Monday, June 16, 2014

Our trip to Bermuda

I'm finally sharing some photos from our trip to Bermuda! I looked through them on the computer last night and sighed a few deep nostalgic sighs. The water, beaches, colorful houses, and vegetation are so beautiful that it's hard to capture it all in photos. The island is just breathtaking - I still wake up most mornings saying "josh, can we move to Bermuda?"

As many of you know, josh got me this trip for my birthday back in January, but it also was a celebration of our 5 year anniversary of dating. The past 5 years have been such a learning experience for both of us. We've made some incredible memories, had our share of ups and downs, and come to the realization that relationships can never be perfect. But when you're traveling together, I'm a believer that that's the closest to perfection your relationship can get. All the stress from your everyday life just fades away and you are just left with feelings of relaxation and stripped down to your raw, happy self. Going new places together always makes me appreciate him more, in that raw, carefree state, and reminds me of why I love him so much. And after a very long winter and somewhat non-existent spring in Boston, traveling to Bermuda was the perfect warm escape we needed.

So here's all the details on what we ate, where we stayed, what we did...all that good stuff.

Day 1
After a quick hour and a half flight from Boston, we landed in Bermuda around 11am and hopped in a cab to head straight to the Pompano Beach Club on the south (Southampton Parish) side of the island. My family has been staying there for years and are good friends with the owners, so they were kind enough to invite us over there for lunch and to use their beautiful private beach before we could check into our Airbnb rental at 2pm. Our jaws understandably dropped when we stepped inside the hotel and saw the views of the bright blue water from almost every angle. We were changed out of our travel clothes and into our swimsuits in 5 minutes flat.
After a few hours at the beach, we begrudgingly left the beautiful Pompano beach club to head to our Airbnb rental, not sure what to expect and fairly confident that it wouldn't be as luxurious as the hotel we just were treated to for the day. Our cottage was right up right road from Pompano beach, so we were able to just walk up the hill with our suitcases and were greeted by the homeowner's (Sabrina's) mother with a key. We were pleasantly surprised that our room was clean, cozy, and perfect for what we needed. Plus, it was less that a quarter of what we would pay at a hotel!
Day 2:
On our second day, we walked down to Pompano beach club in the morning to have breakfast and rent a scooter. A scooter really is the only good way to get around on the island - cabs are super expensive and the bus system is a bit hard to rely on if you want to explore a bunch of different areas. So after josh was able to prove he could drive in a circle on the scooter (nope no license or previous experience required, kind of terrifying) we were given a map, a couple of helmets and the scooter and were free to start cruising. Josh was a great driver, but the hardest part was remembering to stay on the LEFT side of the road. After doing something one way for your entire life, it was actually a really confusing switch to make and I found myself constantly reminding josh to do the opposite of whatever he thought he was supposed to do. No more right on red folks, LEFT on red. :) Luckily, all the scooters that rental companies give to tourists are bright red, so locals know to take caution when they come up behind us newbies.
Our first stop on the scooter was to the local grocery store to load our basket up with food and beer. We did eat dinner out every night of the trip because we really wanted to try some great restaurants, but we made breakfast and packed lunch every day to save some money. The fact that our rental had a kitchenette and fridge was so helpful!
After packing some sandwiches and consulting our map, we scootered over to Horseshoe Bay beach (about a 10 minute ride) to visit arguably the most famous beach in Bermuda that we had heard so much about. And it was even more beautiful than we could have imagined. We stayed for a quick picnic but vowed we would come back for a full day later in the trip.
After the beach, we headed into the island's center of Hamilton to meet up with Jonelle, my mom's college roommate who has lived in Bermuda her whole life. We took a cab into Hamilton since we weren't sure our map skills were good enough to navigate there and knew we would be staying well into the night. That afternoon was so much fun! Jonelle showed us the entire island by boat, including some of her favorites waterfront homes and restaurants, before taking us to her home on one of Bermuda's small islands for a tour. After an amazing sunny afternoon sipping Dark n Stormys (which come in cans there, by the way) on Jonelle's boat and patio, we went ashore to dinner at Harry's overlooking the marina followed by drinks at the Frog and Onion pub.

