Travel Guide: Bermuda

This week has been one for writing. One of the pieces I worked on was a guest post for Dutch beauty and travel blog, The Beauty Suitcase. It was of course a Bermuda travel guide! I thought you guys would be interested in the highlight reel as well, although I’ve condensed it so as not to repeat things I’ve already said here, but if you’re interested in the full version (or haven’t been following along on my Bermuda adventures), click here!


The moment you step off the plane in Bermuda (onto a stair car, they don’t have jet bridges here), the first thing you’ll notice is the humidity: pleasantly warm but thick, wet air. Depending on the time of the year, it can be wonderfully refreshing—not to mention great for your skin—or almost overwhelming (and if you have curly hair, forget about taming it until you go home!).

There are plenty of taxis waiting at the airport—with just a handful of flights per day, they know when to arrive—so you won’t have any trouble getting a ride, however very few of them take cards, so make sure you have cash. The Bermudian dollar is tied to the U.S. dollar, so everyone uses both interchangeably. It’s very convenient for us Americans, but sort of confusing once you remember you’re actually in a British territory (and no, they don’t accept pounds!).

I remember some of my first impressions of the island: First, the water is far and away the brightest, bluest water I’ve ever seen in my life. It seems to be lit from below with a turquoise light—absolutely stunning. Foliage reminds me of South Carolina—a mix of deciduous and palm trees—which is less tropical-feeling than I expected. And there was something about the infrastructure (roads and public buildings anyway) that reminded me of the Caribbean or Central America.

As tourism is a big business here, there are plenty of hotels and I really haven’t heard many bad reviews about any of them. Keep in mind that “town” here means one thing: Hamilton. If you’re looking to be where the action is without spending a lot of money on transportation, I’d recommend staying at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess, which is within walking distance of everything. The Princess’ sister hotel, Fairmont Southampton, is perfect if you’re more in the mood for a beach vacation, and they offer a ferry back and forth between hotels.

 

Highlights

Where to go: The main drag of Hamilton is Front Street, which—you guessed it—is right on the waterfront. Much of the shopping here is tailored to cruise ship arrivals, so there are several high-end stores and gift shops. If you go one block back from the water to Reid Street, you’ll get a better picture of everyday life for Bermudians. Spend some time walking around town, getting a sense of the place. Europeans may not find it as exciting, but there is history here that most of America just can’t match. Even the post office feels like you’ve stepped back in time a few centuries. There is a national portrait museum and aquarium of course, but for touristy activities, I’d recommend getting out of town.

Lest you think Bermuda is just beaches and palm trees... This is Front Street, the main drag of the city of Hamilton
Front Street, the main drag of the city of Hamilton

What to do: You can hop on the ferry for just a few dollars and sail directly to Dockyard, which is where the cruise ships usually dock. It’s an old Navy yard, and very cool to spend some time walking through the lawns between the old walls. There are a number of bars and restaurants—including one on a boat decked out to look like a pirate ship—and what I’d wager is the best mini golf in the world! I know it sounds silly, but Fun Golf’s nearly 360-degree ocean views can’t be matched.

If you’re feeling adventurous, rent a scooter instead of taking the ferry so you can take in the views along Middle and South roads on the way back. There are really only three roads that run the length of the island, so you can’t get lost, but driving can be a little bit crazy. Take a break by pulling in to any of the lay-bys along the way so you can see the stunning parks and beaches that dot the south coast.

PortRoyalBermuda is a golfer’s paradise—there are seven high quality courses to choose from within the island’s twenty square miles. Port Royal recently hosted the PGA Grand Slam (that’s Rory McIlroy in the pic!), and Tucker’s Point (back toward the airport) is also very nice. Tucker’s has a fabulous spa, hotel and restaurant as well, so you could make a day or two of it! It’s near the airport, so I’d recommend staying here at the very beginning or very end of your trip.

The view from the pool at Tucker's Point
The view from the pool at Tucker’s Point

Also in that area is Grotto Bay, a resort that has ocean rentals in a protected bay. Rent a boat or paddleboard and head over to Castle Island beach—only accessible by water (except for the people who own the private land adjacent to it) and very shallow, it’s a great place to drop anchor and hang out for the day!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t recommend heading out to St. George’s, the first permanent English settlement on the island, and arguably North America. Settled in 1612, the town is an UNESCO World Heritage site and totally worth the visit, with reenactments, tours and, most exciting for me, a printing museum!

Where to eat: Dining here is a bit hit or miss, but you usually can’t go wrong with seafood! I’m not a huge fan of cooked fish, but I love sushi. Two of my favorites are Pearl and Beluga Bar. The latter is actually located in a mall, but don’t let that sway you: it might just be the better of the two.

photo 4My favorite restaurant on the island is Bolero Brasserie, which looks out over Front Street, so if you decide to sit on the second-story patio, you’ll get to watch the goings-on. However, I really like the dining room here, so I’d recommend sitting indoors, and grabbing a drink on the patio at Red Steakhouse afterward.

Speaking of cocktails, drinking might be Bermuda’s unofficial national past time. Harry’s is one of my favorite haunts—plus Jason is the only bartender on the island I’ve found so far who can make a decent brandy old fashioned! Their dinner menu is really fantastic as well, although I have to admit we’ve always eaten in the bar. Muse, also on Front Street near the ferry terminal, offers several interesting cocktails and three floors of eating and drinking space. They also have a menu of truly decadent French fare that is really, really tasty. If you’re a wine drinker, try the Wine Bar next to Little Venice on Bermudiana Road, just one block up from Front Street.

