Back To Our Roots In Bermuda

Back To Our Roots In Bermuda

For the first time since we’ve been married, Ariel and I were free for the entire week of our anniversary. It’s been a long time since we were able to really get away on our own. For years we’ve been talking about going to Bermuda, but each time we were going to go we ended up choosing somewhere less expensive. However, since we had Jacob, our time away is limited by our ability to get a set of grandparents to babysit. So, this was the perfect time to splurge on three nights on an island paradise, that’s only about a 90 minute flight away, that offers just a bit more adventure than a typical Caribbean resort experience.

Horseshoe Bay in Bermuda.

So we packed up our cute little guy at his grandparents, dropped Sammy off at his dog daycare/hotel and got ourselves lost in the middle of the Atlantic.

Bermuda is actually an excellent destination for people who want the ability to just relax on beautiful beaches, and do typical resort activities like snorkeling or taking a boat ride – but also want the ability to explore ruins and 400+ year old forts. Bermuda has a rich history as a way-station for ships traversing the Atlantic between Europe and the New World. It was also a haven for pirates and privateers. In fact, with no true indigenous population, it’s a country literally founded by adventurers.

As such, there is a really interesting culture. At first it’s not so noticeable, since a lot of the popular music is reggae, and the food is similar to fare you get in the Caribbean. But hang around here long enough, learn about the mysterious Sargasso Sea (the only named sea in the world not adjacent to a major landmass), visit the the forts and the pink (ish) sand beaches, check out one of the literally hundreds of shipwrecks and see the beautiful reefs responsible for so many of those wrecks, and it becomes clear that this place is really far from the Caribbean both geographically and spiritually.

Liran walks through a moongate in Bermuda.
Through the Moongate in Bermuda.

The draw of all this intriguing stuff was just too much to ignore. So we ended up spending most of our time off of the resort.

On our first full day on the island we booked ourselves a snorkeling trip with Captain Mark. This was not your typical relaxing snorkel trip in the water in front of your hotel. Five miles off the coast of Bermuda, is a veritable canyon system of reefs and corals. Navigating it seems insane.

The Blue Hole off the coast of Bermuda.
The water off the coast of Bermuda is not what you’d expect in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

With the ocean floor about 50 feet below us (but with corals extending up just beneath our toes) we hopped off the boat into some COLD Atlantic water. Water temperatures there at this time of year are still around 70 degrees or so and the shock of it actually freaked me out a bit at first. Within a couple of minutes though, I adjusted and spent about an hour swimming among groupers and parrotfish right above and between incredible (and huge) coral formations. We then shifted over closer to the island and swam along a shipwreck. Overall a great experience.

The HMS Vixen was intentionally sunk off the coast of Bermuda...because it was a terrible ship apparently. Now, in it's most productive form, it's a reef.
The HMS Vixen. Once a poorly designed ship. Now, in its most effective form, a manmade coral reef.

One other thing to keep in mind before going on a snorkel trip in the middle of the ocean is that being out there means you are going to be contending with ocean swells and some whitecaps that are going to send seawater down your snorkel. Also expect to fight the current to get to where you’re going – there was a huge difference being five miles out in the “blue hole” VS when we were at the shipwreck that was right off the coast where I suddenly felt like a dolphin just zooming around without a current dragging me away from where I wanted to go.

After getting back to the hotel and defrosting in the hot tub, we spent some time chilling out at our room. I finally finished the Silmarillion, completing my journey through Tolkien books that I started way back when we left for New Zealand.

On the actual day of our anniversary, we threw out any semblance of relaxation attempts and hit the road in a tiny electric car. This was without a doubt the worst “car” I’ve ever driven, but I’ll try and get into that in another post.

We drove pretty much the entire length of the country, stopping at Horseshoe Bay, Elbow Beach and the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse before noon.

Elbow Beach in Bermuda.
Celebrating our anniversary on Elbow Beach (which is way less crowded than Horseshoe Bay).

Then we headed over to try out the “fish sandwich” that Bermuda is known for, at Art Mel’s Spicy Dicy. A giant heaping chunk of fried grouper served on raisin bread with cole slaw and tarter sauce, it’s kind of hard to describe why this thing is so good, but man it is one tasty sandwich. Pro tip – split one sandwich if you’re two people. Second pro tip – do NOT go there between 12 and 1 pm if you can avoid it. We waited about 45 minutes for our sandwich to be ready.

From there it was time to recharge the car for the remainder of our journey, so we left it in Hamilton and walked over to the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute to check out the Bermuda Triangle exhibit.

Ok look – it’s pretty clear that there’s no magic or supernatural event taking place in the Bermuda Triangle – and to be fair to them, they just tell you the crazy theories people have and then why they’re all wrong. But there is definitely SOMETHING in the air (water?) around Bermuda. Maybe I swallowed too much Sargassum seaweed, but you can’t help but get a little caught up in all the zany things that have taken place in and around this island.

From Hamilton we took our car (which after 2 hours STILL wasn’t fully charged) up to the end of the island to check out the oldest stone fort in the Western Hemisphere, which by the time we got there was………closed.

We then drove to the town of St. George to have some iced coffee and check out the historic downtown. Then it was back to the hotel for sunset and Shabbat (after having another miraculous experience finding kosher wine – and bread!) and our anniversary dinner.

This morning we drove up to the Royal Dockyard for some more history and sightseeing. Luckily the cruise ships were all gone and we had a free run of the “The Keep” at the edge of the island. We spent some time at the Bermuda National Museum learning more about privateers (seriously, legalized pirate has to be the coolest job in the history of this planet) and the the history of Bermuda.

We then spent some time exploring the actual old buildings including some big gun embankments, a dungeon-ish area, and some really pretty cactus plants growing on the edge of the ocean.

A dungeon area at the Royal Naval Dockyard in Bermuda.
Exploring “The Keep” at the Royal Naval Dockyard.

After another outstanding (but different!) fish sandwich from Woody’s Restaurant, it was back to the hotel to pack and head to the airport for our (very delayed) flight home. At least the guy who runs the Graycliff Lounge did us the solid of keeping the place open for an extra 90 minutes so I could work on this post.

In short – this was a really a classic – if short – throwback adventure for Ariel and I. We’ve gone places since Jacob was born (both with and without him!) for sure, but this was the first time it was like old times again. Just me and my favorite travel partner exploring the world, going off the beaten path, dealing with the travails that always seem to find us even when we don’t want to be found, seeing amazing new things that seem to just be there for us. Soon we’ll be on another trip, this time with Jacob, but sometimes it’s nice to just have an adventure for the two of us.

Ariel and I on our anniversary doing what we love best.
Peering off the edge of the world in Bermuda.

I can’t imagine a better way to have spent our fourth wedding anniversary.

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