Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Escaping the Snow

After some wild weather in the northeast over the New Year, and more on the way, I decided to get the heck out of its way. While one might normally flee to Florida this time of year, even the sun belt is seeing snow and freezing weather. So I set my sights a little further out to sea... Bermuda! That's right, 640 miles east of Cape Hatteras, NC, is the British territory of Bermuda where it is 61 degrees and sunny. Hey did you know that St. George, Bermuda, was the third successful British colony in the Americas? Yeah, after St. John's, Newfoundland, and Jamestown, VA, it was claimed by the Virginia Company in 1612. That's eight years before the Mayflower voyage folks, and unlike St. John's and Jamestown, it has been continuously occupied since. So in that regard, it is the oldest English settlement in the New World and it is beautifully preserved, without being a "living history" attraction. Real people inhabit these centuries-old buildings - along with real businesses and modern conveniences - while preserving the authenticity of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. And did I mention it is 61 degrees and sunny here?

One of St. George's top attractions is its protected Tobacco Bay Beach. There is a small hill separating the town from the beach, and it is a short walk to this beautiful spot. Now I won't lie to you, the water and air temperature tend to be about the same this time of year. So if swimming in 65 degree water is your thing, then you are in store for some fantastic snorkeling, scuba diving, and reef exploration. I'll save my "polar plunging" until next year, thank you. But there is plenty to do out of the water, and well worth your time to visit even in winter - if you can even call this winter. Then of course there is the great history of this place, and I would suggest Fort St. Catherine, the Olde Towne Railway Tour, and the Unfinished Cathedral. The fort provides beautiful views of St. George, a nice self-guided walking tour, and helpful staff to answer questions about Bermuda's rich history. The train is a small-scale railway that somehow manages to make it up the steep hills and through the narrow lanes of St. George. The conductors are very knowledgeable and entertaining. The cathedral (a.k.a. the folly of St. George's) was intended to replace the older St. Peter's (also worth a look) in 1874, but it was beset by poor planning, insufficient funding, and ultimately a rift with the church hierarchy. But it has a beauty nonetheless and is an entertaining and worthwhile stop, just the same.

My favorite spot, however, is the Bermuda Perfumery. A relative newcomer to the island, it first set up shop in 1928 offering its signature fragrance Easter Lily - which is still offered today. Although not on its original site, it is located in a historic building right in St. George, and still fills each bottle by hand. A knowledgeable staff member will give you a personal tour of the building and gardens, where many of the flowers and plants used in the perfumes are grown. Then you can work with a perfumer to test and find a scent that is just right for you. Now I know what you are thinking, but outside of the U.S. it is perfectly acceptable for men to where perfume. Cologne is likewise not gender-specific. Rather, it is a single layer of scent, while perfume has multiple layers, like a cake. No matter your preference, the staff here has on average 25 years of experience, and can create a scent that is tailored just for you. Or, you can continue to go around smelling like a bus terminal, assured in your manhood. Your call.

During my stay I am renting a timeshare at The St. George's Club, located on the northeastern tip of the island. It has three swimming pools (one heated), three tennis courts (one lighted), and during the warmer months, a private beach club about a mile away. You can even rent a moped on-site, if you dare, and take in the sites on two wheels. Rentals start as low as $100/night.

Well I am off to get a pair of spiffy new Bermuda shorts. Although started as tropical attire for the British Navy, these snazzy shorts became wildly popular in Bermuda, and are now standard business attire for both men and women. Now, one should not confuse Bermuda shorts with "cargo" or "capri" pants. The former are a baggy mess and should only be worn by skateboarders and the homeless, while the latter are pants terminating just below the calf, and should never be worn by any self-respecting man under any circumstances. Even in the smelly bus terminal type.

No comments:

Post a Comment