Archive for the ‘Tourism’ Category

Renting a car in Bermuda

FireShot Capture 374 - (2) New Messages! - www.currentvehicles.comYou can’t.

They do have electric cars you can rent which are called “Twizy”. The people who used to joke I drove a smart would be even more amazed at these things. They are electric cars which look like something that would fly out of a jet fighter with the passenger being in the rear.

And there is absolutely no cargo space.

image-assetThe only advantages of the Twizy to a scooter is that the Twizy is electric and protected by being a cage. They cost around $100 a day to rent from Current vehicles, where I pulled the pics from.

Depite the changes in Bermuda, Bermuda’s Wade International Airport is something which hasn’t changed much since the Second World War when it started life as an RAF base. The Arrivals-immigration area hadn’t changed from when I was a kid: the pictures of the Queen were still young if I wasn’t. The Site MoretimetoTravel has a good write up on the airport: Bermuda Airport (BDA): Six things you need to know.  Number 5 is:

You won’t find any car rental counters

His explanation that:

And you won’t find rental cars off the airport grounds either. That’s because foreign visitors can’t rent cars in Bermuda. The combination of driving on the left-hand side (to which many visitors aren’t accustomed); narrow two-lane roads; and motorbikes zipping around the curves make it too dangerous.

“If you people rented cars here, you’ll kill us all,” explained one taxi driver. (Thus, taxis and public buses are abundant at the airport).

Isn’t totally accurate.

IMG_7449

Traffic Jam in Hamilton

Visitors were not allowed by the Bermuda Government to rent cars or operate any other kind of four or more wheeled vehicle on Bermuda’s roads, or bring their own motorized 2-wheel vehicles – not even for the handicapped or disabled until the laws were relaxed in 2017.

This is because of Bermuda’s very small physical size, which is less than 21 miles in total land area and sixth largest population per square mile in the world, higher than in Bangladesh and Bahrain and exceeded only by Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Macao, Monaco, Singapore and Vatican City. Foreign drivers licenses are not legal in Bermuda, which means that visitors, even when they have driving licenses issued by their home state or province or country, aren’t allowed to drive in Bermuda.

One of the major changes from when I was a kid is that Bermuda has by far more vehicles per square mile than anywhere else in the world. That means I was a treated to seeing a traffic jam which extended the length of Front Street and Pitts Bay Road, which was a few miles.

So, I go for the Twizy if you want to brave Bermuda’s roads in something other than public transportation.

See also:

The Bermuda Buggy Ride

IMG_7685I made a comment about Bermuda once being a mid-Atlantic Mackinac Island in my previous post. That’s because it once was before cars became far more prolific on the Island.  Seeing a Bermuda buggy wasn’t that strange a sight (and people would ride bicycles all over the Islands as well).

The old Bermuda Preview Guides used to carry this blurb in the sightseeing section:

Bermuda Buggy: No Honeymoon is complete without a “Bermuda Buggy Ride!. It makes a “fun” outing for the family too. Children who’ve never travelled by horse and carriage consider it a rare treat. There are usually several carriages for hire by No. 7 Shed (where the Franconia docks) on Front Street.

IMG_7718There’s even a song about the Bermuda Buggy Ride that was performed by The Bermuda Strollers, Talbot Brothers, and Hubert Smith (at least).

Signs like this one on the bridge from St. George to St. David’s were common when I was a kid.

Buggy bells were also sold as souvenirs.

Alas, there are now cars and traffic jams. I think the only buggy is the one pictured above. You can find her in St. George.

carriage Bermuda tie - eBay - www.ebay.com

Some people can be a bit clueless. Then again, the buggies aren’t as common as they used to be.

me people can be a bit clueless. Then again, the buggies aren’t as common as they used to be.

Exploring Bermuda’s Forts

OspreyBermuda is also called the “Gibraltar of the West”. It could have once been called a Mid-Atlantic Mackinac Island, but that is one of the many changes not for the best.

it’s also another post.

Anyway, if this is your idea of a fun thing to do (it is mine). I suggest buying a copy of Osprey’s Defenses of Bermuda 1612–1995 in the Fortress series (#112), ISBN: 978-1472825964.

OK, the Bermuda Tourist authority and Historic commissions don’t have their shit together when it comes down to good guides for this. On the other hand, this is an excellent guide which will prevent you from trying to find Forts Albert and Victoria: even though they are on the tourist map. It doesn’t tell you that Fort St. Catherine (the one on the front cover) has been wrecked by development.IMG_7472

You can get what looks like a pristine beach without the future St. Regis residential hotel by using a telephoto. On the other hand, the development of St. Catherine’s Beach caused a shit storm for quite a few reasons (first off, it was a public beach).

