Bug's Big Adventure - Part 4
Day 7 - Thank God For Sea Legs And Iron Stomachs
Up to this point, I had found sleeping onboard, while underway, extremely enjoyable. The gentle, regular rocking of the ship was like being rocked to sleep in a cradle. As soon as my head hit the pillow, I was out like a light! This past night, though, I found myself being awakened from time to time with the cabin being lit up by lightning flashes or by the crashing vibration of the ship hitting a trough.
I finally gave up around 6:00 a.m. and got up. Thank heavens this happened on the return trip, rather than the first day or so before I got my sea legs, or I'd have NEVER managed my morning ablutions! Even so, it was very hard to keep from getting bashed into the walls of that small WC. I left Hubby to his slumber and made my way up to the breakfast buffet. It was very windy, overcast and with lots of misty rain. Not a nice morning at all. No one was sitting outside, even in the areas that had plexiglass siding along the rails. It was just too nasty. I was surprised to see the staff setting up the outside serving stations just outside the buffet area. They were in a fairly sheltered area but still in the open.
Imagine trying to carry a cup of coffee, whilst riding a roller coaster. Lurching from chair to chair, I finally got to an empty seat without mishap. I am surprised that I didn't see anyone fall down, especially considering the age of the majority of the passengers. I suppose the ones with the most problems getting around simply decided to stay in their cabins and call Room Service! I am totally amazed at how well the staff managed to get around, bussing tables, putting food on the buffet, etc, with such grace and aplomb. There was really very little spillage, other than from cups and glasses that had been filled too full at the serving station.
Once Hubby arrived, also lurching from side to side, we took turns getting our plates. Dad and SMom followed shortly. As we ate, we reviewed the day's schedule, to see what was being offered and if there was anything we wanted to do. It was definitely going to be an "inside" day. Nothing much tickled my fancy, except the crafting session that afternoon at 2:30. After breakfast, we returned to our cabin and packed up everything, except our outfits for the next day and necessary toiletries. We were still expecting to arrive in Charleston on Saturday, though the time had been pushed up to approximately 6 p.m. instead of 10:00 a.m. Needless to say, there were quite a few folks on board that were a bit frantic, as they had airline reservations, hotel reservations, etc. We thanked our lucky stars that, once the ship docked, we were home!
With the seas being so rough, I decided it would be a nice day to curl up somewhere, read and work the crossword. Which is pretty much what I did. Hubby decided to lounge in the cabin and watch TV or nap. I spent most of the morning in one of those window seats on Deck 5. I'd check in on him, every now and then, but it was still hard to walk around. Dad and SMom also retired to their cabins to read and watch TV most of the day. It had cleared up by about 8:00 that morning and was partly sunny but it was still windy and the seas were still very rough. Hubby did go up top that afternoon for a while but there was not the crowd that there usually was. I repaired to the Polo Club after lunch and had a Bloody Mary. And a very good Bloody Mary it was, too! LOL
While I was sipping my Bloody Mary and reading my book, a lady sat down in the chair across from me, frantically punching her cell phone. I was a bit surprised that she was trying to dial out but she explained that she had used her cell the entire week and had had no problems calling home up to this point. She was trying to reach her family to explain that they would not getting back as planned. Saturday was her mother's 90th birthday and there was a big celebration at 7 p.m. Saturday night. In Virginia. An 8 hour drive from Charleston. They were going to miss the entire thing. The poor woman was really upset but there was nothing she could do. I really felt badly for her. And I started to notice that more and more people had their cells out, making (or trying to make) calls to family, friends, and I'm sure, airlines and hotels.
After finishing my drink, I headed back down to Deck 5 to a window seat to read until time meet Dad and Laura for the craft session. It was being held in a small room called The House Of Lords, also on Deck 5. The previous day's craft project had been extremely simple: paper carnations. This time, though, it was something more interesting: origami gift boxes. I did find a website with illustrated instructions. Which is good, because I think I've already forgotten just how to fold the things!
By suppertime, it had been announced that we were now expected to arrive in Charleston on Sunday! Another day? So much for getting packed up.... I just had to drag the suitcases out again and find another day's worth of clothes for our extended cruise.
It had been an interesting day, watching the seas. The waves (to my eyes) were huge, with a lot of white foam and spray. I found myself mesmerized at times, watching the the ocean, as the ship made it's way westward. Luckily, other than difficulty walking at times, Hubby, Dad, SMom and myself had no problems. I had wondered, at one point, if any of us were going to get seasick at this late date, but apparently we all had adapted well.
Still rocking, rolling and crashing, we retired for the night.
Origami Gift Boxes
Day 8 - Well, Hello, Dali!
Waking up this morning, something felt odd. What could it be? It slowly dawned on me that the roller coaster ride we had been on since Thursday night had come to a stop. Looking out the window of our cabin, I was relieved to see the high seas had subsided and we were back to a normal, gentle shifting back and forth. It made for a much easier job of getting showered and dressed, let me tell you!
We made our way up to Deck 10, for the breakfast buffet. This would be the last full day onboard. The ship's newletter and schedule had been delivered as usual, the night before, and we eagerly discussed our options. Despite the fact we should have been arriving back in Charleston this morning, the cruise staff appeared to be very well prepared for the unexpected and a full schedule was lined up. Hubby and I decided that we would check out a Disney animated short at 2 and I would meet SMom for crafting at 3.
A special notice had been included with the schedule. They apologized for the change in arrival time and that they understood that this would cause inconvenience for some passengers, because of airline and hotel reservations, as well as personal schedules. They outlined three reasons for the delay. We had to change course, to aid the captain of the ketch, and that added 6 to 7 hours to our time. (They did say that he was stable and being taken care of in Sick Bay) They had done some routine maintenance to an engine cylinder, while we were in Bermuda. After we left port, a seal on that cylinder started leaking but was quickly taken care of. And the bad weather. The last two items forced the captain to operate at a reduced speed, further throwing us behind. We were now expected to arrive in Charleston about 6 a.m. Sunday morning.
