A lot of people don't realize that Bermuda played a fairly significant role in the American Civil War. During the war, Great Britain (and their Bermuda colony) sided with the American South, aka the Confederate States of America. This may come as a surprise, considering that so many people believe that the sole purpose of the American Civil War was the issue of slavery. You see, at the time of the war, slavery had been outlawed in Bermuda and Great Britain for over thirty years.
No, Bermuda's siding with the CSA was all about economics. Great Britain was the world's leading industrial power, and the CSA represented a treasure trove of natural and agricultural resources. The cloth mills of London and Manchester needed southern cotton. Plus, the Brits were still a little bit piqued about being given the old boot some "four score and seven years" earlier.
Besides being a shipping transit point between the CSA and Great Britain, Bermuda and St. George offered sanctuary to privateers and blockade runners serving the military interests of the Confederacy...as well as their own ECONOMIC interests.
Over at the Bermuda National Trust in St. George, there's an interesting piece of history. They have the ONLY surviving "Great Seal of the Confederate States of America" press in existence. And, for $5, we history buffs can get an actual foil pressing from this historic device. To see the CSA seal, along with other items of Bermuda history, be sure to visit the Bermuda National Trust in St. George, located at the intersection of York Street and King's Square. Adult admission is $4, children are $2.
If you have need for medical services in Bermuda, the main general hospital is the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital over in Paget Parish. (7 Point Finger Road, just south of Berry Hill Road) If you're bunged up in a cycle accident, this is where the ambulance will dispatch you.
The hospital has a standard emergency room and trauma center, and can provide almost any level of emergency first-aid the traveller might require. As you know, health care costs are always an issue when you travel, and it's always a good idea to carry traveller's health insurance...or you should at least insure that your home health care coverage would apply in a pinch.
Here's hoping you only see the King Edward hospital on your way to the botanical gardens. :)
The Bermudians love this part of their history and many talk about the Old Rattle and Shake but the Bermuda Railway only lasted 17 short years from 1931 until 1948. What records it set as the slowest and most expensive railway ever built but in some way the Bermudians are even proud of that and they should be. In 1984 the Railway Trail was named a National Park and it is a wonderful walking and horse riding path that streches 21 miles between Sandys Parish east to St. George's Parish. Before you go stop and pick up a guide at any tourist center or as I did at my hotel. The Railway Trail is a a great way to see Bermuda's very beautiful and varied scenery.
The official rum of Bermuda is widely considered to be Gosling's Black Seal. However, if you wanted to list the world's best-known rums, Bacardi would probably top the list. Originally hailing from the island of Cuba, the Bacardi rum product is a favorite of rum lovers everywhere.
You might find it interesting to know that Bacardi Rum company is headquartered in Bermuda, right on Pitts Bay Road at the edge of Hamilton.
I don't think they have any free samples, and as for tours... it's just a corporate office. But, they have a very nice lawn, a great place for photos.
Most tourists tend to flock to the beaches. However, I suggest that you might want to visit Tom Moore's Jungle. It is a nice little hike and you might just be able to locate a very private lagoon. It is simply beautiful and a wonderful place to just relax and appreciate the peaceful surroundings.
Bermuda had no motorized transport before 1931, when the most costly railway per mile anywhere was built. Until 1946 it was the only form of public motorized transport in Bermuda. Otherwise it was by horse and carriage or boat. Cars were not allowed until 1939 for the American and British military and 1948 for local residents.
When the national bus system was introduced in 1946, the Bermuda Railway became too impractical and expensive (corrosion of the rails was a big problem) as a railroad. The assets were sold at bankruptcy prices by the Bermuda Government and shipped to Guyana where I think the railroad still exists.
In the 1980s (i.e. after my 1963 visit), the Bermuda Government converted the abandoned tracks into a walking and biking trail running almost the entire length of Bermuda. It originally ran from Sandys Parish in the west to St. George's Parish in the east, via the City of Hamilton. Today, the City, Pembroke and parts of the Devonshire portions no longer exist.
Walking the trail is free, and I thought it would be a neat thing to do. Plus the Railway Museum was also free and I thought it would be interesting. So on the way back from St. George, we stopped off near Flatt's Village and walked along the trail to the museum. I think that in those days you could also take one of the mopeds along some sections of the trail.
After our 1995 visit (i.e. in 2000), the entire Trail became a National Park. The Ministry of the Environment took over administration and management, to enhance it as an eco-tourism attraction.
The Trail is a good way to see Bermuda on foot or by pedal cycle and get your exercise at the same time. (No motorized vehicles allowed).
You can get a map and guide from the Visitor's Service Bureau in either Hamilton or St. George. The URL has more old pictures of the railroad when it was operating
The carriage museum in St. George is interesting and it was free. We visited in 1995, and intended to go again in 2004 but did not have time. This museum is part of a multimillion-dollar waterfront restoration that includes several shops and the Carriage House Restaurant at Somer's Wharf. It is now the site of a restaurant and I'm not sure whether they even have the museum anymore as mostly I read about the restaurant.
