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Bermuda with a daughter: Who could ask for a better weekend trip?


Is anyone else tired of hearing about quality time with their children?

My child is 27, and I'm not fussy about quality. I just enjoy time -- any kind of time -- with her.

For years we talked about a mother-daughter getaway. But either she was studying for exams or I couldn't leave work. The whole idea was put on hold while we planned her wedding. Three years later, when she announced that she was going to be a mother, we realized it was now or never.

We had several requirements for our getaway. Suzi wanted tropical. I wanted safe (you don't ever stop being a mother), and we both wanted pretty. Safe, pretty, tropical. The decision was easy -- Bermuda.

No language or currency confusion. No passport needed. No beggars. No guilt-producing slums. Just great beaches, fine shopping, excellent cuisine and afternoon tea.

Since Bermuda is only 21 square miles and so slim you're never more than a mile from the sea, we felt we could get a good sense of the island in a relatively short visit.

Since I had been to Bermuda, this was a rare opportunity for me to share a beautiful part of the world with my only daughter.

The downside was the cost. Getting there was fairly economical, but lodging and dining were clearly on the expensive side. Also, we wanted to be right on the beach. We solved the expense problem by taking advantage of a special package and opting for a long weekend instead of a week.

As if plucked from a dream, those warm, sunny days now hang suspended in time. Less than five minute's walk from our room, we found a tiny beach (yes, pink) sheltered by rugged coral cliffs, which we had completely to ourselves. The morning was devoted to watching the longtails (Bermuda's sign-of-spring bird) swoop and dive above a mesmerizing ocean that shifted from pale turquoise to cobalt blue.

We spent the afternoon in Hamilton, the island's busy capital, checking out an enticing selection of English bone china, Waterford crystal, Scottish cashmeres, Icelandic woolens, Irish linens and handwoven tweeds offered by such revered institutions as Trimingham's (founded in 1842), Cooper's and Smith's.

In an effort to ward off the "shop till you drop" syndrome, we savored an alfresco ice tea at an upstairs pub overlooking Front Street and Hamilton Harbor. The bustling scene included cruise ships, policemen spiffily attired in -- what else? -- Bermuda shorts, horse-and-carriage rides clip-clopping beneath our balcony and the antics of the first-time-on-a-moped crowd.

"Wait till you see St. George," I said. "It's quiet and quaint -- like parachuting into some bygone century."

Of course, I was surprised to be blasted with sound (music, I think) of pore-penetrating intensity as we emerged from the taxi. Suzi just looked at me. "Something going on, I guess," I explained lamely.

We had landed squarely in the middle of a cacophonous festival complete with jostling crowds, costumed folk dancing and a dizzying dose of local color. Suzi loved it.

She also enjoyed experiencing some of this small community's heritage. After all, this is the place where Bermuda -- England's oldest self-governing colony -- began. In 1609, the first group of rather damp English "tourists" straggled ashore after their ship wrecked on a reef. Originally bound for the Jamestown colony in Virginia, they liked their unscheduled port of call so much that colonization began in 1612.

We climbed aboard the replica of the ship Deliverance (much too cozy for a trans-Atlantic voyage) and inspected the ducking stool, a pre-liberation punishment for "noisome wives." After wandering the town's narrow, twisting streets, we finally came to rest in the cedar-fragrant pews of St. Peter's, the oldest Anglican church in the hemisphere.

After a taxi ride back to our hotel, our next project was to choose a place to dine. Henry VIII was an easy walk from our resort, and it also offered such culinary creativity as imported Scottish salmon, steak Anne Boleyn and shrimp Provencale. Actually, I was totally satisfied with the island specialty, Bermuda fish chowder generously laced with black rum and sherry peppers and chased by a cold Dark-and-Stormy, a heartening blend of ginger beer and rum.

Our last day in Bermuda was total indulgence -- beginning with a sunrise horseback ride on the South Shore beaches and ending with a spa treatment. We had chosen Sonesta Beach Hotel & Spa because it was the only major resort hotel directly on the beach. But in the end we were just as happy with its European Health and Beauty Spa.

My stress levels were reduced to below zero by a Swedish massage, while Suzi pampered herself with a facial, manicure and pedicure.

Our only problem with our getaway? It set an awesome new standard for quality time. Otherwise -- perfect.

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