My own little hunk of Cyberspace

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Hamilton, Bermuda

The next morning, we decided to take the bus to Hamilton. We bought a day pass that covers all forms of public transportation, and walked down to the bus stop and hopped on. As we picked up the locals, they all introduced themselves when they entered the bus. I have never seen this custom done anywhere else. The locals are really some of the happiest folks I've ever met.

When we arrived in Hamilton, it was almost lunchtime, so we shopped for a while and then had lunch at the Hog Penny, which supposedly served as the inspiration for the "Cheers" TV set. I had the best soup - I think it was called Bermuda Fish soup - which they bring to the table, then pour in Bermuda Seal Black rum. All the food was excellent. We left, shopped around some more, then decided to take the ferry to the Royal Dockyards. You really get to see the island by boat, and we enjoyed the trip over immensely.

We then left the dockyards and rode the ferry all the way around the island back to St. George. It was still early in the afternoon, so we decided to return to Tobacco bay and do some swimming. On the way, we saw a scooter accident. A man and his wife flipped the scooter and he broke his leg badly. I helped carry him off the road and we used our water to help clean them up. The wife seemed ok, but the EMT's worked on the man for about 45 minutes before taking him away. We got caught in a tropical rainstorm on the way back, got pretty soaked - but we were wet from swimming already. It let up in about 5 minutes - so we headed back to the ship. We were pretty beat this night and turned in early.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Pink Beaches and Wild Scooter Rides

The next morning, we split a cab ride with a very nice couple we met on the cruise to Horseshoe Beach. This beach is undoubtably one of the top 3 beaches we've been to. The ultra-blue water, contrast with the light pink tint to the sand really made it a site to see. As named, the beach curves into a horseshoe shape, with huge volcanic formations on either side. The sand is ultra fine - you can't find a rock, shell or even a pebble in it. As we made our way to the rock formations, we found caves, little pools just big enough for the two of us, some really interesting animals, and even an awesome geocache perched high on a cliffside. We could have spent a few more hours here, but the other couple was ready to return to the boat, so we split the ride back.

With no real agenda for the afternoon, we decided (Charmaine somewhat reluctantly) to rent a scooter. I had to pass a little class to prove to the proprietor of the scooter shop that I could drive a scooter and understood the traffic signs and left handed traffic flow. Witin a few minutes - we were whizzing through the narrow streets and alleyways of St. George. Charmaine's job was to keep me on the left side. This was not a real problem until we came to the first of the many "roundabouts". It's a weird pattern - once you are in the roundabout you must "Give Way" (as the traffic sign states) to anyone entering the pattern. This proved to be quite challenging as many of them had two lanes on the left side, which really added to the chaos. Basically - I just used a heads up approach, and whizzed through them the best I could. Once we climbed the busy city streets and topped the hillside - it was smooth sailing from then on, as we hugged the coastal roads and visited a really cool graveyard, and 3 different forts. We made a complete pass around the upper island - then crossed on to the second island which houses the airport and a couple of nice beaches. This area was ok, but we really loved St. George, so we headed back into town and did another complete loop around the island. It was really fun and challenging, and we got to see sights that are really not accessible any other way.

Next up : Hamilton, Bermuda

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

St. George

We arrived in St. George Tuesday morning, and witnessed quite an event entering the harbor. As we approached the island of Bermuda, a small boat met us (with PILOT painted on the side). I later learned that this is the Harbor pilot, who actually brings the cruise ship through the "cut" to enter the harbor. As we glided through the "cut", I was amazed - you could almost touch the cliff walls as we passed through with so little clearance. For an idea - check out this picture from Google Earth :
As we came through the cut - we were greeted by the locals, with one gentleman in full colonial garb yelling "WELCOME to BERMUDA!"

The Island is extremely beautiful and immaculate. The pastel houses with with their porcelan like white roofs (which are actually water cistern systems feeding the owner's water tank) are stunning. The lush tropical foliage is perfectly manicured, and the people of Bermuda are undoubtably the friendliest I have encountered to date.

