This week, my goal is to help you think warm thoughts. I’ve shared some ideas for staying warm and sane at the end of the story.

My family and I recently got back from a trip to sunny Bermuda. I never thought of Bermuda as a place I’d like to visit. But then, I never thought I’d drive a minivan either! Here’s how the trip came to pass.

A Trip is Born

One cold Minnesota evening, not too long ago, I was lying underneath a heap of covers with my sweatpants, sweatshirt, and thick winter socks on while browsing Airbnb homes in Southern California — you know, just for curiosity sake.

‘Bermuda is one of the only warmer climates where there is no Zika Virus.’ That’s right! Surprise! We have a baby due this August!

Dain leaned over and asked what I was looking at. I shared with him the little mini-vacation I had dreamed up, not really expecting anything to come of it. Next morning, Dain said he found some Airbnb homes too, but in Bermuda!

“Bermuda, as in the Triangle?” I asked.

“Yup,” he said. “Bermuda as in the Triangle! Right now, California is kind of rainy and only 40 degrees. Plus, Bermuda is one of the only warmer climates where there is no Zika Virus.” That’s right! Surprise! We have a baby due this August!

Photo by Stacy K - Dain at Tobacco Bay
Photo by Stacy K – Dain at Tobacco Bay

Everything You Need to Know About Bermuda

So, here’s your Bermuda primer.

Bermuda is a British island territory that’s only 24 miles long and an average width of just one mile. There is literally a view of the Atlantic Ocean from almost everywhere. You read that right, Bermuda isn’t a part of the Caribbean like many think, Bermuda is actually in the Atlantic at the same latitude as Charleston, South Carolina and is about 750 miles north of the Bahamas.

The small country’s gorgeous beaches are known for their pink sand.

Another surprise, it isn’t technically an island but an archipelago of 120 little islets with only about 20 of them occupied and just seven connected by bridge.

Warm breezes and the smell of salty air are the best cures for winter-weary Minnesotans!

Bermuda is obviously known for The Triangle, but also for UFO sightings, the lost city of Atlantis, a portal for time warps, and on top of all of that, we weren’t surprised to learn, it’s The Shipwreck Capital of the World!

You can dive and check out these sunken ships but because we were visiting in February, their coldest month (ha!), touristy options were limited. Even the ferries were closed for the “winter.”

Because Bermuda is so densely populated, local families can own just one car and there are none available to rent for tourists! Visitors can rent something called a Twizy which is a strange small car-like thing that only fits two people. Mopeds are also available. Otherwise you can take the bus, cab it, bike, or walk!

Interestingly, there’s no public water system. They collect their fresh water from the roofs of their homes to fill tanks. We bought bottled water, per my request, because I’m a total mom.

Let’s Not Break The Bank!

Photo by Dain Fisher - Stacy K and Norah at Horseshoe Bay
Photo by Dain Fisher – Stacy K and Norah at Horseshoe Bay

Although beautiful, Bermuda is no-joke, crazy-expensive because just about everything is imported. On this trip, we were a family of five. Here’s how we got on without breaking the bank.

First, it was their off season and most lodging prices were reduced. We stayed in an amazing beach house through Airbnb (remarkably cheaper than a hotel or resort) in Bermuda’s first settled parish called St. George’s, steeped in rich history dating back to 1612.

We walked narrow winding roads along rollings hills, through pastel painted homes with the sparkling Atlantic as our backdrop, and frogs and birds the soundtrack. Warm breezes and the smell of salty air are the best cures for winter-weary Minnesotans!

By law, fast food chains are prohibited on the the island except for one KFC! How amazing is that?

Our beach house for the week was just across the street from Tobacco Bay in St. George’s and about a mile walk from town. We opened our windows at night to let the sound of calm waters lull us to sleep and woke in the morning to the gentle crash of waves. I was in heaven.

Because we were so close to Tobacco Bay, we were able to enjoy the beach in the morning (free entertainment) and cook breakfast at home daily. We shopped at the local market and purchased enough food to make meals for the duration of our stay, eating out only a few times to get the genuine experience.

