My flight is at 8:35 AM. I check in the air travel newsgroup and was told that security was a maximum of 15 minutes for that terminal. Since I was not checking any luggage, I could safely ignore the advice to get there three hours early. I would shoot for one hour.
I arrange for a livery cab at 6:45 AM. The dispatcher says 40 minutes to get to the airport. We leave exactly at 6:45. The driver says the usual way is crowded at this time, so he'll take Pennsylvania Avenue to the Belt Parkway. Okay. It's a fixed rate. As we are going over the bridge over the Belt we come across a police checkpoint. The driver, seeing traffic in the left lane, switches to the right. Then seeing that blocked by the police cars, he switches back to the left. We are blinded by the sun and he drives over a cone, which gets jammed in his right front wheel well. The cop insists we have to remove their cone and give it back. The driver tries. It doesn't come out. I get in the driver's seat and advance the car little by little as he pulls and pulls. Finally it comes free. A little crumpled, but intact. The driver walks back and puts the cone where it belongs. The long line of cars behind us are quietly waiting. No doubt the lack of horn blowing was influenced by the cops presence. Despite all this we made it to the terminal 35 minutes after leaving.
About a half hour before our flight is to leave a flight attendant shows up at the gate. A few people go up to ask some questions. I go up to check in. In front of me is a woman with her son sleeping in a seat. I ask her if she has been there since 5:35 AM. Yes, she says. I brag about how I only got there one hour before (actually 1 hour 15 minutes). The flight attendant gets annoyed. She states that if I don't make contact with someone within one hour of departure on an international flight I will be refused boarding, but since she got there late she couldn't enforce it. She claims there is now a long line of people waiting to get through security.
Eventually we board. The plane is far from being full. We pull away from the gate two minutes after the scheduled time. The captain says we will arrive early.
While waiting for the bus a woman stops and offers me a ride into town. She'd take me all the way to Loughlands (my guest house in Paget), but she has a 12:30 meeting and can't. So instead she'll leave me at a bus stop heading to Paget. Along the way she points out where my second cousin's house would have been. I'll come back on my bicycle and try to find it.
I only have to wait a few minutes for the bus. It is $3.00. I only saved $1.50 by getting the ride. But it was faster and we had a good chat. I ask the bus driver to tell me when we get to Loughlands. She says she will. I follow the progress on a map. It seems we have passed the place. I ask. Oh, she forgot. She drops me at a bus stop and gives me a transfer to go back. This time I had to wait a while for a bus. This time the driver does tell me where it is.
I check in. The place is okay. A grand old estate house, but it smells of cleaning chemicals. (The problem is they allow cigarette smoking inside the building.) I change to shorts and walk to get the "pedal cycle." I have seen very few. This is scooter country (called "cycles"). I get the bicycle and bicycle around. I find the Paget Marsh Nature Reserve and bicycle the boardwalk. I bicycle down Lover's Lane, to the water, and around to Hamilton. I bicycle around some streets looking for the Bombay Indian restaurant. Then I came upon the Historical Society and go in. While leaving I chat with the fellow. He says he remembers when the only way to get around was by foot or by bicycle (and also by horse, carriage, and train). He says people don't bicycle any more because of the three H's: heat, humidity, and hills. (And I'll add they are wealthy enough to buy scooters.) He directs me to Rudy's Bistro, a place for some tea.
I have some tea and discuss eating breakfast there. Then, with more exact directions, I bicycle to find the Indian restaurant. I then bicycle to Fort Hamilton and walk around. Best views of Hamilton. Unfortunately the moat garden is closed. I bicycle back to Paget, picking up the Railway Trail, looping past my guest house. I put the bicycle on the porch and take a nap.
