Monday was officially our second anniversary. In the morning we worked out and then enjoyed Bermuda rum cake we brought back from our observed anniversary in August with coffee from my favorite coffee shop, Lula Bean, in special NYC cups that Rob found. During the day we packed, shipped boxes, worked and cleaned. In the evening we brought a special bottle of wine from the case my cousins gave us for our wedding to the cute dinner spot we'd picked out in Williamsburg, El Almacen. The whole day was exactly how I'd hoped my second anniversary would be--love and celebration mixed with normal every day life!
Rob and I aspire to be true travel hackers some day. I read blog posts and follow people on Twitter who talk about traveling the world multiple times a year without spending a dime on airfare or lodging. We are by no means experts in the field of travel hackery, but we have dabbled in it. Many credit card companies offer airline miles, free hotel stays, cash back and other perks for spending a certain amount of money or simply opening up the card. Those who travel for next to nothing have become experts in finding and using these credit cards to get the most bang for their buck. When we decided we wanted to take a trip for our anniversary, we figured it would be the perfect time to try out getting a new credit card that would give us a specific travel perk like airline miles or a free hotel stay.
Bermuda had been in the back of our minds so Rob focused his search on cards that would give us perks in Bermuda. The only chain hotel on the island is Fairmont so we zeroed in and found the perfect card. Rob did most of the research on NerdWallet and found the Fairmont Signature Card through Chase. The perk was two free nights at any Fairmont (not including taxes or food charged to the room) after spending $3000 in the first 90 days. We picked the Hamilton Princess Fairmont in Hamilton Bermuda, transferred all our recurring payments to the new card and made sure to use it as the primary payment method so we could reach our goal. We did reach our goal and the Hamilton Princess was a fabulous place to stay to celebrate our two year anniversary!
Caution: if you are applying for a loan in the next 6-12 months I suggest not dabbling in this hobby. Opening new credit cards can negatively affect your credit rating which could make it hard or impossible to get a loan.
Rob and I got a surprising geography lesson at dinner with friends a few months ago. First we learned that Bermuda and the Bahamas are not the same place. Ok, we probably already knew that, but if you don’t really think of either place often it is easy to confuse the two. Second we learned that, Bermuda is not in the Caribbean. This bit of information is what really shocked us. I had been living my life assuming that Bermuda was an island off of Florida. I’ll admit I never really looked at a map to confirm this, but what I knew about the island- beaches, warm weather, clear water, cruise ship ports- all made me assume it was in the Caribbean. It turns out it is about 1000 miles away! In case this is news to you too, Bermuda is due east from South Carolina and the closest landmass is Cape Hatteras in North Carolina, 640 miles away (confused? Check out the map). It is closer to New York than to its other buddies in the Beach Boys song Kokomo. Because of it’s proximity to NY, Rob suggested checking out Bermuda for our second anniversary celebration.
Our anniversary is in October which is my favorite month, especially on the east coast. I love the fall weather, colors, and how the crisp air makes me feel.
We planned our stay in NYC to last two months longer than we told our family and friends it would, just so that I could experience two fall seasons. So it was important to me, while planning this anniversary, to make sure that it didn’t take any time away from our time on the east coast in the fall. We decided to celebrate our anniversary two months early and take the trip in August. And since we were already going to be in travel mode from three weeks in CA, we thought why not tack Bermuda onto the end of that trip? And so, we ended our trip to CA with a relaxing vacation in Bermuda.
Being in Bermuda turned out to be what we needed more than we thought we would. After traveling all over CA visiting friends and family, it was nice to unwind in a beautiful, tranquil and quiet country. My favorite beach was Turtle Bay. A small beach on the west side that is hard to get to or even know about without the help of a local. We only made it there for a brief swim once with our hosts from the bed and breakfast we stayed at for the first two nights. There were so few people there that it felt like we were let in on a wonderful Bermudian secret. We also saw a couple of leatherback turtles, from which the beach gets its name, as they popped their heads out of the water to say hi. It’s a hard place to get to by bus and there were so many beaches we wanted to see that we felt we couldn’t go to the same beach more than once, even though we wanted to.
All of the beaches were what I call “Sonja friendly”. The sand was soft and white, the water was spectacularly clear, there were weren’t a ton of fish and the waves just barely lapped at the water’s edge. All of these things meant that Rob had no problem convincing me to get in the water on more than one occasion. I even went snorkeling, which is normally unheard of for me (I don’t enjoy seeing what is swimming in the water with me). Usually I can be heard screaming through the snorkel and trying to get as far away from the darting fish as I can. But in the Bermuda water, I remained relatively calm and the few fish I saw were very pretty. There was one exception though: I got caught in a large school of multiple types of fish and my calm demeanor flew out the window.
Two things surprised me about Bermuda. The prices of food and the lack of crowds. The high food prices make sense because nearly everything has to be imported. Each meal was at least $50, even lunches! The uncrowded beaches and city streets are what really had me wondering. We never got a real answer as to why it seemed so quiet, but most people agreed it was probably because a lot of schools were about to start again or had started, so families weren’t traveling anymore. It made the peaceful country even more peaceful and we enjoyed not sharing the beaches and sights with throngs of people.
Another thing that I noticed was how friendly everyone was. Every person we passed on the street said hi, and any time we needed directions or restaurant recommendations, people went above and beyond to help us out. I have been trying to emulate this behavior since our return to NYC and while the looks I get from some New Yorkers when I say hi to them aren’t very welcoming, it has made me feel happier (and I know it makes them feel happier deep down too).
Bermuda was marvelous and the weekend was beyond compare. We laughed at the amount of times we day-dreamed about bringing our families back and sharing it with them, but Bermuda is a place that you want to share with those you love.
Vacation is over and it's back to the daily grind. I didn't get in as much guided meditation as I would have liked, but I did have lots of calm, relaxing moments to focus on my breath and on how lucky I am to live the life I'm living. This hammock in the water in Bermuda was my favorite place of reflection. I hope I can carry the sense of calm I felt in that moment with me for a long time.