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What comes to your mind when you hear the word Bermuda? You probably think of the Bermuda Triangle, or maybe even Bermuda shorts. While both have their place, Bermuda really stands for picturesque towns, lovely weather year round, and the ultimate tourist destination of the very well to do. Most people also think that Bermuda is a beautiful island paradise in the Caribbean, but this is, in fact, a common misconception. Bermuda is actually in the western Atlantic Ocean, about 650 miles off the coast of North Carolina, and under 800 miles away from New York City!
 
Bermuda was uninhabited until 1609. Juan de Bermudez was the first explorer to discover the island chain and, as a result, it bears his name. Most early Spanish explorers avoided the islands, calling them the "Islands of the Devils." But an English ship ran aground here and discovered that Bermuda was heaven, not hell. Today, Bermuda consists of nine parishes, with Hamilton, fairly centrally located, amongst the nine. Visitors to Bermuda often feel that Bermuda has a quaint English feel to it. And for good reason, since the island is a British dependent, although it does have self-government. Officially, Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state here.
 
Hamilton is the capital city of Bermuda. It was named after Henry Hamilton, the governor of Bermuda from 1788 to 1794. Hamilton was actually Scottish, and could trace his ancestry back to Mary, Queen of Scots. Hamilton is on the eastern end of Great Bermuda Island. It is home to some of Bermuda's wealthiest residents, and the wealthy really know how to play! Gorgeous golf courses, exquisite dining, and breathtaking vistas are down every nicely manicured road and around every corner. Of course, all of this beauty comes with a price. The cost of living in Bermuda is fantastically high, so be prepared to spend a little more than usual. Hamilton is very tourist friendly, with festivals and events year round. There is a good chance that whenever you plan your vacation, you will run into some kind of celebration.
 
Docking & Local Transportation
Cruise ships dock at the Port of Hamilton, which is located directly in the center of town. The entire town of Hamilton is within walking distance of the pier, but if you venture further out on the island, metered taxis are readily available. Be aware, however, that taxis in Bermuda are very expensive (as are many things), and a cab to St. George’s will run about $35. You can hire taxis by the hour, at an hourly rate of $30-$42 per taxi. Your best bet while in Bermuda is the public bus/ferry transportation system.

A View of the Shoreline Homes From the Ferry
Ferries run to and from Hamilton, Paget, Warwick, Somerset, Dockyard (all year) and to St. George’s (April to October) as do buses. A one day pass ($13), or 3 day pass ($23) can be purchased which allows unlimited use of both buses and ferries. Rental cars are not available on the island (only residents are permitted to drive cars). I strongly suggest you do NOT rent a motor scooter. The narrow winding roads are the scene of numerous scooter accidents. One visit to Bermuda and the site of visitors “road rash”, as well as the numerous disasters you see along the road and you will understand my warning!

There are no rental cars available in Bermuda, but the buses are particularly efficient in getting around anywhere on the island. Contact the Public Transportation Board (PTB) (441/292-3851) for more information,
 
Taxis are easy to find anywhere in Bermuda. You can find a row of taxis outside any major hotel, in addition to their availability right at the port. Call either Bermuda Taxi Radio Cabs Ltd. (441/295-4141) or B.I.U. Taxis (441/292-4476).
 
There are taxi stands outside Fairmont Hamilton Princess Hotel. To order a taxi from a Hamilton based agency, dial 441/295-4141 (for Bermuda Taxi Radio Cabs) or 441/292-4476 (for Bermuda Industrial Union Taxi Co-operative).
 
A very efficient mode of transportation throughout the islands is by ferry. The main terminal is in Hamilton, on Front Street. Call 441/295-4506 for more information. Moped and scooters are widely available for rent, as are bicycles, although they are not nearly as popular. Wheel Cycles (441/292-2245) rents out all of the above.
 
There are many bus routes that go out from the central bus terminal at Hamilton City, reach out to different parts of the island and come back. The central bus terminal is located at Washington Street near City Hall, Phone: 441/295-4311. The ferry terminal is near the HSBC Bank Head Office at the western end of Front Street. 
 
Things To do and See
Hamilton is one of the best parishes to walk around in all of Bermuda. Many of the local attractions are easily within walking distance of one another. You may want to start off at the Visitor Service Bureau (Front St., 441/295-1480) for general tourist information about Hamilton.
 
A horse-drawn carriage ride is a romantic way to see Hamilton. Just go to Front Street and you will see them outside ready to whisk you away. By the way, the horses wear diapers to keep unsightly messes off the streets. Albuoy's Point is right off of Front Street, the main thoroughfare in Hamilton. There are beautiful views of Hamilton Harbor, and you can see all the gorgeous yachts that are tethered here by the locals while you sit on the benches at this grassy location. Barr's Bay Park is right nearby, which is a great place for a relaxing stroll with breathtaking vistas surrounding you.
 