I was particularily interested in the fact that, due to the delay in arrival, the cruise line was offering 15 minutes of free ship to shore phone or internet access, so that passengers could advise family of the change in schedule, call hotels or airlines, etc. On Wed. night, they had offered 50% off their Internet access from 7 until 9. I had tried logging on, for a quick check in but had problems. The Internet Café manager, of course, was no where to be seen and I threw in the towel. Here was my chance to wave and say, "Hello!" I managed to get in, post and get back out, without overstaying my 15 minutes! And I guess it says something about me, that the only place I checked in at, was WU! After that, I went into the library to see if they wanted any of the books I had brought with me. They said, "Sure", and took them off my hands.
Since this day was SO much nicer than the previous day, Deck 10 was pretty well packed with people. It had been almost completely deserted all day Friday. We spent most of the morning, sitting with the two couples we had been hanging out with a good bit, while we were underway. The men stayed put but us wives would wander off and come back for a while, wander off, come back, etc. I have a vague recollection that I might have wandered down to the Polo Club again and had a Bloody Mary before lunch, but I won't swear to it. Or I may have it mixed up with the day before. Who knows? Other than the wine I smuggled on board, the only drinks I had had was the martini and two Bloody Marys. I drank a LOT of tea and coffee!
After lunch, Hubby and I went to The Royal Fireworks. This space was used for movies during the day and a disco type venue at night. The adverted animated flick was... get this.... a collaboration between Walt Disney and Salvador Dali! I've been a Disney afficiando for years and I'd also seen some of Dali's work in the flesh, so to speak. But Disney and Dali? I knew, the minute I saw the movie offering in the schedule for the day, that this was something I HAD to see. The title of the short was "Destino". It has never been released to the theatres or shown on TV. It was only about 7 minutes or so long, and as expected, was rather strange. Hubby had no idea what I was dragging him to see, either! LOL He'd heard of Dali and I'm sure he'd probably seen something of his melted clocks at some point but was not familiar with the man or his work.
We watched it twice, for several reasons. One, the room was not good and dark, we were sitting at the back for the first viewing and it was hard to see. It's not a colorful piece of work. Lots of greys and browns, which didn't show up very well. And it was hard to follow. Very dreamlike. Or nightmarish, depending on how you looked at it. You could say it was very Dali-ish! Of course, the animation was superb. Exactly what you'd expect from Disney. We moved down to the front row for the second viewing and I was able see it a bit better. I just wish they had been able to make that area really good and dark, like a movie theatre, though. They had one of the cruise staff give a talk about it, after each showing. As usual, I didn't catch much of that. Hubby said it was just basic info about Disney, Dali and how the whole project came about. It was unfinished and shelved but Roy Disney pulled it back out a few years ago and got it ready for viewing. See the links below for Wiki's description and a couple of YouTubes, though they do not show the complete film. (You can pretty much guarantee that if it's on film, you can find something on YouTube!)
Afterwards, Hubby did a flit back to Deck 10 and his buddies and I met up with SMom for crafting again. Today's project was a fish made from beads and ribbon. This time, it took me a bit to get the hang of it but I perservered and was able to finish. I had a time trying to find the instructions online. The key, of course, was finding the right keyword to Google with.
After crafting, SMom and I checked out the gift shops to see what, if anything, was being offered on sale. There was quite a bit on sale but I saw nothing I needed or wanted. SMom did get a couple of bottles in the duty free shop; vodka, I think it was. The crush of shoppers really kept us from staying too long.
To the best of my recollection, the rest of the afternoon and evening was just spent hanging out and people watching. We headed back to our cabin, before supper, and made sure that we had everything pretty much packed up, besides what we'd need for the next morning. The staff was going to put out the breakfast buffet on Deck 10, as usual, the next morning but I think the main dining rooms were going to be closed. The ship's channel on TV was running disembarkation instructions. After double checking the dresser drawers, closets, and our bags, we headed to bed.
We would be home tomorrow!
Destino trailer from YouTube Check out the other one, called "Turtles". It shows a little bit more.
I finally found the beaded fish. They're called Beadie Buddies and are made with pony beads. Once I figured that out, I was able to find two sets of instructions.
Beaded Fish This is like the one we made, though we didn't use lanyard clips or keychains. We just tied them off.
Another version These instructions might be a little better, though this version has a split tail.
Updated: 10:43 PM GMT on November 29, 2007
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Bug's Big Adventure - Part 3
Day 5 - Nick and Nora Charles Can Keep Their Martinis
Hubby and I left the ship around 8:30 or so and headed to the Ferry landing. I had decided by this time, that I was going to go ahead and get that jacket that caught my eye in Davison's at the Dockyard the day before. Heaven knows, I don't really need another jacket but this was a really nice one. Hubby was going to get the same canvas khaki jacket that Dad wanted.
There was a fair crowd lined up. We waited and waited... finally they announced that the ferry had had engine trouble and it would be about 10:00 before they could get another one to arrive in it's place. We walked through King's Square and found a bench. Saw a couple we recognized from the ship and spoke briefly. Hubby and I asked if they had taken the bus yet. When they said "No", we told them it was well worth the ride, as an inexpensive way to tour the island. Then a local gentleman emerged from a small store nearby, fresh cup of coffee in hand. We talked with him for a bit and told him how much we were enjoying our stay. We joked about how we feel about tourists here at home and how it was a bit embarrassing that now we WERE tourists. He just laughed. He asked where we had been so far and we made small talk for a bit.
Then, it was time to head back and get in line again. The skies had been clear and sunny just an hour earlier but now it had clouded over and it was sprinkling rain. I had packed everything but the kitchen sink but it never crossed my mind to bring a brolly. Luckily, I had on a windbreaker with a hood but Hubby got a little damp. It wasn't but a few minutes and we saw the ferry approaching. By the time we got on board, the rain had quit. We went up top but sat under the covered portion as the seats in the open area were wet. Late arrivals were out of luck, as those were the only seats left. The ferry goes too fast to stand up and there are signs that tell you not to, when the ferry is under way. They all ended up with wet heinies.
We arrived at the Dockyard and made a beeline for Davison's. We got the two jackets for Hubby and Dad (on sale for 19.95) and the one I wanted (34.95), paid for them, made a quick stop in the WC and headed straight back to the ferry landing, with time to spare before the next ferry left for St. George. This time, we were able to catch the non-stop ferry between St. George and the Dockyard, both ways, without having to layover in Hamilton. So, it took us less than 3 hours, roundtrip.
