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Cunard Queen Victoria's Exotic Voyage 2018
Discovering South America Part 15
Map Introduction to the Cruise and The Azores Port Canaveral, USA Grand Turk Martinique Bridgetown, Barbados Fortaleza, Brazil Salvador, Brazil Buzios, Brazil Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Montevideo, Ureguay Buenos Aires, Argentina Puerto Madryn, Argentina Ushuaia, Argentina Cape Horn Beagle Channel Punta Arenas, Chile Amalia Glacier, Chile Pio XI Glacier and Fiords, Chile Puerto Montt, Chile Valparaiso for Santiago, Chile Conquimbo, Chile Arica, Chile Lima, Peru Manta, Ecuador Panama Canal Jamaica Belize Costa Maya,Mexico Charleson, USA The Azores
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Hamilton, Bermuda - Wednesday 14 March 2018

The lunchtime departure from Charleston had enabled the Queen Victoria to add an extra port on the journey back to Southampton. There had been great disappointment from those doing the full World Cruise from Southampton to Southampton when the visit to Bermuda on the outward voyage had been cancelled due to bad weather. Careful calculations had meant that the time could be gained and a visit to Bermuda was now possible. Having expected to berth there at 09.30 it was with some surprise that the island was on the port side in the early morning. However the approach to the Heritage Wharf in the former Royal Naval Dockyard is complicated. The Bermudas consist of around 138 islands that form a fishing hook shape about 22 miles long and 1 mile across, and surrounded by coral reefs and shallows. Having approached the island from the west it was necessary to follow a narrow channel through the coral reefs and along the south and east coasts, then turn along the north coast to the berth on Ireland Island having circumnavgated almost the whole island. We arrived slightly late.

There are several ways to spend a day ashore and the best option is to take the ferry to Hamilton or to visit the National Museum of Bermuda in the Dockyard. We did both. The ferry times to Hamilton on the other side of Great Sound are different in the winter and the next ferry departed at 11.15 whereas it was expected to be at 11.30. The problem was that it was necessary to purchase a $4.50 token to get on board and there was soon a long line at the Tourist Information Office in the Terminal. Tokens are also for sale at a desk near the ferry.

The ferry is large, two storey, and must take about 300 passengers. It was soon full. There is also a bus to Hamilton but it is the same price and the journey time is an hour. It is only 20 minutes by ferry. The city of Hamilton was incorported in 1793. Hamilton has many shops, including Marks and Spencer, on Front Street. It is a small city and was only 10 minutes along Front Street to reach the Cenotaph and the Cabinet Building with the Sessions Building behind.

A further 10 minutes climb and there was the entrance to Fort Hamilton from where there are good views of the town and harbour below. The American Civil War 1861 to 1865 resulted in a massive fortification programme in Bermuda by the British garrison. The construction of Fort Hamilton commenced in 1868 but it was left unfinished. In the mid 1890s the Bermuda Volunteer Rifle Corps was formed and had its Headquarters at Fort Hamilton. The site was opened as a park in 1967. As well as exploring the ramparts with its three main gun placments there are underground galleries, underground ammunition room and a moat garden. The cannon is a 10inch Woolwich rifled muzzle-loader. It would fire a 400 pound projectile, which could penetrate 11.25 inches of wrought iron plate at 1000 yards. The three cannons were moved from the moat at Fort Langton, Devonshire in 1964 and installed here.

Church Street stretches from the Fire Department building beneath Fort Hamilton to beyond the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity, including a number of large colourful churches: Seventh Day Adventist, Cornerstone Bible Fellowship, St Andrews and Wesley Methodist. The original cathedral building was designed in the Early English style by James Cranston of Oxford in 1844 and was completed in 1869. That building was destroyed by fire in 1884. The present building was primarily built from Bermuda limestone between 1886 and 1905. It celebrated its centenary in 2011. There is a tower which rises to a height of 143 feet and is open to visit. There is an initial spiral climb and then the stairs leading upwards from the two landings are less steep. Having already seen views from Fort Hamilton it was less appealing to have another climb.

The city bus terminal is next to the cathedral and then there is the City Hall and Arts Centre with the the Bermuda National Gallery. The Victoria Park is behind. It was now a choice whether to catch the 13.30 ferry or wait until 15.00. The Bermuda National Library, the Bermuda Historical Society Museum and the Perot Post Office were together next to the entrance to Queen Elizabeth Park. We had now seen all the important buildings, did not need to do any shopping, so set off quickly towards the ferry. The 13.30 ferry left early, because it was already full, so we had made a good decision. We later heard the 15.00 ferry was standing room only.