Automobiles were banned in Bermuda as a result of an accident between a car and a carriage. This museum which is part of a multimillion-dollar waterfront restoration that includes several shops and the Carriage House Restaurant is at Somer's Wharf and has a large collection of carriages from the 18th and 19th century. It pays tribute to the age of carriages on Bermuda. This period actually lasted until 1946, when automobiles were finally allowed on the island. Visitors will find a wide range of private and commercial carriages, providing an interesting look into Bermuda's pre-car past.
The picture is a xerox copy of a photo which I can't find at the moment. When we went to it, it was on Water Street.
in 1963, we got off the bus here to see this bridge. Bus routes # 7 and # 8 and the ferry stop here. In 1995, we just looked over at the bridge from the ferry on the way back from the Dockyard. But in 2004, we went to see this little bridge again. We came in by ferry and left by bus this time. I would really like to see the bridge in operation, but when we went in 2004, it was chained and padlocked shut, and the channel looked completely impassible by anything larger than a rowboat. In the picture taken from the ferry if you look, you can see the red traffic light indicating that the bridge is closed.
From the website on Sandys Parish:
"The world's smallest drawbridge connects Somerset Island to the westernmost part of main island. It is where Somerset Road begins. This is an example of the simplest form of drawbridge, in which a timber panel is removed from the center of the bridge to allow the mast of a sailing vessel to pass through the 32-inch plank, with not much room to spare "
"The drawbridge was first built in 1620. When operators of small boats entered the channel, the drawbridge was cranked open by hand. The modern version, rebuilt only a few years ago, has two propped cantilever decks, which do not meet in the middle, with reinforced concrete internal props and timber external props. The cantilevered load is balanced by a reinforced concrete abutment slab which acts as a counterweight. The drawbridge is on the $20 Bermuda dollar bill. "
On Wednesday afternoon (in 1995) after we got back from the Dockyard and the weather cleared up, we walked around downtown Hamilton and shopped. I had heard that the Historical Society Museum was in the Library and was free, so we visited. They were having a quilt exhibit there.
The website has additional photos of the outside of the building. It says: "Located in the Bermuda National Library, Reid and Queen Streets. This small gem of a museum is filled with antiques, china, old coins, Boer War prisoner carvings, and more. Historical Society treatises are for sale."
There's even a 1775 letter from George Washington "to the inhabitants of Bermuda."
The library contains a 1624 first edition of Captain John Smith's General Historie of Virginia, New England and the Somer Isles, a wonderful collection of old and new Bermuda travel and picture books, and a reading room with recent U.S. and British newspapers.
The building that houses the Library and Historical Society Museum is Par-La-Ville, which was formerly the townhouse of Bermuda’s first postmaster, William B. Perot, in the early 1800s.
We visited again in 2007, and this time I took some more pictures. The curator called to Camden for me and found that it was open.
In 1995, when we walked up to the bus station (which we had to do as there were no buses out to the Princess), we always went by City Hall on Church Street. You could see the bronze Sea Venture replica wind vane from near the bus station. (see photo 5)
The Sea Venture, which was wrecked off the uninhabited Bermudas in 1609 was commemorated in Shakespeare's Tempest.
Inside City Hall is the Bermuda National Gallery. I have not visited this. The website says:
"The split-level galleries house both permanent and rotating exhibits of Bermudian artworks.
The permanent collection has four elements:
European paintings (of non-local scenes and people) over four centuries including works by Reynolds, Gainsborough, Romney, Murillo and Wilson
23 African sculptures from the New York Perls collection, purchased from many sectors of the Bermuda community, plus others donated.
Bermudian mostly cedar furniture on long-term loan from local collections.
Historic and contemporary paintings, sculpture and photographs.
A mini-theater serves as a venue for readings, small concerts, lectures, slide shows and films."
There is also a small gift shop.
There is a Heritage Bermuda Passport like there was for Barbados. It is really not given enough publicity - very few people know about it.
"The Heritage Passport
"Now you can enjoy Bermuda's top eight cultural attractions for one low price. $25 for adults and $15.00 for children 6-16 years of age."
[Note: some places say the ticket is $35, but we only paid $25 in November 2004]
The Heritage Passport allows unlimited admission for 7 consecutive days to the Bermuda Maritime Museum, Bermuda National Gallery (photo), and Bermuda National Trust Verdmont Historic House Museum (photo) open Tues-Sat, 10am-4pm; featuring the Globe Hotel and Tucker House Museum, Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute, Bermuda Aquarium Museum & Zoo, and Fort St. Catherine. "
The BUEI (Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute - photo) is just outside Hamilton in Devonshire Parish. The admission is $10.50 for adults and $8.40 for seniors.