The Bermuda Historical Society Museum at 13 Queen Street in Hamilton (441/ 295-2487) houses, among other things, an original letter from George Washington requesting help in stealing British ammunition in 1775. There's also a crystal chandelier dating back almost two hundred years to go along with some stunning old silver pieces. The Bermuda National Gallery at 17 Church Street (441/295-9428) is a must-see for art enthusiasts. There are some pieces here that could just as easily be hanging in the Louvre.
 
For cathedral lovers, there are two churches worth paying a visit to. The Cathedral of St. Theresa's at 13 Elliott Street (441/292-0607) in Hamilton is a Spanish Mission style Roman Catholic Church built in the early 1900s to replace an earlier church that had been destroyed. The Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity located on Church Street (441/292-4033) is the Anglican Church of Hamilton. You will be impressed by its architectural splendor, not to mention the sweeping view from its 157-step tower.
 
If you travel between April and November, and happen to visit Hamilton on a Wednesday, there is a beautiful festival called Harbor Nights on Front Street, replete with free entertainment and local cuisine.
 
Activities & Entertainment in Hamilton
Harbor Night: Between May to September on Wednesday evenings, Front Street is lit up and becomes a bustling festive venue. Many vendors on their colorful dresses set up stalls & sell various items including homemade food, art & craft work, and many other articles. Gombey dancers take to the street with bands playing loud music. Visitors, locals and kids all flock around and chat with each other. It's a great occasion to get the island's original flavor. During the Harbor Nights, you can also see the Beat Retreat Ceremony where Bermuda Pipe Band and Corps of Bermuda Regiment, march along the Front Street in full military dress to recreate centuries-old ceremony.
 
Bermuda Nights: Recently introduced by Bermuda Department of Tourism, this is a cultural program featuring music and dance from some of the best artists and bands in the island. It is held between June to October and provides a great evening entertainment option for both tourists and residents. This outdoor program is complete with nice food offerings so that you can dine while experiencing the performances.
 
Nightlife: There are plenty of options including nightclubs, bars & pubs, and also performing arts like ballet, pop/rock & musical concerts that are organized at different venues in Hamilton, more so during the summer months. Front Street itself is full of cafés, Jazz clubs, sports bars, nightclubs, and venues many of which have live bands and dancing during high season. All of these usually operate until late night.
 
Happy Hour: On every Friday you can join the happy hours at hotel Fairmont Hamilton Princess. It's a great way to kick off the week end where many Bermudians come and join a social get together as they enjoy a drink. There is also a live band. It's an opportunity for the tourists to get a glimpse of Bermuda's social life, enjoy the great view of the harbor and the sunset.
 
Bermuda Folk Club organizes monthly musical events at the Spanish Point Boat Club. They bring in local talents as well as overseas performers to hold the club nights usually on the first Saturday of the month. The nights are open to both members and non-members. Check out the above link for details about the event.
 
Movie Theaters: There are couple of nice movie theaters in Hamilton City that show latest Hollywood movies and sometimes European and Caribbean movies as well. Check out the link to know about the theaters and their locations.
 
Bermuda Musical & Dramatic Society stages regular plays in Daylesford Theater located on Washington Street, one block north of City Hall. There is also a bar in the premises.
 
Hamilton Activities: There are plenty of sporting and other recreational activities in Hamilton City and its surrounding Pembroke parish including Tennis, Health & Fitness centers, Fishing, Horse Carriage rides, boat tours, Scuba Diving and lot more. Check out the above link to get detailed information.
 
Old Colony Club in Hamilton is open to local and expat members. The club holds regular musical evenings. Folk music often takes center stage. Location & Contacts: 5, Trott Road, Hamilton, Pembroke. Phone: (441)296-6362 

Beaches
Of course, Bermuda is world-renowned for its "pink" sand beaches, and there are more than enough all over the island. You will have no trouble finding the one that is right for you. Elbow Beach near Hamilton is a great place for swimming. For those who would rather just wade around, Shelly Bay Beach is shallow and sandy on the ocean floor, making for a relaxing locale to cool off. This beach is actually less popular among tourists than it is among Bermuda residents.
 
The Outdoors and Water Sports
Golf can be enjoyed as a year-round pursuit because of the fair climate in Bermuda. The nearest golf course, Ocean View Golf Club (2 Barker's Hill Rd., 441/295-9092), provides an ideal location for a quick game of golf while overlooking the ocean, as the name suggests. Tennis is widely available and hugely popular all around the islands. There are public courts seemingly on every block.
 