Well, they can’t ruin the view looking out to sea. Or maybe they can…

Likewise, Forts Albert and Victoria were trashed by development, but good luck finding that information anywhere besides the Osprey book. I was able to put together the pieces to learn that Fort Scaur was the one I wanted to explore when I was a kid.

IMG_7504

This picture was taken through the fence using the zoom

One major problem with exploring the forts is that Bermuda isn’t really good at preserving its history, as my previous points have shown. The Dockyard is now a tourist trap. They development folk also neglect it was home to Casemate’s prison, which is a whole separate topic.

And probably one most Bermudians don’t want to discuss.

Fort George has a really great view, but it is the Bermuda maritime Operations Centre. You can go there, but not much history or much to see besides the view.

Also, not all these forts are accessible when they still exist. The ones on the islands in St. Davids are on private proerty, which hasn’t really stopped anybody from visiting them.  It also takes some coordination trying to visit the Forts (e.g., you need to make an appointment to see the Martello Towers, which aren’t really restored).

Forts Victoria and Albert became inaccessible to general public after the demolition of Club Med Hotel in 2008, which was located in the same area.  Fort Victoria, which was once one of the finest forts is Bermuda, had been badly damaged from the demolition. Not that having a hotel built around it didn’t do enough damage. A new hotel complex is planned to be built on their site, although the UNESCO world heritage designation of St. George may result in the Forts being somewhat restored.

I’m not holding my breath given the development of St. Catherine’s Beach.

At this point, the Osprey book is the best guidebook around. For that matter: it’s probably the only guidebook around on the topic. Britain’s Island Fortresses: Defence of the Empire 1796-1956 sounds interesting, but it deals with the Fortresses worldwide. The Bermuda Maritime Museum also publishes Bermuda Forts 1612-1957 (ISBN: 978-0921560111), which is the authority on this subject, but a little large for carrying around with you.

On the other hand, this book is very comprehensive and thorough. Like visiting Bermuda, Osprey books were a staple of my youth. Unlike Bermuda, Osprey has only gotten better. This is pretty much the type of information you’ll get on the Island.

Bermuda now has cars. Way too many of the things for a small island.

Buy your copy before you leave since it will cost you (at least) twice the price if you get it in Bermuda. There are a couple of book stores in Hamilton that might have this title (Browns).

Well, you are on an Island in the Atlantic…

See Also:

Buying Bermuda Shorts online.

This is probably more of an issue if you are trying to buy the English Sport Shop shorts than the TABS (The Authentic Bermuda Shorts) shorts. Actually, English Sport Shop doesn’t have an online store, which means that you would probably be on eBay or Etsy. Toss in that the people at TABS are really helpful, which is good for an online vendor.

Of course, I am all for your taking a trip to Bermuda to buy Bermuda shorts.

But here are some helpful hints if you don’t.

FireShot Capture 372 - royal poplin men shorts 38 - eBay - www.ebay.com

This person probably bought them looking at the label, but found that English Sport Shop Islanders run small. My guess is that something similar happened below as well.

FireShot Capture 373 - islander linen bermuda shorts in Shorts for Men - eBay - www.ebay.com

The lesson is that it is good that the English Sports Shop doesn’t sell their shorts online! The other lesson is that you should measure your waist if you are buying these shorts online.

More Bermuda Shorts

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This is a nice classic style which has never gone out of fashion in Bermuda and was once popular outside Bermuda. The look is:

The best quality Bermuda Shorts have a three inch hem, hand sewn, to hang correctly. Bermuda Shorts are garments for all seasons, representing a standard of turnout difficult to surpass in their originality. They are as well constructed as a good pair of trousers, complete with a proper fitted waistband or with belt loops or a self-supporting waistband and a seam in the center back. They are usually pleated for business use but a more informal variety can be unpleated. They usually have one pocket on each side and one on each side of the bottom. They are form-fitting, designed essentially for and can look very good on the slim or medium-built person. (Any with huge waists and bottoms will look far better in lightweight long trousers). Accompanying them are Bermuda hose (imported long – knee-length – socks), plus a white or blue button down imported Oxford or other appropriate short sleeved shirt and conservative Windsor knotted striped or corporate insignia or club or regimental tie, with a single or double breasted navy blue blazer or a sport coat or madras or linen jacket that contrasts with the Bermuda Shorts. The most appropriate shoes are imported loafers with tassels – from the USA – in black or brown, depending on the colour of the shorts – to compliment and complement the Bermuda Dress Shorts.