By law, fast food chains are prohibited on the the island except for one KFC! How amazing is that?

Photo by Stacy K - Dain, Hazel, Samson, and Norah wandering in St. George's
Photo by Stacy K – Dain, Hazel, Samson, and Norah wandering in St. George’s

Life in Paradise

In town, we stumbled across the cutest coffee hangout after walking down a narrow cobblestone path that opened up on an outdoor patio with green grass right down to the water’s edge.

We opened our windows at night to let the sound of calm waters lull us to sleep and woke in the morning to the gentle crash of waves. I was in heaven.

The cutest mobile coffee van called Just Breathe Coffee was open daily and became our afternoon highlight. We all enjoyed chatting with the easy-spirited barista with the fitting name, Sky, whose easy-going lingo, “I feel that,” became our trip mantra. Sky is a 20-year-old beachy-blonde yogi who had yet to leave the island and most certainly had never seen snow. She was a wonderful example of the positive energy and overall goodness of the people of Bermuda!

Photo by Stacy K - Hazel, Norah, and Samson - First time in the water. Norah went in full blast, fully clothed, no looking back!
Photo by Stacy K – Hazel, Norah, and Samson – First time in the water. Norah went in full blast, fully clothed, no looking back!

Setting Out By Bus

To see more of the island we packed up “Bob” our stroller, and some beach attire and took on the bus system — another great way to save money instead of taking a taxi. That was quite the experience!.

Dain was entertained by how close the buses got to the sides of buildings and passing cars, which, by the way, drive on the opposite side that we’re used to. The roads were narrow, and the bus was driving fast enough on the winding roads for this pregnant lady to feel pretty queasy!

The impression made when the natural beauty of Horseshoe Bay burst upon our sight will help me ride out the rest of this seemingly never-ending winter.

Our first bus ride was into Bermuda’s capital, Hamilton. We walked along the boardwalk imagining how busy it would be in the tourist season with all the shopping and places to eat. Hamilton was still bustling in the off season and was definitely a change of pace from the laid back vibe of St. George’s. We grabbed some yummy grub then made our way to our next bus.

On to Horseshoe Bay, one of the many beaches known for its pink sand!

The impression of the natural beauty of Horseshoe Bay bursting on our sight is still with me and will help ride out the rest of this seemingly endless winter.

It was 72 degrees, so of course we got into our bathing suits and ran for the rolling, salty waves. We had the beach almost entirely to ourselves! The ocean water was quite the shock, barely breaking 62 degrees, but our hearty Minnesota hides adapted quickly. For me it was a quick dip and a long, extended sunbathe to dry.

We got quite a few double-takes from the locals who were dressed in long sleeves and pants while our nearly translucent Minnesota bodies wandered the island barefoot and in bathing suits.

And On Foot

Photo by Stacy K - Our walk into St. George's
Photo by Stacy K – Our walk into St. George’s

One of the many times we walked the mile into town we watched a reenactment from a 1612 saga with actors being shamed as town drunks and the town gossip and ultimately being dunked into the ocean. It was strangely entertaining.

At lunch we were surrounded by birds patiently waiting to snatch a fry or piece of bread. Honest, we really did try to abide by the “do not feed the birds” sign!

We learned some of the history of St. George’s by touring Fort St. Catherine and The Unfinished Church, a Gothic remnant that sits on top of a hill facing the sea. Dating back to 1874, it was never finished due to storms and personal conflicts. Just the stone bones of it remain today.

Photo by Stacy K - Hazel and Samson on the beach outside of Fort St. Catherine
Photo by Stacy K – Hazel and Samson on the beach outside of Fort St. Catherine

The weather quickly changed from sunny and warm to windy and a little brisk. The lowest temperature we saw was 59 degrees so I mean brisk as a Bermudan would describe it.

The wind and occasional rain didn’t stop us from adventuring through the streets of St. George’s. We wandered to see a huge condominium being built right on the sea near Tobacco Bay “by the Canadians,” whom we were also told were funding Bermuda’s new airport. I was actually surprised that America wasn’t bogarting the island.

