Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Windy Day in Bermuda

We have seen some spectacular sunrises. This one was on November 2.

With this pretty one the next day on November 3.

We went up to Skywalkers to enjoy the views from Deck 18. Princess refunded 50% of our cruise fare due to all the missed ports, as long as it is used on a cruise in 2014. We decided to book the same cruise for next year with our fingers crossed that we will have better weather. Jim completed the booking, which I got frustrated with because it was too slow. Someone has patience...and it's not me.

November 4 was extremely windy. As we made our way to Bermuda, we had 40+ knot winds (which is considered a strong gale) coming across the port side of the ship.

And here is Jim enjoying his other pastime…

The waves don’t look that big when you’re on Deck 11 where we were, but everyone was staggering as they walked down the hall, clutching the rails.

Another God sky…

Later in the day, the winds died down as we got closer to our last (and second) port of call.

Look at the beautiful pink puffy sky…

We had to go past the tip of the island near St. George to reach our destination at the Royal Naval Dockyard.

 Going by St. George

There are many little islands at that end of Bermuda.

We passed Fort St. Catherine, which was originally built of wood. It was first used by the militia and then by the Royal Artillery from 1612 until the 20th century. Today it houses a museum.

Almost there…

After a small rain shower, this rainbow appeared. 

Arriving in West End at the Royal Naval Dockyard...

It was nice to again be able to dock right in the city.

Welcome to the Heritage Wharf. The cruise ships used to dock right in the capital city of Hamilton, until in a particularly bad storm, one of the ships caused considerable damage to the wharf. Since that time, they have been docking in West End and you can then take a ferry or taxi to Hamilton.

We had a Cruise Critic tour planned. We met our driver, and with six people in the van, we headed out for a three hour tour (sounds like Gilligan’s Island!). We first passed by the old cemetery.

You are only allowed one car per family in Bermuda, but there didn’t seem to be any limit on the number of boats you could own.

We were immediately struck by the colourful houses. Our driver, Adele, told us that they can paint their houses any colour, but they must have a white roof. That is the Bermudian tradition.

Our first stop was the Heydon Trust Chapel. This tiny cottage is set in 43 acres of lush garden. It dates back to 1616 and is the smallest church in Bermuda. Two nuns still hold services daily.

The chapel has this lovely view...

Our next stop was the 19th century Fort Scaur, which was part of a ring of fortifications built for the defence of Bermuda during conflict between Britain and the US.

A little history…

I loved the roots on this tree…

This cannon was particularly interesting as, once it was fired, it would roll back on a set of rails and drop out of sight. This replica was built in 2009 as part of the celebrations of the 400th anniversary of the island, and is the only one of its kind in the world.

Look at this neat tree root making its way along the wall. The trees are so resilient.

Our next quick stop was at the Port Royal Golf Course where a PGA tournament had just been held.

A very picturesque course...we asked how much it would cost to play here and Adele said she thought it was around $150. That seemed pretty reasonable.

I am sure these guys were happy to have us snapping pictures of them when they all overshot the green.

The houses were so pretty and clean with the white roofs. 

We had another little rain shower, and another rainbow appeared as we made our way into Hamilton.

Hamilton, with the Anglican church resembling a castle on the right.

Although Adele told us that Bermuda had been suffering with the economy, it was hard to tell with the plethora of boats.

The Waving Man statue…Adele told us that there is a gentleman named Johnny Barnes who has been waving to commuters every workday from 3:45 a.m. until 10 a.m. for more than 25 years. Sadly, we had just missed him. He is such an icon that they erected this statue in 1998.

KFC is the only fast food restaurant on the island. There used to be a McDonald’s, but it closed when the US base shut down in 1995.

Our next stop was the very pretty City Hall which resembled a church more than a government building.

I wonder what they put in the time capsule?

I thought perhaps the library was in City Hall because of this statue, but it isn't. It's just a nice statue.

Inside City Hall was this other unique statue…

And a portrait of a much younger Queen Elizabeth...

The streets of Hamilton...surprisingly, the population of Hamilton is only about 2800.

Our next stop was the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity, the Anglican church whose spire we had seen from a distance. 

The church had beautiful stained glass windows, all donated by parishioners.

There were many individual and unique kneeling cushions.

Not a lot of ornamentation...

A banner for the Mother’s Union…

I think it's the first time we have seen soldiers of the World Wars referred to as warriors.

Adele, our tour guide, who was born and raised in Bermuda. She did live in the US for a time, but returned to her native island.

Next stop, the Botanical Gardens...

Look at this amazing old tree...

And this banyan tree...

It was definitely the off season, as this map could have used a "dusting."

Lots of marigolds…Jim was happy.

I think this might be a calabash tree. We saw many of these fruit on the ground and they were as hard as rocks. We concluded that standing under the tree discussing them, probably wasn’t in our best interests.

Maybe in prime season there is water under the bridge.

Back in the van, our next stop was Jobson’s Cove to see one of Bermuda’s famous pink beaches.

The sand definitely had a pinkish hue, but it was the colour of the water that was just stunning.

A handful of sand showed a lot of tiny pink pebbles…

We could have stayed here for a long time. It was just beautiful.

Jim playing King of the Castle...

We drove by the Fairmont Southampton, which Adele recommended as a more moderately priced hotel with great views. 

The next stop on our whirlwind tour was the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse.

The lighthouse is reputed to be one of the oldest cast iron lighthouses in the world.

The map of Bermuda shows how long and skinny the island is. We had started at the Dockyard at the left and had worked our way up to the middle point and were now heading back.

We could see our ship as a tiny vessel in the far background.

Everything looks so pristine. We all agreed it was an island we would love to return to.

A little paradise…

Crystal clear water… 

This was the end of our great tour. We were back at the dockyard, which was built by slave and convict labour. It was a strategic outpost for the Royal Navy more than 200 years ago when British war ships set sail from the dock to attack Washington, DC during the War of 1812.

Now many of the buildings are home to artisans shops.

Adele had recommended this restaurant for local fare, so we went in for a much needed drink.

With this sign advertising internet capabilities, it was full of the ship’s crew who are always looking for less expensive ways to connect with home.

Mmmm…a lovely cold cider.

Jim was looking quite pleased with himself!

We stopped to write a few postcards and were joined by this chicken. Go figure...

And then it was time to head back to the ship…

We could already see the line up to get back on board. The ships have to leave the port during daylight hours due to all the reefs nearby. We didn’t want to be part of the Bermuda Triangle mystery.

On our tour, we had seen nearly all of the island, right up to Hamilton.

Back in our cabin, we watched the people getting on board. It was so windy and it was quite a long walk. Again, as we have on many tours, we admired those who are less mobile who manage under difficult conditions. You aren’t going to hold them down.

Time to push off…we had a strong wind blowing us back onto the wharf, so the thrusters were working overtime to get us away.

Good bye to Bermuda. We’d love to return!

We now had two sea days before arriving in Fort Lauderdale. The last formal night at Crooners Bar with Lee and Mary...

Our very favourite bartenders, Denz and Don, who made each evening so wonderful. At this time we were hearing about a typhoon heading for the Philippines. Denz's ten month contract was ending in Fort Lauderdale and he had been counting the days until he went home. They never stopped smiling although they must have been very worried about their families.

Our last lovely sunrise onboard...

Almost to Fort Lauderdale...

We woke up early on November 9 in Fort Lauderdale to see another Princess ship in port. Many of the ships will now be doing the Caribbean.

Lots of yachts in Fort Lauderdale...

We overnighted in Toronto, before arriving home to this wet snow.

Even with all the missed ports, it was a such wonderful trip. Here endeth this blog...

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