This morning, I woke up without a plan. I decided to head to St. George- 'old Bermuda'. Settled in 1612, this is also known as 'The East End'. When referring to it, conversationally, some people here will say, "St. George", referring to the town, or "St. George's" referring to the island it is situated on; I presume that both are proper etiquette.
There are 2 cost effective means to get to the east end of Bermuda- either take 2-3 ferries, or take the bus; I chose the latter.
As my Pink route ferry arrived in Hamilton, the cruise ship 'farewell horn' was blowing. The Holland America ship, that had been our neighbor for several days, was pulling away from the dock.
From the top deck of the small ferry, I watched hundreds of people wave goodbye to Bermuda- all lined up on every deck. These are the same visitors that I had seen arrive a few days earlier; at that time, they were gazing at the shore with anticipation.
I waved back to them, knowing what it feels like to leave this island. I had never waved at hundreds of people, at one time. I will remember that moment. It was quite a sight- even worth a few goosebumps.
While I would never take a cruise to Bermuda myself (I am a land bunny), I had compassion for those who were being ripped away, by the lure of the floating all-you-can-eat-buffet.
Having skipped breakfast, I intended to eat lunch in St. George. Yet, when I arrived in town, I needed a 'little something'.
What better to eat, before lunch, than a coconut ice cream cone? On vacation, no rules apply... I headed to the cute little nook of an ice cream shop, called Meltdown, sans guilt.
Meltdown is located down a shady alley, in a space that could just as easily serve as a large walk-in closet. They only have about 8 flavors for sale, which is plenty. It is back to basics! Love the decor too- retro Bermuda travel posters (my fave).
As I headed up the hill to the bus depot, I pondered the idea of lunching before my bus ride. When I set my eyes on The Hamilton Pastry Shop, located right up the hill from The Hog Penny, my decision was made.
Anyone who travels with me knows that I zero in on 3 things, when choosing where to eat: (1.) Menu, (2.) Cost, and (3.) Ambience.
Seated under pretty red umbrella awnings, I gazed down to Front Street and witnessed a perfect pie slice of Bermuda- the Bermudian Flag flapping in the wind, bordered by the city, with the harbor and Paget in the background- authenticity!
I lunched on Curried Chicken salad with a side of greens; it was fresh and delicious. I was delighted to find lunch for less than $20. I cannot overemphasize how important it is, to budget while you are here- especially for a long stay!
The pastry shop, rather new to town, has an array of breakfast treats (i.e. filled croissants), and a number of daily lunch specials.
All fueled up, I hopped onto the pink public bus, and quickly made an inadvertent error in seat choice. On came a mother, with a baby, whose cries pierced my core, and provoked a move of seat... Poor baby!
I have ridden the bus a few times during this trip, and have made some observations. Thankfully, I purchased a monthly pass, which lets me travel without limitation on buses and ferries for $69.
Bus service in Bermuda basically runs parallel to the island (which is not unlike a long string bean), so access to the bus is very relative to where you stay.
Buses are super convenient if you are staying in Hamilton. They are equally convenient if you are staying on Middle Road or South Road. There is no bus service on Harbor Road (it was designed for horses and buggies), but there- you have the ferries.
Buses are also optimal for changing directions- linking two excursions together, for example.
Unlike the ferries, that run like clockwork, the buses seem to be more on 'island time'. While there is a bus schedule, sometimes, it seems to be more of a relaxed guideline...
On this particular ride to St. George, I noticed the state of disrepair of the bus- something that had been mentioned to me, previously, by Bermudians (i.e. government spending money on the wrong things). Some of the seats had no upholstery on them, whatsoever. Just shells of plastic.
Upon arriving in St. George, I began the walk into King's Square, where the Sea Venture replica is located; this is the ship that first came to Bermuda! The sidewalks are so narrow in this historic town, that one must basically walk single file.
Within my first steps, I noticed a shop that called my name- 'Dress for Success Thrift Shop'. How I could I resist? A good cause.
I popped in, and as luck would have it, I met the acquaintance of the hat that would complete my look for The Royal Wedding! Just two dollars! A fabulous straw hat, with a big poofy straw flower. Love at first sight.
Without delay, I took a 'selfie' and sent it to Janie and Suzie. Within minutes, Janie responded "Can you get one for me?!" And so, I did. Hers would be in black.
The sun was hot, and I was thirsty. As I gazed around at the historic streets of St. George, I was drawn to the sounds of Billy Joel music (home sweet Sag) and the smell of grilled burgers... talk about a good vibe. They were both emanating from Wahoo's, a popular local eatery, that sits right on the turquoise harbor.
Surely, they would have a cold beverage for me. The menu at Wahoo's looked appealing, and the casual atmosphere was perfect for this sunny day.
Following a little refreshment, I continued toward the village, soaking up the colors of the buildings, the angles of the sun and shadows, and the relaxing air that separates the more sedate 'East End' from the more commercial 'West End' (cruise ship haven).
I had hopes of revisiting some sites, including the Unfinished Church, Tobacco Bay and Fort St. Catherine- but it was not to be, today. After a certain amount of trekking, I nearly needed a nap!
In Bermuda (during the summer months), it is wise to roll with the heat and humidity. Sometimes your agenda is quite larger than your body's!
Rather than sightsee, I window shopped, for the sake of intermittent air conditioning. I ventured into a souvenir shop, that struck me as the equivalent of a candy store, to someone who appreciates 'tacky' things!
*Actually who decides what is tacky in life? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, no?
