As many rock dwellers know, there are quite a few things/pastimes/everyday conveniences that we generally have at our fingertips when living on a ‘mainland’ country (US, UK, Europe, the world over) that we simply do not have here on our wee little islands, and I don’t just mean a change of seasons (although in Bermuda I’d say it’s summer or our own version of damp winter), excellent Internet connection and going to a diner or restaurant at 2am to either ‘sober up’ or have late night or early morning conversations.
I remember way back in the day of my teenage years when going to the mall was the cool thing to do- look around, hang out, meet boys & mingle. Some of us (myself included) worked in them when we were poor college students some years later and it became dreadful. Here in Bermuda, we don’t have one mall; well- their version of a mall is a starter kit of one. Personally, while I’m sure I reveled in hanging out when I was young and ruthless, malls have never been my thing, nor has shopping in general. Cue the exasperated gasps from women worldwide and cheers from their significant others! When it comes to birthday or holiday gifts I grab it when I see it. Otherwise shopping is too much a chore.
I will say, the deals one can get in a mall, especially an outlet are wonderful and astounding. If I take a quick hop to the east coast I actually get excited about going to one; my mates there, including my own mother, laugh at me in shock. (Really- a mall, what’s to be so excited about such a crowded, loud place with sometimes obnoxious people trampling each other?!) But after a gentle reminder that we lack this, they appreciate my giddiness. Every year during and after America’s Black Friday, Bermuda people take a long weekend to shop and prepare to pay that hefty duty price at customs and immigration upon the return! The airport officials are so used to it by now. They should have a bottle of our famous black rum as a gift for our tax dollars going to work.
Initially I kind of sort of missed the convenience of so many choices in one building, but now, nah. Our shops in our main town are mainly local and quaint and oh so unique. We like to suppport. The prices are – as expected – high; but if one takes the time to look we can find such unique gifts ideas. This explains again the need to escape for bargain shopping on the east coast (Hello, New Jersey outlets).
Late Night Anything
There is also no such thing as late night shopping or a quick run to the store if you need to pick up a gift after work or desperately need tampons, condoms or Tylenol (actually, the gas stations do cover that)…All stores close at 6pm, only recently Di grocery stores stay open late and on Sundays. So clever planning needs to be arranged. No big deal. However when it’s holiday time or some kind of special night in town 2 times a year, stores will stay open until a whopping 9pm, oh so exciting! Still plenty more to be chuffed about in my world though!
Access to Designer Brands/Stores
Speaking of shops, we don’t have any of the brand name or designer stores. We also don’t have any chain stores, chain restaurants or brand name hotels. So no more splurging on a good sale at Target, Nordstroms or Bloomingdales or the sheer thrill of sniffing around a Louis Vuitton or Chanel store (feeling their fabrics whilst knowing I couldn’t afford it and wanting to save myself from a Julia Roberts moment in Pretty Woman).
The convenience of TGIFridays not being anywhere when you’re undecided of reasonable places to eat at the last minute, or fast food in a worst case scenario, was something to get used to, but didn’t take long. I’ve never personally cared for fast food or their grossly unhealthy fare, so I don’t make a beeline for it when I come within kilometres of a McDonald’s. Once in a great while, I do miss patronising a good old diner at 2 am to indulge in cheese fries, coffee, good late night conversation and to sober up if a necessity. But I am sure to thoroughly enjoy each diner trip nowadays. It does feel a bit strange being (possibly) the only place on the good green earth without a Starbucks; nothing like spending a good afternoon with a tall macchiato or frappucino with the paper, my laptop doing work and people watching. But we do have our cute and artsy coffee shops here and they’re just as cosy and unique, with a slightly prettier island view:)
Hotel Options for Staycations
Since I work in the hotel world, and have for some time, I’m generally picky of where I might stay when I travel. I have a wide range of preference services but Marriott, the Ritz and Hilton are some of my favourites. Bermuda’s most famous are 2 Fairmont properties, and the rest-ranging from huge to small cottage colonies-are just as quaint and beautiful. We ‘insiders’ know a lot of the secrets.
Fast and Speedy Internet
Yea, that’s a splurge; the slightest gust of wind or wave action will knock out a conversation or even the time between you click the ‘pay bill’ or ‘purchase plane ticket’ after giving your credit card information. Happened many times before. So there’s never a need to spend the extra 75 plus dollars on a high speed. I’ll happily save that for my next trip, and hey, too much time on the screens does the mind and eyes in. Why stress over crappy Internet service when we have beaches a stones throw away?
is illegal here. There has been much hot debate over the years of legalising gambling over the years, in an attempt to help our tourism and economy, but it might be too risky. I used to live a couple hours from a town to do that, but losing too much money, one’s dignity & gaining a hell of an addiction problem is never worth it, so I hope we veer away from the plan. But who knows.
Long Road Trips
Ah, the nice long cruise down the motorway, feeling the fresh air, tacky billboards along the way (they are also illegal here), music jamming, a filthy motel stop if needed, and good long chats- those were the days. I miss them in a sense of getting away; and the freedom of a spontaneous weekend getaway, sure. But now I don’t think I have much patience for a long car ride. Going from one end of the island to the other is a trip in itself; mind you the scenery is lovely as well as the convenience of being able to take my Vespa on the ferry to get to one side. But this is why many of us islanders take long and short vacations anywhere and everywhere. NY, Boston and Miami, Toronto and London are quick and fun trips while anywhere else obviously takes a few stops in between. We love to acquire our ‘global mileage’ & see the world; sometimes too many hours in a car wouldn’t cut it enough if we had that ability. I will say, there’s nothing like a train ride however, a lovely past time.
Many loved ones worldwide wonder how on earth I survive without these sheer conveniences but one thing Bermuda loves, thrives on and makes it simply unique is setting itself apart from the rest. And it should stay that way. Hey, we are in the middle of the Atlantic, miles away from the Caribbean and basically anywhere else (I think we have our own time zone! ) Therefore, doing without all the other ‘stuff’ makes sense.