My dad’s been thinking about retiring for a few years now. He decided to take a gamble, call in all his favors, and managed to land one last assignment in Bermuda. The dice rolled his way again when my folks snagged a prime rental house in the hills above the North Shore Road with a great view of the water.
The north side of the island has channels cut in the coral to let ships pass close to the island. As soon as I sat down for lunch on Friday the Pacific Princess – the original Love Boat – cruised by for the last time before being sold. I pulled out the binoculars a little late to get a closeup.
(I guess the Love Boat won’t soon be making another run)
A minute later the gigantic Carnival Legend hove into view in the outer channel. Apparently Bermuda’s been cool to Carnival pulling in. Something about keeping up standards.
As we waited for my dad to knock off work mom and I walked around St. George’s, the little town on the far northeast end of the island.
I thought England held all the decayed churches I’d see in 2002. I was wrong.
Mike is the St. George’s town crier – the guy who rings the bell, fires the cannon and hollers welcome to the cruise ships passing through the Town Cut. He also owns the cyber cafe and a parrot named Papoose who sits outside and nibbles on an ice cream cone when the cafe is open. Mike’s only comment on the Carnival Legend: “She’s a monster, all right.”
Mom’s eyesight’s improved. She can point out every lizard and crab spider for miles around, leaving me squinting to find them.
The folks bought a convertible for their stay on the island. Right on.
It rained much of Saturday, but mom and I took the 20 minute bus ride into Hamilton anyway. The streets were flooded with cruisers griping about… pretty much whatever they could find. The rain cleared by evening.
Lots of rules on the tiny island nation. I can understand the ban on refineries – but no combo meals? That’s over the line.
Speaking of rules – we thought it would be fun to get my band out for a few shows, maybe make enough money to pay for airfare. Some of the restaurant folks I spoke with said I have a lot of red tape to get through – first, immigration doesn’t want anybody coming onto the island to engage in gainful employment (says so right on the big red stamp). Second, the musicians’ union insists on one Bermudian onstage for every non-Bermudian in the band. “Up your battle” the owner of the Henry VIII said to me. I still don’t know what that means, but I think “no way” is probably not far off.
They said this was the last week for cruise ships before the end of the season, but man every time I opened a window another ship went by. I rolled out of bed on Sunday to see the Norwegian Dream pass.
Sunday turned out to be a better day for photos so I walked around the neighborhood. I’ve never found buildings soothing before, but the houses here are really easy on the eyes.
One more 20-minute bus ride into town and we were on the express ferry to the Royal Naval Dockyard on the far western tip of the island.
The Legend is too big to park in Hamilton so they left it out at the dockyards. Look at that beast.
We sat for about an hour watching guys blow glass. Very entertaining and impressive. The dockyards area is a tourist magnet, but it has its charms.
While we sat at the glassworks the Legend slunk out of the harbor and the more manageable Dream tied up. Didn’t take long for people with cruise line ID stickers to flood the dockyard again.
The sun sinks quickly out on the island. We had barely enough light to get a picture of the folks’ favorite sign.
Time enough on Monday morning for a group photo. I caught one of the last direct flights back to DC before the end of the season, and actually got into the office for a few hours to get the week started. Can’t stay too relaxed.