It’s sure to be a massive party and one that most Bermudians wouldn’t dare miss. The final night alone is bound to be a doozy. That's when Quincy and gang plan to perform Michael Jackson's Thriller 25 years after the best-selling album of all time was first produced by Q himself. On Halloween night, no less. I don't know about you but that sounds like a pretty good time to me. You hear that doc?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mea Culpa

Oh boy, it’s been awhile hasn’t it? I’m guessing every blogger gets caught not blogging eventually, days later posting lame excuses why he or she hasn’t been updating his or her readers about what’s seemingly been so very important. Consider it my turn. Apologies dear reader, but part of what makes living in Bermuda so wonderful is entertaining all the wonderful people that can’t wait to visit you. And so ends five days of tour guiding, beach lazing, and rum swizzling with family—indeed some of the most gut-bustlingly fun times I’ve had in Bermuda since moving here in May. The best of the bunch? A six-hour day sail on my new favorite catamaran Ana Luna, a 45-foot French-made beauty with towering orange, red, and blue sails (that’s me enjoying a rum swizzle on the trampoline). Owned by Captain Nathan Worswick and booked through his company, Ana Luna Adventures, the boat sailed from Grotto Bay Beach Resort near St. George around the eastern tip of Bermuda. We moored in Castle Harbor for a snorkel on one of the island’s ubiquitous wrecks, then eventually sailed home in style, cameras in hand and Miles Davis on the radio. It was the perfect end to a perfect visit and certainly a better excuse for not writing than, “I lost my internet connection.” Don’t you agree? So stay tuned for more to come and consider your daily dish from paradise back in business.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

A Bermudaful Labor Day

I love traditions, but when you move to a new place—especially one that’s 600 miles off the Atlantic coast—it’s hard to keep the rituals you love the most alive. But at least I can try. Take Labor Day weekend for example. Every year my wife and I spend the holiday weekend with family in Montauk, N.Y., a sleepy beach town on the east end of Long Island. We drink beer on the beach, eat fried clams at a harbor front restaurant, take long bicycle rides to the lighthouse. It’s always great fun—four days of rest, relaxation, and sun-splashed goodness. Needless to say we didn’t make it to Montauk this year but we sure did have a good time pretending here in Bermuda. Instead of fried clams and chowder at Gosman’s Dock, we enjoyed fish sandwiches at Blackbeard’s Hideout—an open-air beach bar in the shadow of historic Fort St. Catherine—then later, conch fritters at the Blackhorse Tavern on St. George’s harbor. Instead of that bike ride, we took a drive to St. David’s Lighthouse on Bermuda’s east end (see above). Funny, we thought it looked like a slightly redder and albeit shorter version of the one in Montauk. And as for those beers on the beach, well, we had beers on the beach, but this time on a quiet stretch of sand specked with colorful sea glass. All in all a Bermudaful Labor Day weekend, but if anyone feels like FedExing me a lobster roll from Amagansett I sure as heck won’t be complaining.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Friday Roundup

This week saw its fair share of casual observations. There was a pleasant visit from old friends, the official unveiling of lobster season, a story from National Geographic Traveler about a completely unoriginal book titled Bermuda Shorts (tongue planted firmly in cheek), and musings on the mind-boggling practice of texting while driving a scooter. On that last story, there’s more. While reading today’s newspaper I gasped after reading this headline: “Motorcyclist fined $1,750 for overtaking while texting—in the rain.” The story goes on to explain that an 18-year-old kid was pulled over near Flatts village after police saw him sending text messages while zipping past slower motorists on his scooter, in a downpour no less. Do you think texting while driving is officially a problem in Bermuda? I’ve had other questions on my mind this week too. Like why does every Mexican restaurant claim to have world-famous margaritas? It’s a question I’ve been asking myself ever since I heard a radio advertisement for Rosa’s Cantina, a Tex-Mex joint on Front street. I bet their margaritas are good (or they better be, after all) but world famous? Perhaps I’ll give one a whirl this weekend and report back. Until then however, have a lovely Labor Day holiday or as they write here in Bermuda, Labour Day. As for me, I'm headed to the beach. Long Bay, anyone?

