We got up at 9 on Saturday morning, had an equally great breakfast on our patio again, then walked into Hamilton to go to the Gosling’s liquor store. We wanted some beer to take to the beach, and to find out what unfamiliar rums they might want to sell us. The guy there told us that since we were flying out, we would have to buy duty-free at the airport, which was fine with us. They had regular and duty-free prices listed for everything, and the difference was huge. We decided to just pick up some Scrumpies for the beach.
We stopped at a couple other souvenir shops on Front Street (knowing it might be our last chance, since they’d be closed later), then headed back to the hotel to get the beach shuttle.
We ended up riding there with a group of women from New Jersey, who were pretty entertaining. We told them the story of how we got there, and they were all very excited about it. When the driver found out we were from Minnesota, he started exclaiming about the Twins, and told us how he was one a very good minor league ballplayer in the U.S. (he lives part-time in New York). He told us he’d be back to pick us up at the beach at 3:30, and we told him we may or may not take the bus back earlier, so he shouldn’t wait on our behalf.
Elbow Beach was gorgeous. Only slightly less gorgeous than Horseshoe Bay, which had cemented itself in my mind as my favorite.
We walked down to the Australian guy with chairs and umbrellas (we named him Crocodile Dundee, of course) and rented a couple. We sat and enjoyed a couple of Scrumpy Jacks, and marveled at how very hard our lives were.
We went to swim for a while, and Matt practiced his wave-punching. I couldn’t believe how clear the water was there.
We went to hang out in our chairs for a while and have another Scrumpy. There weren’t many people on the beach, but watching them was still pretty entertaining. A bit later, we went to go snorkel.
There are a couple reefs that are really near the beach, and there were way more fish there than I expected. Smiley fish was my favorite:
Once our backs were sufficiently sunburnt (we’re terrible with sunscreen) and we were starting to get hungry, we walked over to the Elbow Beach resort next door. Nobody seemed to mind that we were over there using their bathrooms, showers, and changing stalls, which was awesome. While I was changing, a guy working there asked Matt how his day was going. He said it was excellent, and the guy told him his wasn’t because Amy Winehouse died. Then he walked away, leaving Matt to wonder if that randomness was actually true.
They were preparing for a wedding reception at the downstairs bar, so we went upstairs for a rum swizzle and appetizer. They were setting up tables on the lawn there, too. I don’t even want to imagine what a wedding at the Mandarin Oriental in Bermuda must have cost.
We headed back up toward the South Road to the bus stop, wishing we’d taken the more direct route from the beach: the climb through the resort was brutal. We were very grateful, once again, for the air conditioning on the bus. We rode back to Front Street, stopped to shop at the soccer store, and then walked up to the grocery store we’d seen near the bus station. A guy was getting out of his car, and told us he was out working on his tan (he was really dark-skinned). We laughed and said we were working on burning, so he told us the solution to that was to keep moving, kind of like a rotisserie. Awesome.
Our main goal at the store was something I knew I would have to find on the island: one of my favorite snacks, Go Ahead. It’s a fruit-filled cracker made by McVities in England, and as much as I’ve searched for them, I’ve only ever found them on previously-British islands: the Bahamas and Barbados. Not only did they have them at the grocery store, but they had a NEW FLAVOR. I grabbed six packs of them to bring home. We got a couple other items for the walk, and some ibuprofin for Matt’s ankle, and headed back to the hotel, hauling a big bag of souvenirs and another big bag of wet towels and bathing suits in the oppressive humidity. I don’t think it’s possible to stay hydrated enough there. (Sometimes you have to rely on Scrumpy Jack, too.)
We dropped everything off at the hotel, cleaned ourselves up, and headed right back into Hamilton to the bus station. We were going up to St George, which is known as ‘the oldest continually-inhabited town in the New World’. And also a UNESCO World Heritage site, which makes me nerd out a lot.
The bus ride was supposed to take 50 minutes, but we got there in half an hour. We hopped off in town, and got our wander on.
