Two By Land
21.11.1995 - 25.11.1995
Our second visit was triggered by our daughter-in-law who had come down from Pittsburgh in October for the baptism of one of our grandchildren. She said, "For Thanksgiving, you can come to us". But at that time both Bob and I were working, and we did not get Friday after Thanksgiving off. So it would have been a four hour trip each way. Not my ideal way of spending Thanksgiving. And Bob replied, "We are going to Bermuda for Thanksgiving and to the Virgin Islands for Christmas". This was the first I had heard of this idea. I thought he was joking. But a couple of days later, he asked me if I had bought the tickets. So I said that I was OK with Bermuda for Thanksgiving, but I wanted to go to Costa Rica in January instead of the Virgin Islands for Christmas. This trip was taken before there were digital cameras available, and also it was before I was writing up the trip in emails. So the narrative is based on the photos
We flew in on the Tuesday November 21, 1995 (before Thanksgiving). Because I had waited so late to get tickets, we had to fly in on Tuesday and return on Saturday as there were no tickets for Sunday or Monday.
We stayed in the Hamilton Princess.
Bermuda is off the shore of North Carolina. It is not in the tropics. It is in the Gulf Stream, which keeps it warmer than the coastal US. They do have palms and coral, although only about half of the coral types grow around Bermuda as grow in the Caribbean. I took a picture of the weather report on the TV in our hotel room to give you an idea. It says:
"Climatological Data for Friday 24 November 1995
24-HR PCPN: 0.20 INS
Monthly PCPN: 4.53 INS
AVG. MOV PCPN: 4.1 INS
YTD PCPN: 51.49 INS
Normal YTD: 49.52 INS
HI/LO TEMP: 72.0 65.6
Normal HI/LO: 72.8/65.6
Record HI/LO: 78 - 1975/58 - 1972"
72 deg F is plenty warm for me if I'm going to be walking. But don't expect to come in February to someplace with warm water and hot sun. They do not ever have frost snow or ice, but the record low temperature is 43 deg. F. If you don't absolutely have to swim, Bermuda is quite pleasant in the shoulder season (spring and fall) and the prices are a bit less.
We had a waterside room in the center section on the fourth floor and a MAP meal plan that included breakfast and dinner.
We did a little shopping Tuesday afternoon.
Moon gates are round limestone gates through which honeymooners walk and make a wish to ensure a lifetime of good luck. If you are not a honeymooner - make a wish anyway - can't hurt!! According to Fromers "..the moon gate was introduced to Bermuda around 1920 by the Duke of Westminster's landscape architect, who got his inspiration from such gates in China and Japan"
Wednesday was a little overcast, so we took the bus
out to the Old Royal Navy Dockyard in Sandy's Parish (and to the Bermuda Maritime Museum). I figured that a museum would be a good place to go if it was rainy. I didn't realize that all the buildings weren't connected in one big Museum building. We still had fun, dashing from building to building in the rain or emulating the ducks.
The sign talks about Working Loads of the Main Hoist and Axillary Hoist. The dockyard was built by convict labor. White as well as black.
This shows one of the buildings constructed of limestone at the dockyard. Aside from the Commissioner’s House and the buildings of the Dockyard and its fortifications, no other buildings in Bermuda were ever constructed with this beautiful limestone, as it was too hard to be used for local domestic structures. It also existed only at Ireland Island in amounts that could be economically quarried: such was the luck of the Royal Navy (and our legacy) in the wonderful buildings and fortifications they produced with it. This is probably the Boat Shed because that has the Great Store House Clock on it.
We visited the Gunpowder storage building in 1995. It was closed for renovation but it was scheduled to re-open in 2009
This was built in 1837 (one of the oldest buildings in the yard) as a magazine and once stored 4,860 kegs of gunpowder. The Keep magazine was under the control of the Army until 1930. This hall is dedicated to Queen Elizabeth II, who opened it in 1975
About This Building - According to the informational sign
"Wooden racks in the building held 4860 barrels of gunpowder - used to replenish stores aboard the Royal Navy ships which operated out of Bermuda in the winter months."
" The marks of the racks and some of the barrels still remain imprinted in the soft bitumen floor. Bitumen from the pitch lake in Trinidad was used because it did not spark easily and the less likelyhood of sparks in a gun powder store the better."