A few hours later I head to Bombay Indian for dinner. An attractive place, but with few people eating. I was done at 9:00. I walked around, stopping in all the places listed in Lonely Planet as having entertainment. All quiet. Thursday is an off-night, it is off-season, and no cruise ships are in port. While the taxi drivers waiting on Front Street aren't aggressive, the beggars were. The ones hanging out on Front Street would first start up a conversation, asking where you are from, if it is your first time there, and give advice on where to go, before asking for money. The one I encountered on a back street was more blunt, and simply asked for 50 cents. I did have a drink at the Bermuda Onion and Robin Hood. Robin Hood had the most people, but being a sports bar it was filled with jocks. At Oasis, which was totally empty, I chatted with the bartender. He said happy hour (5-8) was the big thing, and Friday night everybody would be out. He said everybody would end up there at 12:30 AM. He asked what I did, and said programmer/insurance types would be at Robin Hood, Blue Juice Disco, and Newstead, a hotel on the south side of Hamilton Harbour. The hotel might require a jacket he said. I called it a night and headed back to the room.
Friday, November 9, 2001
I sleep in and did not get up until 7:30. Breakfast at the guest house was just starting as I was leaving at 8:30, so I had a glass of orange juice before heading back to Rudy's for a real breakfast (poached eggs, ham, and cantaloupe). Then I go for a walk through Par-la-ville Park. I find the rubber tree in front of the library. I then headed to the Botanical Gardens. I get there at 10:00. The tour doesn't start until 10:30. So following a map I walked the grounds. As I was leaving the tour had just started.
First a quick stop at Devonshire Bay Park. A fellow there was selling fish. The fort at this site is long gone. Then a stop at the Verdmont Museum. I was her first visitor of the day. (I bought the combination ticket for their houses in St. George, but had I brought along my National Trust card from England I could have gotten in free.) She told me the story of the house, and the furniture, for which it was also known for.
On to Spittal Pond. At the entrance by the dairy farm the path stated no motor vehicles, so I bicycled the path to the ocean. I walked a little further then returned. (Looking at the map later I see there was a Spanish rock I could have found.) I stopped at Watch Hill Park and chatted with a couple local fellows. I bicycled out to Tucker's Town, until all the roads were marked private. (I later learn I could have kept on going.) I followed the sign to the Natural Arches, but then all the signs said private. (I later learn that I should have ignored the signs and I would have found the arches down underneath at the beach.) Then I turned around. I stopped at the east side of Spittal Pond. One can actually see the pond from this side! Then back to the Botanical gardens to see Camden (the official residence of the Premier). It is only open from 12-2. At 1:30 I was the 11th visitor. It had the most lovely cedar wood work, including bull's eye cedar. Then to Hamilton for the buffet lunch at Bombay. I stuffed myself. Then a ride to Spanish Point Park. The over to Admiralty Park where I walked around and down to the water. Then to Ducking Stool Park and Blackwatch Well. Then a ride through Blackwatch Pass. In town it wasn't yet Happy Hour. I was tired, so I had a double bag tea, sitting at the waterfront to drink it. I chatted with the skipper of Wildcat, a catamaran that takes passengers on a 60 mile ride around the island in two hours. Then a stop at the Bermuda Monetary Authority to see the coins. Not much to see. You have to be into coins to appreciate this small exhibit. Then, as 5:00 was approaching, I was off to Blue Juice to start the Happy Hour. I chatted with the bartender as he set up the bar, and watched people arrive. Then I went to check out Robin Hood. Wall-to-wall people there. Then back to Blue Juice. Then, since people had been raving about the Happy Hour at the Newstead Hotel, I bicycled around Hamilton Harbour to check. No Happy Hour. Only in season. Back to Hamilton for a stop at the Pickled Onion, then some takeout from Bombay. I then headed back to the guest house for the night.
Saturday, November 10, 2001
The day started with a breakfast at Rudy's again. Then I was off along the north shore to get to St. George. I was planning to use the Railway Trail as much as I could. The first section was kind of a drag. As I bicycled through vegetation the road hugged the shoreline. (Later on a bus I did get along that shoreline.) I passed the Aquarium, but did not have time to stop. A stop at the Railway Museum found it closed. Then a quick loop through Shelly Bay Park. Then at Crawl Waterfront Park the Railway Trail started again. This time I was along the water, and the road was further in. On the map I could see the trail end at Bailey's Bay, but right next to the road. Well, it ended there, but no access to the road! A few of the houses had long stairs up, but with no trespassing signs. So I had to backtrack. It was already too late to make the walking tour in St. George. Progress on the trail is slow. On the trail, right where there is access to the road, the trail has a tree across it. I lifted the bicycle over, and to clear other branches I dropped the bicycle to the ground past them. Being a full suspension bicycle it bounced. I then started riding and the chain jammed. It had fallen off the front chain rings. It was well jammed and sticks would not free it up. At the road I was at a school. There was a pay phone, but I had no quarter. Across the road was an entrance to Abbot's Cliff Park. I figured people in the park would have tools. It was up a long hill. I did not see any park, but I was in a residential section. A truck passed to drop a boy off, and then turned around. I asked them for help. We were in front of his in law's house, so he went in to get a screwdriver. He then pried and pulled until it came free. I didn't think of getting his name, so I can't nominate him for the Sunshine Award. That's too bad. Off I went. The breakdown cost me 20 minutes. (I later learn that up at the top of the hill is a nice view to the south.)
