2011-08-18 / News

Recharge in just four days

Flotsam and Jetsam
BY DONNA DRAGO

I just returned from a long weekend in Bermuda. It was beautiful.

I have decided over the past several years that my favorite vacations have been accomplished in four days or less. Among the reasons I enjoy these quickie holidays is that I get to have three complete days to explore a new location, which is just enough time to try the best restaurants, see the most spectacular vistas and visit the top attractions. If I stay any longer, I feel like I am dipping into the second-tier offerings and they are never as good as the best.

I also like the concept of the short break because I don’t have to jump through hoops before I leave to make sure my regular life is perfectly in order. Paying all the bills, stopping the mail and newspapers, putting the dogs in a kennel, having someone keep an eye on the house and gardens – all of this is a big hassle and by the time I am ready to leave for a long vacation, all I can think about is: What did I forget to do?

Preparing for a multi-week trip is stressful and trying to resume a normal life once you’ve returned is also stressful. Sometimes it takes me as long as the vacation to get back in my usual groove. Another benefit to the short trip is that if you do go to Europe you don’t stay long enough to get jet lag – a big bonus.

I used to believe that long weekends were designed for driving trips to Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard or maybe as far as Quebec City or Washington, D.C. But now my belief is that as long as the destination can be reached by a direct flight from Providence or Boston and I can take advantage of overnight flights, the possibilities are quite staggering.

In just the last few years I have taken four-day vacations in places as far away as London, Tuscany, California wine country and now Bermuda.

The great thing about Bermuda is that it is a tropical paradise, complete with clear turquoise water, pink-sand beaches and every color of hibiscus glowing brightly from the well-landscaped yards. And, Bermuda is just a one-hour, 45-minute flight from Boston. We left at 9:30 on Thursday morning and were sitting with lunch and a cocktail in front of us by 1 p.m. Using Internet sites like TripAdvisor.com, fodors.com and LonelyPlanet.com, I searched reviews for the best restaurants and made advance reservations for Friday and Saturday night. I made sure that I had a good rough itinerary to work from and a sense of how local transportation functions because with just three days to explore you don’t want to waste any time. In Bermuda they don’t let foreigners rent cars, so you have to rely on public transportation. The buses, which are painted a cheerful pink with blue stripes, run frequently and the drivers will help you find the stop closest to your destination. The ferries make travel a delight because they skirt the shores of the island and give you a close-up look at some of the posh waterfront homes, golf courses and hotels. I chose a hotel that was a short walk to town for easy access to shopping and dining. It was also a short walk to the ferry dock so getting anywhere was incredibly easy.

If you go to Bermuda for a short vacation, I would recommend staying in Hamilton, which is the capital city. There are many boutiques and restaurants right on Front Street and it’s easy to walk from one end of town to the other. The best attractions for a quick trip include the historic town of St. Georges, which is about a 45-minute ferry ride from Hamilton. The town was founded in the early 1600s and has charming architecture and the oldest Anglican church in the world outside of England. Several boutiques selling Irish linens, jewelry, china and fashions keep shoppers happy and there are also many places to stop and have a rum swizzle with a water view.

The Royal Naval Dockyards are reached in just 20 minutes by ferry from Hamilton. This is where the British navy set up shop after the Revolutionary War. The limestone fortress is set high on a hill and the views from the Commissioner’s House are incredible. There are several artisans working in the Dockyards area and a few good restaurants for lunch. One final recommendation is to check out the Crystal Caves, which can be reached by bus halfway between St. Georges and Hamilton. I am claustrophobic and usually pass on caves, but when I saw the photos of the crystal-blue lake at the bottom of the cave I was hooked. We paid the admission and spent 30 minutes in one of the most spectacular places I have ever seen. The stalactites ranged from as thin as spaghetti to as massive as Roman columns and they continued to drip and form as we stood there in complete awe of them.

My Bermuda break was a great recharger and I can’t wait to choose my next destination for a mini vacation.

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