More wandering, more hills. We walked by a large hobby farm and then a super-old graveyard. It felt a little eerie with the sun setting, the cool breeze whipping our hair, and the tombstones facing the sea.

Another Day of Warm Adventures

Another day, towards the end of our trip, We took time to attend St. Peters Church, the oldest Anglican Church outside of the British Isles and the oldest Protestant church in continuous use in the New World.

The people were very kind and had a tradition to gather in a circle at the center of the church and sing Let There Be Peace on Earth. It was a moving and once-in-a-lifetime experience. Throughout the service I kept noticing the storm windows. I wondered how many times over the years they’ve been closed for storms and opened back up when the sun shone again.

Photo by Stacy K - At Fort St. Catherine
Photo by Stacy K – At Fort St. Catherine

Beautiful Caves

Later that day, we took the bus to Crystal Caves, a place discovered by two boys in the early 1900s who found the caves when playing a game of cricket. They noticed a hole in the ground emitting warm air. They lowered each other into the hole by rope using a bike light.

The cave inspired Mark Twain who described it best, “The most beautiful cave in the world, I suppose. We descended 150 steps and stood in a splendid place 250 feet long and 30 or 40 wide, with a brilliant lake of clear water under our feet and all the roof overhead splendid with shining stalactites, thousands and thousands of them as white as sugar, and thousands and thousands brown and pink and other tints.”

When we got back to our beach house, we received news that our flight to Boston was cancelled. I admit no one was disappointed.

The Last Day?

On the morning of what we thought was the last day, we dipped into Tobacco Bay one last time.

When we got back to our beach house, we received news that our flight to Boston was cancelled. I admit no one was disappointed. We packed up and headed to the other side of the island. We stayed one extra night at a resort called The Reefs.

The kids loved the endless pool. I loved the hot tub. We all enjoyed the pink sand beach that morning. It was my favorite beach day! The sun was hot and the quick dip in the ocean was a perfect way to remember Bermuda. We collected some pink sand as our souvenir — another money saver — and just barely made our flight to Boston.

Homeward Bound – Almost

Of course, Boston welcomed us back with a bit of an ice storm. We were delayed yet another day. So, completely under dressed, our family walked the streets of Boston in search of the best Clam Chowder we could find.

The next morning we had the best breakfast of the trip at a place called The Friendly Toast. Afterwards we power walked in the storm to Boston’s beautiful public library. 5 hours later, we touched down at wintery Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport.

Staying Warm… And Sane

The trip was a sigh of relief from this Minnesota winter. We all felt grateful for that bit of  vitamin D. Bermuda has a bit of mysterious vibe. Maybe that’s what happens when it’s forever summer!

It’s not forever summer here, but neither will it be forever winter! I’ve been thinking up some ideas about how to survive the rest of winter.

  • Get outside a little bit everyday
  • Go snowshoeing or cross country skiing
  • Go on a winter hike
  • Check out the new warming house in North Kato
  • Mount Kato!
  • Learn to make something at the Makerspace! It’s their one-year Birthday on Friday and if you’ve never been, it’d be a great way to break the ice with what they have to offer
  • Visit The Children’s Museum
  • Checkout the salt rooms with any other service at Body Concepts
  • Treat yo’self to a professional massage!
  • Enjoy a Full Spectrum Float
  • Go to a tanning booth
  • Workout and release some energy
  • Warm up at Sun Moon Yoga

Get out of Mankato for a while. Find any open space, especially if you can get some daylight.

If you can, do a one night away at a hotel and enjoy the pool/sauna/room and service. Whatever it may be, whatever it takes! Make it a solo get away, romantic, family, gather some friends, or maybe take your mom, or dad, or sibling out on a date. Connect!

Or just keep hibernating, spring will eventually arrive! On Groundhog Day, Punxsutawney Phil could not find his shadow, so as legend goes we’re in for an early spring! Fingers crossed.

Stay warm my friends.

Additional Links

The Children’s Museum on MankatoLIFE