I stopped at the Bermuda Perfumery. A quick look at the machines, which weren't operating on Saturday, and a quick walk through the gardens. Then a stop at the Glass Blowing. No glass blowers at work, and lots of glass for sale, mostly in tourist oriented motifs. Then out to St. George. I got a walking tour map at the Visitor's Center and a lunch recommendation. The woman knew one place where the chef was celiac aware. I did a little of the tour, then it was noon, and time for the ducking reenactment. It was part of a 10 minute presentation. All I wanted to see was them to dump her in. Finally they did and I went back to the walking tour. The tour map did not have dotted lines, but explanations of how to go. I spent half my time lost trying to figure out where I was going. I did find the places. I saw the ship Deliverance, but did not pay to go in it. I went to the Town Hall and admired the wood. The Bridge House was nothing but a tourist shop. The State House was not open. Then a quick walk through the Bermudian Heritage Museum. It chronicles the Black history of Bermuda. I found Somers Garden and the Unfinished Church. The St. George Historical Society Museum, Printery and Garden was closed. I looked at the Old Rectory, also closed. I walked through St. Peter's Church. I went into the Bermuda National Trust Museum in the Globe Hotel and watched a video presentation. Then a quick look at Smith's Garden. And into Tucker House Museum ended the walking tour.
Time for lunch. I first stopped to eat at the St. George's(?). After 10 minutes of being ignored I walked out. I then found San Georgio, the place recommended by the Visitor's Center. I ordered a burger with salad. I spent the time chatting with the couple at the next table. They had sailed to Bermuda, and then were planning to sail to the BVI. Then to Vancouver by plane. Back to the BVI and they were to sail down to the Grenadines. The had not yet sailed past Antigua.
After lunch I bicycled out to Gates Fort, then to Alexandra Battery and on to Fort Catherine. This bicycle ride was the prettiest so far of the trip. High up with water all along. On a road with little traffic. I went through the Fort Catherine Exhibits. Then a look at the charming Coot Pond. Now time to leave St. George and head back to Hamilton.
My first stop was to bicycle into Blue Hole Hill Park. A short walk off the road found the stalactites. Then at the end I found the Blue Hole. A small pond fed from Castle Harbour. Then a stop at Crystal Caves. There are now two caves open, but the next tour was Crystal, the original one. The cave is now a lake. Pontoons are strung through it for visitors to walk on. Originally they used boats, and tourists broke off pieces of the stalactites for souvenirs. So all are now part broken off. (The other cave, Fantasy, has been opened for less time, and still has most not broken off.)
I then bicycled into the Idwal Hughes Nature Reserve. I did not try to find the historic Calabash tree specimens. Sunset was coming. The next site I passed was Devil's Hole. But it was closed. Then I was entering Smith's Parish. This is where my second cousin (actually first cousin once removed) used to own a house. I bicycled up Lolly's Well Road and had no problem finding Whispering Wind. A couple of pictures and time to push to Hamilton. I did stop periodically for bearings, and once I was at the Old Devonshire Church. But I had stopped passed it, and only saw the new church. Into Hamilton at 5:30, and it was getting dark. Dinner was take out from Bombay eaten outside, then a short walk through town. Then back to the room to collapse.
Sunday, November 11, 2001
For breakfast on Sundays Rudy's is closed and they recommended Monty's as a place open. It was mobbed, with a line waiting, but the tables out front were free. I ordered inside and the food was promptly brought out. While she said they had no fruit, I saw a banana on another plate and ordered one. So poached eggs, bacon, and a banana.