Back at the Royal Naval Dockyard there was plenty of time to look at the site before going into the National Museum of Bermuda at the northern tip. Following American independence in 1783, Bermuda became a strategic location for a British naval base and dockyard. Construction began in 1809 and continued into the early 20th century. The Dockyard provided facilities for the Royal Navy's fleet of ships, supported by naval and civilian professional workers. There are many restored buildings in use now : the Transport Museum,, several bars and restaurants and a number of arts and crafts shops. There is a busy boat painting and repair activity, including one small sunken cruiser being surveyed, a yacht from Akaroa, and the sail training boat the Spirit of Bermuda. There was The challenger, Emirates Team New Zealand, won by a score of 7 to 1 over the defender, Oracle Team USA. A boat of Oracle Team USA is on display outside the Transport Museum. Further along towards the Casemate Barracks there is a fine gateway. The road continues but Casemates is closed and the site is undergoing restoration. It was built in the late 1830s to house troops manning the Dockyard fortifications. After the Dockyard closed in 1951 it became Bermuda's maximum security prison from 1963 to 1994. A little tourist train runs around the Dockyard for those who don't want to walk.

The National Museum of Bermuda includes the fortress Keep of the Royal Naval Dockyard, the Casemates Barracks and the massive 30 feet wide North-west Rampart which joins the two. The Keep was the citadel of the Dockyard, built to guard the naval base against land or sea attack and as an arsenal. The massive bastions and ramparts were deigned by the Royal Engineers and reinforced at intervals by casemated gun emplacements. The 1870s magazine sits in the collapsed High Cave, equipped with light passage and ammunition winches to hoist shells and cartridges above ground. It was a realistic example of similar areas in Fort Hamilton. There are seven bastions which had been equipped with heavy guns and a variety of cannons and guns were arranged around the edge.

The main building to visit is the Commissioner's House which was the residence for the senior naval officer for the North America station of the Royal Navy. It was built in the 1820s and is the world's first prefabricated cast-iron residential buiding. It has three storeys and the main entrance is on the first floor. After hurricane damage in 2014 it has been repaired. The 8 rooms on the first floor concentrate on slavery, and the history of Bermuda in its money, tourism, and relationship with the Azores, the West Indies and the History of the Bermuda Race. The second floor has five rooms of Maritime Art, photographs of birds, Historic bermuda, and collections of the US forces and the Royal Navy. There were several paintings by Stephen Card, who was born in Bermuda, and who has done many admired watercolour paintings of cruise liners seen onboard Cunard ships. The verandah has a good view of the Queen Victoria. The staircase, called the Pillaried Hall, has a complicated and detailed mural done by Bermudan Graham Foster over several years which depicts special events and important people of Bermuda over the last 500 years. There is a beautiful miniature house under the stairs. The ground floor described Bermuda's Defence Heritage with information on Defence and Fortifications as well as special focus on the Bermudian involvement in the two World Wars. One exhibit is a Vickers machine gun which was based on the German Maxim and between them they have the distinction of killing more people than any other weapon. More time was needed to do justice to all the displays.

Outside, the vaulted-ceiling magazine which is the Queen's Exhibition Hall, has a lot of information about shipwrecks in the local area. The three linked buildings looking towards the Dolphin Quest exhibit were closed. It is possible to swim with tame dolphins in the Keep Pond which is used to home them. We arrived at the end of feeding time. The main entrance to the Keep was closed at 16.30 and the site closes at 17.00, which was perfect with a 17.45 departure. There had been warnings that everyone must be back on time so that the Queen Victoria could retrace her route through the shallows and into the open ocean before sunset. On the way back to the ship we passed one of the Moongates - couples walk through and make a wish - we had to wait a long time to get a picture!

The Azores - Second Visit to Praia da Vitoria, Monday 19 March 2018

This was the second visit to in Terceira, one of Azore Islands. The Queen Victoria was in the port which is a little distance from the town and we were told that one could not walk out of the port and had to use the shuttle buses however there seem to be no impediments and a number of people did walk out hoping to catch the once hourly bus to the major city of Angra do Heroismo. We did not want to chance once houlry buses of unknown reliability and occupancy on a short visit so just caught the shuttle bus once more to the town of Praia do Vitoria. We were on the first bus which left earlier than scheduled and was faster into town than the half hour walk would have been. In essence we did three new things in town this second visit and will concentrate on them rather than our second look round Town Church or market.

