The Island of Bermuda is a volcanic archipelago that lies the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, about 650 miles east of Cape Hatteras, N.C. Accessible by air and water, the island is a world of its own.
Flying from Philadelphia in early April, we arrived at L.F. Wade International Airport on the eastern end of the island and took a taxi to our condo in St. George’s. (Visitors can rent mopeds and tiny two-seater cars, but the best way to get around is by taxi, bus, or ferry.) Between rain showers, we managed to walk the short distance to town for a wahoo fish sandwich and a rum swizzle at Wahoo’s Bistro and Patio.
The next day, we set out to explore St. George’s, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that dates to 1609. Spanish explorer Juan de Bermudez discovered the island in 1503, but did not stick around long enough to establish a settlement. In 1609,
a group of English settlers, led by Sir George Somers, wrecked on the island during a severe storm. Using Bermuda cedar and salvage from The Sea Venture, they built The Deliverance and The Patience, which eventually transported
them to Jamestown, Va., where starving Colonists awaited food and supplies.
Some say the heroic act saved America. The story of the storm and the shipwreck came to the attention of London playwright William Shakespeare, who used it as the subject of “The Tempest.”
All that history comes to life during UNESCO guide Lorne Bean’s walking tours that depart from King’s Square, a hub of daily activity. We paused a few minutes to see a replica of The Deliverance and a statue of a jubilant Somers before
heading down the narrow streets to learn more about the town’s history, its traditions, customs, and unique architecture.
Did you know that Bermuda’s steep whitewashed stone roofs are designed to catch rainwater, since the island has no source of water? St. George’s is a treasure trove of delightful pastel-colored buildings, erected during the 1600s, 1700s, and 1800s.
St. Peter’s Anglican Church, founded in 1612, is the oldest Protestant church outside the British Isles. St. Peter’s and the nearby Unfinished Church, circa 1874, are popular wedding venues.
The original state house, built in 1620, served as the home of Bermuda’s first parliament, the oldest surviving parliament in the world outside the British Isles and Iceland. In 1815, when the capital moved to Hamilton, Bermuda’s oldest Masonic Lodge signed an agreement to rent the building for the sum of one peppercorn per year. Every April, amid much ceremonial fanfare, the Masons continue to pay their annual rent of that single peppercorn.
Today, the town fathers of St. George’s hold meetings in the pink Town Hall, which bears the Bermuda crest and is located in the center of the square. On the day of our visit, the town crier was placing an unruly public drunk in the stocks,
and he suggested we come back the next day to see a woman gossiper get dunked in the water.
Among St. George’s many other historical buildings are the Globe Hotel, which dates to 1699 and today houses the Bermuda National Trust Museum, focusing on the island’s key role in the American Civil War.
Mitchell House, circa 1731, is home to St. George’s Historical Society Museum, Printery, and Garden. St. George’s Post Office, built in 1622, still functions as an official post office, where you can buy colorful Bermuda stamps, considered
prizes by collectors.
Somers Garden pays tribute to Bermuda’s founding father, whose heart is entombed there. Stop by the iconic Bermuda moongate in the garden to take photos.
You can learn more about the town’s history at Tucker House Museum, World Heritage Centre, and the Bermudian Heritage Museum. The town is also home to galleries and shops, including the Bermuda Perfumery, which makes Lili
Bermuda and sells it exclusively in Bermuda.
More history awaits in bustling Hamilton, Bermuda’s capital, a 45-minute bus ride from St. George’s. (Stop in at the Swizzle Inn for a rum swizzle or a Dark ‘n’ Stormy, the island’s official drink, on your way back.)
Hamilton offers a number of tours. The Town Crier City Tour departs from City Hall and includes the Anglican Cathedral, Sessions House, and Cabinet Building, and buildings in the North Hamilton quadrant.
The guided walking tour of Hamilton departs from the Bermuda National Library and also includes the Sessions House.
Oftentimes, Fort Hamilton hosts a Skirling Ceremony, featuring pipers, drummers, and dancers in kilts. Other options include the Bermuda National Gallery tours; the Bermuda Gombey Revue; special lectures on Bermuda’s history, culture, and traditions; and traditional afternoon teas hosted by locals.