We had a great first day wandering the streets of St. George, discovering Tobacco Bay, the Unfinished Church, St. Katherine's Fort and the many Moongates that abound in the historic town.
Next up : Pink Beaches and Wild Scooter Rides

Monday, July 24, 2006

Atlantic Crossing

Our cruise started mid-day Sunday. The Norwegian Majesty is not one of the mega-cruise ships - in fact by cruise ship standards - it's pretty small. It was launched in 1992 as an even smaller version. It was acquired by Norwegian in 1999, was cut in half, and had a 110 ft section added to the middle. We found out later that only smaller cruise ships can reach the Bermuda ports due to the small cuts that allow entry to the harbors.

Since she's smaller, and we were crossing the Atlantic, the ship did have some constant gentle rocking. This was fine at first, but began to take its toll on us. We both used the sea bands, and Charmaine took Dramamine each day at sea.

Overall, the food was somewhere between good and excellent, and the entertainment was very good. Below - we listed what we liked and didn't like about our first cruise experience:

What we liked:

  • Constant choice of good to excellent food
  • Very relaxing during the cruise
  • One stop for 3 1/2 days in the most historic port in Bermuda.
  • GREAT Coffee
  • The room was spacious enough - about the size of an average European room in the Deluxe Stateroom.
  • Staff was friendly - accommodating - there for your every need
  • Meeting some really interesting folks at dinner
  • Good entertainment and variety
  • Excellent Cruise Director on the Majesty
  • Constant free movies - all first rate
  • Decent choice of Satellite channels (nice to keep up with news since we seem to be on the brink of WW3)
  • The room steward and his amazing towel creatures:

What we did not like :

  • Very expensive drinks and services (massages, internet, cellular)
  • Constant rocking and the after effects once back on land
  • Captive audience - pay their prices or do without
  • Bingo
  • Gamblers that never left the ship unless the casino was closed
  • Northern Rednecks (we found out they exist - no southern accent or NASCAR regalia, but white trash rednecks just the same) that repesent our country so well.

Next up: Arrival in St. George, Bermuda

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Boston .... and beyond!

Our adventure to Bermuda began this morning.

We left Richmond on a JetBlue flight to Boston. I had some reservations about it, but I just couldn't justify not taking advantage of the $90 ticket price. I recall some comedian saying "They have to pay the pilots the same, the mechanics the same, the flight attendants the same, the same fuel costs - where do they save the money? On Parts!" Well, our experience couldn't be more different. The plane was modern and new - and I have never had so much room in a non - first or business class cabin. The nice big leather seats were as comfortable as any big airline's business class. They have direct TV with a monitor in every seat back, and the flight was comfortable and quick (we landed 30 minutes early).

The Hampton Inn Crosstown Center immediately met us with a shuttle, and within minutes we were at the hotel. So here we are at the Hotel before ten o'clock in the a.m., and the lady at the front desk tells us that she'll have to “lock up our luggage and see us this afternoon".

I always stay in Hilton family hotels if I can help it, mainly due to free wireless internet, and I have been able to rack up enough HHonors points for Silver status. So I whipped out my card.

Immediately - she says - "You’re in luck - how about one of our suites at no extra charge - it's ready right now". Sweet!

So we barely get in the room, which is VERY nice, and realize that within 5 minutes the shuttle is leaving to take a group to Boston Commons, We didn't even unpack - we crammed cameras, snacks, etc. into a backpack and headed out. Once we arrived at the Commons, we picked up information on the Freedom Trail (a walking tour that takes you to all the major historical attractions in downtown Boston) - then headed for lunch at the original Cheers bar. After a great Reuben and New England clam chowder - we headed down the "trail" which is a red line either painted or made of bricks that traverses the downtown.

We were amazed at the number of VERY old cemeteries that we passed. In one - the Granary Burying ground - we found the headstones of John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Paul Revere. the old headstones were absolutely incredible to read. The trail meanders past many historical sites, Paul Revere's house, the USS Constitution, and ends at Bunker Hill Monument (which was closed for renovations). We walked about 4-5 miles total, and had a great time. We capped it off we a great dinner at one of the Seafood restaurants at the wharf. The shuttle picked us up right on time - and we came back to the hotel and have been chilling ever since.

So far - so good!

Tomorrow begins our two days at sea aboard the Norwegian Majesty. The story will be continued when we next see an internet connection...