WELCOME BACK to another adventure. This time we head to Hamilton, BERMUDA (June 15th-June 18th)!!!!
This trip was definitely not apart of my plans for 2019. Earlier in the year, my best friend had told me she wanted to attend Bermuda Carnival or Bermuda Heroes Weekend. As you have read (It’s Carnival Post), my previous experience with carnival was not too great, so I was not too interested in making the trip. As it got closer to the time to begin planning for the tripI began to consider it. I had already created a list of different places I wanted to go to celebrate my birthday but the timing and funds were not adding up to my liking. Another reason I was skeptical about going was because it was the end of the school year and that’s usually my busiest time of the year. My final decision was made on a day when I had a bit of a rough day at work. I text my best friend I’m coming, I’ll figure the rest out later, and so the planning began.
As with any carnival, the two most important things to get early is flight and costume. I booked my flight in March for $392 with United Airlines (cheapest at that time, earlier could be cheaper). Costume release occurred in March. When purchasing the costume you were given two options to pay in full or to do payments which had to be completed by May 30th. Now this is the part where I tell you DON’T BE LIKE ME. When my best friend first sent me the link to select my costume I was going through an internal struggle of whether or not I wanted to add wings to my costume. Let me explain. A costume can become expensive depending on the details you want to add. The base price of the costume was $355. This price only included the full body suit, the leg pieces, the head piece, and the gift bag with your wristbands, cup for the road, towel, food tickets etc. To add other items such as the wings, that’s where the price increases. In my case that increase was another $250. YUP $250!!! Now you can see my internal struggle. Keep in mind each carnival is different and costumes can be as high as $1500 to $2000 for other carnivals.
I debated with myself about how important are these wings to me and where am I going to put them once I am done. Needless to say I ended up getting the wings but not with my original purchase. Since I was debating so much I ended up purchasing my costume, thinking that I did go back and add the wings, only to realize later that I had not done so. THANK GOD for the band (CODE_RED BDA) I played mas with because they were amazing in helping me fix this error and adding my wings. A special shoutout to BLACKA who made my experience perfect! I don’t recommend debating with yourself. GET THE WINGS!!!! IT’S WORTH IT! Since I had to wait to get my wings because of them having to add them later on, I had to get a different set of wings based on what was available. They were still PERFECT!
(the left are the wings that were supposed to go with my costume vs. the ones I had)
The next most important thing is hotel, and that is depending on how big the carnival is. Bermuda is still new to the carnival scene. This year was only their 5th year having carnival, so hotels were not scarce like Trinidad’s carnival. My best friend did a great job at hotel selection and we had a great experience staying at the Hamilton Princess Bermuda. Please be mindful that prices are sometimes hit or miss. We had a good price for the room in which we each paid $325 per person (4 people) for 4 days and 3 nights. I recommend you do your research when considering Bermuda as a vacation spot because it can be a bit pricey.
Once all the preplanning was complete (i.e, flight, hotel, costume) now are the parties. Well for us we didn’t do any of the traditional carnival parties. I know, I know, how in the world do you go to carnival and not do j’ouvert or any fetes. Well honestly, it’s very easy. Bermuda carnival parties were definitely on the expensive side in comparison to parties at Trinidad carnival. A fete in Bermuda averaged $80-$100 USD in Trinidad it is about 1/2 the price. I’m not a major party person, and attending carnival itself can be enough for me, so I was not interested in spending an additional $100 for a party or parties. However, I do recommend going if you have never had the experience, that way moving forward you can make a decision on how much you want to spend. As for us, we still found plenty of ways to have fun during the days leading up to carnival Monday.
Saturday June 15th: Day 1 was the day of arrival. The four of us linked up at the airport for a nice breakfast and discussed the fun we knew we were about to have. After boarding our flight from EWR to BDA we mentally prepared to have the time of our lives and leave it all in Bermuda. The airport in Bermuda is smaller than most. You are able to deplane from the front and back of the plane and head into the terminal to immigration/security checkpoint. The process through immigration depending on how many people are arriving was only about 30min and then the fun begins. As soon as we were through, our first stop was the “beverage” store lol. We purchased the items we wanted to partake in for the weekend and headed to grab a taxi to the hotel.
