Thursday, April 28, 2011

Get On The Bus Gus

There’s been plenty of news circulating the web about how cruise passengers arriving in Bermuda are being denied access to public busses leaving from Dockyard, the island’s west end cruise pier. Cruise Critic picked up the story yesterday as did USA Today’s Gene Sloan, who chimed in on his blog, The Cruise Log. According to the report, which originally ran in the Royal Gazette, a Dockyard dispatcher will carefully control tourist numbers on eastbound busses—even refusing seats to passengers on empty busses—to allow more room for locals. The Gazette says the practice is one of several new initiatives the government plans to implement to improve bus travel for locals, since many have complained of being displaced on buses by tourists when cruise ships are visiting. “People find buses go right past them as they are full of cruise ship passengers,” Transport Minister Terry Lister told the newspaper. “It's unfair that buses come out of Dockyard completely full without any room to pick up people along the way.” Unfair maybe, but I find it ludicrous to deny anyone a seat on a public bus—especially visitors who’ve paid good money to get here.

And apparently I’m not the only one who thinks so.

Sloan’s recent post has 131 comments and counting, most of them from angry would-be visitors. Like this one from Charles R: “Perhaps we should stop clogging your pockets with money as well and just stay away!” Or this bit from Thai Big Foot: “Don't go to Bermuda. Are they happy, now?” Or my current favorite, from XULA 96: “The folks on that island must have brain damage from all the sun and salt water. Don't they realize just about all of Bermuda's revenue as an island nation comes from tourism?” Um, yeah, well, I guess not all of us realize it (elected officials I'm talking to you) but thanks for pointing out the obvious! In the government’s defense, a spokesperson told Bernews that “there are also special shuttle buses that are used to supplement the regularly scheduled service. These go directly to Horseshoe Bay Beach and back and are for the cruise passengers only. Each of these buses leaves when completely full.” Fine, but let it be known: If I was visiting a country—one where I couldn’t rent a car, where taxis cost a whopping $4.15 just to open the door and the only other mode of transportation was a rickety 50cc scooter—and someone told me that I couldn’t board an empty public bus because its seats were reserved for locals, I’d say thanks and take my hard-earned tourist dollars elsewhere. Hear that Sounding Board?

What do you think? Should the government deny tourists seats on public busses in favor of locals? Lemme here your thoughts in the comments section below!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Wedding Bells

Have you heard the news? Prince William and Kate Middleton are getting married in a massive ceremony at London’s Westminster Abbey this Friday. Well, of course you have! But did you know that the Premier of Bermuda will be in attendance? This just in from the Bermuda Sun: Premier Paula A. Cox and her husband, Germain Nkeuleu have received and accepted an invitation from Buckingham Palace to attend the Royal wedding. “I am pleased that Bermuda was recognized, provided with an invitation and is being represented on this occasion.” Premier Cox told the newspaper. “This is certainly one of my less arduous duties.” I’d say so, since she’ll be one of just 1,900 official guests including leaders and dignataries from over a dozen countries worldwide (ya know, like the King and Queen of Norway, the Queen of Spain, the Sultan of Brunei, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi—your average guest list, really). In addition to having a seat at the wedding—her official pew believed to be in the Abbey’s south transept with Governor-Generals, members of the diplomatic corps and close family friends of the Middletons—Premier Cox will attend a dinner hosted by the Secretary of State and Foreign Affairs William Hague and his wife, and after the wedding, will join a reception at Lancaster House. “Clearly this will be a wedding with a difference,” said Cox. “It has the wow factor.” You know what else has a wow factor? A honeymoon in Bermuda! Dear Will & Kate: Britain's oldest colony would love to have you.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Relaxation Nation

You know what's great about living in Bermuda? (Besides all those gorgeous pink sand beaches, of course. That was Horseshoe Bay over the weekend and yes, the sand is that pink). Holidays. You see, in addition to celebrating typical holidays prevalent in countries like the U.S. and England—like Labor Day for example—Bermuda has a whole host of other celebratory days where locals get the day off. In July there's Cup Match, a two-day cricket tournament that turns into a festive (and boozy) four-day weekend, and in April, the island relaxes on Good Friday and Easter Monday, which is why this post is about to come to an end. It's 74 degrees and sunny and I my friends, am headed to the beach. Happy Monday!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Colbert Watch

