Watersports fun at Somerset – Bermuda’s West End

While I’m on a blogging roll, here’s my recap of the West End. Oh just thinking back on that ship food as I eat my body weight in rice, it makes me want to swim over there… if only I knew how to do anything other than sink in water.

The West End of Bermuda is more or less a tourist haven because the cruise ships (outside of HAL’s Veendam) all dock at the Royal Navy Dockyard. At the Dockyard, you have the Clocktower Mall, which house many shops that you would find in Hamilton such as A.S. Cooper & Sons Ltd. and Crissons as well as many trinket stores. Basically it’s pretty much the mirrored version of the shops at Hamilton. We were more there to check out the Dockyard’s surrounding scenes rather than shop, but you can definitely shop to your hearts content without really leaving the Dockyard that’s for sure (of course it’s recommended that you do take the opportunity to explore the whole archipelago).

Clocktower Mall at the Royal Navy Dockyard

If you’re not into shopping, there are also places where you can enjoy and have a good time. The West End is home to places where you can rent jet skis and boats to sail on. We went to Somerset Bridge Watersports (took the #7 bus) where we rented a 13′ Boston Whaler for the day (~8 hours) to explore the outer edges of the island. Yeah. I don’t know which was more dangerous in retrospect, crossing the road in Bermuda, or flying 3 feet high in deep waters. The latter was more fun, once I got over my fear of death. The day overall was fun, although we had a few hiccups throughout. By the way, if you’re curious to know, when you get off the bus for Somerset Bridge Watersports, you have to cross the smallest drawbridge in Bermuda (and the world).

Smallest Drawbridge in Bermuda

First of all, if you’re a novice on boating (I say as if after this I turn into some sort of super mariner), the Boston Whalers are pretty simple. Hop in (that’s much easier said than done when it’s bobbing and you have the balancing characteristics of an egg), pull the engine cord and roar off. The owner of the place, Tony, gave us a brief rundown of what to do, what not to do, showed us the map and sent us off on our way. Surprisingly it wasn’t as frightening as I thought it would be. If anyone reads this and goes to rent a whaler, give his guestbook a sign and tell Tony “Mel & J from NYC says hi!” More pictures and words ahead!

Water, water, everywhere – Bermuda East

Bloggers should be penalized for creating drafts and forgetting about them. Okay I’m really talking about myself, not because I love staring at about 10 draft messages in my dashboard, but because I keep forgetting to complete them.

So what made me remember this one? Looking at my failtan. It was a week of good memories and horrific sunburning. If they showed Nagani from Harry Potter shedding, that would’ve been me (had you been curious for a mental picture).

Bermuda East End – consists of major tourist attractions such as St. George’s, Tobacco Beach, and St. Catherine’s Fort.
Traveling to St. George’s is accessible by either ferry or bus. Take the Orange ferry, or the #1/3/6/10/11 bus to St. George’s on a Zone 14 ticket. Continue reading

Sunken Meadow Beach, Long Island (aka feet killer).

It was quite stormy today in the Tri-State Area (NY, NJ, & CT) with rain in the “outer” boroughs (yes, socially NYC is only Manhattan to New Yorkers/tourists) and hail (!) in Manhattan no less. Yes, way to make them even more special, they get hail while we only get rain.

In any case, the storm aside (and now the weather’s nice and cool) it made me reminisce about the last storm that I had the fortune of avoiding (being inside is pretty much avoiding rain IMO). It was come to think of it, just a little before a month ago. We (alBus, chocoBus aka Melissa, and myself) ventured out even further into de eyeland into Sunken Meadow State Park for a bit of morning afternoon BBQing.

While we had a slight rain shower, it was apparently pouring death back in the city and even parts of Long Island (rain, thunder, and hail no less) but wasn’t bad enough that it ruined our grilling. Afterwards we checked out the adjoining beach. Since it was quite cloudy even though it didn’t rain, the lifeguards had red flags all over the sands to keep the beachgoers out. At first while we were disappointed, soon after the red flags were replaced by green and it was time to frolic in the water (after a long walk over the path of rocks and pebbles). Protip: bring water shoes, or sandals, or shoes that you don’t mind getting wet. Those rocks hurt!

There were some great bird sightings as well. We had seen Cormorants, Common Terns, as well as Herons but our puny point & shoots didn’t have the zoomage for it. It was a pretty fun day overall thinking back, there were some things that we could prepare better for such as: little to no reception, bringing more prepared food, and better cameras (natch).

