Bermuda 2014

Up at 4:30am to catch flights. Flights uneventful except for the hot woman seated ahead of us who spent an inordinate amount of time picking her nose, and then analyzing what was on her finger. Not sure what she expected to find exactly. Tried to sleep on flights but couldn’t. TVs didn’t work ->sigh<-. Got checked in, very nice view from our room…not the ocean, but a bay off the ocean. Could see the airport (aircraft) from our room.

We skipped the all inclusive this time. It was very pricey (extra 120.00 per night per person) and besides going it alone forces you to go out, look around, check things out and scrounge for food. If you don’t drink much we find it's cheaper (usually) to do your own thing.  There was a restaurant up the street but turns out it was being renovated. Supposed to open the day after we leave. Surprise! :)  Plan B…

First night we ate at a place in St George's called The White Horse.  Pricey, and so was cab ride but food was very good. Waitress is from the Philippines, lived in Canada for a bit, up by Grande Prairie, hated the cold and the endless snow and shovelling so moved to Bermuda. Smart girl. Food was really good, had rockfish and chips. Rockfish tastes good but ugly critter for sure!! LOL

Do yourself a favour and buy bus passes. 3 full days cost us 35.00 each, well worth the money, unlimited bus and ferry pass. We rode many of the bus routes, it’s a great way to get where you are going plus check out the various areas. They are fun to ride too, the roads have vertical walls, fences, buildings and vegetation with no shoulders, lots of corners and hills and dips….it's nutty how close they get to it. Small video uploaded shows a sample with the bus trimming the trees as he goes along :)

What’s amazing is the locals get off at a “bus stop” which is basically a painted stripe on the side of the road, then they stand there with back to the wall/plants while the bus pulls away probably not two feet away as there is no shoulder and the roads are narrow. Some bus stops have shelters, mostly by tourist places. Some roads have sidewalks but these can slowly taper away to nothing or simply drop off and then you are standing in the road.  In traffic. Facing the wrong way.

Due to the shape of the island, it’s faster to catch the ferry across the bay then ride a bus around it.

Cars are small. Island is small. Makes sense

It’s nutty too how some of the scooters drive. Our guide on the last day in the Crystal caves said “Scooters are freedom but I won’t drive one”.

As a visitor you can drive a scooter, but you are not allowed to rent or drive a car.

One tourist we saw looked like a biker, you just know he drove a Harley at home, but here he is leather jacket, big beard, tattoos, on a tiny scooter. Funny....

Bus drivers are friendly too, one lady said in a a sexy voice “Good morning baby” as I stepped onto her bus. When was the last time you heard that? When was the last time a bus driver said good morning to you? They honk at each other constantly and on blind corners, bus drivers know many of the passengers by name, everyone is super friendly. Bus drivers even wait until everyone is seated before the bus moves.

And yes some of the buses are beat pretty good. They are also pink :)

You let people off the bus before you try get on or you will get “the hand”. Politeness is strictly enforced.

Speed limit on entire island is 35km/hr. Seems fast on these roads.

Cop cars are painted up just like the British isles, bright green and yellow..

It seems everyone knows everyone…garbage truck drives by and the driver screams “Yo Boodly (or whatever his name was) how yo doing mon?” to some guy on the sidewalk.

Temps were anywhere from 18 up to 25, but with humidity felt like 30 the last couple days. One was cooler and windy, almost cold. It is their winter after all and Bermuda is fairly far North. The wind can be cool, the sun is very warm of course.

Most houses look to be cement structure, some are very old obviously. Lots of pastel colors on the houses, then some are bright lime green and bright orange, it's neat and fun. The houses have roofs with limestone mixed in with the paint, there are “troughs” built into them so rainwater is collected and then flows down the trough through filters into a storage tank/pump unit. The limestone paint naturally cleanses the water and then it is later pumped back into the house as needed for use. Smart. The roofs get cleaned every 3-4 years with bleach to clean them of built up residue. There are also three desalination plants on the island which supply water, and some is tankered in.

The entire island is covered with thick vegetation and palm trees, some of the roads are basically tunnels through this. There are lots of birds; some reptiles; but not many insects.