We went back on board, had lunch and returned to shore, with the intention of checking out the Globe Hotel just off King's Square, on Duke of York St. We had spotted this on Monday but they were only open from Wed. through Sat. from 10:00 a.m. until 4 p.m.
There is a small gift shop downstairs, with all proceeds going to support the Bermuda National Trust. For a minimal admission charge, we were permitted access to the Rogues and Runners: Bermuda and the American Civil War, which was upstairs. We told the woman in the gift shop that we had been anxious to see the exhibit, since Charleston was one of the places the blockade runners tried to get to, and that we were from Charleston. She got all excited about that and we talked a bit, before heading upstairs.
The history of the building is fascinating. It was built by the then Governor, Samuel Day, who turned out to be rather dishonest. He appropriated most of the building materials (including a substantial amount of cedar) from Crown lands. The Assembly did not object, since the house, being built on public lands, with public funds, would be utilized by future governors. It was the finest building on the square, being comprised of four equally sized rooms on each of the two floors, boasting four chimneys. After a brief and corrupt term, Day was replaced. Then it was discovered that, somehow, he had had the title to the house secured in his name! Day refused to surrender the house to his successor. He was eventually fined and imprisoned for libeling the new Governor. He died in prison in 1703. Day's dispute with the Assembly over the house prevailed in the courts. But as he left no heirs, the Assembly had no compunction about taking possession of the house.
Records of ownership of the house after that point are obscure. The house was being used as a hotel by the mid 1800's and was a base for blockade operations during the Civil War. The exhibit was very well laid out. They had examples of some of the items that were smuggled in, as well as models of the types of ships used. All in all, it was a nice little exhibit. The only surviving "Great Seal of the Confederacy" press is housed at the Globe. England was neutral during the war but when there is a lot of money to be made, in a short time, people will find a way and the authorities will turn a blind eye. Especially since England's sympathies lay with the South more than they did with the North.
The cedar in this house is absolutely gorgeous! The floors, stairs, bannisters, exposed ceiling beams are all of cedar. It's a dark reddish, rich looking wood. They also have some examples of antique cedar furniture scattered throughout the museum portion of the building.
I bought a few small items in the gift shop as mementos and found a nice little matted print by Nicholas Silk, of a white Bermudan house, with coconut palms in the yard and the sea in the background. It is signed and dated but it's not a signed and numbered print. And it was only $10.00! Framed and hung up, it will be a nice reminder of our time in Bermuda. I also got my only sample of Bermudan cedar there in the form of a bookmark. I need to oil it, so that it won't dry out too badly and split in half. It is very thin! Oiling it will also bring out that lovely colour.
We returned to the ship for supper and my big evening out! I've been a fan of old movies from the 30's and 40's and have watched numerous times, the Thin Man movies with Nick and Nora Charles all dressed up in evening gowns and tuxes, happily buzzing around with martinis in their hands. I'd never had a martini and have always wanted to try one, mostly because of those old movies. I was talking to a friend of mine a few years ago about it and she asked me if I liked green olives. I love olives. Green or black. She said I would probably like a dirty marty, the tipple of choice for Karen on Will and Grace. When I saw on the NCL website this summer that the Polo Club on the Majesty specialized in martinis (they advertise about 30 varieties), I saw my chance.
So, I put on a dress and nice little black jacket. Hubby and I had supper and then we proceeded to the Polo Club, where I ordered my first martini. The fellow behind the bar put on quite a show, flipping bottles in the air, adding the ingredients, shaking them up, pouring with a flourish and placing the glass in front of me. With the mixologist anxiously looking on, and with visions of Nick and Nora floating through my head, I took my first sip. It was not what I expected at all. Very disappointing. Not that I couldn't drink it; it just did not tickle my taste buds. I told the fellow behind the bar that I'm sure he mixes up a wonderful martini (Poor guy, he looked rather crestfallen, when I didn't seem enthused); it just wasn't my cup of tea. I sipped along on it but wound up leaving half of it on the bar. The thing was HUGE and I was already starting to get a bit lightheaded after about 30 minutes of cautious sipping. Ah, well. I came, I saw, I sipped. Nothing ventured; nothing gained. But I think I'll stick with what I know I like, for the most part, in the future! LOL
Thus endeth our last full day in Bermuda. We were scheduled to leave around 11:30 or so, the next morning.
Bermuda National Trust - The Globe Hotel
Rogues and Runners: Bermuda and the American Civil War
This is pretty cool: Google map of Bermuda. You can bring up a cruise ship tied up at Ordinance Island, where we were berthed. I'd been trying to find a street map of St. George. They have such neat names: Featherbed Alley is one that I wish I knew how it got named that! LOL
Hint: St. George is at the very right hand end of the island, looking at this map. The Dockyard is at the northern tip at the left hand end of the island.
Day 6 - Rough Weather and Rescue at Sea
This was our last day in Bermuda. Dad and SMom had given me some money and asked me to pick up something for our neighbor, who had hauled us and all of our luggage to the docks, so that Dad could leave his car at our house, rather than in long term storage on the waterfront. A "Thank You" gift. I had already gotten her something, along with the girls, who are about 2 and 4. They were watching the house, taking care of the cats and were to pick us back up Saturday morning and bring us back to the house.
I had not planned on going ashore our last day, except to make a quick run for a newspaper but..... Anyhoo, around 8:30 or so, I took off. I knew the shops probably wouldn't open until 9:00 but I wanted to make it as quick as possible. The crew had to be back onboard no later than 10:30 and passengers, by 11:00. Hubby was petrified at the thought that I'd wander off and get left behind!
I got my paper and then tried to find that little shop that I had purchased the two little canvas purses and my ring at, earlier in the week. I was pretty sure I knew where it was but try as I might, I could not seem to find the place. I went round and round, back and forth, with no luck. I did find a little shop with some salt and pepper shakers in the window that were JUST like what I wanted. Problem was, they were closed for some reason until Monday, the 19th. By that time, I would be back home and back at work! Rats...foiled again!