Taxi’s are available as soon as you walk out of the airport so no need to worry. Your hotel may also provide shuttle service so it will be good to check with them. As we were heading to the hotel we decided to go ahead and stop to collect our costumes. This will happen at every carnival. You preorder your costume and then follow the pick up location and schedule that is sent out to you leading up to the event. Save and print all documentation pertaining to your costume so you’ll have it with you when you go to pick it up. Unlike my experience in Trinidad this costume pick up process was great. Everything was organized and easy to follow. The woman working with us had all of our purchase orders and went through each of our bags one by one to ensure we had everything we needed for the events.
The quality of the items were great and they weren’t just thrown into a brown paper bag. Each bag already had your name on it and waiting for your arrival. The only challenges we faced were with wings. Two of us had to wait until the following day to get ours but they were perfect and specially delivered to us at our hotel. Again CODE RED team was amazing and had great customer service. Having great customer service is every important when attending carnival, so make sure you are selecting a band that is known for caring about the costumer and willing to assist you during your experience.
After leaving the costume pickup location we headed to the hotel. After checking in and getting settled it was time to try on all costumes. This is MANDATORY!!! Please, please, please try on your costume as soon as you get it. This will eliminate any surprises and give you time to make any adjustments if necessary BELEIVE ME!! I am a bit conservative when it comes to clothing. Some times I am willing to push past my comfort zone but with this costume I had the throw my comfort zone out the window. When I tell you I almost did not participate in carnival because my costume was NOT what I thought it was going to be. The overall design was everything but the cut was wayyyyy off. I had purposely picked that style because I figured it would give me all the glitz and glamour and cover me a bit. I was wrong! I was mortified! I had to pray about it lol!
(the left: what I ordered vs. the right: what I got)
I did receive the bra that was supposed to go with it but there was no way to wear it together and it look nice.
It took me a while to adjust to the idea of wearing the costume but I figured out a way to feel somewhat better about it. My blessings from God were completely exposed so I had to figure out a way to handle that and ensure they weren’t found on the internet. When heading to carnival it is mandatory that you take with you nipple pasties, needle and thread, tape, body skin gems, and crazy glue. As you see in the pics I had to be creative. The body gems I used, I got from Claire’s for $3. This is the best decision you will make if they come in handy the way mines did. Go get them even if you don’t think you will need them and by 2 of each in case you need it for the left and right lol.
After all of the costume testing was complete we got cute and headed out for our first dinner. The hotel was the perfect location because it has 3 restaurants on the property. This night we decided to dine down by the marina at 1609 Bar & Restaurant . The restaurant sits right on the water with a great view of the sunset. The food was delicious and the atmosphere was relaxing. Again Bermuda can be a bit pricey so if you don’t want to dine here there are plenty of restaurants in walking distance of the hotel. After dinner we walked around the hotel property and then went back to our room and relaxed and rested for the next day.
Sunday June 16th: Day 2 was a perfect vacation day. First thing we did was get up and enjoy brunch at another restaurant on the property, Marcus . Brunch was fully loaded with different breakfast and lunch items. Another great view of the water and hotel property. This restaurant can also be pricey. You have the option of $54 which is brunch only or $94 which is brunch and unlimited champagne. You chose based on your budget. We decided to enjoy brunch only because we already had our beverages of choice.
After brunch it was time to enjoy the pool and make a day of food, drinks, and laughs in the water. Just because we were on a trip that mostly and usually involves partying, I think for the four of us, we needed the relaxation. We all have jobs that we needed a break from and we knew we had plenty of summer festivities planned that would fill in for not attending the parties in Bermuda. So we relaxed. That was the best decision we made. This hotel is designed to relax and will cater to your needs. While relaxing by the pool we were served frozen grapes to cool off, were able to order any additional beverages or food, just recline and listen to music, and even made new friends in the pool. The pool is a large infinity pool of views out to the marina and plenty of chairs in the water to get the best of both worlds. This hotel is definitely a great place to stay.
Once we completed our hours of swimming and sun bathing we got cute and headed out into town for dinner. Since we had already been to two of the property restaurants we decided to venture out and see what was local. We decided on a restaurant called Pickled Onion. The restaurant sits right on the main street (Front St.) right across from the waterfront where you can catch the Hamilton Ferry. The staff there was nice and welcoming, the food was great. I enjoyed their lamb chops with mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables. The lamb was so tender and juicy, I highly recommend it. After dinner we walked around for a bit. The street is lined with so many stores and different restaurants. We then headed back to the hotel and got ready for the big day.