Next time we shall capture some avian souls!

Shangri-La on Earth, it’s Bermuda.

(Warning: Post may be long and winding)

If asked, “where would you like to be if you weren’t here?” You’d most likely answer, “on a sandy beach.” Some people (like me) would probably answer, “underneath a mountain of patty meat” or something equally disgustingly fatty.

No, I’d probably answer the beach too, although I do despise the sand getting everywhere. It’s all about the ambiance! Clear skies, fluffy clouds that you can get lost in for hours, and that water. Nice sparkling clear water that isn’t filled with muck floating. Eg:

Bad water, Good water

A bit of background information beforehand. We did not fly over there. While Amtrak would be a nice option, unfortunately there are no tunnels long enough to go through the ocean to the sandy beaches of Bermuda. Cruising was a bit more of a feasible alternative compared to hauling luggage to a plane, being subjected to the whole 3oz rule so begrudgingly, we decided to partake in the sights of the ocean and become what people would call Mariners. Sadly I did not have enough time to purchase a funky little hat for the occasion. I did however, see many “captains” wearing it. Meanwhile the only captaining I’ll do, would be from the comfort of my own bathtub.

The trip itself was a total of 7 days: 2 complete days at sea (coming and going), and 3 1/2 complete days in Hamilton (capital) of Bermuda. We went on Holland America Lines (HAL) and our ship was the ms Veendam. I never really heard about this cruise company before, but it turns out that they are owned by Carnival and they do more of their advertising via word of mouth. I have to say one thing about HAL though, if you’re looking for a good partying time, this really isn’t the line for you (entertainment to some varies, naturally so this is just a blanket statement). Perfect for me though. Loved every bit of the ship from its size to the crew within. The HAL post will come later though, this is about Bermuda (yes yes, making with the pictures… now)! Read on!

Birding from Queens to “de Eyeland”

To some, rare means finding a $20 bill in the street. To me, rare means getting up early. Specifically: 6:30 AM.

Was it really something to brag about? Compared to people who usually get up around that time to take the subway to work? Not really, but considering that I don’t usually get up when the Sun starts to rise without raising hell, yes, yes it was.

I blame my friend, Simon. He’s a birder so he’s used to getting up early (as well as dirty) in order to see rare and uncommon birds. I just like seeing different things in general. I can’t really call myself a birder, but I do like to learn. I suppose somewhere down the line, if I gain some solid knowledge- then maybe I can then call myself a birder. Until then I am just a novice that just points out the colorful ones and going, “oooh!” (Birdnub)

We first headed to Forest Park. There is apparently a mystical watering hole within the park that birds flock to in the early mornings. However when we got there, we couldn’t find it. We probably walked over it, to be honest as it was rather dry. If the watering hole is small, it probably doesn’t last for long after a rainfall. I did see some interesting critters though there so it wasn’t such a bust. I made out with a shot of a spider and a rather chubby chipmunk

Feeling quite adventurous, we ventured out into what Melissa fondly calls “de eyeland” (Long Island) to the Valley Stream State Park. Unfortunately there are no information on this park, but if you wanted to park there, you’d have to pay $8 for the privilege to do so (private car). I did find a bird checklist though so if you’re interested in visiting this park, you would know what to expect and in what season.

I did get more sightings than I had in Forest Park though so it was a pretty good day for me. In retrospect, seeing one new bird is much better than not seeing one at all. And if all fails, just take lots of pictures of adorable ducks!

Lastly, driving back into Queens, we decided to make one last stop to Kissena Park (not so far from Queens College). If I thought Forest Park was “foresty,” this one was the forest tenfold. Weeds, plants, and too much Poison Ivy for my taste.

Kissena Park overgrowth. Time to break out the machete!

Some interesting facts about Kissena Park:

  • Presumably named in 1908 after Kissena Lake. Kissena, from the Chippewa word “Kissina” (“It’s cold”) by Samuel Bowne Parsons (Parson’s Blvd, anybody), an experienced horticulturist and amateur Indian expert.
  • There is a bike track, called the “Siegfried Stern Kissena Park Bicycle Track” right towards one of the entrances. It’s like Nascar for bikes!
  • There is a lot of poison ivy here.

Due to me making a newb mistake (bringing only one battery with my camera), I could not take any pictures of birds in the park. However Simon did help me sight some Orioles, so one day I will be back to get a photo of them. Hopefully.