And then I spotted a sign. "Davison's". I stopped dead in my tracks! "You mean to tell me we went all the way back to the Dockyard yesterday for those jackets and there was a Davison's right here in St. George?!" ARGH! LOL
Since I couldn't seem to find that shop, it looked like my only alternative, was to go back through the gift shops right on King's Square and see if I could possibly locate something that fairly tasteful and reasonably priced. I searched and sifted and finally found a little trinket box with shells on it for Mom and a couple of small items for the girls. Then, I made once last pass through Customs, said goodbye to the men and women manning the place and got myself back on board with plenty of time to spare.
Went to Dad's cabin to show him what I had gotten, deposited my purchases in our cabin and then headed backup to Deck 10, to meet up with hubby. The weather was pretty nice, sunny and fairly warm. We sat at a table, with some of the folks we had been hanging out with and waited to leave. We watched the last groups of people trickle down the streets, through Customs and back on the ship.
About 11:30, the loudspeaker cut on and said that we were ready to leave but that four passengers were missing. Figures that there'd be someone who would dilly-dally around and be late getting back. I looked at Hubby and said, "Well, it's not me! I TOLD you I would be back with time to spare!" We never did see whoever it was, get back but about 11:40, we could feel the engines starting. We watched, as they cast off the hawsers and we slowly pulled away from the berth at Ordinance Island.
We didn't do a whole lot that day, after watching Bermuda recede on the horizon, other than sitting on Deck 10, enjoying the company of some folks we had met and just hanging out. I did meet SMom and Dad on Deck 5 for a crafting session. We made those carnations that I remember from my schooldays. Really simple but it was something to do.
Around 5, we returned to our cabin for a bit, before supper. Around 6:00, the loudspeaker cut in and it was announced that we were changing course. The Bermuda Rescue Command had asked us to respond to a medical emergency on another boat. We were expected to reach the coordinates at approximately 8 p.m. This bare bones message left all the passengers wondering just what was going on. Was it a large ship? What kind of emergency? We would have to wait to find out.
(Insert martini story here)
I realized this morning, that my big night out was not Wed. night, but Thurs. night. My notes were a bit mixed up and I read them wrong last night, whilst putting Day 5 together. The Martini Adventure was after supper this night. If I hadn't had any notes at all, Heaven knows what type of narrative I would be putting together. I guess one mixup isn't doing too bad, now, is it? LOL
After leaving the Polo Club, we were browsing through the Photo Gallery, where the ship's photographer displays his pictures so that you can spend beaucoup bucks for them. The show in the Palace Theatre let out and who should come along but Dad and SMom. We checked our watches and realized it was almost 8:30. We decided to go up top and see if we had reached the boat in question.
What a difference in the weather! It was now very, very windy, the ship was rolling a bit and the sky was completely dark. More and more passengers were coming up the stairs and elevators and it was getting hard to find a place to see. Dad and I managed to elbow in and we spotted one bright light and some running lights. They'd appear and disappear and we realized that the water had gotten rather rough. (I guess we had gotten our sealegs well enough, that we hadn't really noticed the wave action).
It took almost 30 minutes before the boat was close enough to see it and what a shock! It was a little two-masted sailboat. I think all of us were rather under the impression that it was a larger boat than that. Right about then, just under our feet, there was a great rumble! It was the lifeboat being winched out and it was directly below us. They did not cut it loose but just lowered it to the water level, in hopes that the sailboat could get close enough alongside, that they could throw a line, transfer the patient and just winch the lifeboat back up. I think they were probably afraid, at that point, that if they launched the lifeboat, they might have problems getting it back again. We could see that the waves were getting really bad, just in the short time we had been on deck.
After the sailboat had circled four or five times, being thrown a line several times, and finding that they just could not get positioned right, the captain ordered the lifeboat to be launched. Both boats were bouncing up and down and looked like they would crash into each other. Finally, they got aligned, into the wind. Once they did that, it didn't take but a minute. The lifeboat headed back and the little sailboat disappeared in the dark, presumably headed on to safe harbour in Bermuda.
They were able to get the lifeboat hooked right back up and we watched as they winched it back up the deck level on the Promenade Deck, where Sick Bay was located. I think almost the entire passenger contingent was watching at that point. They got the patient off and into Sick Bay. A round of applause for the crew broke out.
And just in time, too. In that short a space of time, it was apparent that the weather was getting very bad. There had been several rain squalls while the rescue was going on. The waves were getting much higher and it was getting harder and harder to walk around. Hubby and I decided to head on back to our cabin and go to bed.
We wondered what the weather would be like the next day.
Article about the rescue from The Royal Gazette
Rats... I had linked directly to the story but it's not there now. Here's a copy/paste :
Sailor suffers heart attack enroute
A cruise ship was sent to the rescue of a sailboat captain who suffered a suspected heart attack en route to Bermuda yesterday.
Bermuda Maritime Operations (BMO) was notified at 4 p.m that a 58-year-old man had been taken ill on the Arabesqes, a 47-foot ketch. The vessel was 110 miles to the north west of the Island at the time, with two others onboard.
A BMO spokesman said last night: "One of his crew is a medical doctor, so he was in pretty good hands. They realised that he needed medical assistance pretty pronto so they contacted us. We contacted the Norwegian Majesty's captain, and he agreed to rendezvous. It took about three hours to get to the sailing vessel and we are waiting for confirmation that the transfer was successful. The cruise ship has got more medical facilities onboard and can administer more drugs and monitor his heart."
The Norwegian Majesty left Bermuda yesterday lunchtime, and is set to continue to Charleston, South Carolina. It is expected to be several hours late due to the emergency assistance rendered. Meanwhile, the two remaining crew on the Arabesqes will carry on to Bermuda.
That article came from the paper's daily section called The Bermuda Shorts ! They are short articles covering news of local interest. What an eyecatching phrase! LOL
More about the rescue from Cruise News
Updated: 12:12 PM GMT on November 24, 2007
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Bug's Big Adventure, Part 2
Day 3 - Land Ho!