Monday June 17th: Day 3. CARNVIAL MONDAY!!! This is the day we came for. Carnival morning is a process. If you are going to go all out on makeup preparation, you have to give yourself time to get it done or do it yourself. The beauty about this trip was we have all been practicing makeup over the last couple of years since Trinidad carnival, that there was no need to pay someone else to do it for us. Once your makeup look is complete, it’s time to put the costume on. Our report time was 9am so of course we were up and ready. Now, depending on where you are going for carnival, you are possibly about to participate in an event in an area where the majority of the people there have NEVER seen anything like it. Well that was our experience. In Bermuda, many of the people vacationing at our hotel was not familiar with Caribbean culture and definitely not carnival. For them seeing us walking around the hotel in glittered bathing suits with these huge wings was amazing lol. Be prepared to take pictures.
As we were trying to capture our own moments in our costumes, there were many requests to take pictures for and with other guests at the hotel or their children. It becomes an opportunity to explain what is taking place and how they can come see and participate. Many people had no idea the carnival was taking place so they were very excited to come and see all the people in costumes. Enjoy the moment. You may have given that person a great moment to add to their memories of their vacation. After we finished taking pics we headed to our meeting point. All the bands will have one meeting spot, which is usually a park( ours: Queen Elizabeth Park Par Le Ville) where you meet up, have breakfast, lunch, get beverages for the road, and get ready to head out. Bermuda’s road was definitely an interesting experience. In Bermuda their road is designed to cover maybe a 1 mile radius. You are basically going in a circle, so you will pass the same buildings and people multiple times, as opposed to one 6 mile long route like in Trinidad. I am assuming as the carnival gets bigger, so will the parade route.
Now, this is the day where you leave it all on the road. If you have been having a bad week, if you have bills and don’t know how to pay them, if you’re having relationship problems, whatever it is, IT DOES NOT MATTER DURING THIS TIME!!!! Once you hit the road your only concern in life is to have the time of your life. You dance to the beat however you see fit. You can whine up on whoever you want or just do your own two step. NO ONE CARES!!! You are there to cast all you cares away and dance until your heart is content. In between dancing you will get a food break and a minute to rest your feet, get some water, wipe the sweat off, and then get right back on the road. Once it is all said and done you only want to be able to walk back to your hotel and pass out! ENJOY IT!
Tuesday June 18th: Day 4. Departure Day. This was the day we said goodbye to Bermuda. That morning we got up and made sure we were packed up. We walked the island and stopped at the different souvenir shops. One of the best stores there for souvenirs was called Flying Colours. This shop has a lot of different and reasonably priced items (i.e t-shirt, shot glasses, bags, hats, etc). After grabbing a couple of items, we then walked the island and just took in the different areas. The island has a lot of alleys that connect and have other shops and restaurants. When you go, take your time to walk around and check out the different boutiques and local eateries. We then stopped at a restaurant and grabbed our last meal before heading to the airport.
If you want to travel home with your wings be prepared to be stared at a lot and not being certain where they are going to fit. This was our first time having this experience. We brought garment bags with us but they were not big enough to hold our wings. It is best to order an extra large garment bag from Amazon, such as 60″ or 72″ bag. This will ensure that your wings get home safely and they can remain with you. As our first journey with wings, things didn’t run as smoothly. You could hear all the whispers of people wondering how we were getting the wings on the plane. Luckily for us everything worked out. A woman at the airport let us know that they would place the wings under the plane with the luggage and we would pick them up at baggage claim. When we first arrived back in Newark, our wings were no where to be found. After I asked any and every who would listen, I was told that they had been checked in as oversized items and they were in a different location from regular luggage claim. As I walked over to that location, I was so happy to see our wings had made it home with us. They were not wrapped in anything so they were completely open to being damaged. However, the Lord knew how much we wanted them and aside from them being wet because it was raining, they all came home in good condition and are hanging up.
As this trip is over, it only leaves a desire to plan another carnival. If you have not considered attending a carnival I suggest you do so. There is no experience like it. It doesn’t matter your body size and how well you can dance, all that matters is your desire to let go and have the time of your life. So go for it!! You might surprise yourself. I sure as hell did!!!
This was definitely a great way to start year 33. I hope you enjoyed this journey. Until next time…..