"The building was designed to be both bomb and explosion proof. The Bermuda limestone walls are 4 feet thick and 8 layers of brick in the ceiling are topped by further layers of rubble and concrete."
"The ceiling is an extraordinary example of the brick layer's art. Not only is it intricately vaulted but the pointing between the bricks is extruded. Brick was a far safer material to use in a gun powder store than wood which burns easily or cast iron which sparks easily."
"The date show on the end of the building (1850) includes the royal cypher of Queen Victoria - VK for Victoria Regina. Below the date is an air vent."
" Other buildings in this complex served as shifting houses used to temporarily store munitions taken from ships under repair in the Dockyard. There was also a small cooperage for repairing and making gun powder barrels and a live shell store."
A cannon on exhibit in the Boat Shed. A shot has never been fired at an enemy from the bastions of HM Dockyard. But its impressive defences have seen a changing complement of evolving naval guns over the years.
Flags on the upper floor of the Boat Shed building. Bermuda has always been known for boat building. The desirability of the boats was partly due to the superiority of the local red cedar for hulls, but also to their hull design and rig. Being fast sailers, Bermuda-built vessels were preferred by traders, privateers and pirates. Due to the overcutting of the red cedar and eventually to the advent of the internal combustion engine, sailing ships were no longer being build in Bermuda.
I went to the Craft market where I got a nice Bermuda bag with iris on it for my mom, and some clothes for my grandchildren. I thought of buying a model of a bus for my grandsons, but thought it was too expensive
We saw the North Rock Marker there. Located on an isolated limestone reef at the northernmost point of the Bermuda archipelago, about 16 km (10 mi) northwest of St. David's Light and accessible only by boat, the real marker is almost inaccessible to the casual visitor. North Rock is an outcrop on the outer edge of the reefs. Beginning in 1593 with the wreck of the "Bonaventure, this reef was the graveyard of many ships. In 1912, a beacon was put on North Rock, and the beacon was rebuilt in 1960 and 1990. In the Dockyard you can see the round 2-stage fiberglass tower mounted on a concrete base which was the foundation of the 1960 beacon. On the reef, the lower half of tower painted yellow, upper half black. The base originally supported a concrete light tower; later it supported a skeletal tower. I've saw this marker on land in Kings Wharf, so I presume that it is an old one and that they have a newer one out there.
We ate lunch quite reasonably at a kind of buffet/cafeteria in the Clocktower building on the corner. This place has now become Cafe Amici. Cafe Amici is open 7 days a week. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Then we took the ferry back to Hamilton.
I walked through the historical society exhibit in the library and
Bob went to the Perot post office. Then we did some more shopping. We went to Trimingham's. "Established in 1842 by James Harvey Trimingham as a dry goods store, Trimingham's has expanded to become a showcase for fine merchandise from around the world. The store is still family owned and operated to this day." I wanted to buy gifts for family members so I came here. The salespersons were quite helpful, and I was able to ship all the items home (so I didn't have to carry them back with me on the plane). I took the photo (of a dinghy) in the men's department because my mom was an iris judge. I don't know why there was a boat in the men's department, let alone why it had an iris on it.
The best buys are items from the British Isles. I got mostly Irish sweaters for the men, and kilts for the women. But they also have china, crystal and perfume. I did get a cape for my pregnant DIL. They give you the items you have bought in a pink carry-on bag, which I still have. The items for my granddaughter were too small, so they took them back and gave me a credit.
This moon gate is near the Historical Society/library and the Par-La-Ville Gardens in Hamilton.
After dinner we went to a slide presentation at the hotel on Bermudan architecture where they explained such things as the
Bermuda is surrounded by water. But it is salt. One of the problems for the early settlers was not being able to find any fresh water springs. Since then, some have been found, but it's not enough for everybody. So Bermuda has strict rules. Each house must have a clean white roof and must catch the rainwater in a cistern for the use of the household. This is one of the important architectural characteristics of Bermuda architecture. Now there are desalinization plants. But Bermudians still collect water for their cisterns. When I was in Bermuda in 1963, I could look from my St. George hotel over to the catchment basins on the hill opposite. They were for the military base.