I'll not bore you with more tales of "We got up, had brekkie", etc., etc. , for each day. Suffice it to say, Hubby and I pretty much got up each day fairly early and would meet Dad and SMom at the breakfast buffet shortly after 7. We got the hang of using the shifting shower, weren't quite so freaked out when flushing the loo, spent odd bits of time hanging out here and there or would wander the ship to see what all was going on. There were a good dozen or more cushioned window seats on the starboard side of Deck 5, perfect for curling up with a good book. I availed myself of them several times. People watching was a popular way of being entertained.
We were expected to arrive in St. George around 1. By 11:30, Bermuda rose on the distant horizon. It seems like everyone on the ship wended their way to the sunning deck over Deck 10 to watch. You could barely find a place at the rail. The sun was out and the water was an amazing array of shades of blue, green and aqua. The island itself is very hilly (it's pretty much all limestone) and lush with green foliage. The houses are every shade in the rainbow: blue, white, green, yellow, pink, purple, lavender, peach, rose, orange,etc., all with bright white stepped roofs. They are built quite close together and crammed everywhere from the water's edge to the hilltops.
As soon as we entered St. George harbour, we were beseiged by dozens of arriving sparrows! The ubiquitous English sparrow. Little rascals know a floating buffet when they see one! LOL Perky little things were hopping everywhere, picking up crumbs. Completely unafraid, they would even hop on the tables, while you were eating, if you put bread down for them. They weren't pesty, though. Generally they just sat on the rails, waiting for something to hit the deck and then they'd just hop down, grab it and off they'd go. They stayed with us the entire time we were docked.
As we approached the berth at Ordinance Island, you could see the Town Crier waiting outside Customs. As they started securing the hawsers, he commenced into a speech, giving us permission to dock and enter Her Majesty's domain of Bermuda. He concluded with a bow and a sweep of his tricorn hat and was met with a rousing round of applause from the watching passengers.
Everyone immediately headed back to their cabins, to get ready to disembark. Dad and SMom called us (they have onboard phones) and said they would meet us outside Customs. There was quite a wait, as it seemed like everyone on the ship was going ashore, and it took a while to process everyone. (You had to swipe out with your cabin key -it's how they keep track of everyone. And you have to have your key to swipe back in and get back aboard, so heaven help you if you lose the thing!)
There were cabs and tour carriages all lined up waiting. Dad and SMom decided that we would take a carriage ride and picked out a fellow with a beautiful pair of greys in the traces. I'm not quite sure just how much it was, as Dad and SMom treated. Our driver was named John. He was tall and slender, with a complexion like coffee with a lot of cream, a lovely wide smile and he was wearing a hat that looked a bit like a pith helmet, though it seemed to be made with a lighter, woven material. We piled in and off we went!
With my hearing as bad as it is, most of his commentary was lost on me. I was able to get bits and pieces, when we'd stop and he'd turn around, so that I could read his lips a bit. I wish I could have heard it all but c'est la vie. I was quite content to just look at my surroundings. And what surroundings they were! I looked. I gasped. I goggled. I sat there with my mouth hanging open, looking like a codfish. Narrow, hilly streets. The architecture of the buildings. The limestone walls. And the plants! My God! The plants! Most of these things that I'm used to seeing as strictly house plants and having to be nursed and talked to and babied. They are just growing wild everywhere like weeds! Huge Birds of Paradise in people's front yards. Asparagus ferns. Mother-in-law's tongues. Moses in the Cradle. Pothos with leaves larger than platters. A good dozen or more varieties of aloes, though John called them agaves. Century plants.
John drove us around for a good hour and it wasn't all in St. George proper. He took us up over the crest of the hill and down the backside of the island behind St. George. He'd drive and stop and point things out. Dad, SMom and Hubby all said later that he was VERY informative. (I'd highly recommend that you try to find John and have him give you a tour, if you ever go to St. George!) We went past the golf course and there's chickens out there! Lovely roosters, with long swooping tail feathers. I saw chickens running loose all over the place, though not really in "town". Kinda made me think of everything I've heard about the chickens of Key West! LOL We even went past a couple of small farms, with cows, goats and yes, more chickens.
After taking the carriage ride, we did hit a couple of the gift shops right there in King's Square, just across the bridge from Ordinance Island. WAY expensive. I vowed to poke around further and see if I could find some more reasonably priced souvenirs. Dad and SMom went back on board. Hubby and I prowled around town a bit. I did find a couple of small canvas purses for $10.00 each in a shop several blocks away from the main crush of gift shops. They had some little rings in a basket at the cash register for $1.00, so snagged one of those. As we walked back past Robertson's Drug Store and the Police Station, I spotted the word "Kilts". I grabbed Hubby ("What? What? Why? Where?") and in the door of Taylor's we went. I spotted a lovely 100% wool scarf in the Gordon dress plaid for $26.00. I snatched it up! That's my maternal grandmother's maiden name and her plaid. I'd priced stuff online from various tartan shops but by the time I'd add in the shipping and handling? OUCH!
We checked out The Globe Hotel, which is part of the Bermuda National Trust. It was closed until Wednesday. They had an exhibit on about the blockade runners during the Civil War. Seeing as how we are from Charleston and some of that stuff was being run to us, I told Hubby we would come back and check that out. It was an interesting looking building, from the outside, and I was anxious to see what it looked like inside, as well as seeing the exhibit.
About walked out by 4 p.m., we headed back on board and to the cabin for some liquid refreshment. I had smuggled a 5 liter bag of wine onboard. For the first time, SMom got busted with hers. She'd been doing it for years, with no problem. They had to pay $30.00 to get $12.00 worth of wine out of hock! Guess I had beginners luck. Then it was off to supper, some more time on Deck 10 and the live entertainment, before heading off to bed. Neither one of us had much luck staying awake past 9:00 the entire week!
Hubby and I also toured St. Peter's Church the first afternoon we were in St. George, after Dad and SMom went back to the ship. You know me: if there's an old church and a cemetery, I'm there! LOL
More things to see in St. George
Day 4 - Buses and Ferries
Our first full day in Bermuda! Dad and SMom suggested that we take the bus to the Royal Dockyard, at the other end of the island. I had checked out the bus and ferry schedules and fares earlier this year, so I knew that they were a good way to get around the island and much less expensive than taxis. Non residents are not allowed to rent cars, only mopeds and bicycles. Not wishing to risk our necks on mopeds (having never used one!) on the narrow roads of Bermuda, it was an easy decision to let someone else do the driving.
