On our second day in port we decided to take the ferry back to Hamilton and book a sailing on the Reef Explorer. Unfortunately when we got there we discovered that the Reef Explorer was not sailing at 10 AM that day.
Instead we boarded a bus (they are pink in Bermuda) to Grotto Bay.
Getting the bus on was a 'thing' since the ticket booth was closed due to a 'toxic smell' which led to all sorts of male grade 7 grade jokes. Finally we figured it all out and got on the bus we needed. The ride itself was stunning - through the winding back roads of Bermuda that I imagine few tourists ever see.
A former student of mine had given me some advice about Grotto Bay - mainly how to see the caves without the crowds and expense of taking the regular tour. Sure enough he was right and in no time we were here:
Nancy and Joanne weren't sure that they wanted to go through that crevasse to see what was on the other side. Of course, John, Paul, and I just went for it.
On the other side we saw some stunning caves.
Bermuda’s caves are thought to be at least 30 million years old, but both they were discovered by chance (boys looking for a wayward cricket ball) in 1907, a little more than 100 years ago. The area surrounding Harrington Sound (which lies to the south of Crystal Cave) is of limestone formation and noted for many subterranean waterways, through which the waters of the sound empty into the Atlantic. The caves are spectacularly beautiful, with many stalactites, stalagmites, and deep crystal-clear pools.
People could swim in this cave. We didn't join in but we did put our feet in . . . which was enough to tell us we had made a good choice - the water was chilly!
Rather than wait for a bus to take us the rest of the way into St. Georges we decided to take a cab. In about 20 minutes (and with some great commentary from the driver) we were deposited in the main square of Bermuda's only UNESCO Heritage spot.
The permanent settlement of St George began in August 1612 with the arrival of a governor, a clergyman, and 60 settlers, to be joined a few months later by 600 more people. The layout of the Town is one that has grown organically over nearly four centuries. At its heart is King's Square (or Market Square), adjacent to the harbour, and providing the link between the harbour and the two main east-west roads that connect the Town with the rest of Bermuda: Water Street, giving access to the quays, and York Street to the north, the main street of the Town. The streets to the north provide a network of what began as narrow, winding lanes and alleys.
The architecture of Bermuda is unique, and has changed little in its basic elements since the end of the 17th century. Different from other European-founded cities of the New World, St George has maintained the individually separated house for habitation, so typical of the English settlements in North America. Because of the nature of the soft limestone that continues to be used for construction, walls, including roofs, are white-washed and often painted bright colours. Since sources of water are scarce on the island, the white colour of the roofs and pitch are designed to collect rain water into cisterns through gutters and other conduits adding to the unique appearance of the town.
There are several churches, the most important of which is St Peter’s Church, the oldest Anglican Church site in continuous use in the Western Hemisphere.
The mid-18th century was a time of economic stagnation for the town, but military activities during the American Revolution (1776-83) saw the beginning of a boom. The Corporation of St George was formed in 1797. St George was to remain a strategic military location for the next two centuries until the US naval base closed in 1995. The economy picked up again with the development of the tourist industry in the later 19th century. The Town and its Corporation’s efforts to save historic buildings began as early as 1920.
When we got to St. Georges we were a bit hungry. Stephen had suggested a restaurant called Wahoo and said if we were there before noon we should be able to get a spot with a great view of the water. He was right!
I started off with a new drink - a yellow bird.
OK. I might have had 2.
Lunch was an amazing fish sandwich.
After lunch we wandered around the town exploring and shopping. By late afternoon we were hot and tired. We had a quick ice cream beak.
A scoop of Bailey's Irish Cream and a scoop of Rum Raisin.
Afterwards we boarded the ferry back to the Dockyards.
This is the pic Stephen took from his window of the ferry heading back to the ship . . .
On our first day in Bermuda we boarded a ferry into Hamilton once the package excursion folks had headed out. When we got into Hamilton we looked at a map and decided to walk to Fort Hamilton - of course we got lost and walked twice as long as we should have but we got there eventually. :-)
Located in the outskirts of Hamilton City, Fort Hamilton is a picturesque site overlooking the lush gardens and the harbor. It was built in 1870s to protect the Hamilton Harbor and form a line of defense for the western Royal Naval Dockyard.
Today it offers spectacular views over the rooftops of Hamilton, especially when cruise ships are in port. The upper levels and battlements have been landscaped with lawns, which would make a fine place for a summer picnic. You enter through an wooden bridge (for free). There are plenty of canons and ramparts inside although these large cannons that stand guard over Hamilton port never had to be fired to defend enemy attacks.
Long tunnels in the depths where originally dug as the protected routes through which the ammunitions were replenished. They also lead to 30-foot wide deep moat surrounding the fort. This used to be a dry moat once and acted as the first line of protection against manned assault.
But now the moat has been converted into a splendid tropical gardens with varieties of giant bamboo and fern. We never did figure out how to get down into this area instead admiring the gardens from above.
After losing its significance as a fort even before it was fully constructed, it became a garbage dumping ground. George Ogden, the local Park Superintendent turned it into a wonderful site with lush gardens all around.
We left port at 4 PM on Sunday. We arrived at port in Bermuda yesterday (Wednesday) morning.
I've been asked how far it is between the two ports. I think this pic shows the perspective. This is where we were Monday night:
That little blue dot between NY and Bermuda is our ship.
It was funny - on Sunday I overheard a guy telling his travel companions that they would see 4th of July fireworks from the coastal cities while we were at sea on Monday. I do hope his travel companions weren't relying on him for any important trip planning because if this is indicative of his level of knowledge they are bound to get lost.
The cruise has been great. No one has been sea sick. We've seen some good shows and some OK shows. We have had some amazing food, some good food, and some OK food. We ave been stuck around people we'd have liked to toss overboard. I gather this is all pretty normal.
The biggest challenge with the food is there has been too much of it. I doubt any of my clothes will fit when we get to Montreal.
This will make my meetings there a challenge!
The drink package has been a great deal - we're certainly getting our money's worth. :-)
Monday was spa day. I had my first manicure and a anti-aging men's facial. Shockingly, I liked both. I didn't care for the lectures I received from each of the estheticians (is that the right term - what do I know?) but none of that was enough to keep me from going back.
The nice thing about a big ship like this is there is plenty of space to get away from people. For sure there are those among the 2000 guests we are quite annoying but with so many spots to spread out we can avoid them. Mind you, there was an unfortunate incident involving a cackling, swearing group, security, and some of our group which I napped through on Tuesday. Other than that it has been great.
We have three days in Bermuda.
A former student of mine who lives here put together an itinerary for us which allows us to avoid the ship excursions. So far his advice has been excellent - more on that later.
Then we head over to the Newark Cruise terminal to board the Celebrity Summit. We are cruising to Bermuda with our friends Nancy, Joanne, and John. Joanne selected this trip for her 50th birthday celebration (although her birthday is actually in October but she wanted to avoid the risk of hurricanes).
We arrive back in Newark on July 10th. Paul and I head to the airport where we board a flight for Montreal. I'm there for four days of meetings . . . Paolo is there for exploring. SIGH
It is certainly busier than I like a vacation to be but it is what it is. LOL
I realized on the weekend that I haven't been away somewhere for a year. This is unheard of for me. No wonder i have been feeling a bit out of sorts.
We left the snow behind and headed to California for a long weekend of fun. We shoppedm toured wineries, tasted olive oil, met up with good friends, and ate some wonderful food. I can't wait for slow bowl 2009.