In case you can't get enough of the Stephen Colbert Plans to Sail to Bermuda story—one that I keep bringing up to bolster hope that I'll somehow be included in his island broadcast (have you read my Open Letter to Stephen Colbert lately?)—here's an update for any and all interested parties. Looks like the Comedy Central funnyman officially has a sponsor: According to sources across the web, Colbert will be teaming up with Audi in the 777-mile open ocean race from Charleston to Bermuda this May. "If you're going to win a race, you want to be in an Audi," said Colbert at the 2011 New York Auto Show. "I tried bolting a mast and sail to an S5 Cabriolet and took her for spin on the harbor, and the results were, well...moist! So I decided if I couldn't sail an Audi, I would ask them to sponsor my boat." Taking lead as "Morale Officer," Colbert and crew will set sail this May 21st on a 65-foot ocean-racing yacht dubbed, 'The Audi," with a spinnaker sail featuring the recognizable Audi rings. As for his chances in the race, leave it to the self-proclaimed "greatest sailor in the world" to predict the winner. Said Colbert on the Auto Show stage: "Here's a scoop for all you news types. I am going to win it. Write that down." Done. Now, how about First Mate Steve-O?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Say No To Crack

It's amazing the things you miss when you leave the island for awhile. And I'm not talking about missing actual things or people (i.e. how I really missed my son's giggle or taking long walks on Horseshoe Bay beach). I'm talking about the events you're not in town to actually encounter. Just back from a brief trip to Boulder, Colorado, I'm actually quite astounded of the news that hit Bermuda last week. Literally. According to the Royal Gazette, plus accounts from friends and family who actually felt it, Bermuda was struck by a 4.4 magnitude earthquake last week, a tremor that gently rocked the island from 50 miles away. Although police reported no injuries, many island residents felt the ground shaking for several seconds. "[I] looked to the window to see if a truck went past on the lane and then noticed the water in the jug was gently sloshing back and forth—nothing else [was] moving,” Shelly Bay resident Paul Beilstein told the newspaper. “I checked the time and it was about 12:40.” About ten minutes later the Bermuda Weather Service received a phone call from the West Coast Alaska Tsunami Warning Centre, indicating that there was a 4.4 magnitude earthquake at 12:38 local time, estimated to be 50 miles west of Bermuda. Heavy stuff, but was the island really in danger? Said a report from the Government: “It was reiterated at the time that there was no tsunami danger and the Bermuda Weather Service quickly went about the business of alerting the relevant authorities to that fact…It should be noted that there were no official tsunami information statements, alerts, watches or warnings issued as a result of this event; there would not routinely be any urgent messages forthcoming for such a small magnitude earthquake, regardless of how close to land it occurs.” I don’t know about you, but a category 4 earthquake just 50 miles offshore doesn’t really sound like small potatoes. Thanks for the heads up government! In the meantime, I've finally returned to blissful Bermuda where I'm currently enjoying my son's giggle and taking long walks on Horseshoe Bay beach. Until tomorrow, folks.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Charl Wins!

It's official: After a stunning come from behind victory at Augusta National Golf Club, South African Charl Schwartzwel won the 75th Masters on Sunday, making the 26-year-old golfer the first official invitee to the 2011 PGA Grand Slam of Golf at Port Royal Golf Course in Bermuda. For those watching yesterday's round it was one heckuva shootout. Not only did Schwartzwel birdie the final four holes—chalking up the day's low round of 66 for 14-under-par 274—but he chipped in for birdie at No. 1 and amazingly holed a sand wedge for eagle from 114 yards at No. 3. In short, the lanky South African was flawless as he charged for his first major championship in his short professional career. Who knows if he'll hoist the crystal trophy or don the famed Pink Jacket in October, but as of yesterday he'll be competing against the winners of the U.S. Open (June 13-19), British Open (July 10-17) and PGA Championship (August 8-14) on perhaps, the world's greatest public golf course. Welcome to Bermuda, Charl.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Hey Maryland, Listen Up!