It wasn't yet time for the Remembrance Day Parade (as in Veterans Day), so I bicycled over to the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute (BUEI). It was a half hour to the start of the parade. The fellow said it would take at least an hour to see everything, but my admission was good for the whole day. the BUEI is a comprehensive teaching museum. Entirely too much to absorb in a few hours. At 10:30 I headed over to the parade. There was a large group sitting in chairs on the lawn in front of The Cabinet Building. Another smaller group was marching down Front Street to join them. Then they stopped in front of the others and the ceremony began. I went back to the BUEI. (I later learn that at 11:00, after the drawn out ceremony, they all marched together. Boy Scouts and all.) While at the BUEI someone tried to steal my bicycle. I had put a chain through the back wheel, so he didn't get very far and dropped the bicycle. I learned this from the front desk fellow that watched.
I had time before the 1:00 ferry to Dockyard. The BUEI desk fellow told me of the other two Indian restaurants in town. So I headed off to find them (knowing that Bombay was closed on Sundays). The first was in the Bermuda Arcade (across from Little Theatre) and the entire arcade was closed off. The second, House of India, is only open for dinner on Sunday. So I bicycled down Front Street looking at my options. I settled on The Beach. I explained to the waitress that I wanted two hamburgers with only lettuce, tomato and onion and not contaminated on a grill with wheat. I doubt she bothered to tell the cook any of this. Anyway, the place was not crowded. There were four people that had ordered before me, and two came in afterwards. The waitress brought me two cups of water. She couldn't understand that I had ordered two burgers for myself. I guess she doesn't realize that one burger, with no roll or French Fries, isn't very filling. I waited and waited. 23 minutes after placing my order I get up and told her I couldn't miss my ferry. The next wasn't for two hours. I got on the ferry with time to spare. I chatted with an elderly couple that had come from Britain for two weeks.
At the Dockyard I learned that there are four restaurants. I picked The Tempest, the one with seafood and takeout. I got two burgers to go, and ate them at a bench looking at the water. Cheaper than at The Beach. I looked in the Clocktower Mall. Your usual shops catering to tourists. Some of the cruise ships dock here, and they would be their market. I stopped at the Bermuda Clayworks. I spent some time watching at the Dockyard Glassworks. In 25 minutes the fellow, with some helpers, made a $325 vase. I looked in the Bermuda Arts Center. I missed the Bermuda Craft Market. I then spent some time in the Bermuda Maritime Museum and watching the four dolphins at the Dolphin Quest. I did not bicycle out the North Arm, and later looking at the map I see I should have. And I missed the Snorkel Park.
As the ferry makes several stops on the way to Dockyard and Hamilton I bicycled south and would pick it up somewhere along the way. I first stopped in Lagoon Park. Then around to the Royal Navy Cemetery. Then over Boaz Island and Watford Island to Somerset Village. I found the Cavello Bay Wharf, but I had time to spare before the ferry would arrive. So I bicycled over to Cambridge Beaches and back. The ferry arrived.
It was a fairly long ferry ride, as I first had a half hour to get back to Dockyard. But it was now dark, and I didn't want to ride back. On the Dockyard to Hamilton leg I chatted with a couple from Boston. They had flown down on Friday and were leaving on Monday. They had booked back in July and paid $400 and some for their tickets. (Mine was an AA weekend special for $192.)
Back in Hamilton I headed to House of India. She is gluten aware and has put gluten-free on the menus. I bought takeout and sat out front to eat it. Then looking around I saw that they also had a sit down restaurant. Next time.
I bicycled back to the guest house. Mrs Pickles' son showed me where Henry VIII was on the map. It would have been a long ride, say 20 minutes, on an unfamiliar road. I didn't go and went to sleep early.
