Hello again my dear reader,
I wanted to share with you our experiences regarding food shopping in Bermuda. These will be most useful if and when you visit the island. So far, we have shopped for food and other essentials in two places all in all:
- Somers Supermarket in St George
- The Market Place in Hamilton
Somers is a reasonably upmarket place. Some of the products they sell are stamped with the Waitrose stamp. I’m not sure if they buy them from Waitrose UK for resale or if they have some sort of other agreement in place. Anyway, despite being a pretty small shop, it’s pretty well equipped and we managed to buy from there everything from toilet paper and toothbrushes to olive oil (a necessity if you’re Greek) ham, cheese, bacon. The prices are a little frightening if you’ve just landed here from the Czech Republic but look far more normal when compared with the prices in London. For a better comparison, I intend to use the services of a site that specialises in price comparison across the world which is developed by a mate of mine in Prague. But, the full story regarding prices will have to wait until another day. For now, just know that Bermuda is a little more expensive than London in some things and a little cheaper than London in others.
The Market Place in Hamilton is part of a chain of supermarkets on the island with the same name. I vaguely remember seeing another one in Flatt’s Village. I guess you can say that the Market Place caters for a different class of customer, more along the lines of a Tesco or Sainsbury’s in the UK, as opposed to the Waitrose-like aspirations of Sommers. Having said that, the prices are better and, at least the one in Hamilton, is a really pleasant supermarket! The aisles are wide, the food clearly labelled, the staff always friendly (a common theme in Bermuda, remember) and the fresh produce is absolutely fabulous much in contrast with Sommers where the fresh produce was a little disappointing. I would definitely say that The Market Place is my kind of supermarket, focusing on products and service over “coolness”.
One thing that sometimes happens in Bermuda is that the shops employ kids to bag for you. I was a little surprised the first time round and didn’t quite figure out who to tip or how much is acceptable but I got used to it in the end. It seems that $1 is a decent enough tip and you get your stuff bagged for free. They use brown paper bags here like in the US which I think is a huge improvement on the plastic chaos of places like Greece. I wish we, in Greece, could learn a little from other places and introduce more recyclable and biodegradable materials. This is because, of course, the plastic bags given out by supermarkets are recyclable but there is almost nowhere in Greece where you can drop them off for recycling. This is especially true of my hometown of Rethymno. And, even if a bag is mistakenly dropped outside in the environment, a paper bag will degrade much quicker than a plastic one, albeit recyclable plastic.
I’ll just take a moment to compare these shops here in Bermuda to my former local supermarket in Vinohrady, Prague. I’m talking about the Albert store on Vinohradska which was maybe 50m from my front door. The short story is that there is no comparison. The Albert store on Vinohradska is quite possibly the worst supermarket I have ever been to. The staff are rude and don’t want to help, there is always a gigantic line at the check-out counters because they can’t be bothered to have more staff on (note: more staff is there, they just don’t come to the check-outs), there are always products piled on the floor because they can not be asked to place them on shelves, the fresh produce is really disgusting and mostly inedible. In terms of good points for Albert vs Bermuda shops, their selection of hams, salamis and cheeses is certainly better and the bread is far superior in the Czech republic in general than here in Bermuda. The problem with bread here is that most things are sweet. I don’t know why this is the case, I suspect it’s because things come from the US and therefore have to be sweet and soft for fat Americans to enjoy. Bread is one of those things that I really enjoy, really understand and have a genuine passion for. So, I’m greatly disappointed with the soft crappy bread we have found here so far. I can see that there will be a post soon-ish about a bread maker and our attempts at making decent bread that doesn’t fall apart when drizzled with, say, oil. So, in short, Bermuda supermarkets are very friendly and helpful but the produce is too American for my liking (so far, maybe we’ll adjust) and Czech supermarkets have a better selection of some goods but terrible customer service.
Anyway, it’s time to go yet again. Today is Sunday and it’s a little like Vienna here (except for the snow and cold of course, it’s 20 C outside and sunny) in that the shops are all closed. I’m thinking that I may even attempt to get in the water today. The locals consider this weather far too cold to go for a swim but I’m already starting to get tempted because my inner core has finally thawed after being removed from the -10 C of Prague and being place in the comfortable +20 C of Bermuda. My dear reader, I wish you a happy new year again and urge you to keep checking for updates, there is a string of posts waiting to be published!