On Thursday, we stopped at the Bermuda Aquarium Museum and Zoo in Flatt's Village, Smith Parish (BAMZ)
I took this photo outside the Aquarium. It's not a trash can. It's not a phone box.
It's a mail or post box (for letters). Of course remember that if you post (mail) something here it will need a Bermuda stamp - even though Bermuda will take US dollars for payment, they won't mail your letters or post cards with a US stamps.
We got another bus out to St. George. After lunch at the White Horse in St. George (We ate on the deck, and I found out that I hated the Ploughman's lunch so I fed a lot of my lunch to the ducks in the canal),
We visited St. Peters,
the Carriage Museum in Tucker House
and the Historical Society.
Walking on the back lanes we saw a house called Whitehall
We saw a picture of this house in the architecture slide show and the next day we took our own picture of it. This big old wooden Bermuda house in St. George shows many of the characteristics of Bermuda architecture. Big porches that overhang the windows to keep them cool, central stairway to the first floor, and the typical windows and shutters. High ceilings especially on the first floor allow the heat to rise and escape so the house is kept cooler. The house is flanked by cedars and there is a single car in the driveway.
A more modern house which still has the white roof, balconies shading the ground floor, and pastel color on the walls, no cars parked in the driveway. (Bermuda households are only allowed one car per family unless someone in the family is a taxi driver.) Probably stucco over cement or limestone. Modern sliding glass windows and no shutters.
(For hot climates, a white roof which reflects the sun's heat is the most sensible choice. If you don't have A/C the house will be cooler. If you do, it will not have to work as hard.)The roof is required to be white and kept clean. They are usually of whitewashed limestone tile. All the water is collected via downspots and goes into a cistern for household use.
We didn't board the Deliverance - we just looked at it from the outside,
but we did go to see the free slide show at the Town Hall
We also walked up to Somer's Garden and walked around Somer's Garden.
When Sir George and the crew on the Sea Venture were shipwrecked on Bermuda, they built two ships from Bermuda cedar and after 10 months reached the colony at Jamestown, just in time to enable the colony to survive. Sir George went back to Bermuda to collect more food, but he became ill on the journey. He died in Bermuda on 9 November 1610 at age 56. Local legend says that he loved Bermuda so much that he requested that his heart be buried there. A marker in Somers' Gardens in St. George's marks the approximate location where his heart was supposed to have been buried. The remainder of his body was taken back to his widow in England and buried in his home
On the way back from St. George, we got off at the bus stop near the Railway Museum (route 10 or 11). This is a very small building about the size of a garage which is a former Aquarium Railroad station. The lady that ran it Ms. Rosa Hollis had a nice collection of maps, photographs and old Bermuda Railroad memorabilia from "Old Rattle and Shake," better known as the Bermuda Railway. They give us a glimpse into life on the island in the 1930's and 1940's when the Bermuda Railroad operated.
She has cats and Bob had a good time petting the ones that jumped up on the display cases. It has photos, seats There is a gift shop has interesting antiques and artifacts for sale which we bought a few of.
Back in the day there were no cars in Bermuda and the train ran the whole length of the country. This museum has closed because Ms. Hollis died several years ago.
The big sports in Bermuda are:
a) Golf which I have no experience or expertise to report.
b) Boating and fishing. Bob always wanted to come to Bermuda on our own boat and explore the little islands and coves on our own. I am sure that you can rent or charter boats to do that - I just haven't done it. I'm sure there are fishing charters as well.
c) Diving and snorkeling. Even though I desperately wanted to take one of the glass bottom boat tours to snorkel, the water was a bit too cold for that and the storm on Wednesday stirred things up so the visibility wouldn't have been good.
The weather on the TV showed that the sea temperature is 72.2F or 22.3C. Anything less than 80 is too cold for my husband, and less than about 77 is too cold even for me to stay in for very long without some thermal protection At the time I wasn't certified to do scuba and a resort course would have been about $100 IIRC. So I limited myself to an evening swim in the heated hotel pool (outdoors).
The hotel had a lavish Thanksgiving buffet. Afterwards there was another slide presentation on the flora and fauna of Bermuda.