OK, one thing about real Bermuda shorts: they are expensive compared to most other shorts. Toss in that the best place to get them is in Bermuda (or do a search for Bermuda shorts on eBay or Etsy). But there is a problem with buying them online: the actual size is not what you think it would be if you are buying authentic Bermuda shorts. You will most likely get a size smaller than you expect if you buy authentic Island shorts (e.g.: English Sport Shop, Smiths, Triminghams, or Davidsons).

So, it’s best to go to Bermuda and buy them in person. The best place these days is the English Sport Shop (49 Front Street, Hamilton)DSCF1127. There are other branches, around the Island, but the Hamilton store has the best stock. This is the place to get the original Bermuda shorts since they have been making them since 1918.  I could do a post on just this store.

The other alternative in Bermuda is TABS (The Authentic Bermuda Shorts), which is the new kid in the business having only been in business since 2014, and opened their store in 2016. They do sell online and have a good selection. Drawback, their shorts are fairly pricey (about 30 bucks more than the English Sport Shop’s).IMG_7424 Also, their store is not on Front Street (12 Reid Street, which is up Walker Arcade from the English Sport Shop–they are close to each other).

There are plusses and minuses to English Sport Shop and TABS. I would suggest checking both store out before buying. The best rule of thumb is that English Sport Shop is the more traditional of the two, TABS is the more contemporary by Bermuda standards. They both make great products. A biggie for TABS is that they are closer to being true in size (ESS’s tend to run a size or two small: e.g, you would want a 38 if you wear a 36 and maybe 34). I like them both and have shorts from both companies (although partial to ESS for its being the “heritage” brand).

There are options if you don’t want to go to Bermuda to buy them. Brooks Brothers, Jos A. Banks, and similar mens stores are a good bet. Brooks does sell authentic Bermuda shorts, but their price is similar to TABS without the selection of colours. Lands End and LL Bean are also an option, but not as close to the real shorts as Brooks Brothers Bermuda shorts for shorts not sold on Bermuda.

The advantage of buying shorts locally is that you know they will fit.IMG_7245

One other point for buying Bermuda shorts in Bermuda: it’s a whole lot easier to get the socks to go with the outfit. There are some of online retailers that carry them (TABS, The Sock Company UK, and The Great Canadian Sox Company). Vagden, Glendale, and HJ Hall make ribbed, knee high (golf) cuffed socks. [1] Navy blue is a default, but there is a rainbow of colours out there if you want to add some dash to the look.

This is standard dress in Bermuda: OK, the national dress. This look will certainly get you attention if you are not in Bermuda or at a Bermuda function. The bottom line is that this is the look for you if you want to stand out from the crowd and bring some Bermudian charm to your life.

Here is a video of the owner of the English Sport Shop explaining Bermuda Shorts

Note:
[1] Vagden, which are sold by the The Great Canadian Sox Company, makes the socks sold by the English Sport Shop.  Glendale make very substantial socks.

See also:

Britain’s tiny islands

In what has been described by Stephen Fry as a ‘project so pointless as to be vital to our national well-being’:  Dixe Wills, the author of bestselling book, Tiny Campsites, has surpassed his previous efforts with a new project entitled Tiny Islands.

Dog amongst the ruins

I found this while looking over the pictures for the trip I mentioned in my Weekend fun! post. It’s another picture of Laci enjoying her freedom on our weekend escape.

We were pretty much to only beings in the area, which mean that Laci was off lead. She was able to chase squirrels, sniff, and generally explore within reason and eye shot.

And since this is technically her blog, here’s another picture of her enjoying her freedom.

Weekend fun!

Ruins are so much more interesting with the Time Team gang digging them up.

I’ve been wanting to write a piece about how I want to visit all those neat places I see on programmes such as Michael Portillo’s series Great British Railways Journeys, Paul Murton’s Grand Tours of Scotland, Coast, Julia Bradbury’s shows, and so on. You know the type of places: Knoydart, Gower Peninsula, Scarborough, The Doncaster Earth Centre, ad nauseum. I’ve been to most of them and they are as good as portrayed.  Still there are other places to be explored that don’t have the media attention.

Of course, that is a huge case of the grass being greener on the other side of the fence laadeedah. Especially since I live a couple of miles from an early and historic canal in the city where I live and more than a couple from another much more impressive canal (but nowhere near the C & O Canal). In fact, I believe there are several canals not too far from where I live. Still, seeing Julia Bradbury hike a canal (or anywhere else) makes it look much more inviting.  My train journeys take me through the battlefields of the industrial revolution.  Still, I’ll admit that it is the lure of the media hiking about the celebrity places that makes the one look much more interesting than another less publicised attraction.