Mystified by the allure of souvenir merchandise, I could not wait to look around. I might be the odd one out, but I would love to see a documentary film on the production of souvenirs.
Who designs them? Do they go through an approval process? Do the individuals who make them, even know what or where Bermuda is? Do they get royalties? Surely not...And which folks BUY which things?
These souvenirs, individually, all must bring joy to somebody- evoking powerful memories of Bermuda. I think that I would take delight, in working for this shop- for just one day, to learn about human nature.
My favorite souvenir was the bouncy sea turtle on a spring, that you put on your dashboard- not unlike those hula girl souvenirs from Hawaii, that are designed the same way. I may need to go back for one.
I weakened and purchased a glass Christmas ornament; a shopping bag with a hibiscus, symbolic of my local shopping weakness... It wasn't until I looked at the photo later, that I realized I had passed up the tree frog Santa Claus! Nina would treasure that!
During my walk in St. George, I passed a lovely sight of a staircase. On its landing, were several pots of flowers. How pretty! I took out my camera, got it into focus, and could not believe my eyes. Flowers of every color grow here, like the grass...Artificial flowers in paradise?!
Rather than take the bus back to Hamilton, I opted for sea air. I headed for the ferry that takes passengers from the East End of Bermuda, straight to the West End- along the spectacular North Shore.
Boarding the large ferry was a waiting process. Two cruise ships are in; thus there are many tourists on the island. This larger ferry permits 400 people on board, which they count with a handheld clicker.
I wondered to myself, why they never make a safety announcement on Bermuda ferries? The water is deep. Surely, not everyone knows how to swim. I will need to ask "Red" (my ferry pilot friend), when I see him next.
Interestingly, I sat next to another blogger on the ferry; she is writing a blog about historic signs in Pennsylvania.
Visiting here on a Celebrity ship, she gave me the lowdown on the caliber of information about Bermuda that is given to cruisers on her ship.
A cabbie had previously commented to me that some cruise passengers debark in Bermuda, "looking like zombies", because they have to idea where to go, or what to do!
Oddly, some people do not get off the cruise ships at all; their vessel is their actual destination. I cannot fathom that.
When we got to Dockyard, I ran smack into Larry, who was about to give some visitors a one hour tour! He invited me along, but I was tired from sun and sea.
I stopped into the Frog and Onion Pub (a very atmospheric and popular destination in Dockyard) for a Swizzle, and waited for the Hamilton Ferry.
Enroute to my boat, I stopped into the Bermuda Craft Market, which sells authentic crafts, made by Bermudians.
I admired some candles that were crafted into seashells, and other treasures, made by locals- including some flashy stuffed whales.
I think a lot about the reliance on tourism by this beautiful island. I admire those who take advantage of any skill they have, to make a living- whether it is offering tours in a taxi, or making jewelry.
In the United States, we take so much for granted. Here in Bermuda, they need to rely on the greater world to sustain them with imports for survival, and to support their economy with visitation.
This is a vulnerable place to be, out in the middle of the Atlantic.
In the Hamptons, we need visitors, too. Yet our "tourists" do not behave as visitors, per se. You do not hear "Good Afternoon", or "How is your day?" quite so often, as you see tourists averting their gazes from the cashiers in the supermarket, or whining about the line at the pharmacy.
There is a sense of entitlement by many 'visitors' to the Hamptons, that is non-existent here.
If you are impolite to a Bermudian, you will likely be met with silence initially (as they try to absorb your behavior), and then grace.
If you are renting a moped, they will not honk at you in a hurry, to get out of their way; they will either pass you, or be patient as you enjoy your ride.
They would never dream of fighting over a parking space, either- that would be unfathomable.
Civility is in the air here. It is a way of life, and a completely different culture from ours.
Due to our location on the East End of Long Island, we do not need to promote ourselves; swarms of people will show up, inevitably. We also won't go hungry, if freighters get stuck at sea.
We throw things into our shopping carts, with no thought to the origins of things...
In fact, riding in a taxi here, I had an idea for a children's book- to teach little ones the meaning of island dependency. Why not track the trip of a box of cereal- from General Mills, to Bermuda. It is a long and complicated ride from production to the Bermuda breakfast bowl; thus the cost of $8+ per box of cereal.
At home, there is bountiful produce, all summer long- without exorbitant expense. There is an abundance of water- for saturating manicured estate lawns and filling pools.
Here, there is a scarcity of water, that hangs in balance with Mother Nature. Once you are done with the water basin for your dishes, you re-use the water, to feed your plants.
Arriving back at the guest house, after an eclectic day, there were new folks in residence. Three couples had checked in, none of whom were friends- yet.
Although my day had been quite 'random' (and I had traversed all of Bermuda by sea), I was very happy to have purchased a hat for the Royal wedding.
I realized that the upcoming celebration of the Royal wedding with the Salt Kettle family would mimic something that Marlys would have composed, herself.
Marlys and I had woken up at an unGodly hour, to watch William and Kate tie the knot, several years ago.
We made mimosas, a splendid breakfast, and had coffee in Royal Wedding mugs that I had serendipitously found at TJ MAXX. The mugs were a surprise for my mom. She was so pleased!
There are so many simple pleasures that I loved to enjoy with my mom. These things cannot be shared anymore- at least not in person. It can feel perfectly agonizing.
Yet, there is a flip side. I have found kindred spirits (similar to family), here in Bermuda- new friends, who believe (just like Nina, Peter, Daisy and myself) that when we are left behind, due to the circle that is life, we must perpetuate the legacies of those who taught us how to truly live. We will all be together again some day.
Today, however, they are watching us, from above.