Monday, November 12, 2001
It rained over night. The second time. Also as I write these notes in the morning we had a brief shower. But now the sun was out. Writing notes in the morning does delay my day's start. I had looked in my Lonely Planet and noticed that I had marked the Paraquet for breakfast. It is across the street from Loughlands. Convenient, since I was headed west for the day, and going back to Hamilton would be a trip east. But they were closed for the holiday. So back to Monty's in Hamilton. No bananas this time. She said the bananas where for the traditional Bermudian salted cod fish and potatoes breakfast, and they were now sold out. The island is not into fruit for breakfast. (It is imported and expensive.) And the difference at Monty's between a two egg and three egg breakfast was $1.00, but he charged me $1.75 for the fourth egg. Oh well, I won't be back. Tomorrow I will try Paraquet.
I started my trip along Harbour Road. It started to lightly rain. With the bicycle having no fenders I had to go slowly, so not to spray oily road dirt up my back. Then it stopped and I waited a few minutes for the road to dry some. The views are lovely along Harbour Road, but would have been better in the other direction, where I would have been in the lane closest to the water.
When the road ended at Middle Road I back tracked on Middle Road. I passed Warwick Pond, but it was all fenced in. (Later looking at my more detailed map I saw there was a path off a side street.) I looked at the Christ Church, then took Dunscombe Road over to South Road. First stop was Astwood Park and Beach. A quick ride in, then a ride over the grass to get back to the road without going backwards. Then a look at Warwick Long Bay. A bunch of fellows were getting their SCUBA gear ready. The South Shore park. There are a lot of paths here to walk. I bicycled one to Horseshoe Bay. The sand was a bit soft -- churned up by feet and horses -- so I had to walk the bicycle part of the way. Then at Horseshoe Bay I was able to bicycle on the hard pack sand near the water. At the far end is a concession stand, and a road that took me back to South Road.
I continued along until I reached the Gibbs Hill Lighthouse. The sign at South Road said 0.4 km to the lighthouse. I bicycled in about 0.4 KM and another sign said 0.4 km to the lighthouse. Eventually I reached the base of the lighthouse. I walked to the top and took some pictures. Maybe someday I'll stitch them into a panorama.
At the lighthouse there is a restaurant. I asked what they had that was gluten-free. Only the salad she said. I went down to Henry VIII, back at South Road. The burgers, not inexpensive, included French Fries that I couldn't eat. I move on without talking to a waitress.
I tried to find out where the Queen's View was. Supposedly there is a green plaque at the site where she stood. But I saw all from the lighthouse top.
Next stop was Church Bay Park. There are two entrances. The first, unmarked, is where the guide book says to walk up the knoll for the view. The next, and main one, takes you down to the beach.
South Road now ends and puts you back on Middle Road. Here I could pick up the Railway Trail. I took it for a ways, then cut over to West Whale Bay Park. I walked up the hill to see the fort. I went back to Middle Road and picked up the Railway Trail again. I followed it, went over the Somerset Bridge, then picked up the trail again. When it passed Scaur Hill Fort and Park I locked the bicycle and walked up the hill to the fort, only to discover that a road leads to it from the other side. Then I continued on the trail to Somerset Village. A couple I had chatted with at South Shore Park recommended I eat at Somerset County Squire, and to watch the harbor while I eat. Lunch was only being served inside, which was down in the basement, so no sitting on the terrace. The black woman that first helped me was a bit snide towards my dietary requirements, but another waitress took over and she suggested the fish, cooked without the usual flour, and steamed vegetables. She and the cook were aware of the celiac requirements. Later the bartender said he had a catering business and knew a family with four celiac children. He said he was very aware of the issues involved.
They had the TV on. It was non-stop NBC news on the AA flight 587 that had crashed in the Rockaways. That was the flight that boards at the gate next to the Bermuda flight. I also learned for the first time that the Northern Alliance had been making substantial gains.
After lunch I bicycled to Somerset Long Bay Park, and then to Somerset Bay. I then bicycled to Daniel's Head Village, and saw the tent cottages. Now closed for the season. Then down West Side Road, with its lovely ocean views. I then bicycled in to see the Hayden Trust Chapel. I chatted with a local couple there. He was saying that most people bicycle at 6 AM, too dark after work. He said there was a mountain bicycle club, and one day a year they open all the barricades on the Railway Trail and bicycle all of it. He recommended places to bicycle in St. George Parish that I hadn't done: the west end of St. George Island, and places east of the airport. What they, and others do, is to take their bicycles to near the airport and bicycle from there.