Thursday, September 3, 2009


There was a big story in the lifestyle section of yesterday’s Royal Gazette about how the average number of text messages sent by young Bermudians hovers around 300 per day. You read right, 300 texts a day. Although judging by what I’ve seen in almost four months here I’m not surprised. The worst of it is on the road. Not a day goes by when I don’t see a teenager or some kid in his twenties texting while driving—behind the wheel of a scooter no less. It’s mind-boggling and dangerously careless. With one hand on the accelerator and the other clutching a phone, they bob their heads up and down recklessly zipping down the road without a care in the world. No wonder 60 percent of road collisions in Bermuda are due to “inattention” (what the police department apparently considers vehicular phone consultation). When did sending text messages become so important? I’m all for cutesy consults, but doing it while driving a scooter seems foolhardy at best and impetuous at worst. The good news is I'm not alone. Recently United Bermuda Party senator Michael Fahy proposed a ban on handheld cell phones while driving and a family court magistrate called the practice "ludicrous." Here's hoping the powers that be make the roads a bit safer and pass a law that makes sense for Bermuda. I for one will be the first person to stand up and cheer.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Book Club

So much for originality. In the July issue of National Geographic Traveler, the editors have selected their 50 favorite books to read on vacation—this year’s addition to their ongoing Ultimate Travel Library. Number 21? Bermuda Shorts: The Hidden Side of the Richest Place on Earth by T.C. Sobey. Apparently it’s about a guy who moves to Bermuda in search of paradise and finds “nothing is as ever as it seems on the surface.” Sound familiar? Considering it’s on the same list with classics such as In a Sunburned Country by Bill Bryson, Don’t Stop the Carnival by Herman Wouk, and A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway, it must be a good read, but talk about stealing a guy’s thunder. According to Traveler’s editors each of the books selected “will illuminate your destination, give you unexpected tips on what to see and do, and keep you turning pages during that long flight or that sunny poolside afternoon.” Jeez. The good news is I’ve still got the market cornered on first-person accounts of island life since the book is largely a compendium of offbeat newspaper articles culled from the Royal Gazette. Like the story about the man who successfully returned a pair of socks he bought 48 years earlier or the one about the couple who wakes up only to find a strange man in their bed. And then there are the letters to the editor written by citizens with strange pen names like Heartbroken, Not Amused, and Treehugger—an odd phenomenon that still occurs to this day. I’ll never understand why folks choose not to sign their name (is there some kind of tropical hell to pay?) but such is life in Bermuda. I guess I’m not the only one who's figured it all out.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Catch of the Day

Crustacean lovers rejoice! Today is day one of the Bermudian lobster season, a much-anticipated seven-month stretch that has fishermen’s pockets overflowing with cash and diners’ fingers dripping with clarified butter. But don’t expect a pair of claws to show up on your plate. Sweeter than their New England counterparts, Caribbean spiny lobster are clawless (see above) and inhabit tropical and subtropical waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico. And they’re yummy. Really, really, yummy. How good you might ask? So good that local restaurants fetch up to $70 per tail—a price happily paid across the island. By all accounts they’ll be plenty to go around too: According to the Royal Gazette, the government is considering allowing commercial fishermen to catch lobsters within the reef line, a practice formerly banned to help boost populations. It’s a big debate actually, although one I’m admittedly not all that interested in. I say serve ‘em up (just make sure there are enough left behind to repopulate for next year’s dinner, okay?). So what are you waiting for? If you’re craving a sweet Caribbean lobster tail don’t miss Port O Call, a Front Street favorite specializing in simple preparations of fresh local fish and The Lobster Pot (where else?), a Hamilton staple perennially jammed with locals. Go ahead, make your reservation today. I’ll be the one with the bib on.