After breakfast, we left the ship and headed for the post office to get tickets/tokens. I saw quite a few folks with passes but we really didn't plan to do more than this one trip, so we didn't bother with those. We headed up the street to a bus stop, right outside a small convenience store. NEWSPAPERS! I grabbed a copy of The Royal Gazette. I'd been pretty much without any word from the outside world for 3 days. We had TVs in our cabins, with about 5 stations (one of which was CNN) but unless you specify that you are hearing impaired at the time you book the cruise, you may not get a cabin that has a TV with captioning options. Dad and SMom had one. Anyhoo, I digress....
The buses in Bermuda are pink! I'd seen them the afternoon before. They appear to be slightly smaller than the ones here in Charleston. And they run very frequently, though I heard a rumor that they do not run on Sundays or holidays, but I won't swear to that. The fare runs about 4.00 per person. The particular bus we caught did not go straight through to the Dockyard, so we had to get transfers to switch over in Hamilton.
I'd highly recommend the bus as a great way to see the island and even get a chance to meet some of the locals. The bus wound up being crammed full of school children, locals headed to work or to shop (shopping options are better in Hamilton, from what I heard, than they are in St. George), as well as tourists headed out to sightsee and/or shop. Despite the fact that tourists had pretty much taken up much of the bus space, the local residents were all pleasant and willing to answer any questions we had.
The bus stops are made of limestone, enclosed on the back, sides and top and open on the front. Some had double arches, which made them very interesting looking. Some had benches; some didn't. I wish I could have gotten a shot of one, but we would either stop at a bad angle for me to shoot one or we went by them so fast.
Again, I was just amazed at the houses and plants. I was perfectly content to just sit and watch the scenery go by. Peeping at people's yards. You'd see small patches of crops, though the only ones I was able to get a good enough look at to identify, were cabbages. Bermuda is very clean, for the most part. Very little litter on the roadsides or sidewalks. The majority of what I did see, was in and around Hamilton. It took about an hour to get from St. George to Hamilton. We changed buses and headed on to The Royal Dockyards. That portion of the ride was maybe about 45 minutes.
Most of the shops at the Dockyard cater to the tourist trade and there was a Royal Caribbean cruise ship docked there. It appears to be a working dockyard and I saw quite a few boats of different sizes, pulled out of the water. Working boats, such as tugs, as well as pleasure boats were tied up. The Spirit of Bermuda makes her home port there. That is a beautiful ship, too!
We walked through several of the shops. One in particular was very interesting: the Glassworks. They have seats and you can watch the artisians blow glass. The pieces are all for sale, though they are extremely expensive. I browsed around but just did not see anything that I was willing to pay the asking price for. They also have a pottery, where you can purchase hand thrown pieces. Again, very expensive. I know, I know... I keep harping on the fact that things cost so much. If you want hand made items, you do have to pay for them but I guess it's my Scots blood that keeps me from cutting loose and spending! I simply did not see anything that I just HAD to have, either. I almost took the plunge in Davison's for a jacket (a sportswear shop) but didn't. I have more jackets and coats than I'll ever wear.
We decided to take the ferry back. Taking the bus out was simply a way to see the island close up but it does take time. Taking the ferry back was much faster. The ferry landing was right by where the Spirit of Bermuda was moored, so we got a good look at her while we were waiting. We all headed up to the top deck and got seats. If you are worried about what your hair looks like, riding up top is not a good idea! The view is great but the ferry really gets some speed going once out of the harbor and you will get very windblown!
We had no sooner arrived back at St. George, when Dad expressed regret that he hadn't gotten the jacket he was looking at in Davison's. SMom hands Hubby $20 and delegated us to go back the next day and get it for him. We still had enough tickets to get us there and back on the ferry, so we agreed to go back the next morning and get it for him.
We made plans to meet after supper outside Customs for St. George Market Night but we found out that it is only held earlier in the year. I was looking forward to that. Local vendors set up tables and such, with hand made items and I was hoping to find some souvenirs there. I had seen some gorgeous hand carved cedar items in the gift shops and was hoping that I would be able to get some a little cheaper direct from the source. A small round cedar trinket box, about 2 inches across and maybe an inch and a half high, will run you about $95.00 in the shops.
The cruise ship was pretty quiet that evening, except for the entertainment on Deck 10. A good many of the passengers were still ashore, in St. George or Hamilton, eating out or still taking in the sights. The gift shops and casino (which had been hopping until the wee hours each night since we sailed) stay closed while in port, due to Customs regulations. I retired to our cabin around 9 and read for a bit before going to sleep. I was totally pooped! Hubby stayed up on Deck 10 for a while longer, with a group we had become friendly with, and returned just as I was dozing off.
Tomorrow was going to be another busy day!
Traveling by bus in Bermuda
Buses of Bermuda
Sea Express Ferries
Royal Naval Dockyard
Spirit of Bermuda pictures
YouTube of Spirit of Bermuda
If you scroll down on this site, they have a picture of the bus stop: Link
I forgot to mention that we had an hour's layover in Hamilton, after leaving the Dockyard, while waiting to catch the ferry to St. George. (There was a direct ferry but we had missed it) SMom asked one of the ferry personell if there was anyplace nearby that we could grab a quick lunch. He said there were several cafés and restaurants within a few block radius. After crossing the street, we stopped a gentleman and he directed us to Portofino, just around the corner. Lots of atmosphere and the sandwiches were pretty good. It ran us about $30.00 for three sandwiches (Dad and SMom split a club sandwich), fries and water.
Other than arriving at the bus depot and changing buses and that one short layover between ferries, we did not see much of Hamilton. There is a big difference between Hamilton and St. George. St. George is small, quiet and slower paced. I did not see any major stores, such as grocery chains, department stores, etc. It is more of a historical district, being the original settlement and former capitol, though there are lots of private homes. The streets are narrower and the houses very close together. Hamilton, on the other hand, is very cosmopolitan. Busy streets, offices, lots of traffic; very much the bustling modern capitol. Homes and businesses are much more spread out and this is the only area where I saw houses with yards that were larger than a hankerchief!