Botanical Gardens was our first stop on Friday, November 24th There is a free tour on Tuesday and Friday mornings
Bermuda cedar is a wonderful aromatic rich looking wood that is endemic to Bermuda. That means it doesn't grow anywhere else. (It's also not really a cedar.) The first shipwrecked mariners used it to rebuild the Deliverance which took them on to Virginia. It is also extensively used for woodwork in places like St. Peters in St. George. There was even a cedar prison in St. George's.
Juniperus Bermudiana is harder and darker than normal cedar, and it repels moths and fleas and to prevent mildew and rot. Settlers not only used it in ship building but also used it to cure toothaches and coughs (in the form of cedarberry syrup), and they boiled cedar brush in water to break fevers.
Four centuries ago, Bermuda cedars grew throughout the islands, about 500 trees to an acre, according to some reports. But in 1944 Bermuda cedars suffered a tragedy that no one foresaw, when oyster shell scale, a form of fungus, attacked the trees. A year later, another fungus, juniper scale, struck. Ten years later, 90 percent of Bermuda cedars were dead. As many as 75,000 dead cedars were cut down as authorities launched reforestation programs.
and then after lunch at the cafeteria we walked out past Camden (Goverment house
And we hopped the bus to take the 1 pm Friday tour of Spittal Pond (Bermuda's Largest Nature Reserve). We saw plants such as Palmetto: formerly used as thatch for roofs, baskets, hats, and the Bay Grape: a native which produces grapelike edible fruits (used for jelly). The leaves have a waxy/ leathery/plastic feel, an adaptation they've developed to repel salt spray. Also the Cedar (endemic), Olivewood Bark (endemic), Spanish Bayonet (native), Prickly Pear (native), Buttonwood, Sea oxeye, Spiked Rush, Widgeon Grass, and Floppier / Life Plant (1813 brought in as a native of Asia).
We also saw birds such as the Kiskadee: introduced 1951 to control Anolis lizard, the Yellow Crowned Night Heron: reintroduced in 1976 to control crabs and the Longtail: native seabird, breeds in summer, mates for life, produces one chick per year, is on the wing all day only returning to roost at night, feeds on a diet of squid and even some non-native such as the flamingo which they said had been blown in from the zoo by a hurricane.
You can do the mile long walk on your own but it is much more interesting with the rangers.
From the website: Spittal Pond is the National Bermuda Trust's most important area of open space, containing Bermuda?s largest bird sanctuary and the oldest evidence of humans on the Island. Spittal Pond is part of the necklace of wetlands along the South Shore just inside the former sand dunes. The pond is administered jointly by the Trust and the Department of Agriculture.
On top of a high cliff on the southern shore of the Spittal Pond Nature Reserve is "Spanish Rock". Carved into the rock is the date 1543 and some indecipherable letters, no doubt the work of a lone mariner
Jeffrey's Hole is a sea cave formed by the action of the ocean when the sea level was much higher. In the 1700s a runaway slave called Jeffrey apparently hid in this cave for over two weeks. He was recaptured after his owner followed his girlfriend and found that she had been delivering him food.
The tour took a couple of hours and we just missed the bus afterwards. This bus route only runs about every 45 minutes.
We left Saturday afternoon November 25th after stopping off at the horse show (jumping) at the Botanical Garden.
Then we went on out to the airport on St. David's
Although Bermuda is expensive, at current prices (not what we paid in 1995) this 4 days would cost us $1450.00 *each* (a total of $2900) including transportation (airfare, taxi to and from the airport and 3 day bus tickets), hotel with breakfast and dinner, and admissions to the Aquarium, the Dockyard, and various places in St. George. That's because most of the things we did were low cost or free.
This visit started a tradition for us - we traveled someplace at Thanksgiving, and again in the middle of the winter from 1995 until we bought a boat in 1998. We did go to Costa Rica in January 1996 so I could visit the rain forests, and at Thanksgiving we went to Barbados for a week. In January 1997 we chartered a sailboat in the Virgin Islands, and we chartered a different boat with the same crew for Thanksgiving. In February 1998, we went to to Belize so I could scuba dive on the great reef there. and then in December we went to Cozumel so Bob could get certified in Scuba. After I retired in 2000, we traveled south for the winter on our sailboat until the spring of 2004
Our next Bermuda visit was Cruising by Ship in 2004