Pink sand is more like orange IMHO.

Bermuda has been around since the early 1600’s (1612). There are 15 forts on the island, some date back to the early 1600’s to protect the (British) island from invaders, pirates etc. Some of these things had huge 30 ton cannons that could shoot a 40 pound shell 5 miles……the forts were often modified over the years with moats, etc.  One has a barracks on top of the hill, the lower walls are 10+ feet thick with oval holes that they could shoot through (now with glass over inner part). Some had retractable cannons that would lower out of sight.

Sailors in the 1600’s used to toss pigs in the water as they passed near the island in case anyone (including themselves) got shipwrecked one day and there would be something on the island to eat. Turned out to be a wise move!! Never knew pigs could swim.

Fort Hamilton is huge, you can walk around the bottom of the moat area, the vertical walls are staggeringly high and even though the city is close by you would never know it down here with all the plants and animals making noise as you wind along a narrow pathway. Build in gun windows and long underground tunnels for ammunition passage are amazing...and of course the monster cannons up top. It was built in the late 1800's and was never fully completed. I laughed at the picturesque park bench on the perfectly manicured lawn with massive cannons sitting there...

Funny thing, they put up signs saying “your own risk” and then you are free to swim, crawl over/under/through the forts etc, some have 50 foot drops straight down onto the rocky shoreline below so a person needs to be careful, amazing they let you do that actually in this overly protected/regulated day and age.

Hotel had its own little cave on the grounds where you go down a steep narrow corridor using steep steps and a rope for leverage, there is a natural pool in there under the dripping stalactites and I went for a swim. Looked like there was a bottom but you jump and realize it's just an illusion however first you need to catch your breath and stay afloat as water is insanely cold and I couldn't breathe...just for a second I thought wow they might have to change their sign if I drown in here... Not sure how deep it was but enough you had to swim. Once settled in was a great swim. Quite dark with just a few lights strung up, took a pic but needed flash and looks kinda creepy so you don't get to see it :) Warning sign posted at entrance, it never said water was cold though....

One of the forts at the dockyard had a museum in it, some amazing stuff in there. Old cannons, the different shots they used, sword holders, old coins, tools, instruments, various items from around the ships and life in general. The "doctor" tools looked pretty horrific.I think I'd rather just die.

Second night wind was super cold, so we ordered pizza right to the motel room and had locally made rum cake. Pricey. In fact, most everything is pricey.

Pop cost 3.00 for a can in some stores, but coolers are the same price. Tough choice.  

1 BMD = 1USD.   5.00 fee for ATMs so withdraw carefully  :)

Went back to the White Horse for another supper, same girl there, this time we found out the Chef used to live in Calgary, Arbour Lake to be exact…LOL   Great food again, lobster ravioli in alfredo and sizzling shrimp. Wow.

Late night swim in heated, lighted pool under the palm tress. Again, it’s off-season so NOBODY else in the pool, or even around. Constellations look different from here, and sky is very clear.We did this almost every night. Awesome.

Beaches were fairly empty as well.

Did some shopping, at a liquor store the one guy there told us he went to visit his niece in Halifax one time…5 am he just got up and couldn’t figure out why somebody was burning the garbage…so he woke her up and asked ‘why would anyone burn trash at 5 am?”…LOL Turns out it was the first time he had ever seen snow…he laughed and laughed at that story…

Last day checkout at 11am, up at 8am their time (which is 3 hours later than here so 5 am Calgary time). Visited the crystal caves, hung out on the beach for a few hours, we were lucky enough to get stuck between some loud Chinese people on one end and a crying baby on the other. Perfect.

The crystal cave was pretty interesting. There are a huge amount of stalactites and stalagmites…short tour but fascinating to hear the history and see them. Visitors damaged many when it first opened in the early 1900’s, it is now illegal to touch them, and it comes with hefty fines and even jail time. Just by touching them the oil on your skin will stop them from growing (at their average rate of 1 cubic inch per 100 years). At this point wish I had brought my SLR for some decent pics.