I was annoyed that I couldn’t get a good picture of the state house (the most-photographed building in Bermuda), because there was a truck parked right in front of it!
We also found Sir George Somers’ heart. Yep.
We walked up the hill to see the Unfinished Church, and managed to get ourselves completely drenched in sweat again. From there, we went back down into town and out to Ordnance Island to see the Deliverance.
There were a bunch of kids jumping from the bridge, and an old guy coming out to yell at them occasionally. Also, a ton of cars would cross the bridge, make a U-turn, and head back into town. Strange.
We had a list of a few restaurants/bars we wanted to see in St George, so we went to the most famous (and nearest) first: the White Horse Pub. It was fairly early, so there were only a few groups eating out on the patio. We got a pitcher of rum swizzles, and Matt got an entree that had wahoo, snapper, and rockfish. I went with one of the few vegetarian options: a cheese pizza (I wasn’t sad about that… I really wanted pizza). The place didn’t seem to have much going on and the service wasn’t great, either (I’m sure it’s probably way better late at night), so we formulated to plan to conduct a St George’s pub crawl that would include Blackbeard’s (at a nearby resort), Tavern on the Sea, and Wahoo Bistro (the only other bar we’d seen there… the other two we had read about).
All the tables at Wahoo Bistro were full, so we grabbed the two seats left at the three-seat bar. The guy next to us introduced himself as Ian, and also introduced the bartender, Geezer, a crusty, awesome old French guy. We ordered drinks and got to talking to Ian about how awesome Bermuda was. He was British, but had been living in St George on work visas for quite a while. He said he worked as a tailor two doors down, and had only stopped in to talk to Geezer about a suit. His bag of groceries was sitting on the floor of the bar.
Ian was awesome. We talked all about where we’d gone in Bermuda, what we should come back to see, the Cup Match, and other places we’d traveled. Then we moved on to American politics, traveling the US, and finally covered the fact that Amy Winehouse had, in fact, died.
While we were talking, Ian had Geezer make us ‘the best rum swizzles in Bermuda’. We realized why that was when Matt noticed that his was no normal bottle of Gosling’s, it was overproof. They were fantastic, too. Oh, and Ian bought us the round.
We told him we were planning to go up to the bar at Blackbeard’s next, and asked how far away it was. He was a few beers in at that point, so his directions (drawn with his finger on the bar) were somewhat confusing. He finally told us he would take us out and point us in the right direction. We thanked Geezer and headed off down the street with Ian. We turned on the same street we’d taken to the Unfinished Church, and he pointed us up that way and repeated the directions. (The main thing we got from it was ‘walk through the golf course, and DON’T TURN LEFT.’) We thanked him, and he wished us well and kissed me on the cheek. I almost died of cute.
We climbed back up the huge hill past the Unfinished Church, and found the road through the golf course. We then went down the hill on the other side, and just like Ian had said, we found Tobacco Bay. It was amazing.
From there we followed the narrow road past some buildings that appeared to be abandoned, and finally saw our destination on top of a hill near the fort. As we approached, we could hear actual awesome hiphop, for the first time on our trip. It sounded like they were having a hell of a party.
We climbed up yet another hill to Blackbeard’s, and walked around the back where the music was blaring. Something seemed kind of off, though, and I noticed the sign just as a British guy approached us to tell us we’d wandered into a private party. WHAT THE HELL.
There was nothing else nearby, so we had no option but to walk the mile or so back to St George. Before heading back, though, we climbed a hill on the golf course and watched the sunset. We also watched a cat as he climbed into a sand trap, scratched around, and pooped. Hilarious.
We climbed back up the hill to St George’s and headed to the Tavern on the Sea. We got a table on the patio, and ordered a couple of Dark and Stormys. After a couple of drinks, it was getting close to time for the last couple of buses to Hamilton, so we walked up to the bus stop. The main drag was crazy all of a sudden… there was a constant stream of cars and scooters going back and forth, loud music, and people parking all over the place to go into the carryout restaurant across the street.
