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Unfamiliar Street: Hamilton, Bermuda

'Unfamiliar Street' is a travel column in which we take you around the world and introduce you to a cool STREET far from the well-trod gravel of Prospect Avenue.


I still don’t know the name of the street, but I fell in love with it on my first night in Bermuda.

I walked out of dinner with my friends around 8 p.m., and it was dark outside already. Feeling overly stuffed, we decided to walk around a lovely little town called Hamilton. Unlike New York City, there is no street light every five feet. The whole town is dim with staggering lights coming from the households uphill and flickering candlelight from oceanside restaurants.

We took a turn, and suddenly we came across a little alley illuminated by Christmas lights. Due to the unexpected brightness, I shut my eyes for a second and then opened them to what I now consider a wonderful surprise. It felt like walking in the dark and suddenly discovering a new territory — a welcoming, gleaming one.

With the light, I could see the stairs clearly. Each step has a different color, and going up the stairs felt like going down a palette, or rather, a rainbow. Bermuda is an extremely colorful place, and driving from the airport, I did not see two houses next to each other with the same color. However, this unfamiliar little street outshone many others, with 30 steps and 30 distinct colors.

What made it even better was the writing on the stairs. The lower part of the stairs read: “There is magic at your fingertips, look closely and see it, unfolding from weary bones.” Walking up the stairs and reading the lines step by step, these aphoristic comments warmed my heart on that slightly chilly night.

I wonder who painted them: One person? Multiple people? Children? High schoolers? Artists on vacation? A myriad of questions popped into my head, and there was no answer to be found. The mystery behind the creator made me love the street even more.


I went with two of my friends, and we were all taking it in silently. We met up at the top of the stairs around the same time. Needless to say, we wanted a picture together. As we were wondering about who should take the photo, a cook named Bob from a restaurant by the stairs came out and offered to do us the favor. I thought he was just going take the picture and leave, but he ended up talking to us on the stairs for an hour.

He passionately told us stories about the history of Bermuda: how the settlement began — from the Northern corner down to the South. This is why the forts are in the north and the malls are in the south. He then told us it is still a British territory, which explains why they drive on the left and have portraits of Queen Elizabeth everywhere. He told us about schools: ten elementary schools, five middle schools, three high schools and one university. Everyone has to wear a uniform. He told us there were about 600 taxis in Bermuda, so we should never worry about not being able to get one. At one point, he ran back into his kitchen and came out with three sundaes in his hand. He talked. I listened. We laughed.

There is a Chinese proverb that goes: “The scenery is pretty, but the people make it prettier.” Indeed, that street left me with so many memories because of Bob, my honorary tour guide, and Bermy-pedia of the night. It's true, not just Bob, but basically everyone in Bermuda seems approachable. They want to help you; they want to make conversation with you; they want to get to know you. I was in New York City the night before, and it was such a contrast between New Yorkers and locals in Bermuda. I learned something new about someone every day, and they never failed to bring a smile on my face.

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