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Me diving

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Bermuda 2018

Rob and I visited Bermuda for a week this spring for a work event (it's a tough life).  It was an ideal work event in that there were evening events for like 3 nights, and other than that, we pretty much did our own thing.  Since we were going to be there, we decided to bring dive gear and do a few days of diving.  It was definitely worth going diving since we were there, but I don't think I'd recommend it as a diving destination by itself.  Still, it was a fun place to visit!  More details in the following posts:

Getting Around & Non-Diving Things To Do
Places to Eat

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Bermuda: Places to Eat

Drinks at Henry VIII
We spent a fair amount of time wondering where to eat when we were in Bermuda, so I thought I'd do a quick brain dump on the restaurants that we ended up going to. We were staying at the Fairmont, so most of these are reasonably close to there (Southampton and nearby).

Henry VIII - we went here twice, once for dinner with friends and once as part of an event (which we were double booked for, so just had drinks). They have sushi (in addition to the regular menu) which seems odd, but Rob and Ivan got sushi and liked it. I had steamed clams which were tasty. Decent reasonably casual restaurant with good drinks.

Boundary (sports bar at the Fairmont) - we ate here twice as well, the first night when we arrived because it was the only/easiest place open at that hour. And the second time after a cocktails and hors d'oeuvres event that wasn't quite enough for dinner. Good casual place to eat, have drinks, and hang out (we played board games the second time we were there). I really liked the cornbread :)

Generosa's -- went here for lunch one day. We were a bit confused if it was a food truck or restaurant based on the internet info about it. It's a food truck that is semi-permanently located outside of a mini golf place, which has a seating area. Good place for lunch. We scootered there but Shannon and Ivan took the bus, which they said was convenient.

Paraquet -- diner type place with all day breakfast and other stuff (sandwiches, burgers).  Very short scooter ride from the hotel. The perfect post-dive kind of food in my book (kind of like Del Monte Cafe). My only complaint is that my omelette didn't have cheese in it. User error I'm sure, but still... that's just wrong!

D&C Grill. This was a very local place that I was a bit skeptical about when Rob proposed it :). We got jerk chicken and goat curry to share. OMG, the goat curry was awesome!!

View at the Ocean Club
Ocean Club. We went here one night because we figured we should go somewhere fancy at least one night. We could only get an early table (6, I think) which worked out well in terms of the view and sunset. In fact I'm glad we couldn't get a time we wanted because we would have ended up with most of dinner in the dark, with no view. Everything was good but this is (not surprisingly) a place to go for the view/ambiance.

Harbourfront Restaurant. Went here for a team event one night. We were seated outside on the patio. Had a nice view of all of the boats on mooring balls, which was fun. We got an enormous plate (plates, really) of sushi to start, which was fantastic.  Maybe more fantastic than the entrees (though someone got risotto, which was a hit). Overall it was a great spot for this kind of event and the food was yummy.

Drinks at the Dock (without me!)
The Dock at the Waterlot. This is one place that I wanted to go for a drink, because it looked nice (we saw it when we took the ferry from this dock into Hamilton). We never ended up having time on the nights it is open (which is Thursday through Sunday or something like that). But Rob ended up being diverted to Europe "on the way" home so he stayed an extra night in Bermuda, and managed to go. He said it was good and sent me a picture that made me super jealous! He claimed he was terribly bored being there without me (what a sweet-talker).

Ice cream shoppes

I usually try to eat ice cream everyday on vacation (when in places where there are ice cream shoppes, like Tulum). I didn't quite succeed there on this trip, but we did have ice cream from three different shoppes, all quite good:

  • Alex & Pete's Artisan Ice Cream (at the royal dock yard). We scooted up here one day (discussed elsewhere) and stopped for ice cream cones while we wondered around.  
  • Scoops. This was near the hotel and seemed like the closest thing to a local ice cream place. There's a little outdoor seating area next to it. 
  • Bailey's Bay Ice Cream.  This is right next to the caves. This place had outrageously many flavors to choose from, which was awesome.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Bermuda: Getting Around & Non-Diving Things To Do

I put these two topics together because we got a scooter to get around, and I think that scootering around the island is a thing to do on its own. It was pretty fun, though sort of terrifying. We shared a scooter and Rob drove. I went through my usual stages of exciting activities. Stage 1 Terror. Stage 2 still terrified but I can see how someone might find this fun. Stage 3 sort of having fun. I think riding on the back of a scooter with Rob was some kind of marital trust exercise. But I was more confident in his ability to not kill us than my own. We drove all over the island for several days and I don't think anything too scary happened.

Owl, right up in our faces
 Other than the scooter, our friends Shannon and Ivan used the bus to get around (it runs the length of the island and costs $5 I think) and they found that quite convenient. We also took the free (to hotel guests at least) ferry to Hamilton on day. It was a fun ride but certainly not the most efficient way to get to Hamilton. Hamilton itself was not too exciting, but probably worth visiting at least once.