Snorkeling is widely available around Bermuda, especially in Hamilton because of the capital's close proximity to water all around it. Hayward's Snorkeling & Glass Bottom Boat Cruises (441/236-9894) leaves from Albuoy's Point and costs under $50 for a four-hour trip. Undersea walking is a particularly unique attraction. Located in nearby Flatts Village, Bermuda Bell Diving (441/292-4434) offers three-hour excursions during which you actually walk along the ocean floor among the fish and coral.
 
Eating Out
Bolero Brasserie --A relatively new brasserie style restaurant, Bolero Brasserie is one of the most attractive dining places in Hamilton City with its quality food, good service and casual but classic ambience. Has a nice balcony overlooking Front Street. 
House of India -- If you are savvy to Indian food, this is one of the best restaurants serving authentic Indian cuisine. It's run by an Indian owner with Indian chefs. They prepare the dishes to the level of spiciness you want - low, medium or high. 
 Mad Hatters (European) This is a small, elegant and friendly restaurant located at the western side of Hamilton City. While Mark ensures that guests get the perfect friendly service and comfort, the head chef Ben ensures that the food quality is something that the guests remember for a long time. The overall ambience, service and food quality have been the reasons the restaurant is so popular with both locals and tourists, and has a lot of returning guests.  
Red Steakhouse & Bar This is an upscale steakhouse on Front Street offering excellent beef steaks as well as seafood. The ambience inside is elegant. The outside patio seating is one of the largest on Front Street and overlooks the harbor. 
The Pickled Onion ( Bermudian and International Cuisine) -- It has a nice setting, comfortable & relaxing ambience and overlooks the Hamilton harbor. Serves contemporary Bermudian food along with Latin &  Asian items. Lunch on the balcony and in the sun is special, and so are the evenings. Ribs and roasted snappers are our favorites here. 
 Hog Penny ( Pub with British &  Bermudian cuisine)  -- This is an old fashioned Bermuda pub. They say that the ‘Cheers’ pub of Boston took its inspiration from Hog Penny. Our favorites here are the Fish Chowder, Mussels and undoubtedly the famous Indian Masala Chicken. 
Victoria Grill ($$, Restaurant & Bar, Coastal Southern Cuisine)
A relatively new but popular restaurant serving excellent coastal southern comfort food. It has an inside dining and a covered veranda overlooking an open courtyard where the popular cocktail lounge Rumbar is located. It also has a coffee house Java Jive which offers takeaway food. 
Portofino  A great Italian restaurant, it's a favorite for Pizzas and other excellent Italian food.  
Lobster Pot  -- You get some great local fish and lobster items here. Black rum and sherry peppers are some of the secret ingredients used in the outstanding fish chowder they make. Baked fish and lobsters are also special. 
Barracuda Grill --A stylish and modern seafood restaurant, great for families and also for romantic dining. It has consistently ranked high in several magazines and won several awards for its quality dining. 
Harbourfront ( Italian, Seafood &  Sushi) - It offers innovative Continental food and the town's some of the best selection of sushi. Great harbor view as well. 
Bistro J (Seafood/Bermudian)  -This homely bistro style little restaurant offers a chalkboard menu of limited items, but the quality and preparations are excellent. Barbecue duck & ribs are some of the top favorites. You get great choice of desserts as well. 
Ascots ( French/Italian/Continental), located on a country lane at the outskirts of Hamilton Bermuda, Ascots has an ambience of an English Country House.
 
Shopping
Bermuda has a wide selection of shops catering to all kinds of tastes, ranging from the bargain hunting to the exquisite.Hamilton City is the main shopping center in Bermuda. Most of the renowned stores of the island have their main branches in Hamilton. Many of these shops are located on Front Street, and also on Reid Street, Queen Street and Burnaby Street. Quite a few are located on Court Street as well in north Hamilton. Also, do not miss out on the small roadside stalls on the narrow alleyways of Front Street that sell many kinds of small souvenirs and knick knacks. 
 
There are also quite a few shopping malls in Hamilton with many types of boutique stores. The most popular ones are the Washington Mall (Between Church Street and Reid Street), Walker Arcade (between Front Street and Reid Street), The Emporium (on Front Street and east of the Flagpole), Bermudiana Arcade and Windsor Place (both off Queen Street). The shops are generally open between 9am to 5pm (Mon-Sat). On Sundays and public holidays, most of the shops remain closed. On Wednesdays during the Harbor Nights, many shops on Front Street, Reid Street and Queen Street remain open till 9pm and some beyond.
 
If you like antiques, a visit to Heritage House at 26 Church Street (441/295-2615) will have what you're looking for. A fine collection of china and glassware, not to mention a delightful collection of miniatures, makes this the best antique shop in Hamilton.



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