Travel Guide: AMERICA!

Ok, you guys, I fooled you. This really isn’t a travel guide per se… but since most of you readers are American, it’s really just a reminder of how great  having access to EVERYTHING YOU’D EVER WANT OR NEED really is.

I just returned from a long weekend in Atlanta, where my youngest sister lives. It was my first time off the island since January (my longest stretch yet!) and boy, could I tell.

We decided we would eat in the first night, since we’d be out and about the rest of the weekend. So, on the way home from the airport, we stopped at her local grocery store for provisions. You guys! Do you realize how amazing American grocery stores are? First of all, the produce department alone in her smallish neighborhood shop was nearly the size of the entire store closest to our house. The variety! I usually have to go to two different stores if I really want to check everything off my list (and even then, I haven’t been able to find sweet potatoes anywhere in months). Plus, you can pick up flowers, houseplants, specialty kitchen gadgets, any kind of booze or beer or wine you might desire… the list goes on.

And the best part was, nothing was rotten, wilted, or so far away from ripe it barely resembled the end product. I could have happily taken a bite from anything on display and it would be juicy and flavorful and perfect.

Second, the prices! I ended up picking up a few extra items simply because they were less than one-third of the prices they are here. I understand nearly everything in my grocery store has to be shipped here, but seriously. I spent the same amount on sandwich supplies the day we got back on island that my sister did for very fancy dinner ingredients.

The next day, I dropped my sister off at work so I could borrow her car. I spent the entire morning at Target! Dear readers, I support shopping local. I do it every chance I get—I’m always buying handmade gifts and supporting local makers. But when a giant, corporate one-stop-shop is not an option, simple errands become a rather large undertaking. The fact that I can get a couple cute tanks, work-out wear, makeup, razors, a new purse, SodaStream flavors, coffee and a mango smoothie (which is what I got), plus shoes, housewares, sporting goods, electronics, etc. all in one stop is just about the best thing ever.

And again with the prices. Clothing, like everything else here is a little pricey, but the real problem is the quality. A top that’s Target quality is marked at Bloomingdale’s prices… and there’s nothing you can do about it. There are really only 2 department stores and a handful of smaller shops here and they each have several outposts throughout the island.

And then, I got to stash my bags in the car and walk next door! I love my scooter, and it’s really the most convenient thing for Bermuda roads, but it’s such a luxury to be able to throw something in your back seat, lock your doors and know that no one’s going to nick it.

Lunchtime. I’ve been dreaming of this… pushing aside cravings for months… Qdoba. I actually had to settle for Chipotle since the only Qdoba in Atlanta is in the airport, but it still did the trick. (Also, America, you have TWO of essentially the exact same restaurant and they’re both thriving!) I know fast-casual is the latest buzzword in dining, but man, do I miss it. We’ve got three basic levels here: total crap fast food (It’s not even good! Knock-off KFC or greasy burgers from a truck.); bar food, which will still set you back around $20 a plate, plus you feel pressured to order at least one $7+ drink; or a sit-down restaurant with varying levels of fanciness (and price, but all expensive). Oh, and they do Mexican food TERRIBLY here. Don’t even try it. A couple bars have mastered nachos, but we all know that’s actually American.

So, burrito, chips and guacamole—check! I stopped at a mall. It was glorious! And then I did do a little shopping local, in well-merchandised stores with very high quality wares. They were organized, they were charming. They were all on the same street. I bought myself some letterpress stationery (of course!) and a gift for my mom, and just barely managed to resist buying a BUNCH of handmade jewelry.

That night we went out for barbeque (again, something they do very poorly in Bermuda, plus I don’t even want to know how much a restaurant would charge for that much meat!), then grabbed a few drinks at a rooftop bar closer to my sister’s house (and they had live music that was actually good!).

It was a fabulous weekend that reminded me how good we had it back in the old U.S.A. So my dear Americans, you may feel uncultured, corporatized (made-up word), and stuck in a dysfunctional political system, but remember how great things are too! Capitalism! Infrastructure! National parks! A melting pot of food and culture! Burritos!

 

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