Bermuda is Calling. Will you Answer?

I have been to the Caribbean more times than I can count. I have tried to visit as many of the Caribbean islands as I could. I have visited 28 islands there as of the date of this blog. The Caribbean is a major destination for Minnesota residents due to its proximity to the state and the warm climates that help us escape the cold winter weather. There are other island escapes that are not Caribbean and should be considered. They include the Florida Keys, Hilton Head, Galveston, and the subject of this blog  BERMUDA.

Bermuda holds a lot to offer the tourist. Bermuda has stunning pink beaches. Chaplin Bay Beach, located next to Horseshoe Bay Beach where Warwick and Southampton Parishes meet, is a relatively quiet spot for sunbathing but only a low tide because at high tide it disappears! You can get to the beach from South Shore Park or by walking from Horseshoe Bay.  Just don’t fall asleep on the beach or you might wake up swimming. John Smith’s Bay is another good beach to try. Even with nice public restrooms and changing facilities, it won’t be too crowded even in peak season. You’ll discover three beautiful, secluded beaches in Cooper’s Island Nature Reserve in the East End section of Bermuda.

You cannot rent a car on Bermuda. The cars are privately owned only. You can however, rent a scooter and many of the tourists do just that. You can also rent bicycles, walk or take a taxi or bus to get around.

Crystal Cave and Fantasy Cave offer spectacular views underground and they are the reason that many come to the island to see the spectacular beauty of these two very different caves. See the clear underground lake in Crystal Cave or the calcite mineral deposits of Fantasy Cave that look like ancient waterfalls. Hours are 9 to 5 every day with tours leaving 3 times per hour.

Water sports of every kind are available in Bermuda. Visit the wonderful world of the Atlantic Ocean in many ways. For the most fit, try SCUBA diving (certification required). You can visit most popular destinations such as the Cristobal Colon, a Spanish Luxury Liner sunk in 1936, the Mary Celestia, from the US Civil War sunk in 1864, or the Constellation schooner that sank in 1943. If you are not certified or planning to take a resort certification while there, go snorkeling. And if you are not a swimmer, you can always take a glass bottom boat to view.

Geocaching is big in Bermuda. This is searching for caches left for you to discover with a GPS. There are at least 20 locations on the island and most are fairly easy to get to and locate, according to the Geocaching site, though you may have to register for some of them.

Take a walk or bike along the Bermuda Railway Trail. Eighteen of the original 22 miles of this abandoned railway right of way are available for use to see the beauty of this amazing island. You can rent a bicycle to ride most of this trail, although some sections are better for hikers.

Golf Golf Golf. There are more than seven great 18 hole golf courses located on the island, most of them offering stunning Atlantic ocean vistas. Some of the courses have the ocean come into play on holes. Talk about a water challenge! Bermuda is a perfect spot for your gof foursome to go to. Check out the Belmont Hills (Par 70, 5263-6017 yards) , Ocean View (Par 71, 5186-6842 yards), or Port Royal golf course (Par 71 5186-6842 yards), three of the challenging but fun courses there.

You have your pick of different accommodations when you go to Bermuda. You can stay at a luxury hotel, B&B, boutique hotel, private villa, or a moderate priced hotel. Some are on the beach, some have golf courses on the property or nearby. For a luxury hotel, try the Fairmont Hamilton Princess. The owners, the Green family have recently renovated the property, spending $70 million renovating the hotel rooms and adding a new restaurant by the harbor operated by chef Marcus Samuelsson. And they rennovated their two penthouses to accommodate guests that came to Bermuda for the 2017 America’s cup. They have a beautiful new infinity pool overlooking the harbor and Atlantic, that I was tempted to jump into when I toured the property recently. And of course, you will find the typical Fairmont quality service at this hotel.

Or try the Grotto Bay Beach Resort. A great mid priced beach resort within minutes of two golf courses, but right on the beach near blue hole. As the name implies, there are underground caves right on the property. All rooms are either ocean front or ocean view, and very attractively priced.  We also recommend the Elbow Beach Bermuda. an ocean property with a half mile beach with four restaurants, tennis courts, and six private spa suites. All rooms offer bathrobes and Nespresso coffee makers. Contact us for more recommendations.

