A Mother and Daughter trip to Bermuda, On a Budget

Flatts Harbour view from Middle Road
Flatts Harbor view from Middle Road

Bermuda is not only for couples and honeymooners, it’s for everyone! It was on my list of places to visit after reading Mark Twain was quoted as saying everybody can all go to heaven if they wanted, he would rather stay in Bermuda. It was also on the list for the caves which Mark Twain also visited. Mama D made the trip possible after working 7 days a week for more than a month. Thank you Mama!! With chickungunya invading the Caribbeans, mosquito free Bermuda was a perfect sun vacation. The second half of November’s weather daytime high was 26 and nighttime low was 16. We were fortunate to have beautiful weather and never had to use our umbrellas past the second day.

We both met in Toronto and flew to Hamilton, Bermuda with Air Canada for a 12 night stay. Having booked our flights before the new first checked baggage fee, we each saved twenty dollars (the cost of our two zoo visits). I was surprised not having to pay duties on my small suitcase packed with food which I was expecting to pay for. For the first time in our travels, there was a cab driver holding a placard with our names on it; from the start we were in good hands! For 25$ (we gave him 30$) he drove us to our cottage centrally located in Flatts, Smiths, rented through airbnb where we were greeted by the owner who showed us around and made sure we knew how to get to the grocery store. We saved on phone costs by using the cellphone that was included in our rental for local calls.

Lindo's grocery store was perfect to stock our fridge for 12 days in Bermuda.
Lindo’s grocery store on Watlington Rd. in Devonshire was perfect to stock our fridge for 12 days in Bermuda.

After an unfruitful visit to the post office to buy a monthly bus pass, we got some change at the corner variety store and for 3$ each, hopped on our first pink and blue Bermuda bus, heading to Lindo’s, one of Bermuda’s largest food store chains. We were not too shocked by the prices of food although that whole piece of salmon fillet was 30$! Mind you it’s probably what a single portion would cost in a restaurant but that we don’t know because we never ate in restaurants. The total for our big grocery was 200$. To return to our cottage, the cab ride was 12$ including tip.

On our first day, we rode the bus to Hamilton where we got a monthly bus pass at a reduced price because we were past the second half of the month; it was still worth it to get the pass and it came to 4$ a day each and included the ferry to Dockyard which we rode twice. When you read in Bermuda guide books that Bermudians always greet each other with good morning, good afternoon, and good evening, followed by “How Are You”, it is true and you better do the same otherwise some locals might be offended although teenage kids usually won’t mind if you don’t. I remember this woman coming on the bus greeting “Good morning everyone” before sitting down.

This is the cat that showed us around and accompanied us while visiting Fort Hamilton.
This is the cat that showed us around and accompanied us while visiting Fort Hamilton.

It was grey and windy but it didn’t take away the beauty and charm of the island and we were delighted by this change of scene filled with white roofs, pastel colors, and friendly people and cats, stray or not. Even panhandlers had manners! That is except for the two girls on the ferry to Dockyard who were out looking for trouble and maybe a purse or two to snatch. Yes one always has to be on the lookout for those. We took a cab up to Hamilton Fort and had lunch on a bench looking out onto the Hamilton Harbor and Paget Parish in the distance. We were accompanied by a ginger cat I named “Milton”. He seemed to take a liking to his new name and while he waited for us outside as we were taking a bathroom break, he even called for us. He showed us his favorite places, his favorite of all being the cottage and left his scent on the front door, (he might not have been a stray after all) and as we were leaving, walked us to the front sign and sat pretty for the pictures. What a Gentle cat that Bermudian Milton!

Among the free activities we did there was the Fort of Hamilton, Fort St Catherine in St George which was closed on weekends but we still got to visit the outdoor parts with more cats! The Botanical Gardens, Paget Marsh, Spittal Pond, Par-la-Ville Park and Victoria Park in Hamilton. The cheapest ones (prices are per adult) were Verdmont House (5$), Masterworks Gallery and Museum in the Botanical Gardens (5$), and the Aquarium and Zoo (10$). Our most expensive activities were a boat trip with the zoo and the Audubon society to see the Bermuda Cahows (50$), The Turtle Cove Glass Bottom Tour (35$), the combined tour for Crystal and Fantasy Caves (30$), and the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute (15$).

We visited St. George on a Sunday and it was a ghost town: everybody was in church and almost everything was closed.
We visited St. George on a Sunday and it was a ghost town: everybody was in church and almost everything was closed. We had the whole town to ourselves!

For souvenirs, we shopped in regular shops as well as thrift stores: The Salvation Army in Hamilton and The Barn in Devonshire where we found among other things books about Bermuda at a fraction of the cost of new ones while helping Bermudians in need.

The total cost for our groceries was 282.00 in Bermudian Dollars which is on par with American Dollar. We were able to eat healthy and well at a cost of 11.75 per person per day. One thing to consider in the cost is we also brought some food with us like dried brown rice pasta, muffin mix, spices, pasta sauces, rice, nuts, oil and mostly bought fruits, vegetables, milk, eggs, fish, chicken and bread.

Again, as mentioned in previous posts, in order to pack a lunch for the flight, the best way is to use a soft cooler and use frozen peas in lieu of ice packs which are forbidden in the cabin and have to be checked-in. My bag (president’s choice soft cooler for 3$) fits perfectly underneath the front seat even on small express flights. Prepared veggies like washed and cut carrots and celery, along with washed and sliced apples were no problems for customs in Bermuda or back in Canada. It also works for Florida’s customs.

I will be posting more about our activities and about Bermuda shortly.

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