Round the Island in a Day

Trip Start Apr 11, 2008
Trip End Apr 15, 2008

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Sunday, April 13, 2008

As I open my eyes to take in the bright morning sun, I wonder how many different bird songs I'm hearing outside the cabana. Michael comments that the birds seem to be singing "koo-koo-roo" and "chick-fil-a." Listen to the sounds on the video to find out for yourself. Between the singing of the birds and the light swoosh of the water on the beach below, there's no doubt that we're in paradise. Even after last night's big meal, the Globetrotters know we must start the day with a healthy breakfast, so over to the Hi Tide Restaurant we go. Bacon, sausage, waffles, muffins, croissants, oatmeal, cold cereal and fresh fruit are on the menu, along with chilled orange and grape juice, coffee and tea. A great start to the day. Over breakfast, we decide to rent a scooter for the day and explore as much of the island as we can. But first, we have to explore 9 Beaches. 
Walking the grounds we discover Dark 'n' Stormy's Beach Bar and Grill, the tennis courts and a special events tent. We tiptoe around several of the cabanas on the sunset side and determine that #59 is the prime spot to experience the best sunset from a cabana. Next time we come back to 9 Beaches, we will definitely request #59. We happen upon several of the secluded beaches-Windward Beach, Flip Flop Cove, Barefoot Beach and Venture Bay-in addition to some of the beautiful native plants and flowers.
A quick call from our cell phone to the front desk to let them know we're interested in renting a scooter for the day, and before we know it, Sajith Poovadan (S.P. for short), the driver from Oleander's Cycles, arrives at our cabana to take us to the rental area just 10 minutes away. Oleander's charges $55 per day (24 hours) for a deluxe (2-person) scooter, plus a $30 non-refundable fee for driver's insurance. The scooter comes with a full tank of gas and we don't have to return it full. Good deal, because gas is $8/gallon here!
Since Michael will be the primary driver, he takes the prerequisite test drive and we both listen to S.P.'s instructions and warnings. I'm a bit apprehensive about this scooter thing after S.P. tells us that a vacationing American recently was killed driving her scooter. Apparently, she got confused and found herself on the wrong side of the road (they drive on the left side of the highway here), and collided with another vehicle to meet her demise. Why did he have to tell us that story? Okay, fair warning.
Michael has driven a scooter before, but it's been years, and the refresher course is a welcome reminder for him. It's also a good thing for me to see him navigate the course, because if this man can't make it around these curves, he can forget about me sitting my precious behind on that scooter. Okay, looks like he's getting the hang of it. I climb aboard so Michael can ride around the test track a few more times to get a feel of the cycle with both our weight. It seems that balance and driving a sensible speed (35 km/hr is the posted limit in most areas) are the keys to safety here, but as in America, everyone drives faster than the speed limit.
S.P. gives us a few more warnings before we drive off: 1) drive the speed limit; people will go around you if you're going too slow for their taste; 2) don't take it personally if someone toots their horn; they could be simply saying hello to a friend; 3) go easy on the curves; some can be dangerous; 4) don't worry about the cars behind you; keep your eyes on the road ahead of you; 5) the passenger should lean along with the driver when taking curves (I'm thinking ... when you move I move, just like that!)
Okay, I think we've got it. We go inside and meet Walter, the man in charge, who has us sign the necessary papers. "Have fun, and think LEFT!" he says with a chuckle. He's laughing, but that's probably the best thing he could say to us as we hit the road. And wouldn't you know it, as we pull off, Michael starts driving on the right side of the exit. Wrong, wrong, wrong! He immediately realizes his error, and to fake it, he pulls to the side and pretends he just needs to look over the map one last time. God, I hope Walter and S.P. didn't see that! We review our map and chart the course to St. George's Parish. We're told the drive should take about an hour and a half. It's a beautiful day for a drive. Down Middle Road to South Road, past Smith's Parish, across the Long Bird Bridge, past the airport and into St. George's Parish. We make it in one hour, 15 minutes. Not bad.
We venture to Gate's Fort Park, a historic site, then continue past Fort St. Catherine, through what we later discover was previously a Club Med resort, and back into the town of St. George. So what's to do in this town? Looks like the museum is closed today, for some reason. As fate would have it, we pass another location for Oleander Cycles and meet the manager, Wayne Fox, who suggests we park in his lot. "Membership has its privileges," he says. Wayne shares some interesting tidbits about Bermuda. One in particular is that Bermuda is the third riches country in the world. Who knew? As with most places, it is the people who make a place special. One of these special people is a fellow named Johnny Barnes, who stands on a corner in Hamilton every day and waves to passersby while yelling, "I love you" to them all. How special is that.
Wayne tells us that St. George is pretty dead this time of year. The high season is about a month away, so there's really not much to do now. He suggests we go to his favorite restaurant for lunch and then visit some of the shops. We do just that, then head back to bid farewell to Wayne. 

On to the City of Hamilton, the capital of Bermuda. Much more metropolitan than St. George's, Hamilton is the hub of business and industry here, and looks much like any downtown area of a major U.S. city. A quick drive thru and we're on North Shore Road headed back to the West End of the island. By now, Michael is rolling through the roads like a pro, and my butt is pretty sore from sitting on this scooter seat all day and I'm ready to get off.
Back at 9 Beaches, we freshen up then head to the front desk to get directions to Salt Rock Grill, a place Herman our shuttle van driver recommended to us. It's in the village of Somerset not far from here, and is known for great sushi and a great band, which features Herman's brother. Sonia is at the front desk this evening, and she gives us lots of information about the resort and some of her favorite island cuisine.
She tells us that her favorite cabanas on the grounds are #12 and #15. "Let me check to see if either of those is available," she says. Michael and I both look at each other wondering what she's getting at. She then tells us that if she can arrange it, she will try to get us upgraded from cabana #18 in Coco Coral to cabana #15 in Top Banana (these names designate the locations around the resort). We tell her that we would gladly take the upgrade if she's able to make it happen.
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