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.

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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, 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.

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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.

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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.