We meet in riviera lounge at 905 am. Earlier I had room service and checked out the weather from the balcony. Windy, bit of overcast, looks like it did rain last night. So glad we did the hot sun and bevvies yesterday. However, ever the optimist, I am hopeful for sunshine on this full day tour of the entire island of Bermuda.
We completed our food order for a few days from now … In Grand Dining Room.
I get my ticket and walk briskly hoping for a front seat on the bus …. And am successful. The bus is full, lots of interesting people board. I have some ginger tabs In case the bus ride causes me any grief.
Today I am hopeful for coastal vistas, lots of pics of the sea, and seeing both tips of the island. It is Easter Sunday. Interesting tour guide, JG Tweed. (Jimmy to his friends). Lots of sight seeing, and no shopping open today. Going to drive on left side of road. He explains his story about why English drive on left. We depart the Dockyard at 920 am.
This is the first cruise ship of the season to land in Bermuda.
Fortresses and homes made of Bermuda Stone. History of large quarries and using stone from the hills as the hills destroyed .. For building homes. The water is captured from the roofs and down the gutters to the captured area in the basement under the veranda, mostly. If pipes are seen on outside of house they are old homes. New homes may have pipes inside the house structure. All gather the water this way. The containers under the house are lined in very smooth cement. The roofs painted white of all homes. The water stays pure. Not to keep water under bedrooms as the floors would then be too cold due to dampness. Gold fish sometimes put in the water tanks, to eat cockroaches and ants. How big did the goldfish get? Hmmmmmm.
I believe the white painted roofs also keeps the roof cool and keeps that area from rotting. Spots can be seen on the brightly coloured homes, where mould and rot starts to work away at the structure, or at least the paint! Bright colours, pastel colors, all trimmed in white. Some very old and very high end homes have Bermuda cedar trim, although the trees are all gone due to blight … So now the cost is prohibitive and the cedar trees are fragile. The islands try to grow them again.
This island is self contained and made up of some 175 islands, about seven main islands connected by 13 bridges. There are a few male prisons on the island, we saw new and old ones. Coral reefs surround the island and protect from intruders in the past. The water is a delightful light green blue, pale in spots and transparent. Cactus growing wild in places, Palm trees, paw paw trees, red round mailboxes and a population of around 65,000. Banana plants unique to Bermuda are small and planted as part of gardens bearing fruit once every 18 months. The paw paw tree changes gender every two years. We saw one in bloom and with fruit .. I remember seeing them previously in Disney cartoon movie, the Jungle Book, with Baloo the Bear teaching the boy cub Mowgli.
Wild chickens, birds were really all the wildlife we saw. When Europeans first came to Bermuda, all there was existing was birds and rats for wildlife. Large areas had to burned to kill cockroaches. Argh!
Many large gardens were seen, some community gardens and some private. Cameras on street corners, in shops and along roadways to help reduce criminal activity and to help solve crimes.
Flowers in bloom on bushes and trees throughout the island, deep purple hues, pinks, reds and yellows, oranges and even blue. Hibiscus, Oleander and more. The floral scents are captured in perfume factories on the island, for sale locally. In fact Bermuda has no exports, only imports. They must import everything and there is high tax on things like motor cars and mopeds. People are allowed only one car, and the cost of the admin fees can be prohibitive. Many opt out.
Many of the homes have been in the family for generations, not many people leave and still some members stay behind to raise their family in the family home. Almost all single family dwellings are two stories. The top floor where the owners live and the homes are passed down from generation to generation. The bottom floor rented out to create income to pay the admin costs and taxes for the home. Some homes up to and exceeding two hundred years old. Due to a few hurricanes in the past two years, many trees were knocked down and it is easier viewing for the homes. Homes only have to be 20 feet apart and many lands have been subdivided and again, so more homes with family members could be built. Again, from Bermuda stone and then painted bright colors with white trip and roofs. Many homes 175 years of age and older.
Lots of churches dot the sides of the roads, different denominations, and still painted in the pastel and bright colours. Cemeteries are also plentiful and cremations never happen on the island. Bodies are buried in family plots, always facing east. Sometimes stacked three high, painted white …. Interesting. Little children who have been buried have very small but identical structures for the bodies. Also,we saw a military grave sight.
Windy narrow roads all around the island. Several times cars we met had to back up quite a ways to find a spot to pull over so we could pass, bus having the right of way on these public roads. There are some roads busses can’t use as the road is too narrow.
We were introduced to the Island of Peace. An island just off shore, with ten beaches. All were underwater today with the high tide. Speaking of tide, under Flatts Bridge the tide comes and goes every four hours and we could see many eddies, currents and whirl pool areas making this area of water very treacherous.
Some parts of the roadway were made intentionally rough so to provide some better traction for the cars and mopeds to keep control, especially on wet rainy days. Roads are twisty turny and up and down, hidden corners, and no speed signs that I ever saw.
Our guide talked about all the famous people who have homes in the area and where some of them were. Catherine Zeta Jones and Michael Douglas have been seen often here as this is one of their favorite places. They give generously to local Bermudian charities. Steven Spielbergs home was also seen. We saw the smallest drawbridge in the world, only 18 inches wide!
Some of the agriculture and businesses historically included farming, fishing, salt production, boat building and now tourism. Many big hotels have come and gone over the years, we saw that evidence and heard the stories.
Our guide also talked about the stories of the Bermuda Triangle. There is a history of land pirates going out to sea and stealing from the ships, and returning with the goodies to their home island. There are no high tides visible on the north side of the island as the waves fill in the many many caves that go very deep under ground and under sea.
There are over 9 golf courses on the island. Many private and public schools and all children wear school uniforms. St George’s is the World Heritage sight in Bermuda. No one can buy or sell some of the landmark historic buildings even if they are privately owned. These same buildings are to be kept up as they once would have been, with the intention of keeping true to the culture and not loosing the history of this magical place. The oldest Anglican Church in the Western Hemisphere is in Bermuda.
Races are held every year, walking races and half marathons. From St George’s to Hamilton on the Dockyard area. People come from around the world, the U and the USA to compete. Proceeds go to Bermudian charities.
Gibbs Hill Lighthouse is a treat and we stop for photos. Very scenic and great views. The guide mentions that Queen Elizabeth came in 1953 and they named a view sight after her desire to stand, take a moment and enjoy that view. We also stopped at a few beaches to take pictures. Pink sand and crashing surf. An old railway trail exists on the island however no trains anymore, all converted to walking and cycling paths.
A life size and friendly statue of Johnny Burns, a common man who sits every weekday and blows kisses to passersby … For some thirty years or more, way in to his nineties.
That is enough for now,
Bermuda was delightful for two days. Glad I came, wish you were here 🙂
Ciao for now,