Guest Author - Ann Carroll Burgess
The islands of Bermuda, Britainís oldest colony and home to the ever present knee-length Bermuda shorts, lies about 650 miles east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, in the Atlantic Ocean. A favourite spot for honeymooners and bridge players this intriguing island group will steal our heart away.
Warmed by the Gulf Stream and protected by the worldís most northerly coral reef, this group of 150 islands has an almost year round pleasant climate.
Discovered by Spanish explorer Juan Bermudez in 1503, but never colonized until early in the 17th century by the British, this popular destination retains a delightfully British flair complete with pubs, cricket pitches and well-tended gardens.
Hamilton is the capital and main city for shopping. It is also the hub of the islandís historical and cultural attractions. Begin your exploration of the city with a visit to the 19th century Bermuda Cathedral on, appropriately named, Church Street; from there you can proceed to the Bermuda National Gallery, housed in the modern City Hall, to view a collection of 15th to 19th century oil paintings and water colors.
You wonít find any lack of amusements and attractions on these islands. From historical to natural, cultural to contemporary, Bermuda has enough to keep a visitor busy for weeks.
If you happen to be visiting while Parliament is in session, drop in to catch a glimpse of the second oldest parliament in the world.
East of the city centre, Fort Hamilton, complete with moat, affords a panoramic view of the town and Harbour. On most weekends the Bermuda Island Pipe Band performs a skirling ceremony, complete with kilts, drums, dancers and bagpipes.
The Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo provide insights into the subtropical marine world. Youíll find an amazing collection of brilliantly colored sea creatures from tiny fish and seahorses to the hefty-size Galapagos turtles. The Natural History Museum offers scientific insight and the Zoological Garden is filled with a dazzling, and screeching, collection of tropical birds and animals.
The official residence of Bermudaís premier is Camden and the gardens, open to the public, would be a shame to miss. There are subtropical fruit trees, rare Bermuda cedars, banyan trees, an orchid house and an aviary.
The last thing you might expect to find on an island is subterranean caves, but Crystal Caves is an example of nature at its most bizarre. Filled with stalactites and stalagmites, you enter an eerie underground landscape complete with saltwater lagoons and ponds. Pontoon bridges connect the ponds, which can reach depths of up to 55 feet. However, the water is so crystal clear you would think the bottom was mere inches away.
Stop by Fort St. Catherine, on the northeastern tip of the island, where the survivors of Sir George Somersí shipwreck was supposedly first set foot on Bermuda. The fort has been refortified numerous times in order to repel an invasion, but fortunately, this has never come to pass. Inside the fort there are excellent displays of the islandís military history, a recreated cook house and replicas of the British Crown Jewels.
And you thought you might be spending your time playing bridge or riding on a scooter! Come and discover why Bermuda is much more than you think.