We got up before 10 on Friday and called to order breakfast. They delivered trays with coffee, eggs, a scone, toast, kiwi, butter and marmalade, and orange juice to our table on the patio. The above was our view. Fantastic.
Matt read about the upcoming Cup Match in the paper. There was a lot of cricket drama. Since we heard about it from everyone there, we really wanted to go. (Next time.) Gerald the maintenance guy stopped by and chatted for a long time, too. Everyone in Bermuda is so unbelievably nice! We loved it.
We walked down to the ferry terminal in Hamilton, bought tokens, and waited for the ferry. It arrived, and so many cruise passengers piled off that we couldn’t believe the boat was still above water. We boarded, went up to the roof, and enjoyed the view of the harbor, which was full of little islands, tiny sailboats, and some amazingly huge yachts.
It took about half an hour to get to the Dockyard. It’s not far, but most of the harbor is a no-wake zone. We saw the Clocktower Mall from the ferry, and also two ships in port. One of them was the Celebrity Summit, which we’d taken on our last cruise. SIGH.
We got off the ferry and headed to the Bermuda Maritime Museum, which is housed in the old fort and ramparts at the Dockyard. By the time we had walked around for 5 minutes, we were completely drenched in sweat: it wasn’t that hot (maybe mid-80s), but it was insanely humid. Even moreso than the record humidity we’d left in Minneapolis. We were grateful every time we encountered even a tiny bit of air conditioning.
The commissioner’s house was really interesting. They had a ton of exhibits about Bermuda’s history, some current artwork, and a tour of the fort underneath. Some of the rooms had A/C, too, so we enjoyed our time there. The view of the Dockyard was excellent as well:
Behind the main buildings, we discovered the reason for the sheep gate.
We also saw Snorkel Park from the fort wall. It’s the most popular place for cruise passengers to visit, because it’s an easy walk and has a bunch of entertainment. It was the only truly crowded place we saw the entire time we were there, too. It’s hard to imagine anything there being packed, even though the island is tiny. We were a little off-season, though. (Locals told us the best time of year to visit is September and October; we chose to go earlier in the year not just because of the wedding, but because the ocean is only warm enough to swim in during the actual summer.)
The fort reminded me a lot of San Juan, but more recent:
We did a little more wandering around the site, and stopped by the dolphin encounter to see the dolphins swimming around and to get some much-needed water.
Then it was lunchtime! We headed to the Frog & Onion (which contains Dockyard Brewing Company), and promptly ordered a beer sampler.
I also got a vegetable curry that I’m still fantasizing about today. Once our sampler was gone, we got a couple of pints in souvenir glasses (mine came in a mini growler!), and then headed to the souvenir shop. After that, we stopped by the booths in the mall for some samples. The best one was of a Dark & Stormy made with Barritt’s, which required us to tell the story of why we were there. The lady gave us their business card, and it had the name of the guy who’d booked the trip for us on it. Awesome.
We shopped around the craft market for souvenirs, then wandered over to Clocktower Mall. We then headed back toward the ferry dock, and decided to see about renting scooters and driving ourselves back to Hamilton. The people at the scooter shop assured us that our many souvenir bags would fit in the compartments, so we headed out for our road test.
They showed us how to drive them, and directed us to go around the loop by the museum and ferry dock. It was a one-way street with a maximum speed limit of 20, but it was still full of tourists, cars, and other scooters. I headed off slowly and shakily. Rounding the corners was nowhere as easy as I expected, nor was stopping. When I finished the loop, the guy there told me to wait a minute for Matt. When he didn’t appear, the guy told me to go do another loop and practice, so I headed off, slightly less shaky this time. (Part of the reason it was so intimidating was not just the traffic, but the fact that you have to remember to drive on the opposite side of the road.)
When I got back the second time, I saw Matt standing there with a bloody knee. He’d hit the brakes at the corner, but the scooter had other ideas and sped up. Scooters were definitely not for us! We walked over to the store to find a bandage, but they didn’t have anything appropriate. Matt said he’d be ok, so we went to the store by the ferry to get two-day transit passes instead. I was kind of relieved about the scooter decision, because I’d seen the traffic in Hamilton and at the roundabouts, and I would’ve been terrified trying to navigate that.
