24 Hours in Bermuda
By Michael C. Upton
Brightly colored houses. I’d seen them on film and maybe in books as a kid, and I had forgotten about them; when I caught my first up close glimpse of Bermuda the deck of Grandeur of the Seas those island homes flooded back into my mind. I was immediately more excited to come ashore.
The Grandeur was on a five night cruise leaving from Baltimore with a port at King’s Wharf. Our stay would be brief, less than 24 hours, so I wanted to hit some quintessentially Bermudan spots on the island. I was told a good place to meet artists and find hidden gems is on the eastern part of Bermuda (which I learned is not one island, but a series of 181 islands and islets). Along with a contingent of family and friends, I rushed off the pier in time to catch the 2:00 ferry to St. George’s Island.
St. George’s is an historical place, much like the rest of the island I assume. Onboard our ferry, we were lucky to be in the company of a wedding party, who in tow had a guide. He pointed out Ferry Point Park; at 63 acres, the nature reserve marks the start of our approach to St. George’s Island. As we passed the Unfinished Church, our impromptu guide gave us a brief history and I learned that even in paradise people can sometimes disagree. The church, whose construction was never completed, was a short walk away from where this wedding was to be held at St. Peter’s Church.
I wanted to check out the church, but I—along with the rest of my crew—were hungry. I was told by islanders to check out Wahoo Bistro, but it seems my visit coincided with a national holiday and the popular spot for both locals and tourists was closed. Lucky for us, The White Horse Pub was running a skeleton crew and we found a nice shady table outside to enjoy their fare and the view. I ordered the Avocado Rolls, plentiful chunks of fresh avocado mixed with sun-dried tomato, red onion, and cilantro deep fried in a crisp, light, dough wrap. They were refreshing, filling, and beautifully presented.
As I sat having a late lunch I found a few locals on the dock trying to coax a rather large fish onto a hand-fed line. The illusive creature would dart out from under the dock through a myriad of tiny fish, a lone skirting bright blue Yellowfin Chromis—which I later learned is unique to Bermuda—and avoid the men’s line and net. The fishermen showed no interest in the smaller fish. From this vantage point I could spy an islet with an intriguing statue, so after my meal I headed over to check it out. The statue is of Sir George Somers, the English admiral who colonized Bermuda. His ship, Deliverance, is permanently stationed on the islet.
My time in St. George’s was short. I read as many plaques and signs as I could, but we had to make the last ferry back to the western part off the island. I am a traveler who likes to taste as much local food and creative libations as I can, so once back at the Royal Navy Dockyard, I headed directly to the nearby Bone Fish Bar & Grill. I found myself once again seated outside enjoying the slightly overcast, but beautiful Bermuda weather. After a huge English beer at The White Horse it was time for some local rum—Gosling’s has been one of my favorite brands for years. With a dark and stormy in hand, I ordered the Warm Octopus & Potatoes Salad, a beautiful combination plated with chorizo, arugula salad, Kalamata olives, grape tomatoes with a salsa verde emulsion. This peculiarly Italian-inspired eatery (on an island seemingly dominated by English history and tradition) is serving up some of the most creative and well put together entrees I have seen. Kudos!
After this snack, I strolled around the grounds of dockyard with my family, checking out some shops and ordering rum to be delivered to our ship. We posed the kids for photos in front of large buoys waiting to be positioned in the Atlantic. We bought souvenirs. And eventually we headed to the Frog & Onion Pub for dinner.
Home of the Dockyard Brewing Company, this full scale restaurant is housed in the former cooperage of this circa-1800’s, monolithic, naval fortress. Here I fully embraced the English culture and ordered the Toad in a Hole—local sausage baked in Yorkshire pudding, drizzled with rosemary onion gravy and served with a side of buttered peas … and the Beef Short Rib & Black Anchor Porter Pot Pie, which is a delicious one-bowl meal of braised short rib, potato, mushrooms, carrots, and peas topped with a biscuit crust. I had barely left any room for their on-premises made brews, but I managed a few.
The next day we booked a shore excursion through our cruise line to Horseshoe Bay. After a wonderful and hilarious van ride through western Bermuda we arrived at the famed pink sand beach. It was all it was cracked up to be, and we spent the morning basking in the waters and discovering a nature we had not known.
The biggest thing I learned is that 24 hours is not enough time to spend on the island. I barely got to scratch the surface of its culture, heritage, and style. I guess I’ll just have to come back. Quo Fata Ferunt!
***Michael C. Upton works as a freelance writer specializing in arts and leisure covering subjects ranging from funk punk to fine wine. He graduated with a B.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Maine at Farmington and is actively published by trade journals, specialized websites, and regional and national magazines. Upton lives in Southeastern Pennsylvania—in the heart of Amish Country—with his wife Mel and two youngest children Halligan and Teagan. Tyler, his oldest son, is a recent graduate of the Culinary Institute of America.