Getting there: There are currently no non-stops to Hamilton, Bermuda from Minneapolis. However there are several air carriers that connect to Hamilton via their hubs. This includes Delta (Atlanta), United (Newark), American (Miami) and Air Canada (Toronto).

Dubai and Abu Dhabi — Old Meets Ultra Modern

When you think of the Middle East, what comes to mind? Oil fields, war torn countries, and similar themes?  Well Dubai and Abu Dhabi are going to surprise you.

I love architecture. Drop me in New York, Paris, London, or even Chicago, and I go wild seeing all of the great architectural wonders. Dubai is eye candy for architecture lovers. It’s as if the greatest architects of the world were told there was a contest to build the most impressive building in the world. Dubai has grown from a sleepy desert fishing village by the side of Dubai Creek into this futuristic city where every building design tries to outdo their neighbor. This city is home to the tallest building in the world (at least for now) called the Burj Kalifa. You can rent either of the conference rooms comprising the two top floors, floor 162 and 163, for a mere $10,000 per hour. That is not a misprint. While I did not visit those rooms, I understand that companies often will rent a conference room for an hour for a product demonstration or handing out rewards to employees.

This is certainly a city of excess. You will see plenty of Rolls Royces and Bentleys and similar cars. You can stay at the Burj Al Arab, the sail like hotel for $2000 per night and upwards. You will have a two story accommodation with your own butler. And you can eat in the restaurant where, if you have the money, you can eat a desert that has real gold in it. This city has the largest man made land, the tallest building, the tallest hotel, and the one of the largest malls, to name a few. And the shops. You will nearly everything sold here, especially if it is a luxury good.

Dubai is one of seven Emirates that comprise the United Arab Emirates. While the UAE has a lot of oil reserves, the Emirate of Dubai has only 4 percent of the total oil reserves of the UAE. The government knew they had to do something to make Dubai prosperous over the long term, and not just with oil. So they set out to build a stable business and tourist center for the Middle East. They have accomplished that and visitors will be surprised at what they find here. Unlike most areas of the Middle East, alcohol is available here. You cannot go to an independent restaurant for booze, but the restaurants at the hotels serve it. Women can easily walk the main streets of Dubai safely. Western clothing is acceptable in most places, although there are strict clothing requirements when visiting a Mosque. Western beachwear is acceptable at the western hotels beaches. Children and persons with disabilities will find accommodating facilites at the major hotels. Many western businesses have made Dubai the center of their Middle East business due to its western friendly atmosphere.

Dubai Airport, one of the largest in the world, is one of the busiest as well. In terms of the number of passengers boarded, it was 3rd in the world in 2016, and passenger traffic is growing faster than it’s chief rivals, so who knows, it might be number one soon.

The Metro train is a good way to get around the city of Dubai. Its very clean and efficient and ultra modern. It runs alongside most of the major tourist destinations and hotels, and more stations are planned. The cost of a one day ticket  is AED 14, or a little less than US$4 at the time of this writing in 2018.

The Dubai Mall is the 5th largest in the world with 1200 shops and the Burj Khalifa, the largest skyscraper adjacent to it, with “Las Vegas Bellagio like” water fountains in the water next to the mall in an artificial “lake.” You can purchase a ticket to visit the observation level on the 128th floor. But unless you want to pay more, plan to purchase your ticket at least 2 days in advance at a discount. There is a 2 million gallon aquarium and an indoor skating rink at the Dubai Mall. A few miles away, at the Emirates Mall, there is an indoor ski hill complete with a quad chair lift! The indoor area has man made snow and the entire area is kept below freezing.

There are the traditional markets as well as the mall locations. The Arabic word for market is “souk.” The gold souk, where you buy based on the price of gold plus a maker charge, is worth a visit. Most of the gold is 22 ct. in weight. The gold souk is more commercialized than its cousins spice, carpet and perfume.  The spice souk is an open air market where you can buy spices like cardamon, cinnamon, saffron and others in bulk, and other cooking items. The carpet souk sells not only carpets but other textiles. And then there is the perfume souk, with scents you will not find in the US. Its all part of the historic old Dubai. The shops are small and the passageways are narrow but it is worth a trip if the weather is not too hot when you visit.

