Friday, May 8, 2015

Day 4, May 7, 2015, Serenity Crossing – First Day in Bermuda

We got up at 7:30 and walked the promenade deck for 50 minutes (about 6500 steps and 3.6 miles).  The Serenity was sailing into the harbor where we were anchored off the shore.  We were in the harbor, closer to the Naval Dockyard area.    Sailing in, we went by NCL and Celebrity ships.  

We got ready and then went to breakfast (our first one that we have made), but showed up just a few minutes before they were closing, so it was a bit rushed.  We had omelets and fruit.   After that, we worked on blogs and email, waiting to leave at 12:30 on the Bermudian tender (it holds several hundred guests and only runs every 2 hours, so it is kind of a pain).   It was again an overcast day, about 72 degrees.

We went to the Stardust Lounge to wait for our tour group to be called.  We were to go on a bicycle tour down the Bermuda Railway Trail.  Eventually we boarded the Bermudian and headed into Hamilton.  It took about 40 minutes to slowly make our way to the port.  

This is the Martha Ann, the yacht owned by Martha Stewart.  They said that she was in town and had been there for the past several days:

After an aborted attempt at docking (the place where they wanted us to dock would not work with the gangway on the transport boat), we were back on dry land.  We were then escorted to a smaller boat that was going to take us to the rail trail (we also had the folks that were going kayaking, as we were both going to the same place, both tours were run by the same company).  On the way there, the captain mentioned that the Americas Cup races were going to be held in Bermuda and that there were a huge number of boats and teams that were expected to be practicing over the next couple of years.

It turns out that this boat took the 22 of us back right by the Serenity, under a bridge by the Naval Dockyard and around the western part of the island.  

It took about 40 minutes to make it to where we docked. 

We were handed out our bikes (very nice Trek, 21-speed, mountain bikes), adjusted the seats and were ready to head to the trail.  

First up, though, we had to cross the main road.  The two guides stopped the traffic and we all made it across safely.  We then biked a couple of miles along the mostly paved trail (some parts were dirt).  We stopped frequently to discuss things such as the Banyan tree growing out of the wall.  

We eventually made it to the end (after walking our bikes down a very steep part), which was where the rail trail normally would have gone across the water – instead we went across the auto bridge since the rail trail no longer existed there.  

We did go across the world’s smallest functioning drawbridge – 18 inches wide for masts.  It used to be used to get sailboats between the two areas, but isn’t used much any more because most masts on sailboat exceed 18 inches.

We then turned around, walked our bikes back up the hill and headed back to the place where we got the bikes and the kayaks were located.  On the way, we stopped at Ft. Scaur.  The fort had been used to protect the rear flank of the naval dockyards.  There were some great views up there.

One of the interesting stories that the guides (speaking of the guides, one of them was eighth generation Bermudian) told us was about how in the early days of the island, there were a set of families that would light a fire on the hillside.  Ships passing by would see the fire and sail toward it.  They would then smash their ships on the rocks.  The families would tell the captain and crew that they would help them repair their ships and would allow them to leave, but they had to give the Bermudians whatever they were carrying.  The families ended up making so much money that the Queen got word of it and was upset.  She ended up visiting Bermuda, met with the families and declared that they would be privateers.  Which means that they were essentially licensed pirates.  As long as they didn’t harm ships from England and paid taxes on whatever they got, they were allowed to continue.  Eventually the pirating ended and the families went into the retail business.  Now on Front Street in Hamilton all of the stores are owned and named by the various pirate families.

We then made it back to the place where we got the bikes, dropped them off and then had about 25 minutes to hang out in the little cove.  We then headed back at 4:55pm, the 40 minutes back across the bay to Hamilton.  Once there, we had about 25 minutes to wait for the 40 minute Bermudian ship to take us back to Serenity.  Overall, it was nearly 3 hours of riding in boats for about 1 to 1.5 hours of bike riding and seeing the sites.  So, the tour was ok, but it was just too much overhead for such little enjoyment.

We got back to the ship at around 6:40.  Got ready for dinner in Tastes.  Before our 7:45 reservation, we stopped by the atrium where a steel drum player was playing.  It is amazing how many different sounds he could get from that drum.  We met Les who was just leaving dinner and got the lowdown on good dishes from Tastes (he had been there previously).

The Tastes menu has a large number of small plates.  We ended up getting several to try and share.  For the appetizer course, we had the Goat Cheese Dip with cured olives, mojo verde, and grilled bread.  As Les had recommended, it was fabulous.  

We also split the Alsatian Tarte with bacon-leek jam, gruyere, and béchamel.  We were interested to try it since it seemed like it might be similar to the Vidalia onion pizza that we make.  It was not the same, but it was great.  The crust was very light, not like a heavier pizza crust.  The toppings were terrific.  It was pretty filling, but we soldiered on. 

Next up, we split three dishes: the Oven-Roasted Cauliflower with parmesan cheese, lemon and capers; the Gambas a la Plancha (three jumbo shrimp) cooled in paprika-lemon butter with a grilled baguette; and finally the Chimichurri Steak with black beans and sweet potatoes.  All three were terrific.  The Chimichurri sauce on the steak was just wonderful.

For dessert, we shared the “Bananas Foster” bread pudding with candied pecans, vanilla ice cream, and caramel sauce; and he Masala Chai Crème Brulee, with apricot chutney and toasted pistachio.  The Crème Brulee was great, but the Bananas Foster was amazing.  Julie is a big fan of Bananas Foster and she said that this was excellent.

After dinner, we walked outside to see the ship lights that they had strung from stem to stern and noticed that clearly it had rained at some point earlier.  

Then we ended up going back to the room, watched some television and hit the sack.  We ended up with about 17,000 steps and about 8.5 miles.

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