But the Bermuda Maritime Museum (photo - $10 adults and $8 for seniors) out at King's Wharf aka the Dockyard is worthwhile, and so is the BAMZ ($10 for adults and $5 for seniors and children).
I went to Ft. St. Catherine in 1963 but didn't go on the 1995 trip went again in 2004. Adults are $5.00 and children are $2.00. So that equals $25.50 admission for adults if you go to all three of them.
Tucker House is $3.00 for adults and $2.00 for children and the Globe Hotel is $4.00 for adults and $2.00 for children. Verdmont House is about the same and all three of them together have a combination ticket that you can get even if you don't get the Heritage Pass.
The National Gallery is only $3.00 for adults and children are free and it was free for everyone in the fall of 2004. (I haven't been any of those places except that we saw a movie at the Globe Hotel)
So if you are only going to one or two of these places, the Heritage Passport doesn't save any money. You'd have to commit to visiting at least the three more expensive ones for it to be a good deal.
We went to Spittal Pond (South Road, Smith’s Parish) for the 1 pm Friday tour.
The guides showed us plants - Palmetto: formerly used as thatch for roofs, baskets, hats, and the Bay Grape: a native which produces grapelike edible fruits (used for jelly). The leaves have a waxy/ leathery/plastic feel, an adaptation to repel salt spray. Also the Cedar (endemic), Olivewood Bark (endemic), Spanish Bayonet (native), Prickly Pear (native), and Floppier / Life Plant (brought in 1813 - a native of Asia). The guide also explained the difference between endemic and native BTW
We saw the Kiskadee: introduced 1951 to control Anolis lizard, the Yellow Crowned Night Heron: reintroduced in 1976 to control crabs and the Longtail: a native seabird, breeds in summer, mates for life, produces one chick per year, is on the wing all day only returning to roost at night, feeds on a diet of squid and even a non-native flamingo which they said had been blown over from the zoo by a hurricane.
We saw Jeffrey's Hole, a cave named for an escaped slave who hid here - his girl friend brought him food. We could look down from the bluffs and see parrot fish swimming below. We also saw "Spanish Rock". Carved into the rock is the date 1543 and some indecipherable letters, no doubt the work of a lone mariner - probably Portuguese rather than Spanish
You can do the mile long walk self-guided but it is much more interesting with the rangers.
The tour took a couple of hours and we just missed the bus afterwards. This bus route only runs about every 45 minutes.
From the website: Spittal Pond is the National Bermuda Trust’s most important area of open space, containing Bermuda’s largest bird sanctuary and the oldest evidence of humans on the Island. Spittal Pond is part of the necklace of wetlands along the South Shore just inside the former sand dunes."
Additional pictures and information on my Spittal Pond page
In my search for free and low cost things to do on Bermuda, I found the Botanical Guarden. It is a bit tricky to get to. We had to get off at the hospital and then walk to the garden.
It is the largest local public garden by far in Bermuda - the gardens were begun in 1898.
Open daily from sunrise to sunset 365 days a year. Free for 362 days (except during the Agricultural Exhibition every April).
A mix of park, woodland, greenhouses, agricultural buildings and horticultural collections. Chiefly of interest for its trees, orchard, collection of orchids and Camden.
Visitors should expect a fair amount of walking.
There are free guided tours on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from the Car Park outside the Visitors Service Centre.
We took the tour and learned about the few species of plants and trees that are endemic, the considerable number that are native and the vast majority that were introduced.
At that time there were also stables on the grounds and horse shows were held here.
While in the Botanical Gardens, visit historic 'Camden', the official residence of the Premier. (No Premiers have actually lived there, but receptions and dinner parties are regularly held at the residence. There is a beautiful cedar-panelled dining room, which is said to have taken up to thirty years to complete.)
'Camden' is open Tuesday and Friday (unless official functions are scheduled). I don't think we got to see the main house. It was closed for lunch while we were there and we wanted to get to Spittal Pond, so we had to leave. We just toured the outbuildings.
More information and pictures at:
Address: 169 South Road in Paget Parish DV 04.
Directions: One mile from the City of Hamilton, via Berry Hill Road, Point Finger Road and South Road. Bus routes 1, 2 and 7 go to King Edward VII Memorial Hospital nearby
I did not stay here but visited the cove and a friends advice was it was a good area to stay.
Astwood Cove apartments is report as a very reasonably priced. It looked and the has most secluded beach. Astwood Cove apartments is report ed as a very reasonably priced $155. It has most secluded beach because the beach is a little hard to get down to. You have to climb down some steep steps to get there from the park. I would highly recommend this beach for people who want to be secluded and have a beautiful “private beach” in Bermuda!
Bermuda has some remarkable views and coast lines.. Just hop on your scooter and drive around, there are only three major roads and the island is very small...
Drive along south road and you will get some great coast line pictues....
Don't be in a hurry,you will enjoy the views and no why Bermuda is such a wonderful place.....