Sunday June 30, 2014
I realized something a little strange this morning after waking up, making myself a cup of coffee, and sitting to savor it with my laptop resting on my legs while enjoying some top 40 tunes blast from the radio. The luxury of being able to do all these things, after being deprived of them for the past 18 days, feels completely normal. There’s no novelty (ok, maybe just a little bit) of making my morning mine, instead of waking up groggy and sitting on watch for the next for hours while trying to be as quiet as a mouse as not to disturb Matt while he sleeps. The transition from passage to anchoring has been pretty seamless.
After saying that, let me tell you this. We had no expectations of Bermuda upon arriving here. Or if we did, they weren’t very high. Neither of us had done any research on this island since we figured we’d never be visiting it, and the only knowledge I had of it was vaguely remembering bits and pieces from Brian and Stephanie’s visit here last year. We honestly expected it to be like the Bahamas. Dry, barren, and flat. You come for the water, but not for the land. Wow, we could not have been further from the truth. This island is amazingly beautiful, and we took a few hours today to explore the area around St. George, where we’re anchored.
Based on just a little bit of an internet connection that Matt was able to find us last night, I was able to look up and print a walking tour of the city to my desktop. Reading through it I found this area is incredibly historic (of course, settled in 1609, it should be), an UNESCO World Heritage Site (woo hoo, another one checked off!), and had more than enough things to look at to keep us busy all day. There were churches, town squares, museums, forts, beaches, and even a few restaurant recommendations where we could rest our weary feet at the end. Yeah, like we can waste money on such frivolities. Instead, I’d be hauling around a bag with a couple of sandwiches, granola bars, and a nalgene bottle full of water.
In true Jessica form, I managed to leave my sheet of copied ‘must see’ areas on the boat, and was forced to recount what I could from memory. Sure we could still stumble upon whatever church or home was listed in the tour, but how could we look at it with the same kind of awe and reverence if we didn’t know who built it at what time, or exactly what purpose it stood? Then I remembered we don’t always pay attention to those kinds of things anyway. Normally just the year something was built, and most buildings should have plaques letting us know that information anyway.
The dinghy dock from St. George’s Harbor into town dropped us off right in the main town square, and just randomly picking a street right or left, we were drawn toward the brick paved allure of Water Street and proceeded to gape at the immaculate shops and restaurants that lined it. Again, we were expecting an area that was to be just like the Bahamas, and unless you’re in an outrageously expensive resort there, all other areas tend to be a little run down and in need of some TLC. This spot, however, was high class living, and just mere yards from where our boat was anchored out in the harbor. No wonder all the hoity toity sailors of Newport, RI bring their boats here for holiday.
Finishing back out at the main road we pointed ourselves in the direction we had just come from, knowing that the beaches and forts were in that vicinity, and whatever else we passed along the way would just be a bonus. We happened to stumble on a few bonuses, both in a religious background. The first place we found was one of the major stops that had been listed on the walking tour, St. Peter’s Church. We (I) may have left all information relating to this place back at the boat, but knowing their own importance, the church had plaques plastered from one end to the other, giving a full history. Among many other interesting facts, we learned that this church was built in 1612 and is the oldest Anglican Church in the western hemisphere. You could almost get a sense of early settlers attending service here, and I had a good time searching the grounds on the cemetery for the oldest headstone I could find.
Next on our walking tour to the beach was Bermuda’s Unfinished Church. Getting back to our guide tonight I found out this church was started back in the 1870’s when St. Peter’s Church was damaged in a storm, and then gave me a link to click on to find out why it was never completed. Thanks for the required 3G data plan to get any information, walking guide, I don’t have internet anymore! (I’ve now gone back and researched and found out it was likely not finished due to the local population wanting to repair the old church instead of building a new one. This was decided half way through the build of the new one) Having just walked up a decent sized hill in the blazing heat to get here, we used it as a resting spot to sit for a minute and down some water. I wanted to get a few photos in front of it, but a (American) family that was doing the same thing never got the hint that I was patiently waiting my turn for a photo in front of it without them in the background, and ten minutes later I finally gave up and went around to the side, where I feel like I got an even better background.
Further up the road we continued to follow the signs for Tabacco Bay Beach, the only real goal of the day, where we were sent through a narrow street shaded by tall trees with meadows off to our side. Seriously, this place just keeps getting better. And waiting for us at the end of the road was this view of Tabacco Bay.
Definitely not what we had been expecting. Pretty much running toward this oasis now we skirted through past all the tourist laying out on the beach and directly up to the rocks behind it. The views here were amazing and we could have spent the rest of the day staring into the bay and the waters past it. Families snorkeled through the shallow waters, while some of the parents waded through the bath like water with extremely expensive cocktails in their hand. We heard one man tell his wife, who almost tripped while sifting through the water with a margarita in her hand, “Good thing you didn’t drop that, it could have been a $15 mistake”. Now you can see why we packed our own lunch.
After our time spent staring out at the ocean, as if we haven’t had enough of that already, it was time to check out a few forts. Just around the corner from Tabacco Bay is probably one of the more famous ones of the area, Fort St. Catherine. At the time we were already getting a little worn out and didn’t feel like paying for the guided tour through it, but here’s what I found out about it when I was able to get a little internet again. Originally built in 1614 for the purpose of defending from Spanish attacks, it has now been renovated at least five times. The fort is surrounded by a dry moat and accessed by a drawbridge. Which we actually did get a chance to walk over while checking out the outskirts of the fort, pretty cool. Right next to the fort is St. Catherine’s Beach, another popular spot for those who don’t want to be packed into the tight quarters at Tabacco Bay Beach.
Even though we were starting to get a little tired by this point, from not having this much exercise in almost three weeks now, we stopped at a few more smaller forts that littered the coastline on our way back. I swear, these things are everywhere on the island. How often was this place under attack?
One of the forts that held a few impressive guns and cannons was becoming overrun with a group of school kids that arrived at the same time we did, so after checking out a few things here and there, we let them have full run of the place. It’s nice to see kids actually get excited about a piece of history, and we didn’t want to get in their way.
The next one on the list was Gates Fort, which we had viewed from the water yesterday upon entering the cut into the harbor. It’s a small little place, two stories high, but only about 150 sq feet on each floor. There’s a small paved area in front with a short wall coming up two cannons facing out to sea. I don’t know what it was about this place, but Matt fell in love with it. As a potential home. We literally spent 30 minutes as he wandered around talking about how we could decorate, keeping all of the current walls as not to tear down a part of history, but then adding to the top floor, combining wood and stone for a modern feel. There would be tall glass windows giving 360 degree views, and we already had a ‘patio’ built that would only need an awning or some kind of sun protection. It would be more than enough space for the two of us to live in, as even just one floor would give us more than we currently have.
I think he might be on to something here. Now we just need to get into talks with the Bermudian government and take some very large donations from you readers to make this happen.
Just a little to the left.
Visibly exhausted after only three hours of walking around, and with blisters already beginning to form, we followed the road back toward town, ready to hop on the dinghy and pass out on Serendipity for the rest of the afternoon. One last treat in store for us though was the view of the harbor as we were coming back down the hill. All the sailboats dotting the water with the historic town as the backdrop was almost postcard perfect. So I took a photo to hopefully turn into one. You can even make out Serendipity in it, to the far left.