It was getting late, so we parted company and I headed to Hog Bay park. First I bicycled all the way out Wreck Road and back. Lots of mangroves. At Hog Bay there are a lot of trails to bicycle. I was unable to find the historic house, though based on the signs I must have passed it. The trail markings were a bit skimpy. I came out the south side and made my way back to Middle Road.
I then bicycled down Middle Road past where South Road turns off. I then picked up the Railway Trail at Church Road. Here is another place where the road has better views. While the trail was higher, most of the time the vegetation blocked the views.
I continued on the trail for quite a ways. I wanted to continue more, but it was getting dark. So at Dunscombe Road I ended and took Ord Road until Cobbs Hill Road, which led me to South Road.
I bicycled down to look at Coral Beach. I chatted with a group of teenagers there (on their scooters of course), and now it was almost dark. I bicycled over to the Elbow Beach Hotel looking for the photos of the 1915 Pollockshield shipwreck. It is a grand hotel, but no one knew where the photos where. I did wander around a lot.
Now being fully dark all I had left to do was find dinner. The fish and steamed vegetables for lunch didn't satiate for long. Paraquet was still closed. The guide book recommended After Hours, for Caribbean food, but there was a sign on the door saying that they were not going to be open. So I bicycled into Hamilton. With no Indian restaurants open for the holiday, I had decided on eating at The Hog Penny. I had passed it many times, but never patronized the place. One of the off-duty managers said I could bring the bicycle in and put in near the bar. No way was there space! So the on-duty manager had me bring it into the service entrance.
The manager, an Indian fellow, was clueless when it came to what gluten is. So I had him ask the chef. He came back and reported that other than the steaks the only dish gluten-free was the blackened grouper. I ordered it. Then after I while I realized that if the seasonings were a mix from a can they most likely had wheat. I asked just as it was arriving. The spice mix did come from a can, but the cook wisely left it off. So I ate un-blackened grouper. I chatted with the couple next to me. His flight back was on Sabena, and they had stopped flying the week before. He was going to fly BA home. Back to the room to get prepared and write my notes, so for a change I could get an early start on the day.
Tuesday, November 13, 2001
I get up early. I had decided that since the Aquarium was on the way to the airport that I'd spend the morning there. Looking in my Lonely Planet I see that Paraquet doesn't open for breakfast until 9:30. So this would mean another trip to town for breakfast. The LP had mentioned Dorothy's for breakfast. I had not seen the place. A check on the map found it on one of the alleys running off of Front St. As I was leaving the guest house Mrs Pickles' son sees me. Probably making sure I wasn't skipping out without paying. He suggested chaining the bicycle to the front door of the rental place, if they weren't open when I get back from breakfast. Off I went. Dorothy's is run by one woman. The ham would have been on the griddle, so she recommended the bacon, which she microwaves. She could poach me eggs, and of course no fruit. She gives me lettuce and tomato, something on one else had done. And the cheapest.
The bicycle rental place is on the way back to my room. I get there a little before 8:00. No slot in the door, but I could slide the key under the garage door. As I'm locking the bicycle to a tree a fellow arrives and says he can take it. I walk back to the guest house.
I collect my things and get the bill. Mrs. Pickles had charged me the in-season rate, despite having quoted the off-season rate to me over the phone. I pointed this out and she corrected it. Good thing. I didn't have the cash to pay the higher rate (and she doesn't take charge cars).
I walked down to the bus stop and waited. Then at the bus terminal I had just missed my next bus, so I waited again. The woman at the Aquarium let me leave my bag in her office. (And at the airport I lied when asked if it had been in my possession the entire time since I packed it.) The Aquarium and Zoo, while small, is quite slick. Educational, of course, with a varied selection of animals.
I left the Aquarium with time to arrive at the airport more than one hour before. I had observed the bus times and had no wait for the bus. At the airport the sign says check in closes 1/2 hour before departure time. So I could have cut it closer. But in an hour and 3/4 I had seen everything at the Aquarium.
We pull off from the gate one minute late. Delayed by getting the baggage and two dogs aboard. Then a couple minutes wait for a USAir plane to land. And we're off.