We also had some fun taking photos under the circular moon gates that are all over the island. 
Day 3
Our third day was the best weather-wise so we decided to head back to Horseshoe Bay beach for the day. We got there early before the cruise ships rolled in, so we were able to get our own little private nook within the rocks on the beach. We spent the day relaxing, swimming, hiking up the rocks, and admiring the huge parrot fish you could see from above. After we had our fair share of sun, we headed back to our room and get ready for dinner. There was something so fun about just hopping on a scooter in nothing but your bathingsuit and sandals, holding on tight to someone you love, and feeling the sun on your face and the breeze blowing through your salty hair. That ride back from the beach was when I most appreciated this island life that we were living and thought...I probably could get used to this.
^our own little nook!
After the beach, we hung out with our host Sabrina  back at the cottage for a little (she lives in one part of the home and rents out 3 other side units) before she headed over to the Fairmont Princess for a project she was working on. She told us we had to see the hotel while we were on the island, so we tagged along with her to grab a drink before dinner. And she was right - the hotel was so quintessentially British, with huge ornate chandeliers, bold oriental rugs, and these incredible velvet pink chairs that I wanted to bring home with me. After exploring the hotel, we drove over to the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse for dinner, which has some of the best views of the island and really yummy food. We made sure to make a reservation early so that we could scooter back before it got dark and enjoy some drinks on our patio under the stars.
Day 4
On our last full day in Bermuda, we decided to explore Bermuda's Royal Navy Dockyard, which is on the far west end of the island where all the cruise ships come in. It was only about a 10 minute ride from where we were staying, but took us about an hour together because of all the stops be made at little beaches along the way. :) When we got there, we did a little touristy shopping in the Dockyard mall and gawked over the size of the massive cruise ships. On our way home, we stopped at the Cambridge Beaches resort for lunch at Breezes, which is a little restaurant on the beach that both Sabrina and Jonelle recommended and apparently only locals really know about. I had just bought a sun hat at the mall that I was wearing at lunch while sipping my iced coffee and eating my caesar salad with grilled shrimp and thinking again that I could definitely get used to this. 
After our morning adventure, josh had a tee time at the Port Royal golf course, which was the course that were were essentially staying on. The course has breathtaking views and also where the PGA Grand Slam of golf is held, so needless to say josh was pretty excited to play the course and I was pretty excited to drive the cart. This certainly wasn't the cheapest part of the trip (regular rates are $180 per person), but luckily Sabrina was able to get us a deal through her personal connections and the course did not disappoint. 
After golf, we headed back to our cottage and Sabrina took us on the tour of the other larger units in the cottage in case we ever wanted to come back with a bigger group (which I hope we can do someday!). She really made us feel so welcomed and was our best advocate on the this trip. We went into the vacation with very few plans, so we were so thankful to have a door to knock on at any time with questions, as well as have an expert there giving us great tips, directions and making reservations for us. After golf on our last night she asked us if we wanted to go to one of her favorite spots on the island before dinner and we were in, naturally. She took us about a mile down the road to this adorable little chapel (one of the oldest in Bermuda) right at sunset to take some photo of us, and then pulled over on the side of the road so that we could see the sun set over the water. 
Afterwards, josh and I enjoyed our last dinner at Coconuts, which is a beautiful waterfront restaurant at the Reef's resort. If you make reservations early enough (we didn't) you can even get a table directly on the beach! Dinner against that stunning blue backdrop was the perfect ending to our trip. 
We've sort of made it a pact to spend our money on an experience rather than a gift for every holiday and this is exactly why!  This trip was a trip I'd like to remember for a long time. Josh did, however, get me this little print as a gift (which we need to frame). And I couldn't agree more. Josh, thanks for being the guy that helps me discover new things and places every day. I can't wait for our next adventure. 


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