Then you go upstairs to have lunch at the local “diner” …which of course is right over where you were just walking underground...makes you think. We ordered and received our food, she said you can pay after you eat, then she walked out of the place and over to somebodys house and didn’t come back for 20 minutes, very trusting people but then again where are you going to hide, right? The island is only 11 miles long….  When I finally got around to paying I had to tell her what I had ordered so we could pay…LOL 

The only place we saw any souvenirs with the Bermuda bus on it was in the Crystal Caves store where they had a t-shirt, go figure.

On the first flight back I started feeling sick. Sore throat and sniffles.

Some dude on the same flight started doing some odd workout  in the aisle, I guess to stretch and what not but he reminded me of the lizard we had seen the previous day who ran up to us, did what looked like 3 fast pushups, then ran off.  :)

During the slow descent is was very foggy. I was going to take video out window but didn’t think it would be very interesting, so didn’t bother, then as I was looking out the window saw nav lights flash by and the top planform of a wing….it went by wicked fast at about a 45 degree angle (we are doing probably 500mph) and sure looked close, we are supposed to have 1000 feet of separation  from other aircraft but I’m sure it wasn’t that much…it actually made me jump. And then it made me annoyed because if I had been taking video I would have caught it….so then I did take some video. Which is, of course, completely boring :)

Freezing rain in Toronto as we landed. By this time I was stuffed up, wicked headache and ears would not pop (painful)….so went through customs barely able to hear anything, glad they didn’t ask any questions!  We finally got on our connecting flight and pushed…I hear the #2 engine spool up slowly wind down again…oh oh…I told Dawn to quit unpacking....Anyway, they started #1 and tried #2 again with same result…. So captain came on and told us we had an issue and would need to return to the gate but currently Toronto is under red alert so no ground crew to bring us in. Awesome. So we sat.

It was this point that Dawn reminded me that Wurthers sugar free candy I had been sucking on the past 4 hours, when eaten “excessively”, act like a laxative due to the artificial sweetener they use. Nice. Stuck on a plane that won't start in a red alert and I've been eating laxatives for the past 4 hours...

People sitting behind us were very mad, apparently they had been flying all day and had not had a smoke in 12 hours, old cranky thing, she ripped the FA a new one, complaining about everything. "Airlines suck””smokers have rights ya know” “flying sucks” "you people suck" etc. It wasn’t very nice. The sad part is the airports control smoking areas, not the airlines, and the airports control the red alert systems and the rules so screaming at an FA won’t do anything. As usual people don’t get it. I couldn't believe how nice the FA was to this person, amazing job those ladies do.

So after an hour we got towed back to gate, sat around while maintenance looked at the apu air supply (why guys? The #1 started fine so you know apu air is good....) and engine (I told Dawn we would be getting off, I was pretty sure I knew what the problem was after landing and sitting in freezing rain...20 min fix...was but nobody listened to me so figured we would be swapping aircraft for sure). While waiting the captain walked through the cabin and the lady behind us went off on him too…sheesh.... Once again he was super nice and his self control with such a rude person was amazing.  Finally we got off the plane so we could sit another 2 hours and wait for a replacement. By now I really feel like crap of course. Sunburned too :) REALLY sunburned...

YYZ had computer tables set up. Plug-ins said “no power”, and they did not have any. Next table plug ins also said “no power” but they had power. Welcome to Toronto. Maybe the guy who wired the place parties with mayor Ford. Or the dude who wired our motel room.

The delay ended up working out in my favour as I got to spend some quality time with the Toronto airport washroom facilities. Don’t buy sugar free candies people!!!

Flight home was uneventful. I couldn’t sleep, felt like crap, headache, my ears were downright painful as they would not pop through climb and descent...finally got in at 5am local time and we drove home. It was an interesting ending to an otherwise good trip :)

Some of the pics aren’t great, we took our iPhones and Dawn had her point and shoot, they all struggle under low light conditions. Flash overpowers everything and dark hides too much, but you get the idea. Oh yeah, vertical and horizontal videos don’t work so well together either.

Funny for a photo buff to leave his SLR sitting at home. I'm complicated :)

Next day I looked up what was wrong with our aircraft the previous night in Toronto. Exactly what I thought it was, could have been a 20 minute fix if anyone had listened. Oh well, what do I know?




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