You can see original artwork at the City Hall and Arts Centre, “the people’s gallery,” and the Masterworks Museum of Bermuda Art. Be sure to stop by the Perot Post Office, named for William Bennett Perot, the postmaster from 1819 until 1862, who issued Bermuda’s first postage stamp.
History aside, one of Hamilton’s biggest attractions is its shopping at popular establishments such as the Bermuda Bookstore, A.S. Cooper & Sons, Brown & Co., Crisson Jewellers, Della Valle Sandals, The Island Shop, and TABS,
known for its colorful Bermuda shorts and jackets.
Hamilton also offers a variety of restaurants, from fine dining to pub fare. Many serve fresh lobster in season, and most offer fish chowder. The city’s most famous pub is the Hog Penny, which was established in 1957 and features recycled materials from old English pubs. It takes its name from the island’s first currency, which featured the likeness of a wild hog.
From Hamilton, you can take a bus or the ferry to the Royal Naval Dockyard, home of the British Royal Navy from 1809 through 1951, and today a center for arts and crafts, retail shops, restaurants, attractions, and an overnight stop for major cruise lines, including Norwegian and Carnival.
Last year, the Dockyard hosted the 35th America’s Cup Yacht Race, won 7-1 by Emirates Team New Zealand over the defending Oracle Team USA and teams from the United Kingdom, Japan, Sweden, and France. The Dockyard is one of
five forts built by the British to defend the island; others are Fort Hamilton, Fort St. Catherine, Martello Tower, and St. David’s Battery at Great Head Park.
There’s much more to see off the beaten paths of Bermuda. Pink sandy beaches lie along its 64-mile coastline, and miles of hiking and riding trails are located on the old Bermuda Railway. Both residents and visitors enjoy golf, tennis,
horseback riding, cycling, snorkeling, diving, fishing, waterskiing, windsurfing, and more, plus spectator sports such as soccer and cricket.
For more information, visit bermuda.com.
Colonial Williamsburg Celebrations
This month, the 300th anniversary of the Everard House will be celebrated throughout June. One of the oldest houses in Williamsburg, Everard House was the home of Thomas Everard, an orphan from London who became a wealthy
planter and civic leader. The house has been restored to its early appearance, and the grounds include the original kitchen and smokehouse.
The house is included in the regular admission ticket. Download the official Colonial Williamsburg app to find your way around the village, purchase tickets, make reservations, and more at colonialwilliamsburg.com.
Spotlight on Wilmington, N.C.
This year is an ideal time to visit Wilmington, N.C., which is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the first airing of the television series “Dawson’s Creek.”
Download a “Dawson’s Creek” FAQ sheet at wilmingtonandbeaches.com and see the actual locations where the show was filmed.
The city recently received a 2018 Travelers’ Choice “Top Destinations on the Rise” from Trip Advisor, as the city welcomes new additions to its already-exciting waterfront and downtown.
Celebrity chef Vivian Howard and her husband, Ben Knight, the stars of “A Chef’s Life” on PBS, recently opened Benny’s Big Time Pizzeria in Wilmington’s South Front neighborhood. The couple put Kinston, N.C., on the map a few
years ago after opening the highly successful The Chef and The Farmer restaurant there.
Howard was recently named one of the “20 Most Innovative Women in Food and Drink” by Food and Wine magazine.
Also known for its dozen or more craft breweries, Wilmington was voted the “Best Beer Town” by readers of Carolina Brew Scene magazine last year after five breweries, including Edward Teach Brewing, opened there. Four new breweries — the Flying Machine Brewing Company, Mad Mole Brewing, Tidewater Brewing, and Skytown — will debut this year.
Want to know more about the city’s growing craft beer industry? Follow the Wilmington Ale Trail or take a Port City Brew Bus tour.
Visitors to Wilmington have more hotel options than ever, with the addition of the new 186-room Embassy Suites by Hilton Wilmington Riverfront on the north end of the Riverwalk. The hotel also features the Steam Restaurant and Bar and
a rooftop bar overlooking the Cape Fear River.
Carol Timblin welcomes travel news at email@example.com