We did a few noteworthy activities other than diving.

Crystal caves
  • Scootering around the island. Man we went everywhere, even more than we intended. We quite frequently missed turns and had to pull over to check google maps. :). One day we scootered up to the Royal Naval Dockyard. Another day we went down to Harrington Sound. Etc. 
  • Aquarium/zoo/museum. We sort of happened upon this on our first day scootering the island. For one price you get admission to all three. So we checked out the aquarium (quite small) and zoo (impressive for a small island). The zoo had sections for different areas of the world and had some outdoor exhibits where you walk on a path through an area with the animals and they are out in the open with you. Pretty neat. There were some really weird animals I've never seem before, like the cat-bear
  • Crystal caves. There are two caves located in the same area, which you can visit as part of a tour. We toured both. For one of the caves, it was just us and the tour guide. For the other, there was one other person. So we got to wander around at our own pace. I have never seen caves like this above water, so this was pretty cool. 
  • Rob demonstrates proper boat handling
  • Boating. On two days, we rented a whaler and drove around the island. This was definitely one of the most fun things we did. We fed fish at the shipwreck sticking out of the water, landed on some abandoned beaches and hung out there, and checked out quite a bit of the coast.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Bermuda: Diving

We were staying at the Fairmont, so we did our diving with Dive Bermuda, which is located at the resort, but conveniently also gets excellent reviews on TripAdvisor.  We were originally supposed to dive the first three days that we were there (Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday), but Sunday's boat was cancelled due to weather.  We walked down to the dive shop (which is on the beach) and despite Rob's whining to the contrary, I think cancelling the boat was definitely reasonable.  It was insanely windy; it was unpleasant to just stand on the beach, so I don't think we'd want to be on a boat in that weather.  We ended up diving on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday instead.

Each day, we did two dives with the first dive on a wreck and the second dive on the reef.  The sites were roughly 5 to 15 minutes from the dive shop, and we generally returned to the shop between dives, either to drop off or pickup divers (the second dives were shallow enough for discover scuba or open water class dives).  The boat is anchored right off of the beach, and after getting into our wetsuits, we waded/swam out to board the boat.  Our gear and anything we didn't want to swim out was sent over on a kayak.  The boat was nice and spacious, and well laid out (random fact: it's the same kind and size of boat as the old Monterey Express), and all of the crew that we dealt with from the shop or boat were helpful and competent.

The water was quite chilly while we were there.  I brought a brand new 5mm wetsuit, and decided while packing that since my suit was brand new, I didn't need to pack my vest.  That was a big mistake :)  The water temps were in the low 70s, which made for a chilly second dive everyday.  On the first day, when it was overcast and chilly on the surface, it made for a borderline too uncomfortable to dive second dive.  Apparently the water temps increase quite a bit in May, so if we'd come a few weeks later, it probably would have been a lot more comfortable.  Anyway, we sucked it up and managed to do all of the dives, but if we were not visiting Bermuda for a work event with fixed dates, I would definitely go a month or two later.

Their staff to diver ratio was really impressive too.  Our guide for all of our dives was Kwe, who was great (and who we shared with between zero and two other divers throughout the trip).  Once he decided we knew what we were doing, he pretty much let us do what we wanted, even if it wasn't exactly in sync with the dive briefing of what we were supposed to do :)  He also took us through some pretty cool swimthroughs on one dive, and was helpful at giving Rob suggestions for what to photograph, and setting things up so Rob could get some nice silt-free shots of the best parts of the wrecks before the rest of the divers showed up.

Overall the diving was better than I'd expected.  The reefs were covered with invertebrates like sea fans and gorgonians that were in great shape, but there wasn't a lot of variety.  So as you looked along the reef, the life was lush, but it was the same couple of tannish-pink gorgonians and purple sea fans over and over again.  There were also very few fish.  The guides blamed this on lionfish, and several of them (including Kwe) carried spearguns to spear any lionfish that we found.  He speared a few throughout the week.  The wrecks that we visited (whose names I don't recall) were in varying states of collapse.  On the first day we visited one that was really just bits of wreck; on the second day, we visited a totally intact wreck (which I believe was sunk intentionally); and the last day, we visited a wreck that was broken in two, but had two really cool paddle wheels that were intact, one which was laying on the bottom and one which was standing up.  That last one was my favorite wreck.

The reefs that we visited were basically just different spots along the barrier reef running along the south side of the island.  A couple of the sites had swimthroughs running through the reef, and one had some really neat, long swimthroughs.  That was relatively amusing.

All in all, we had a good time and it was definitely worth bringing our dive gear since we were visiting Bermuda anyway.  And if you are there, I'd recommend Dive Bermuda (which has a second shop on the other side of the island too).  But I don't think I'd recommend Bermuda as a standalone dive destination.