Laci and Ruins

And given my proclivity for digging up old guidebooks, I should be able to come up with someplace neat and off the beaten path. Although, guidebooks can be a bit like estate agents’ write ups of properties that get your expectations all built up. Not to mention that I have this unfounded belief that there is nothing worth seeing near where I live (now, would all you tourists please go away!). There’s another post in that, but when you see these places everyday….

Anyway, I decided to go away to a secluded place and found myself in an abandoned spa town. Yes, this was one of those places where the rich and trendy would go “to take the waters” up until toward the end of the 19th century. Then, artists invaded the place to imitate the French Impressionists to do plein air painting. Add in that the place has historic ruins pretty much throughout the village, which makes it a perfect attraction for artists.

Thyme in the herb garden

The place is in some far off, somewhat inaccessible region making it a lovely spot to remain undiscovered.

And I’m not telling where this is…

There is actually at least one Bed and Breakfast, which is the only dining establishment as well. But not a heck of a lot else for the general public other than the public library and government services. Well, there are paths for hiking, some ruins, and remains of the spa buildings.  There was a herb garden in the ruins.

So, one doesn’t need to follow the well beaten path created by the media to find some exciting places nearby to visit and relax.

See also: Heritage Coast (England and Wales)

Welcome to the REAL Magic Kingdom

Governments are running low on money, but don’t want to raise taxes. They are cutting services to the bone? What next?

According to BBC News: Parliament could become wedding reception venue

Well, Take that Mr. White Rabbit Republican! By being a Kingdom, the United Kingdom has a built in tourist factor that EuroDisney just can’t compete against. Why go to a fake-o Disney castle when you can have some REAL history going for you? If we get rid of the Royal Family, then what to do? Get people in funny costumes to play royalty? Personally, I prefer the real thing.

Lesser Toff have been opening their homes to the public for ages. Now, it’s time that “the Firm” catches up with the rest of British nobility and starts opening up their castles for tacky peasant weddings! Those annoying Texans can rent Windsor Castle for the real dream wedding.

It makes so much more sense than creating jobs and getting people to work.

Weddings, Tourists, Budgets, and other distractions.

I’ve been wanting to go off on a rant about tourists for some time. It seems that tourists are drawn to most of the places I’ve lived. I realise that they provide jobs, but they can also be a bit obnoxious. This is due to the fact that they tend to stop and gawk at things the locals take for granted.

But we don’t have houses like this in California

I’ve wanted to find out where these people come from and go and just stare at their houses and where they shop. You’ve had your fun, now go back to where you came from.

Anyway, it’s fun in Festival City! I went to the dentist and she made the comment that I looked as if I were in pain. My comment was that someone was poking around in my mouth with sharp instruments. Going to the dentists was nearly as bad as a visit to the local experimental theatre company. I can feel better about not being in London when I consider that there are at least two experimental theatres there (Royal Court and Donmar Warehouse–my mother’s a member of the latter).

For some reason, there is (was) Royal Wedding fever here with a local junk shop antique store placing various royal memorabilia in the window. I was out walking and ran into a group of young women in the height of wedding fever wearing gloves and other regalia as well. Fortunately, there is enough republican sentiment hereabouts that the insanity is kept to a dull roar. Things might be different had the 1745 gone the other way!

Here’s to the king across the water!

Anyway, one of my fav commentors, Richard T, said this about the Remember When Post:

Posting from Britain you forgot imposed a more stringent regime of cuts in service to pay for their misdeeds than Mrs T could manage and an attack on pensions based on the lies and manipulation of a gutter press – Fox TV on paper indeed.

I have to agree that I do fixate on the US’s budget disaster far more than I do about the same processes in the UK, but for good reason. The budget debate in the US is rather one sided toward the right wing viewpoint. In fact, it seems the right in the US has hijacked political “debate” so that the US looks as if it is one gigantic lunatic asylum (e.g., Terry Jones and Donald Trump’s birther lunacy). I believe Kurt Anderson made the comment that US Politics is like the film Groundhog Day where people keep rehashing the same old arguments over and over with no change ever coming about.  The poor deluded peasants in the states that believe they will really be able to pick up the crumbs from the billionaires’ tables if the rich don’t pay taxes after 30 years is truly amazing.

The good reason is that if the US’s economy tanks due to right wing morons, it will have catastrophic effects for the entire world economy.  That might not be so bad since it could lead to a new economic system.  Of course, it depends on how equitable that new economic system would be for the world.

I guess I shouldn’t be too upset about some innocent fun from the hereditary celebrities–especially if it creates jobs.