On Friday I thought that I might get the car, but my lovely husband had other ideas with home visits for the day. ‘Where are you off to?’. It turned out he was going down near Dockyards, way at the other end of the Island. So I started to hatch a plan.
We can only have one car in Bermuda because homes come with an Asset number, and there’s usually only one issued per household. My lovely husband has a mobile one for his work, and I get to have the car when he doesn’t need it, or it’s the buses or ferries for me. We have toyed with the idea of getting a scooter, but as convenient as they might be they are limited by other drivers, weather and daylight. I rode a motorbike in my teens, and can ride proficiently now, but find it a bit more taxing on my body these days.
‘Can you drop me in St George’s?’ And the answer was ‘Yes!’ Yay! So off we went and I was dropped off at the car park by the supermarket. I went to check the Ferry times and costs, but the Information Centre on the main road wasn’t open till ten o’clock. Bugger. Instead, it was off to the liquor store. No it wasn’t that bad of a situation, and I wasn’t breaking my Dry-July (1); they sell tokens and tickets for public transport. So if you want to go from St George to Dockyards on the Ferry it’s fourteen zones(2), or two three zone tickets. I was thinking about catching the Ferry back to Hamilton, which would be fourteen zones too, and then the bus home, another fourteen zones. Another way to travel is to buy a day pass, which gets you on and off all the buses and ferries for the whole day. That would be good if you were sight seeing. Of course you could hire a scooter if you have your bike license; or an electric car if you have your drivers license. No one can drive an ordinary car in Bermuda unless you have passed the official drivers test, which is why there are no cars to hire. The public transport is really very good, and bus rides are exhilarating on the narrow roads lined with stone. Today I was looking forward to the Ferry as I’d never been on this route.
With tickets in hand, I went to Penno’s Wharf where the St George Ferry leaves. There’s a canopy there and bar-b-cue tables to provide shade and a seat for people waiting. I talked a bit to some very nice Bermudian men, which is a very polite thing to do here. Bermudian’s love to talk. Then I went off to have a look at the other Ferry. The Norwegian Cruise Line has their own, it’s bright pink and brings loads of tourists. Hovering a bit, I got a fairly good photo and then went back to the canopy. The two Bermudian men were rolling about laughing – at me! After a bit of prompting they confessed that they thought I was trying to get on the other Ferry. ‘Dat’s just for da tourists’. Oh my God, they knew I wasn’t a tourist! People always think I’m a tourist and give me American green backs as change. I find it quite frustrating having lived here nearly a year, and Bermudian money is beautiful. The other Ferry arrived and we waited while it docked, safety ropes attached, gangway put out, and lastly the gate opened. A lot of people got off and I’m told it can take up to four hundred. The staff that run it are very good, and I watched them help a man on board with his walking frame. One on each side of him until he had the railing, and carried his frame onto the ship for him, then carefully again connecting him with his mobility device once inside and over all the barriers. It has wheelchair access too. Some of the Ferries take scooters, you can look up the timetable to find out which ones. I really like to sit up on the top deck, and after frying a bit under the sun while waiting, it was worth it when the sea breeze blasted me while sailing. With one huge blast on it’s horn, the Ferry was underway. The engines created white water while pushing away from the dock, and St George’s got very small very fast. We passed through the gap unscathed. It is a very narrow channel and the Ferry is very wide, but the skill of the Captain prevailed. The open sea was smooth as silk, and the trip down really lovely seeing the Island from a different perspective. It’s difficult to believe sometimes that when I look left there’s Bermuda, but when I look right America is roughly twelve hundred miles away. Of course it’s the other way round on the way back.
The trip takes about forty-five minutes. Now if the weather service decides its not suitable, the Ferry won’t run so best to check online before you venture out. I had a nice chat with a lady from New York on the way. She had arrived on the cruise ship for just three days, and had used their Ferry to get to St George’s, and the public one back. This allocated her just twenty minutes to see St George’s, which really isn’t enough time. You could spend a whole day there and barely scratch the surface. We talked a bit about ‘cruising’ and she thought that it was great to get on board and have everything supplied and not have to worry about anything at all. The drawback she found was how very crowded it was on the decks, the meals were already paid for so she didn’t try out the local cuisine, and being alone. She felt it was better to go on group tours, not venture out on her own, but they filled up fast and weren’t always available. That means I got to meet her while being very brave! What a shame she missed out on the rice and peas, jerk chicken, wahoo, cod fish and potato cakes in raisin bread, and curried goat! Maybe next time.
We pulled into Dockyards. Dockyards was a naval base, vacated a few decades ago, but the buildings and military equipment have been preserved. There’s a really good military museum down there, and lots of shopping for tourists. What I mean by that is, if you want souvenirs, light clothing, art works, pottery and glass, you can buy it at Dockyards, for a price. They also have dolphins that perform, but you can’t take those home. Oh and if you’re brave, there’s also Diamonds International. Mum and I went in there when she was visiting, and wow, talk about glitzy sparkly diamonds. Diamonds have never really been my thing, and they tried their hard sell on us, but we escaped unscathed. The bell did ring while we were in there, which means someone did buy something. Today I was keen to visit the pottery, the pharmacy where I got my jandals (3) last to replace them, and Island Outfitters because I needed a hat I will actually wear. Unbeknown to one of my New Zealand friends, it was entirely her fault. She has been holidaying in Italy, and nearly every photo she posts, I think ‘where did she get that great hat?’. Never the less I found one at the pharmacy. It will probably go on the pile with my two other hats that I never wear, but the intention was there. No jandals though.
Next I waited at the Clock Tower for my lovely husband to arrive after his meeting, as he had decided to transport me back to Hamilton since he was going that way. I could then get the bus home. But first lunch! Yum. After being so brave venturing out on my own, I broke all my eating rules, delicious carbohydrates at lunch time, and ordered a cider. What? Well, I nearly did. You know it was automatic, to have a treat cider when out for lunch. I chose orange juice instead with a sigh. Maybe we could do it again next month, when Dry-July is finished? My jandals might be back in stock!
More soon – Sally
- Dry July is a self enforcement no alcohol month for thirty days
- See links at the end of this blog for timetables, prices and Bermuda Map
- Jandals are the New Zealand name for flip flops or thongs
Map of Bermuda
Bermuda Bus Timetable
Bermuda Ferry Schedule
Bermuda Transport Costs