Off the beaten path a bit is Art Mel’s, which has been named the best fish sandwich on the island. There are several really good Indian restaurants as well, my favorite is House of India.

 

Enjoy and let me know when you visit the island!

Travel Guide: Toronto

My first impression of Toronto was blue glass studded with bright fall foliage. As you drive in from the airport, the first buildings to greet you once you actually get in to the city are tall, modern, glass skyscrapers, and behind that, the blue of the Great Lakes. We went at the perfect time of year: the air was crisp and the small deciduous trees planted in the well-landscaped green spaces between buildings were fiery shades of orange and yellow and red. It was stunningly beautiful.

We stayed in the financial district, which feels like you’re in the middle of everything when you arrive on a Friday afternoon—the sidewalks and underground tunnels are bustling, restaurants and bars are full of business people—but it’s deceptive. Come Saturday morning we discovered this is not the best area of town to spend a weekend—75% of businesses in the area shut down when the working crowd goes home.

IMG_4390I love that the city’s districts are very distinct. You know exactly when you’ve crossed the street from Chinatown to the Fashion District. Toronto is very walkable, with wide sidewalks and ample opportunities to cross busy streets—and everyone obeys walk signals. (Although Andrew attributes that to innate Canadian niceness). I loved the public art and design throughout the city and definitely could have spent another afternoon walking aimlessly, admiring it all!

IMG_4387We spent our evenings in the King West neighborhood, which seems to be pretty hip, but not over run with 20-something hipsters. (Man, I sound like a crotchety old lady.) Great restaurants abound and there’s a great nightlife scene—with plenty of taxis to get you home. We did have to wait in line to get in to the bar—the locals we were with said that if we had arrived before 10:00 we would have been good to go.

 

Highlights

Where to go: I spent some significant time in the fashion district. Every other store front seems to be a massive fabric store. I loved King Textiles—with roll upon roll upon roll of fabric (and real fashion designers placing orders!), it reminded me of Mood from Project Runway.

IMG_4380What to do: Lots of people told us about a giant mall near our hotel. I’m not usually a big mall shopper, but after a couple months in Bermuda, chain stores (and Auntie Anne’s!) are starting to become a welcome, American-feeling sight. We didn’t go to the CN Tower, but I’m kind of wishing we had—however, I’ve heard the food is not very good in the restaurant at the top, so best to just imbibe a cocktail and the view!

IMG_4368

Where to eat: We had some absolutely fantastic meals in Toronto—and yes, don’t worry we had poutine. I absolutely loved Sansotei Ramen. They have a handful of dishes that are really just very slight variations on pork belly ramen—I love when a restaurant is so sure of what they’re doing, they only offer you what they make best. Another standout was Buca—an Italian place in King West. The atmosphere is amazing, and so is the suckling pig! (Oh, and the cheese tray… mmmm… cheese….)

IMG_4370 copyEditor’s Note: This first guide is pretty short since we were only in town for the weekend. Do you have Toronto tips? Please feel free to share in the comments or send me an email! Interested in writing a travel guide? Email me at kristink_64@yahoo.com.

My travel advice: You should totally do it

Last week boyfriend and I spent a long weekend in Toronto. He was there for work, I was there because… I could be. (Ah, the joys of working remotely!) We had a great, albeit relatively uneventful weekend, filled with new (for me) friends, fantastic meals and plenty of relaxation.

In the last two years, I left North America for the first time (London, Paris); visited countless domestic cities (New York, Baltimore, Philly, Virginia Beach, Charleston, Savannah, and a hundred small towns in between); went on the most spontaneous trip of my life (Costa Rica with four days notice); oh, and moved to Bermuda.

Of all places, it took Toronto to make me realize it’s kind of all the same. Not in a the-world-is-boring-nothing-is-worth-anything kind of way, but in a way that throws fear out the window, imbues you with the self-confidence of self-reliance and mitigates pre-existing notions of “the other” and the us-versus-them attitude that seems so pervasive in our culture right now.

Travel makes the world feel smaller in the best possible way. No matter where you go, you will meet someone kind and fun and wonderful, you will see something so beautiful it takes your breath away, you will eat something delicious that you will never have again. The experience of a place gets lodged in your heart and you will never be able to be hateful or uncaring toward its inhabitants again.

One second while I step down from my soap box…

To that end, I’m starting a new travel feature here on the blog. As I can’t quite afford to populate the section by myself (anyone want to send me on a free trip somewhere?? Anyone?), and I happen to have quite a few good friends who are very good writers, you’ll even get to read something besides my drivel. Look for Toronto tomorrow!

Radiant Orchid

Last week I had my annual order from long-time client Jen, who stocks up on monogram stationery every year around this time. I’m honored that she likes my work enough to re-order time and time again, and dazzled that she writes so many cards throughout the year!

jsAs you know, it takes quite a bit of time to set up and then clean up the press, so I usually try to print several designs per color. I started some new holiday cards (stay tuned!) and knocked out a few designs from the running list I keep of future ideas. My favorite? An old-timey saying appropriate for myriad occasions paired with my sweet little bee illustration. Like it too? Get it here!

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