Fahidi Fort in the center of Bur Dubai houses the Dubai museum. In it, you will get a sense of what old Dubai was like as well as the steps taken to modernize it. In addition to ancient artifacts, there are video displays of the modern activities in Dubai. There are 3D displays of common life. The fort itself is worth a look, and you can also see an example of a common Bedouin dwelling and the Dhow (pictured above), wooden boats used for transportation. It is the main museum in Dubai, the cost is reasonable and it is a good counterpoint to all the modern buildings that have made Dubai their home in the last 20 years.

Dubai caters to tourism and wants the western tourist dollar. They share only about 4% of the oil revenues of the UAE and they had to come up with a plan to be a tourism destination. While a strict Muslim country, they allow alcohol to be served in restaurants that are connected to hotels for tourists. You can find pork products in their grocery stores. Western dress is appropriate for the tourists, even to the point of women wearing a bikini in the pools and beaches of Dubai. Women will feel respected and safe in the Emirate of Dubai.

A visit to Abu Dhabi is recommended if you have the time. Abu Dhabi is about two hours from Dubai and is a different Emirate. Abu Dhabi has not yet developed to the extent that Dubai has, but every indication is that they will develop similarly. Here, you can visit the Shekh Zayed Grand Mosque. This is the 8th largest Mosque in the world, and the largest in the Emirates, all decked out in white marble and gold. At the other end of the spectrum is Ferrari World, the worlds largest indoor theme park. Here, you can immerse yourself in all things Ferrari. If you like museums, there are five, with more coming. They include an art museum and an auto museum.

Getting there: There are no non-stops at present time from MSP to Dubai, and given the distance, there is not much of a chance that there will be in the near future. One stop connecting flights from MSP to Dubai are offered by Delta, KLM, Air France, American, Cathay Pacific, Ethiad Airways, Qatar Airways, United, Virgin Atlantic, Korean Air, Lufthansa and Emirates. Most of these are code share flights meaning that the flights may be operated by a different airline than the name on your ticket. US citizens will need a visa to visit and these are supplied at no charge when you process through immigration at the airport.

Distinctive Voyages — From Schilling Travel

Schilling Travel has been delivering unique experiences to our leisure clients for more than 90 years. We try to list some of the standard ones here, however we can put together any independent travel that you might want to do. All of the trips we have preplanned can be modified to meet your needs, or you can use these trips as a starting point for planning your own trip. If you do not have the time to plan, these preplanned trips might be just the ticket you need to get out of town and experience a wonderful vacation.

One of the programs we offer is called “Distinctive Voyages.” These preplanned trips offer added value you will not find from the online travel vendors.  We have listed some of them in the standard section of our leisure travel web site. In this blog article, we are offering a bit more information and more destinations. *See below for additonal information. These trips offer a knowledgeable expert as a cruise guide, a private cocktail reception, and an exclusive land event, not offered to other travelers.

Regent Seven Seas

Regent is a cruise line with mid size ships and top level service. Unlike many cruise lines, you will find that almost everything is included in the price you pay, leaving sticker shock on departure day behind. Regent offers dozens of 7-46 night trips with a host, cocktail party, and shore event in all areas of the world.

Cunard

Cunard has been offering exceptional service for 175 years. Cunard offers  ten 13-14 night sailings with a host, party, and land event, or car and private driver.

Holland America

Holland America asks you to Savor the Journey with exceptional service, food and wine.Holland America  offers  a dozen 7 to 113 nights with a host, party, and land event, or car and private driver. The longer cruises are world cruises.

Crystal

Crystal has two of the highest rated individual ships in the world. Crystal has many 7-24 night sailings with a host, party, and land event in the Caribbean, Alaska, Asia, South America and Europe.

Azamara

Azamara combines warmth and sophistication with authentic experiences of local life on shore. Azamara has cruises from 7-14 days in Europe, Caribbean and Central America.

Ask us to send you our current brochure with all of these offers. Call us at 612-332-1100 or email us at info@schillingtravel.com .

Celebrity

My wife and I have hosted 3 cruises on Celebrity. Celebrity has impeccable service, wonderful shows and great food. Coming in 2019 is the Celebrity Edge which has a moving “Magic Carpet” lounge that can serve as the tender dock in the morning, mid ship restaurant at noon, and a topside lounge and restaurant at night.

Check out our website for some of the upcoming distinctive voyages. We only publish a few of them and there are hundreds of them each year.