The bus arrived and we were on our way back to Hamilton. There weren’t many people riding, but the crowd was generally louder and more entertaining than previous rides… it was Saturday night. We approached Flatt’s Village (about halfway to Hamilton) and suddenly there was a huge line of traffic ahead of us. We saw police cars, and a bunch of cars in front of us started making u-turns and going back the other way. That wasn’t really an option for the bus, obviously.
Apparently there had been an accident on the road ahead of us, and the whole thing was blocked. Once we got nearer to the site, the police started directing cars off onto a side road to go around. The road appeared to be a beach access driveway, and was mostly sand. The bus couldn’t fit on that, either, so we were stuck waiting.
We sat there for a long time, and finally the driver got out and walked up the road to see what was up. The guys in the back of the bus were trying to convince us that the bus could totally turn around (there was no way). The driver came back and we sat, watching cops walking around and cars passing on the beach road. They were only going the one direction, though, so everyone coming the other direction was probably just sitting around, too. Finally the amusing dudes in the back said they were giving up and going to walk, so they hopped off the bus and headed up the road. Matt said, “we’re going to be seeing them again soon.”
After at least half an hour, the cops came up and started waving the bus forward. We passed a smashed-up van being loaded onto a tow truck, and the line of traffic waiting to go the other direction. There weren’t many cars there, so most of them must have given up and turned around. We got to the first stop in Flatt’s, and there were the guys who had gotten off to walk. They boarded the bus again, laughing.
Shortly after that, we picked up a big group of teenagers. They were really loud and really drunk, and made their way to the back of the bus. The driver said something to a couple of them as they got on, warning them about being rowdy. That didn’t seem to stop them, though. They weren’t really doing anything wrong, just laughing and yelling, but the driver was really annoyed by that. The massive delay plus the kids was making him angry, and he was driving so fast that we couldn’t believe it, tearing around narrow corners and stomping on the brakes. He yelled back at the teenagers to warn them again, but a couple of them just laughed.
They hit the bell for a stop, but then realized they’d pushed it too early and wanted the next one instead. The driver was having none of that, though: he pulled over and told them to get off the bus. And not just the couple of kids who requested the stop, but all of them. It took them a few minutes to all give up and sullenly leave. As we pulled away, we watched them gather on the side of the road, laughing, and suddenly a rock hit the window right by our seats. It scared the hell out of me and made my ear ring for a long time afterwards. Holy crap.
FINALLY, we made it back into Hamilton. We started recognizing buildings, but didn’t have a good sense of where we were in town. The bus stopped at an intersection, and the engine died. The driver couldn’t get it started right away, and everybody started exclaiming about it. He finally got it going again, and tore around the corner to what we realized was the bus station… having to walk from there wouldn’t have been the end of the world. As he hurtled at top speed toward the parking bay, a couple started crossing the street in front of us. The man stopped and backed up, but the lady kept right on going despite the bus honking repeatedly at her. He slammed on his brakes, barely missing her. We pulled in to the station, and everyone on the bus could not get off there fast enough.
Matt and I walked through an alley back toward Front Street, trying to decide what bar to go to. We went with O’Flanagans on Front Street, since we hadn’t been there yet. We went upstairs and grabbed a table as far as possible from the insanely loud DJ. There weren’t many people there except gathered around the bar, so they weren’t absorbing any sound. We sat there for a very long time with no indication of a server coming by, so we decided to go to the Outback Sports Bar instead. We got a table there, and Matt went for drinks. We then realized they were showing the Judah-Kahn match on giant screens all over the bar, and that almost everyone was there to see it. So we sat there and got to watch a pretty awesome fight in Bermuda, which was unlikely.
I was way too sober and about to doze off, so we decided to head back to the hotel afterwards, and get ourselves to bed. I passed out right away, but kept waking up with crazy chills from sunburn.