With travel, as with most things in life, planning is important, but be prepared to change your plans as circumstances warrant. Flexibility is essential and serendipity can be its reward.
The idea for a trip to Bermuda was conceived 15 months ago in a pub in lower Manhattan, when six friends were discussing their past travels and favorite vacation sites. Someone mentioned Bermuda and Bernadette stated that she had never been there. Colin, Cathie, Bob, Betty and I had each been there on more than one occasion, with Cathie having been there innumerable times.
Bernadette is probably the most organized person I know. In a moment of pure genius she suggested that if we were serious about this, each couple should kick in $200 per month to build a kitty to cover, lodging, meals, drinks, taxis, etc., and that she would volunteer as treasurer and open a bank account to hold the money. This seemed like a painless way to plan for a trip and also would signify our commitment to the idea.
The Bermuda veterans all agreed that the month of May would be the best time for a visit, and if we started contributing right then, we would have between $8,400 and $9,000 for our land costs. It was also agreed that each couple would handle their own flight arrangements.
Time inexorably moved forward, the checks were mailed, the kitty grew and in January of this year we begin to plan in detail…pick the dates, book the flights and focus in on where to stay and what to do. Cathie, the most-seasoned Bermuda traveler, volunteered to research where to stay and where to eat, while Betty volunteered to research the pubs.
Day One arrived. Betty and my part of the trip started out from Boston’s Logan airport in the middle of a tremendous rain storm. Weather reports for Bermuda ranged from sunny, to cloudy, to rain. Such is life! But when we arrived on the island, a mere two hours later, the sun was shining and reflecting off of the ubiquitous white roofs, the ocean was cerulean reflecting the sky and a light breeze was blowing billowing white clouds overhead. It was picture perfect! Bob and Cathie, having arrived from New York 30 minutes earlier, greeted us as if they were native Bermudians and the adventure began.
Cathie’s hotel selection was outstanding; The Royal Palms exceeded our expectations. The website pictures had not lied, and the staff members were friendly, courteous and would prove to be most helpful, as weather-related circumstances would dictate a change in plans on more than one occasion.
While awaiting the arrival of Bernadette and Colin, who were expected a few hours later, we decided on lunch at Ascots, a fine restaurant attached to the hotel. Dani, our charming hostess, brought us a round of Dark & Stormys to kick off the alcohol fueling for the day.
Being surrounded by hundreds of miles of the Atlantic, fish was a natural choice and the Bermuda Fish Chowder, laced with Gosling’s Bermuda Black Rum and Outerbridge’s Sherry Peppers Sauce did not disappoint. Neither did the Grilled Spicy Snapper sandwich, nor the rum raisin ice cream, nor the second round of Dark & Stormys.
That evening, after Colin and Bernadette had arrived, it was time to begin spending our cache. Our esteemed treasurer was equipped with credit cards and cash, so off we went to our first pub, The Robin Hood. Next, looking forward to some fine English fare we set off for the Hog Penny. Once upon a time in New York City, English pubs and their fare were quite common, my first introduction to which was in the late 60’s at The Jolly Sixpence, which today, unfortunately, is but a happy memory.
Liquid refreshments at the Hog Penny Pub consisted of several pints of Boddington’s (Watney’s, which used to be a standby there 40 years ago, was nowhere in sight). My victual of choice was Steak & Kidney Pie, a difficult decision, as my inner Brit also called out for the Bangers & Mash and the Fish & Chips. The Steak & Kidney Pie was delicious and the others, which were ordered by members of our group, also received rave reviews.
The service was outstanding as well, and our waiter, Morgan, was most helpful in providing me with a quick & easy recipe for Yorkshire Pudding, as I was trying to copy it down from the menu. But that will have to wait for a winter Sunday afternoon, when cooking a Prime Rib. Nightcaps, accompanied by live music, were enjoyed at Flanagan’s before we headed back to the hotel and crashed for the night.