Firstly we walked down the promenade and climbed the Zigzag path with 290 steps to the Miradouro do Facho and Monumento do Imaculado Coracao de Maria Padroeira da Prada Da Victoria which gave excellent views over the town. The steps were rough stone with grass paths on the flat parts. They seemed to have plenty of grip but could be slippery coming down in rain. The climb took 14 minutes but that incuded several stops to take photographs. We looked at the monument and then walked down the approach drive which was lined with pruned plane trees and what seemed to be a big planting of hydrangeas down the walls. We wanted to have a look at a farm with an interesting building we had seen from the ship and looked like an old windmill turned out to be a silo for grain. The short walk was memorable for its silence - not a person car or aircraft and not even a breath of wind. Such a change from most places we have stopped. We decided to continue down the long way to the town and hardly saw another person, just a hawk soaring over us and then perching on a telegraph pole.

Our second objective was to visit the Church of Santo Cristo, the "Blue and White Church" we had only seen from outside on the previous visit as it had been closed. It proved remarkably difficult to get a good picture from the outside as it towers over a small square and had the sun behind it but at least it was open and well worth a visit. It had an interesting twin altar and was originally founded in 1496 and completed in 1521 although it was damaged by fire in 1821 and rebuilt in 1824.

We walked back into town, looked once more into the Ingreja Matriz de Santa Crux (Parish Church) and walked along the sea front where we saw a number of interesting buildings none of which were open. We also noticed a number of buildings with very close spaed doors. These are either for multiple entries to various parts of a large building or to small storage areas/shops

The third place of interest was the Museum in the House where Vitorino Nemesio was born. We had been intrigued by the number of places which seemed to be named after him. He was born in the Azores in the house but never lived there and most of his fame came from his time in Europe although his roots were firmly in the Azores. Vitorino Nemésio (1901 – 1978) was a poet, author and intellectual best known for his novel Mau Tempo No Canal, as well as being a professor in the Faculty of Letters at the University of Lisbon and member of the Academy of Sciences of Lisbon. His most complex, dense and subtle novel, Mau Tempo No Canal, remains one of the primary examples of contemporary Portuguese literature, which he would finally publish in 1944. Encompassing the islands of Faial, Pico, São Jorge and Terceira, the novel evokes the period of 1917-1919, when the author lived in Horta. Most of his early writings were inspired by the Azores. We saw a copy in English and must keep an eye open for a copy. He lectured in Brazil and Lisbon and later in life he authored and presented the television program Se bem me lembro, which contributed to popularising his literary importance, and he directed the newspaper O Dia in the 1970s. As a poet, he published works continuously from 1916 to 1976.

The house of is a seventeenth century building, located in São Paulo street where he was born in December 1901. The property underwent various restorations during the nineteenth century, however they did not alter its exterior appearance which features stonework frames and whitewashed and plastered masonry. It was turned into a museum in 2007 providing a study of the life and work of the author with video, photographs and objects related to his life and work, as well as a traditional kitchen of the Azores, testimonies of a time and an art. The yard has been converted into a small space for presentations and recitals as well as containing some old old equipment including various stone sinks, ovens for bread and an interesting sawdust fired stove.

We were fortunate and had an extended guided tour and interpretation just to ourselves in excellent English. Our guide also mentioned the number of small Shrines of the Holy Spirit which are varied and often brightly painted little chappels dotted round Praia and the Island. We located the colourful Imperio dos Pescadores in the Largo Jose Silvestre Ribeiro which we photographed. By now the weather was lookng a bit threatening and we decided to forego the local beer on an outside table and we just got back to the shuttle bus as the heavens opened up. We had intended to go and have a look at the little fort at the entry to the port area but the rain was so hard that we just got a picture from the ship.

The final part (16) of this write up is called A Question of Balance and primarily covers the excellent meals we have had with lots of pictures of food, mostly in the Verandah Restaurant, and the Balance required to maintain a healthy life style on board by use of the fitness centre and gym. The title was inspired by the show the final night before Southampton which featured several songs from the Moody Blueswhose most famous pieces were, arguably, "Nights in White Satin" and relevant here, "A Question of Balance". One of the main problems in a long cruise is that of balancing the excellent food and service, where excess becomes the norm, and maintaining some degree of health and fitness overall. This page therefore contrasts our experiences in the Verandah Restaurant and Pete's attempts to improve his fitness in the Gym. It finishes with some final thoughts on the cruise and an attempt to identify some of the highlights from the many new places we saw and experiences we had.

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Content revised: 1st April, 2018