Vroom, vrooom ... My "Easy Rider" moped moment in beautiful Bermuda
BERMUDA - I think I’m ready for a Harley.
I got on my first moped in at least 22 years on the weekend. And had a blast.
Yeah, I was pretty tentative at first; hugging the (left) side of the road and cruising at a whopping 20 km/hour for the first five or six minutes. Pretty soon I had cranked that throbbing piece of machinery up to 30 kph and then, hold tight everyone, 35. By the time the day was half-over I was wondering why the damned thing wouldn’t go more than 45 kph downhill.
Yes, the roads are narrow. Yes, folks drive on the left. But if you can keep your balance on a bike and navigate Yonge St. or College St. in Toronto in rush hour, Bermuda is a piece of rum cake.
They’re USED to mopeds around here, partly because there are gazillions of them due to the government regulation of no more than one car per family. So folks are mostly quite patient when they see a moped or a motorcycle ahead of them on the road; doubly so when the dead giveaway white helmet is spotted around the bend. Just stay left, pull into the frequent bus stops or driveways to let folks pass, and you’ll do just fine.
I started my trip at the Fairmont Southampton and first opted to check out a few of the beaches I’d heard so much about on the south shore. In a word? Stunning.
I was lucky – and unlucky – to be on island during a stormy time. It made for lousy snorkeling, but pretty good bodysurfing/swimming and fabulous wave-watching on the south, more exposed part of the island.
It’s absolutely stunning for miles on end but especially at Warwick Long Bay and Jobson’s Cove and down at Horseshoe Bay, near the Fairmont. The waves were tremendous, crashing hard upon the black rocks and send showers of white water towering into the sky. There are beautiful coves galore if you get out and hike a bit, with private beaches that feel like the end of the world.
It looked to be beach clean-up day as there were tons of people out with trash bags, picking up litter. Shame on anyone who would despoil this beautiful coastline, I say!
Just west of the Fairmont is Gibbs Hill Lighthouse, with roughly
181 steps to the top. The views are glorious; all the way to St. George’s in the east
and up to the cruise ships at the Dockyard in the west/north. You can see for
miles and miles, with deep green forests and (diminishing, I think) pasture land
and the island’s famous, multi-coloured houses and that impossibly beautiful
ocean. See photo below left, looking to the west and north.
While the southside waters were roiling, the water in the sound – the huge, protected area on the north side of the Fairmont – was as calm as a backdoor swimming pool. Boats bobbed in a beautiful morning breeze, as if the stormy seas to the south were another planet away and not a half kilometre.
I checked out Fort Scaur, one of a half million (okay, a slight exaggeration) fortifications on this strategic island. It’s not as dramatic as the Dockyards or Fort St. Catherine, but it’s fun and pretty and must be a great place for local kids to play cowboys and Indians, or, in this case, British and Americans.
I also checked out some stilt houses in Somerset and watched the birds fly about and generally just had a blast zipping around corners and through residential areas on the bike.
Everyone I talked to raved about the Dockyards, but I found it rather underwhelming. The shops didn’t interest me and I didn’t feel like ducking into a museum on a fine day. Maybe if the cruise ships had been in it would’ve seemed lively, but the whole place struck me as empty and kind of sad. A ferry boat to Hamilton was leaving shortly so I sat down for some fish chowder (it came with sherry pepper sauce and also a jar of black rum you can spoon into your chowder) and decent calamari.
Of course, it rained most of the 20 minutes I was on the ferry. I took two ferry rides while on the island and it rained both times. So much for the great photos, I guess.
Dodging the rain drops, I checked out the Botanical Gardens, where a crazy guy started yelling at me for my skin colour, and wandered around the floral displays and towering palms and ficus trees. I had hoped to make it up to Tucker’s Point, but I got caught in another deluge and had to park my moped and myself in a covered bus shelter for a half hour to wait it out.
The rest of the day was glorious and sunny, so no harm done. The ride back to the Fairmont was glorious; sunny beaches and rocky coasts and cute shops and more brightly-painted blue, green, pink and yellow homes and forest-covered roads and the damp, sweet smell of flowers and rich soil after a rain.
And then came dinner at the Waterlot Inn down on the wharf at the Fairmont. Wow. I had a three-steak tasting menu, with fabulous USDA prime, a tender filet and a wagyu beef. Each was only two or three ounces and it costs $60 but it was utterly delicious; the best steaks I’ve ever had. You could just say the word “knife” and they cut themselves, they were so tender.
A fabulous wine list, tremendous service, a beautiful set of rooms in an old house and, for dessert, sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream that was four thousand degrees beyond decadent.
About as great a day on the road as I can remember in a long time.