If you live near Hanover, Maryland, own a pair of funny-looking knee length shorts and are considering taking a trip to Bermuda, then today's your lucky day. According to the Baltimore Sun, Hanover's own Arundel Mills Mall is hosting Bermuda Shorts Day, when representatives from AirTran Airways will be giving away vouchers good for $25 off flights to Bermuda from BWI if you show up wearing Bermuda shorts—which really just means the carrier's already rockbottom fares, just got a whole lot lower. All interested travelers should head to the shopping mall's food court today from 10am until 4pm and make sure you don't forget those knee-high socks!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Colbert Watch

Back in February I told you how funnyman Stephen Colbert plans to sail to Bermuda aboard a 65-foot sailing yacht in this year’s Charleston to Bermuda race. It was an exciting announcement, especially since it led to the idea of having yours truly be his guide once he arrives (in case you missed it check out my Open Letter to Stephen Colbert, which outlines a proposed island itinerary). Well, after nearly two months I’ve officially received no word from Colbert's “people” as to whether he’d like to join me for a Dark ‘n Stormy or go shopping for Bermuda shorts at the English Sports Shop, but according to a recent report in USA Today, the stars just aligned a little bit more. Turns out Colbert’s on the cover of this month’s Outside magazine, talking about his past experience participating in the 777-mile race to Bermuda. “There comes a time in every man's life when he must ask himself, ‘What can I endure? Of what mettle am I made?’” Colbert told Outside. “This was not one of those times. I thought this would be a booze cruise to Bermuda.” Reports USA Today, the comedian learned quickly this was no luxury liner. “Boat toilets...are floating Porta-Potties. Ours through an understandable oversight had not been emptied since the Carter administration. We tried opening a relief valve (provocatively called an “ocean cock”) - no go. It had to be pumped by hand. As a father of three, I was used to dealing with other people's waste, so I volunteered, as did two other crew-members...I now knew that I would not drown. I would die from amoebic dysentery.” So why do the Charleston/Bermuda race again? He tells Outside: “What endures is what I can't rightly describe: Looking up at night to see the masts unmoving in your eyes but the stars dancing in synchronized figure eights...Flying fish slapping against the sail...Two ounces of gritty cowboy coffee. Eight friends together in a 45-foot world and alone at the center of a referenceless horizon. I can't explain what that all feels like. I just know I want to feel it again.” So glad to hear you’re on your way, Stephen! But in case you didn’t know, in addition to living here in Bermuda, I’m also a correspondent for Outside Television. Ya know, part of the same company that you just gave that fabulous interview to? Whaddaya say we pair up for a tour of Bermuda, shoot it for Outside TV and everyone goes home happy. Deal? Stephen, I await your reply.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Photo of the Day

With local temperatures creeping up into the low 70's and long Spring days blissfully sunny and cloud free, I couldn't resist posting this picture, which was taken on South road in Southampton over the weekend. Talk about a Bermudaful day! In a related story, AirTran began flying to the island yesterday, so if you live anywhere near the Baltimore/Washington area I'd advise hopping on its website and booking one of the no-frills carrier's super-low flights ASAP. Don't believe me? Then check out this quick search for flights in April, with fares as low as $79 each way! Time to come bask in the Bermuda sun, folks.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Happy Hour Is Back!

It’s April first, but instead of playing some mean April Fools joke on you—ala Bermuda Shorts 2010 when I "spotted" a flame-throwing scooter on Middle Road—I’ll instead leave you with some good news. Some very good news, actually, especially if you're into rum, live music, the outdoors or all of the above. As you’ve probably determined from the headline, happy hour is back, which really just mean legions of boozy islanders will rum-punch in at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess today at 5pm (and yes, that's what the party looks like). If you’re in town don’t miss it: You can expect a live band, DJ and one of the best views in Bermuda as you sip Dark ‘n Stomies and rum swizzles until the fiesta winds down at 9pm. What? You can’t make it? Have no fear. Happy is every Friday evening from today through the end of September so let’s get our swizzle on, shall we?