I wound up hitting that little convenience store in St. George each morning we were in port, for my newspaper fix. Getting a local paper, when you are traveling, is a good window into the locality you are visiting. Sales adverts, local news and sports, as well as national and international news/sports.
The Royal Gazette
Updated: 10:13 PM GMT on November 22, 2007
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Bug's Big Adventure, Part 1.
(See my last comment on prior entry, for answers to your questions, Huri!)
As I mentioned, I am really tired, so will dispense with an appropriate picture for this entry. And I notice that the Visitor's Map site has updated and we're now required to register. It's still free, but I'm just not going to mess with getting logged on for a new map tonight.
Day 1 - The Adventure Begins
Dad and SMom arrived at the house about two hours before we needed to be at the dock. Had to wait a bit for our neighbors to get home, as they were going to haul us down in their van, which had more room for luggage and passengers, than Dad's car. He prefers to leave his car at our house, while taking cruises out of Charleston, rather than leaving it in long term parking.
The weather was nice, though a bit cool. Once we were dropped off, we were to ride a shuttle to the ship. Which was totally odd, as the ship was right there. We were no more than a two minute walk from the terminal. But we dutifully boarded the shuttle and headed off in the opposite direction. It was rather like going around your elbow to get to your thumb. We wound up getting a mini-tour of the Market area, before finally arriving at the same spot we started off from and getting delivered to the terminal. It makes you wonder who came up with that idea.
Inside the terminal, it was a bit like controlled chaos. Mobs of people, mostly obvious retirees, with the occasional younger couple or moms/dads with children. Which made me wonder just when Thanksgiving break starts these days...
Got checked in with no snafus; all our paperwork was in order. Got our keys made and had a group photo taken. (And no, we did not buy any of the photos constantly being taken by the cruise line - WAY too expensive!)
Got on board (after disinfecting our hands - those dispensers were everywhere!)and went up to our cabin on Deck 6. Dad and SMom were up front, with their cabin window facing forward. We were back at the back, near the casino.
Our cabin was small, very compact, decorated in pink and shades of blue/aqua. It came with a desk, two bureaus and another small cabinet, which housed a small icebox. A small TV sat on top of that. There was a large closet, with mirrored doors, hiding another small cabinet with a safe and two more drawers. A small corner bath, with shower, throne and sink. The shower head was one of those hand held jobs you could take down for close up rinsing. The bed was two singles put together to make almost a queen sized bed. Very large window, with a recessed area at the head of the bed, which was handy for books, water bottles, misc. small items. ( You can see what it looks like, if you go back to my prior entry and view the cabins at the NCL website)
(Note re: thrones: They're run on a vacuum system and Lord knows, I thought that thing was going to suck me right down the pipes! LOL)
After settling in, hubby, Dad, SMom and I set out to explore. We headed up to Deck 10, where the hot tubs, pools, tables/chairs, bar, restaurant were located. Got glasses of tea and sat at a table in the restaurant, which was at the front of the ship, with large windows.
We were moving before we realized it. It was that smooth. It was rather neat heading out the harbour, past Castle Pinckney and Ft. Sumter and then watching the rest of Charleston recede in the distance. It was a little bit unsteady walking around but not enough to cause any problems. It was mostly just a bit weird feeling.
Did some more exploring, then we all met back up on Deck 10 and hit the buffet. Hubby spotted grills set up aft, where they were doing ribs and chicken. So, we had those. Then SMom informs us that we're going to meet at 6:00 at one of the restaurants for supper. Which was less than 30 minutes away. SUPPER? We'd already had supper! I felt like Andy Taylor with the spaghetti dinners: "Well, waddya know? Spaghetti....."
The meal was nice. I had a lovely potato and fennel soup but could not make room for more. How Hubby, Dad and SMom managed the full course, I'll never know. By the time they reached dessert, I was yawning my head off, despite two cups of coffee.
Needless to say, Hubby and I waddled and groaned back to our cabin and were out like lights by 8:30! I will say that sleeping on board is lovely... it's like being rocked in a cradle! LOL
Will try for Part 2 tomorrow!
Day 2 - Getting Our Sea Legs
In what became our habit for the entire week (why, I don't know! LOL), Hubby and I rose before 7 and got showered and dressed. Dealing with taking a shower, whilst standing in a cubbyhole with a floor that does not quite hold still was quite the experience! Bracing myself with one hand, then the other, and with legs splayed, I managed to complete the procedure without coming to grief. Needless to say, only one person can get into those bathrooms at one time. The entire thing is smaller than my cube at work.
We caught up with Dad and SMom on Deck 10 at the breakfast buffet. We perused the activity schedule in the little daily pamphlet that was delivered to our cabins. There were so many to choose from. Dad and SMom had several things they decided to do. Hubby and I decided that we would forego everything, until the 5 p.m. Veteran's Day gathering in the Polo Club, for just relaxing and wandering the ship.
After we split up, I went up to the sunning deck, where all the lounge chairs were, and took about 10-12 turns around for a power walk. It was a beautiful day but windy. When I reached the front of the ship on my first go-round, I just about got blown off! On my subsequent turns, I cut off that section, in favor of turning just past the forward stairs. Hubby came up and did one or two turns with me, though he almost made the same mistake I had, by starting towards the foredeck. I managed to stop him in time!
Deck 10 was where all the pools, hot tubs, the pool bar, the buffet and the outdoor grill/serving stations were, along with tables and chairs. They would cover one of the pools each evening (weather permitting) and a small band would usually provide live music, along with audience participation games and dances. Even at this early stage, couples and groups were already staking out "their" tables. Smoking was allowed on the port side and non-smoking on the starboard. Two sets of stairs (one fore and one aft) provided access to the sunning deck above.
Hubby and I started wandering the ship again. And we did get lost or turned around more than once. It became easier to find our way around, as each day passed. Even so, I frequently would head in the wrong direction, especially when getting off a stairwell that I didn't use often. Those corridors of cabins all look alike!
