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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Bermuda by Car.... Literally.... 3

At 5pm each day the Captain makes his daily announcement on how we are travelling....  So the night before arriving in Bermuda word came out that due to the weather  we were travelling a little slower which meant that we would be arriving an hour later but as we had 2 days to get to Ft Lauderdale we could stay an extra hour...
This would have been a relief to the staff as they were looking forward to a combined BBQ that had been organised by Princess for the Crew on both our boat and the Caribbean Princess that was in port with us.
Our arrival time was now due at 11am, but we must have been slower than anticipated cause we didn’t arrive till 11.30am.
It was lovely to be up on deck in the sunshine as we sailed into West End... something we hadn’t done since our call to Lisbon.  Bermuda is surrounded by a lot of reefs and the channel is quite narrow to get into the harbour.  We approached the island from the St George end and sailed quite close to the shore. 
Then we wove our way around the reefs where if you looked close enough you could spot lots of flying fish and even the odd sea turtle in the beautiful clear blue water.  As we moved around the island it looked like we were now heading back out to sea, but we needed to cruise this big loop to get back into the Dockyard to avoid hitting a reef.  I tried to take a picture of how close we were to one of the markers to show narrow the channel was that we passed through.
We felt sorry for the poor little girl at the Pursers Desk who must have been given instruction to read out the “Welcome to Bermuda ........ We have now been cleared by customs and you may now go ashore “... ooops  I don’t even think that the first line had been secured , let alone being along side the dock.   This must have caused a bit of chaos down at deck 5 with everyone heading for the gangway that was not even set up yet.... With the fact that all shore tours were meeting on the dock, this caused a lot congestion to get off the ship.... Probably the biggest delay we have had on this whole trip...
Once off we found our Taxi drivers.  I had arranged a couple of Vans for 12 of us to tour around the island with Trott Transport.   George was so helpful he even rang me up at 3 am to confirm our booking when I contacted him many months ago..  Robbie was our driver for the day. 
The Royal Naval Dockyard is a little town on its own, you could spend the day wandering around the little shops, arts and craft centre and museums or while the hours away at the Frog and Onion Pub. If you don’t want to walk you can use the little Petit Train shuttle to get you around the precinct... 
As we drove out of the Dockyards Robbie pointed out all the “graffiti “on the building walls... This graffiti was actually emblems painted for each naval ship that had been based here... 
 The roads are narrow just enough for one car to travel in each direction.  The speed limit is only 50km per hour and although the island is only 21 miles long but it takes over 1 ½ hours to wind your way from one end to the other.... which is what we were going to do.... it took a little longer with our stops along the way.
First we stopped at Scaur Hill Fort, here we had panoramic views to both sides of Bermuda.  One side we could see the ships side by side and the other a beautiful vista of Bermuda..... Bermuda has one beautiful vista after another and at every turn you faced with another “Oh look at that” moment.
We then drove into Hamilton, the capital, for a quick drive by tour of the city. We noticed that our guide Robbie was also fond of the flora on the island and would point out and name alot of the plants we passed, so it didn’t surprise us when we did a quick drive through one of the local Nurseries.
Moving further along we stopped at Flatts Bridge.  This caught our eye as there was all this water rapidly flowing under the bridge and into the inlet..... This is caused by the high and low tides..... Just fascinating to watch especially when a boat would come through just like it would if you white water rafting.  Another bonus was that across the road there was a pool that had 3 large green sea turtles swimming around.
Off again till we reached the town of St George... the original capital of Bermuda.  Here you could see and English influence, with lots of little shops, pubs and churches.  We drove around to Fort St Catherine but we actually got better photos of it from the sea when we first reached Bermuda .
We called into St David’s Lighthouse , once again climbing to the top for the breathtaking views. We pointed out a house with a moon gate out the front, Robbie told us that was his sister In laws house.  You know this is a small island when your guide knows every second person.... at first when you hear a toot of horn you think that we are driving too slow or cutting someone off... but in fact they are hello’s to our driver from his friends.  The Moongates are popular throughout Bermuda and often see them at the front of peoples homes and as you have seen in pictures, there is a large one just out front of the ship... guaranteed to give you luck if you kiss underneath.
Sydney has the NRL , Melbourne has the AFL ...... and Bermuda has it’s cricket  Cup Match...... Somerset from the West end verses St George from the East end.  This constituted a long weekend in Bermuda so everyone could watch it....  Families had gathered camping at every beach and Bay we passed by. What we found was that there would be one big Communal tent then all the smaller tents around it where the families would sleep.....  The groups of families looked like they were having so much fun it even made me think I would like to camp too.... 
On the way back to the ship we passed the parade of the winning team St George and fans driving around the entire island.... They were waving flags, tooting horns and a player was proudly hanging on to the Cup as the fans waved them on.
Once back on the ship it was back on deck for our sail away party... something we had missed due to the cooler weather.  Tonight there was also another deck party themed Red , White and Blue as we were now heading for the USA.

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