We sat on a bench to wait for the ferry, and Matt dabbed at his knee with a napkin. There was an old local couple sitting on a bench nearby eyeing us. The lady ran over when she saw what was up, knowing right away it was a scooter accident. She rushed over to a garden, yanked off a piece of aloe, and brought it over to Matt. Nature’s medicine!! She said she was a nurse, and showed him how to apply it. We loved her a lot. (Another running theme in Bermuda: locals telling us to not even bother with scooters, because they get in accidents constantly. In related news, Bermuda has a excellent bus system.)
We thanked Cynthia, our new nurse friend, and boarded the ferry back to Hamilton.
We walked back to the hotel so Matt could fix up his knee, and by then his ankle was hurting a lot (the scooter had rolled onto it). Since the ocean obviously has healing powers, we decided to go to the beach. We walked back into town, found the main bus terminal, and hopped on the bus to Horseshoe Bay. We had a map with fairly nonspecific stop markers, so I tried to keep general track of where we were. I knew we were close once we passed Elbow Beach, and I made a mental note of the location of the Swizzle Inn on the South Shore, too. The bus pulled over at a stop and I caught a glimpse of the Horseshoe Bay sign, so we hopped off and headed down the path to the beach.
There were a few families headed back up the path, and all of them were panting and looking like they might die. That wasn’t a great sign, but it was worth it for what we found at the bottom of the giant hill:
Horseshoe Bay was gorgeous. The rental building and snack shop had closed (it was after 4pm), but we had everything we needed. We headed right into the water, and it was perfect. Also, the pink sand thing is no joke… the sand is flecked with little bits of red. We put some in a baggie to bring home with us.
We bobbed around for a long time, and watched people cliff-diving off the far rocks. When we were finally done swimming, we went to see the little sheltered cove where all the kids were swimming enclosed by rocks. It was like a kiddie pool for the ocean.
We wanted to go to the Swizzle Inn, and since it was nearby, I figured we could just grab a taxi (there had been a few of them waiting at the beach) and go up there for less than $10. The taxis had all left, though, so we had to climb up the huge hill to the road. Panting, we went to look at the bus schedule. The next bus wasn’t coming for another half-hour, so we hailed a cab and had him take us to Swizzle Inn.
The place was nearly full when we arrived, and we had to wait forever for service. We stared longingly at other people’s food and rum swizzles. Finally, a server came to take our order. After that, everything was quick: we had a picture of rum swizzles in short order, and were very happy to be alive. Their limited vegetarian options meant that I ended up ordering nachos, but they were surprisingly good. Matt had a bowl of Portuguese red bean stew and some conch fritters.
Two pitches of rum swizzles and one meal later, it was time to head back to Hamilton. We hopped on the next bus, which was gloriously cold from the air conditioning. We exited on Front Street, and got back to the hotel about 10:30.
We stopped at the front desk to request the shuttle to Elbow Beach at 11 the next day, and also find out where the ice machine was. The old guy working there took us to find the ice, which happened to be located in the same room as the honor bar. (We’d looked for it earlier in the day, but only managed to find the kitchen.) Matt mixed us some Dark & Stormys, and wrote down our order on a piece of paper for the front desk. From the looks of the spindle there, a lot of the visitors had been taking advantage of the honor bar.
We went to our room, put our beers, Scrumpies, and Matt’s WKD in ice, and sat out on the patio listening to the incredibly noisy birds who sang all night long. (I’ve since learned that they’re called kiskadees.) We ended up with a bunch of empty bottles around 12:30am, so went inside to go to bed. I was in the bathroom half-undressed when the smoke detector went off. I put my pants back on sans-underwear and called the front desk.
The same old guy appeared about 5 minutes later. We were sitting back out on the patio, unable to take the horrible screeching noise. He and Matt went in, and it seemed like they were in there forever. At one point I thought the alarm had finally been turned off, but it turned out that the kiskadees were actually just drowning it out. (Seriously, they’re LOUD.)
The alarm shut off after twenty minutes or so, and I went in to find the smoke detector laying on the cabinet. We could finally go to bed!