The gift shops were all on Deck 5. Very high end merchandise and not much to choose from, if you were on a budget. And I was not shopping just for the sake of shopping, like many folks I saw. It's like the items on display couldn't be bought anywhere else in the world, the way some of those women were snatching things up. Even the duty free liquor/ciggie shop; the majority of what was being offered was the really, really high end stuff. Turning my back on this largess, I picked up the daily crossword from the library.
The Internet Cafe was just outside the library, so I checked the rates. YOWZA! $100.00 for 200 minutes, $55.00 for 100 minutes or .75 for "pay as you go"! I realized there would be no blogging or checking the weather for me during the cruise!
After grabbing some lunch at the buffet, we retired to our cabin for a rest. I wound up taking a nap. After waking up, I freshened up a bit, changed into a dress and we headed to the Polo Club for the Veteran's Day gathering. I thought there was goind to be some type of program but it was simply a Happy Hour type deal. The majority of the men that attended were all veterans. And, lo and behold, who should walk in with his lady all dressed up by his side, but a Marine in his full dress evening uniform, complete with cummberbund! There is nothing like a man in uniform and the Marine dress uniform is the best looking one the U.S. military has, in my humble opinion. The wait staff served everyone a Bud Light, gratis, which was a surprise.
Around 6, Hubby and I headed for the Seven Seas, the same dining room we had gone to the previous evening with Dad and SMom. Hubby had not changed, and was wearing jeans. Despite seeing a few men with jeans the previous night, this night was considered "formal". Khakis with a sports coat were allowed but not jeans. So, with tears in our eyes, we turned away and headed for the Four Seasons dining room elsewhere on the same deck.
This time, I had not had two suppers, so was able to avail myself of the full course. I tried an oxtail soup for the first time and it was delicious. I didn't see an oxtail in it, though. It was just a very rich clear beef broth, with a few bits of beef and a little green onion floating on top. For the life of me, though, I can't remember what the main course was that I chose. I do remember that it was all very good. (With SO much food on board, much of it tends to run together after a while!)
We had not laid eyes on Dad or SMom all day, to my recollection. We went back up to Deck 10 for a bit, listened to the music (well, Hubby did; it just sounds like noise to me and it was LOUD!) and watched some of the entertainment being provided. Lots of folks with loosened inhibitions were all lined up doing something that looked like a bowdlerized version of the macarena on the dance floor that had been put over the pool.
By this time, we were getting used to the roll of the ship and weren't having much trouble walking around. Neither of us had turned green around the gills. By about 9:30 or so, we were nodding again, so repaired back to our cabin, to find the bed turned down, mints on the pillow and the next day's newsletter and activities schedule. We slid into bed and were soon off to sleep.
We had survived our first full day at sea.
(It will help you visualize my narrative, if you check the deck plans and public rooms provided on their website)
Updated: 4:06 AM GMT on November 20, 2007
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Sailing, Sailing, Over The Bounding Main.....
Bug and Hubby are heading out tomorrow! We're all packed and ready to go. Thanks for all the good wishes on my last blog entry. I'm sure we'll have a great time.
Dad is especially excited about us going with them this time. It will be nice to have an extended time together; our visits are usually the one or two day types. Just not enough time at all.
I've got my WUBA shirt, my WUBA tote and my WUBA pin. I wonder if anyone will recognize the logos? LOL
I'll stop by the Internet Cafe onboard and find out about their access and charges. If it's reasonable, I'll check in about midweek and wave! Otherwise, I'll be back online probably next Saturday afternoon.
Create your own visitor map!
Bermuda Weather Service
Updated: 11:45 AM GMT on November 10, 2007
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Figured I'd better take the Halloween blog down and put something else up. I didn't really have any ideas for a particular subject for a new entry and I'll probably be busy with a few last minute "To-Do" items, as well as being tired from work. So, I'm just slapping up a pre-trip blog for the week. I'll probably put up a new one Friday evening. Just a chit-chat entry, whilst I'm gone.
I have packed up all of my clothes. Did an amazing job, if I say so myself! LOL I got 7 days worth of shorts, pants, tops along with 5 dresses, two jackets (not counting the windbreaker I'll wear to board Saturday morning) and all of mine and hubby's unmentionables, socks, sleepwear into 3 canvas totes! Two large ones (one of which is one of the WUBA totes) and one smaller one, given out by MUSC this year for Employee Week.
Am still trying to get hubby to lay out the pants and shirts he wants to take, so I can get those packed up. All I'm getting from him is, "Why are you packing up this early? We've got until Saturday morning." I know him well enough to know that, if left up to him, he'd not pack until almost time to leave the house!
This way, if there is some miscellaneous odd or end that I happen to think about, that we might need or that might be good to have on hand, "just in case", all I have to do is stick it in there. Have hung up my "Boarding Outfit", so I don't have to rummage around that morning, trying to decide what to wear.
I am going to have to wash up a couple of loads of clothes Wed. or Thurs., so I won't have a full two weeks worth of wash to try and do the weekend we get back.
Got my Cruise Notebook at hand, with all our papers, tickets, boarding passes, etc. Think I might need to nail that to my forehead, so I won't walk out of the house without it.
And I need to make sure I get our Visa card and my license out and into my neck wallet. Hubby needs to withdraw some cash from the bank. I"m taking a macramé purse but I will use it like a tote, to put our water bottles in, carry a Kleenex or two, etc. Am not carrying all the junk we ladies usually carry in our purses. Leaving all that stuff at home and only taking what I have to have.
Oh! Just remembered! Go get my last pair of glasses and stash them in, just in case. It's my last prescription but I'd be blind as a bat, if something happened to my glasses. With the spare I can at least see!
Drat! I keep forgetting to carry over my map, when I put up a new entry!
Create your own visitor map!
We are on the Majesty Deck. Two doors away from the casino.
There's supposed to be a webcam but it doesn't look like it's working. You can prowl around the site for our ship and check out the various public rooms, the deck plans and the cabins.
Our cabin is the "Superior Oceanview". Well, la-di-da! LOL It's the one coded in purple.
Updated: 2:55 AM GMT on November 10, 2007
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