Sunday, August 29, 2010

Bermuda: a small big place

It is only about a two hour flight from Raleigh, North Carolina to the beautiful small island of Bermuda. It is the most populous remaining British overseas territory and is only about 640 miles west of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina and 840 miles south of Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

As we were circling preparing for our landing we could view the beautiful full emerald water that surrounds this gorgeous small island.

At a convention I had attended, I met a representative of Willowbank, which had been started by C. T. Studd as a rest and relaxation center for returning missionaries, who invited me to visit there.

Since one cannot rent cars on this island, I had made previous arrangement for someone from the resort to pick us up. After loading our luggage in the back of his small car, we headed across the small island to the other end where Willowbank is located. There are many famous and notable resorts on this island, but I was amazed at how beautiful the private beaches were around Willowbank.

We checked in and were escorted to a beautiful cabin that overlooked the ocean. We entered the cabin and noticed how nice was the accommodations.

We took time to read the guidebook that was lying on the bed then dressed to become more casual so we could walk the grounds. Since I knew they had private beaches where one could snorkel, I brought my flippers and goggles and was looking toward the place I could come back to.

There was a wide variety of things that a person can do at this resort, with tennis courts all round but the water seemed more inviting. On the way back I met a gentleman who had his flippers in his hand, and after a short conversation I learned that he was a Presbyterian minister from Pennsylvania. I asked if he would not mind if I joined him shortly.

In a few moments I was dressed and headed to the pier where he was waiting for me where the water was extremely clear and the fish abounded. It is hard to describe how beautiful they are in their own habitat. The minister and I became well acquainted and made an appointment to go snorkeling each day.

Since this is a religious resort, prayers were said before each meal, and a period of devotion was led by some famous minister from the states each morning. Our speaker was the pastor of a Baptist church in Atlanta, Georgia. He was very good and I enjoyed his depth of the scripture.

This is one of the most relaxing vacations that we had spent in quite some time and especially in an atmosphere more conducive to our liking.

There are lots of things to see on the island and we could catch a bus in front of the resort at most any time and for one price you could go from one end of the island to the other which was very convenient for us.

Since Hamilton is the capital, it offers a great shopping selection when it comes to clothing and accessories from Great Britain and Ireland such as English woolens, Harris Tweed jackets, and Irish linen. There are also boutiques that specialize in shoes, belts, scarves and handbags at prices less than in their country of origin and there’s no sales tax. In one of the most famous of the stores, my wife bought a beautiful blue pleated wool skirt which she still has to this day.

On the opposite end from where we stayed was the town of St. George, Bermuda's first capital settled in 1612 and is the oldest continuously inhabited English town in the Americas. It was the most interesting place to visit. We spent an entire day in this little village and would like to have spent more. But the day was ending, and we had to get our ride back.

Near our resort is the shortest bridge in the world. It is only a few inches wide but enough for the mast of a boat to go through before it then closes.

The desk clerk of the resort introduced us to her American husband who worked for a large accounting firm and was a CPA. We learned that he was speaking at their church that Sunday morning and went to church with them. He preached in Bermuda shorts, high socks, suit coat and tie but was very well dressed. In fact, only his knees shown. Afterwards, we had lunch together and I gleaned much of the culture of the island. By the way, I was the only one in the entire church not dressed accordingly.

Bermuda is the oldest and most populous remaining British overseas territory, settled by England a century before the Acts of Union created the Kingdom of Great Britain. Bermuda has a very affluent economy, with finance as its largest sector followed by tourism, giving it the world's highest GDP per capita.

After the American Revolution, the Royal Navy began improving their harbors and built the large dockyard on Ireland Island, in the west of the chain, as its principal naval base guarding the western Atlantic Ocean shipping lanes. During the American War of 1812, the British attacks on Washington, D.C. and the Chesapeake, that would result in the writing of The Star-Spangled Banner, were planned and launched from Bermuda, the Royal Navy's 'North American Station'.

In 1816, James Arnold, the son of famed U.S. traitor Benedict Arnold, fortified Bermuda's Royal Naval Dockyard against possible U.S. attacks. Today, the "Maritime Museum" occupies the Keep of the Royal Naval Dockyard, including the Commissioner's House, and exhibits artifacts of the base's military history.

This was only a short piece from our resort at we took a bus and viewed the Museum located in one of the large building at the dockyard. I admit it was very interesting, but my wife was more interested in going to Hamilton. So we took a boat from the dockyard passing by some extremely beautiful homes until we came to the dock in front of the main stores in Hamilton.

Another piece of history I should include is, as a result of Bermuda's proximity to the southeastern U.S. coast, it was regularly used by Confederate States blockade runners during the American Civil War to evade Union naval vessels and bring desperately needed war goods to the South from England. The old Globe Hotel in St George's, which was a center of intrigue for Confederate agents, is preserved as a museum open to the public and I enjoyed it greatly.

In the courtyard in the center of St. George still stands a stock to lock up offenders. Just for the fun of it I let my wife take my picture of me in it but made sure it did not get locked.

Bermuda is a fun place to go, Willowbank a good resort, but have plenty of room on your credit card because it is one of the most expenses places I have toured.

In journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;” --2 Corinthians 11:26

Dr. Alton Loveless is the former CEO/President of Randall House Publications, Nashville, Tn.; He is a freelance writer and has written for assorted publications printed both nationally and internationally

No comments: