A visit to Bermuda's oldest community promises to be an unforgettable voyage through time and history. History runs more than 400 years deep in Bermuda, and nowhere is that more evident than in the Town of St. George, a lovely little seaport in the eastern end of the island. It's easy to see and feel the long history of Bermuda's first capital, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sit under the candlelit chandeliers and exposed cedar beams of St. Peter's Church, the oldest continually used Anglican Church in the Western Hemisphere, and explore the hallowed halls of the State House, built in 1621 and once home to the oldest legislature in the Commonwealth outside of Britain. Permanently settled five years after Jamestown, Va., it is the oldest continually inhabited English-speaking town in the New World. The narrow, winding brick lanes give close-up views of pastel 18th- and 19thcentury houses - Fanny Fox's Cottage on Duke of Clarence Street; Stockdale House on the corner of Printer's Alley and Needle and Thread Alley; and Tucker House on Water Street - all marked with World Heritage Site plaques. As famous and historic as the town is, it's a little confusing for visitors trying to get directions there. The Town of St. George lies in St. George's Parish, but locals often call the town "St. George's" as well, creating a bit of a semantical debacle. St. George will impress the most serious of history buffs. Permanently settled five years after Jamestown, Va., it is the oldest continually inhabited English-speaking town in the New World. The two settlements have a close relationship in history. The Sea Venture, one of a fleet of nine ships carrying settlers and supplies to Jamestown, was blown into Bermuda and wrecked on the reefs less than a mile off of the east end at Sea Venture Shoals. The ship's 150 passengers, including fleet commander Admiral Sir George Somers, survived and came ashore at Gates' Bay next to the site of Fort St. Catherine. The men, women and children spent 10 months on the island surviving on fish, turtles, birds and Spanish hogs. Under the direction of Admiral Somers and Sir Thomas Gates, they built two new ships, the Patience and Deliverance, out Of the Sea Venture's rigging and Bermuda cedar. They continued with most of the Sea Venture's passengers to Virginia, arriving in May 1610, in time to save Jamestown's starving colonists. The admiral returned to Bermuda in 1610 for more supplies for Jamestown, but died before completing this task. Whilst his body was returned to England, his heart literally remained in Bermuda - buried near Somers Garden. In 1612 the first 60 settlers arrived in St. George on board the Plough, sent to make a permanent settlement on the island by the Virginia Company. Within three years the Somers Island Company had been formed and the parishes of today are named after the original company shareholders. A Trip to the Past Visit the town's museums and you will discover four centuries of colourful history, including the town's role in the American Revolutionary War (islanders sent casks of gunpowder to George Washington's Continental Army) and the U.S. Civil War. St. George became a transhipment port for cotton coming out of the South and war supplies arriving from England, and reaped financial rewards with the upsurge in town business. The World Heritage Centre at Penno's Wharf offers a bright, welcoming space with a large reception desk. Visitors can Proceed to the orientation gallery, the Gateway to Bermuda exhibit, and upstairs to more exhibits and the theatre. Large photo installations illustrate the splendours of St. George and its fortifications. The centre provides a walkthrough of Bermuda's early history, from the Age of Discovery to the U.S. Civil War. Interpretative panels and audios describe Bermuda before the English arrived, when New World explorers used Bermuda as a navigational marker, when mariners dubbed Bermuda the Isle of the Devils, and when castaways explored its fruitful shores. Bermuda's historic links to Jamestown and the first settlers are illustrated. There is a scale model of the town based on illustrations from the 1626 John Smith map and other research, which includes the original State House, St. Peter's Church, stone and wood dwellings, small bridges, model ships in St. George's Harbour, and early forts. Upstairs, there is a "time tree," interactive touchscreens featuring UNESCO World Heritage Site information, fortifications, military bases and the film A Stroll through St. George's. It is open Monday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (297-5791, stgeorgesfoundation.org) Royal Beginnings King's Square is the best starting point for a walking tour. Stop by the Visitors Information Centre (297-5791) for information, self-guided walking tour brochures and maps. Free guided tours start at the Square Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. from November to March. After the tour the Mayor welcomes visitors into the Town Hall and explains the workings of the Corporation of St. George's, formed in 1797. The elected Mayor, Aldermen and Common Councillors of the Corporation have been meeting in the Town Hall since 1805 and portraits of past mayors adorn the walls.There are also replicas of the British crown jewels on display, plus a flag stone from the home of Admiral George Somers. Kids will love the Stocks and Pillory, where they can put their heads and arms through hinged wooden frames that replicate those once used to publicly humiliate townspeople guilty of petty crimes. The Ducking Stool, used to dunk women accused of being "nags and gossips," is also a hit, especially when historical re-enactments are under way every Wednesday and Saturday at noon and a costumed shrew hits the water. The Bermuda National Trust Museum (297-1423), on the northwest corner of King's Square, is a stately early 18th-century building that was home to Governor Samuel Day and later the headquarters of Confederate agent Major Norman Walker, who directed the flow of war supplies through Union blockades. The museum tells in great detail how Bermuda played an important role in the U.S. Civil War and features a film: Bermuda - the Centre of the Atlantic. From the square, you will want to walk over a bridge to Ordnance Island, where the British military stored munitions long ago, and admire The Deliverance, a life-size replica of the ship that made the historic trip to Jamestown. Bermuda's oldest stone building, the State House, built in 1620 of limestone block with a mortar of turtle oil and lime, overlooks the square from a hill. Since 1816, the building has been rented for the annual sum of a single peppercorn by the country's oldest Masonic Lodge, paid in an elaborate ceremony every spring. The building's notorious history includes 17th-century witch trials. Historical Remnants St. Peter's Church (297-2459) can be found on the Town's main street, Duke of York Street, and was originally built in 1612. It is open from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. It was was rebuilt in stone in 1713, but the section around the pulpit dates from the 1600s. The church's chalice is from 1625, and the furniture is the oldest in Bermuda. Don't miss the graveyard, which tells the tales of Bermuda's past. Look for Midshipman Dale, the last American to die in the war of 1812, or Pilot James Darrell, the first black Bermudian to own a home. The western section is a segregated graveyard, designated for free blacks and slaves. You will find the African Diaspora Heritage Trail plaque, one of five in the Town. Another African Diaspora site is the Bermudian Heritage Museum (297-4126) , on the corner of Duke of York Street and Water Street. Here you may learn the history of black Bermudians, from slavery to segregation to emancipation, plus Bermuda's connection with American Indian tribes. To see how early residents lived, visit two homes that are now excellent small museums: The elegant Tucker House Museum (297-0545) on Water Street has ties with Colonial Williamsburg and an archeology display; and the St. George's Historical Society Museum, Printery and Garden (297-0423) on Featherbed Alley with its kitchen garden and original water catchment system. Sights such as Gates Fort, Fort George and Fort St. Catherine are not in the town but a 20 minute walk away, or you can take a taxi or a mini-bus. They are worth the visit as St. George boasts the best example of British masonry coastal defence outside of Britain.Fort St. Catherine has a beautiful view down the north shore of Bermuda and overlooks Gates' Bay where the shipwreck survivors of 1609 made landfall. The best snorkelling in Bermuda is to be found at Tobacco Bay and Achilles Bay, two sheltered bays which are suitable for children.Both have seasonal beach houses which rent snorkelling gear, chairs and umbrellas.At Achille's Bay you'll find Blackbeard's Hideout, a great place for a cocktail, lunch or dinner. Taking It Home As you wander through the town's alleys and streets, you'll want to stop into the quaint shops and boutiques that are just as unique as the town's heritage to bring back a little piece of St. George. At Somers Wharf is a branch store that features a selection of merchandise from the A.S. Cooper & Sons Ltd. Family of fine stores in Hamilton. Discover ladies' fashions and accessories, gifts, souvenirs, as well as Fragrances at duty-free prices. (297-0925, ascooper.bm) Belinda Tartaglia Gallery is located on Water Street in the Somers Wharf Complex at the heart of the quaint Town of St. George.This unique gallery offers fine art, antiques, antique paintings, and contemporary, vintage and antique prints. The gallery owner/artist is on hand, usually painting or working on giving a new life to a discarded object. This is one gallery you definitely won't want to miss.(297-0909) Nestled in St. George, at 6B Penno's Drive, is Bermuda Beauty Crafts, a treasure trove of items for everyone by local artists, artisans and the like. BBC's Sun Shop offers UV-protection clothing, hats and accessories for those wanting superior protection from such brands as Tilley Endurables, Coolibar and Panama straw hats. (297-1605) The Bermuda Perfumery welcomes visitors to its location in St. George. Since 1928, The Perfumery has been creating and blending fine fragrances for women and men under the brand Lili Bermuda. Visit for a unique olfactory experience and to discover How perfumers create fragrances. During the summer of 2011, Lili Bermuda is launching "Alegria," a fragrance for women. Alegria was created to celebrate the rich cultural heritage of Bermuda. It is a white chypre fragrance with a heart of frangipani, Bermuda cedar, tuberose and magnolia. Alegria is modern, international and elegant. Lili Bermuda's fragrances are exclusively available in Bermuda.Open Monday to Saturday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (10 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the winter). (293- 0627 or 1-800-527-8213 toll-free in U.S. and Canada, lilibermuda.com) When visiting the historic Town of St. George, a must-stop is Cracker Box on York Street by the main bus stop, where you find a large selection of seashells, T-shirts, silver and shell jewellery, Bermuda caps, straw hats and beautiful Bermuda watercolour prints by Amy Evans. Also find many Bermuda-themed gift items from mugs and shot glasses to wooden frogs, cats and Bermuda houses. When in Hamilton, remember to visit the other store, The Hodge Podge, behind the ferry terminal. (297-1205) Crisson Jewellers embodies Bermuda's finest and most cherished traditions. A family business since 1922, the Crisson name is synonymous with quality and value. In St. George, you'll find a Crisson store on Water Street, with boutique shopping and a distinctly old-world flavour. The atmosphere is relaxed and intimate, yet you find the same eclectic collections, value and prices as in Hamilton.(297-0107, crisson.com) For a choice of Bermuda-made goods, located just off King's Square, Dockside Glass & Rum Cakes offers a display of colourful hot glass in its smallest shop, welcoming you with a taste of Bermuda Rum Cakes and choices of classic art, small collectibles, and hand-made jewellery. The Bermudian artists have been very creative and busy, and the shop is open every day 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and until 9 p.m. when a ship is at port. (297- 3908, dockglass.com) Best known for the latest in European designs, East End Flower Alley is the premier florist in Bermuda. Nestled in the historic town of St. George, this eclectic florist is well worth a visit. Showcasing exclusive gifts, Steiff teddy bears and original works of art, the fragrance from the exquisite, fair-trade, organically grown flowers (veriflora.com) greets you at the door. Creative designers specialise in contemporary and traditional arrangements, events, weddings, corporate work, conferences and special occasions large or small. They have fruit and gourmet gift baskets and unique soft toys and balloons. The Flower Alley offers fast, free delivery islandwide.(297-1929, eastendfloweralley.com) The best of the traditional Hamilton store is found here at The English Sports Shop in St. George. Colourful Bermuda shorts, blazers, ties and resort wear for both men and women offer a unique, fashionable souvenir of your visit. (297-0142) Wander up Water Street in the 400-year-old Town of St. George and find the lively new shop Frangipani. From the cheerful batik sundress in the window to the dramatic wall of jewellery inside, you will be delighted at the eclectic range of beautiful and elegant clothing, shoes, bags and gifts found within. Whether you're stepping off a cruise or relaxing at a resort, be sure to take the time to visit, as it is open six days a week from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (297-1357, email@example.com) The Island Shop is a must-visit for unique ceramic and linen products, all designed by Barbara Finsness. Resident and visitor comments include, "Finally a beautiful shop to buy our gifts," and "I want to buy everything in your store." Barbara's designs are colourful and tropical, reflecting the best and lasting images of Bermuda. Each item is specially made and labelled with her signature. The Island Shop won Best of Giftware in The Bermudian magazine. New designs are continuously added to the collection. (297-1514, islandexports.com) Peniston Brown on Water Street is the fragrance specialist.Excellent service and the most popular fragrances from around the world for men and women are hallmarks of this quaint boutique.Exclusives include Chloé, Ed Hardy, Guerlain, Marc Jacobs, Vera Wang and Versace, all at duty-free prices. (405-0005) The Somers Wharf Shopping and Dining Complex, created in 1978 by developing the historic St. George's waterfront, sits on land reclaimed from St. George's Harbour. Buildings in Somers Wharf, including the rugged Coal Shed, the long, pink Longhouse and the newly restored blue Hunter, were built in the late 1700s. Today Somers Wharf is situated ideally in the middle of St. George, within easy walking distance of bus, ferry and cruise ship terminals, idyllically on the harbour front. A vast selection of apparel can be found in the shops and boutiques along the wharf, as well as treasures like fine crystal, artists' collections and Bermudian crafts and souvenirs. A dockside pub satisfies hunger and thirst. (296-6185, somerswharf.com) Located at 7 and 20 Water St. in St. George, Vera P. Card offers jewellery, watches, figurines, crystal, clocks and gifts from around the world at duty-free prices. Selections are varied, and prices are guaranteed to offer savings over stores in the United States. Jewellery is "value guaranteed" against an appraisal of your choice. Vera P. Card features the largest collection of Lladró, M.I. Hummel and Nao-by- Lladró in the Caribbean, along with the complete Swarovski silvercrystal collection. The shop also has a wide collection of fine crystal and glass. The jewellery collection emphasises unusual, high-value stones, as well as exceptional workmanship in gold and sterling silver.There is also a wide collection of beautiful gemstone globes, which are shipped free to North America. (297-1718, firstname.lastname@example.org) Pick Up the Pace Even in quiet St. George, you can find exciting and heart-racing activities to enjoy. Get ready to have the time of your life with K.S. Watersports (Jet Ski & Parasailing Adventures), Bermuda's No. 1 water sports company for fun and excitement, offering Jet Ski rentals and parasailing out of Royal Naval Dockyard and Town of St. George. Experience the adventure of a lifetime on one of the ultimate Jet Ski tours, where you splash and dash through Bermuda's aqua-blue waters, passing many Reefs, shipwrecks, forts and beautiful landmarks around the eastern and western ends of the islands. Regular tours are 75 minutes long and perfect for families and solo riders who seek fun and excitement in their vacations. All ages are welcome, but you must be 16 or older to operate a Jet Ski. Instructions are provided for beginners. Fancy something a little more daring and exciting? Then experience the high-flying thrill, panoramic views and pure excitement of parasailing in Bermuda, the best way to see the islands and all the beauty they have to offer. Soar over crystal-clear waters onboard the Thrill Seeker. The powerful winch boat allows you to take off and land without getting wet, unless of course, you request a dip. The professional crew assures you a safe and memorable experience. All ages are welcome, and no experience is required. (1-441-297-4155, kswatersports.com) No trip to St. George would be complete without a stop at the beautiful Tobacco Bay beach, surrounded by limestone cliffs and rocks carved by the elements. The sheltered bay and nearby waters are a playful playground of colourful fish and coral for snorkellers of all abilities. On the beach, there are chairs, loungers, umbrellas and snorkel equipment available. (297-2756) It's fun to rent a scooter at Oleander Cycles, whose local shop is on York Street. Oleander is Bermuda's No. 1 cycle livery and offers quality scooters at competitive rates. You receive safety instructions in a private practice area. The St. George's location is open seven days a week. (297-0478, St. George; 236-2453, main office, oleandercycles.bm) Eat, Drink and Be Merry Following a walking tour of St. George's museums and shops, or a day of fun in the sun, a great meal or round of drinks is well deserved. In St. George you'll find some of the best bars and restaurants on Bermuda. Sit and watch the sun go down from the terrace of Blackbeard's Hideout, overlooking Achilles Bay, for cocktails, lunch or dinner. A popular local spot with casual atmosphere and great food, this true Bermudian experience is not to be missed. It is great for private functions. (297-1400) With breathtaking views Overlooking St. George's Harbour, Griffin's Bistro & Bar is located at The St. George's Club on top of Rose Hill. Join them for lunch or dinner in the newly refurbished Harbour View dining room, and enjoy great food and friendly service. Griffin's is the jewel in the crown of St. George's. (297- 4235, stgeorgesclub.com) Temptations specialises in great-tasting, affordably priced food to satisfy any appetite. Enjoy a hearty breakfast bagel, delicious homemade soup, the best sandwiches in town, sinful desserts, ice creams and sherbets, or a piping-hot cup of tea or cappuccino. Eat in or take out, open for breakfast and lunch Monday to Saturday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. (297-1368) If you're at beautiful Tobacco Bay, don't miss the concession there, which has an inviting bar with tasty light meals and snacks. Wahoo's Bistro & Patio is centrally located in the heart of the historic Town of St. George and boasts panoramic views of the harbour.It offers a wide range of menu choices guaranteed to satisfy any picky eater, from the famous locally caught fish items, including wahoo nuggets, rockfish Picasso and, of course, the award-winning fish chowder, to the delicious schnitzel sandwich and ever-changing pasta special. Bring your family for a nice relaxing meal, or come for a romantic dinner overlooking the moonlit harbour. (297-1307) The White Horse Pub & Restaurant is Bermuda's favourite pub and seafood restaurant, in Town of St. George. It is well known for its creative and colourful dishes, friendly service and breathtaking views of St. George's harbour. The pub offers covered waterside dining and an outdoor bistro area where you can soak up the sun if desired, not to mention feed the fish right below your table! The White Horse serves a wide selection of fresh local fish and grilled steaks, as well as your English and Bermudian pub favourites. When it comes to entertainment, nobody does it better, providing entertainment day and night at the outdoor Native Islander Bar. Sit back and relax to all your favourite songs of the past and present while enjoying one of the bar's signature cocktails made especially for you. For all you sports fans out there, this is Bermuda's No. 1 sports bar in St. George, so sit back and enjoy wall-to-wall sports coverage of your favourite teams, from morning to night. The White Horse is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., with bar open until 1 a.m. or later. Takeout is available. (1-441-297-1838, whitehorsebermuda.com) Where to Stay Nestled on top of Rose Hill, with spectacular views of St. George's Harbour, is The St. George's Club, Bermuda's premier cottage colony and vacation ownership resort, with one- and two-bedroom cottages in the Bermudian architectural style. Guests enjoy beautifully manicured gardens, three swimming pools, tennis courts, restaurant and bar, cycle livery, on-site grocery adjacent to the golf course - currently being updated to championship level - and pink-sand beaches, overlooking the UNESCO World Heritage Town of St. George and its pristine harbour. E-mail reservations@stgeorgesclubcom or email@example.com. (297-1200 reservations, stgeorgesclub.com) How to Get There Take advantage of Bermuda's excellent public transportation, arriving in St. George by taxi, bus or ferry. Sea Express ferry offers six daily trips to St. George's (from Hamilton, via Dockyard) from April 11 to November 19 only. In addition, there are four high-speed catamarans that serve these routes. Or take a Bermuda Breeze bus ride from Hamilton via routes 1, 3, 10 or 11. The one-way fare from Dockyard is $4.50 for adults and $2 for children ages 5-16 (kids under 5 years old ride for free). The one-way fare from Hamilton is $8 for adults and $4 for children ages 5-16. You can also try the Transportation Pass, which is good for unlimited rides on the bus and ferry system. Passes cost $12 for one day, $20 for two days, $28 for three days, $35 for four days and $45 for seven days. Finding Deliverance To see how the shipwreck survivors of 1609 finally escaped this remote archipelago, tour a life-size replica of Deliverance, newly restored, with mannequins in period costume, located on Ordnance Island in St. George's Harbour. In 1609, the newly constructed Sea Venture and eight sister vessels launched from England with colonists and supplies bound for the moribund settlement of Jamestown, Virginia. But Sea Venture never made it there. Instead, it nearly sank in a storm before it was driven on to a reef near today's Town of St. George.The rigging, sails and planks, along with native Bermuda Cedars, were used to build two smaller ships, Patience and Deliverance. In May 1610, these finally arrived in Jamestown, saving its 60 remaining settlers - there had been 500. Four centuries later, concerned St. Georgians rescued the replica of Deliverance, which was built in 1967 and had fallen into disrepair. Now owned and operated by the St. George's Foundation, the ship underwent a five-month restoration and opened just in time for Bermuda's 400th anniversary in 2009. The project built a new mizzenmast, replaced rotten planks, repaired rigging, installed floodlights and waterproofed the ship. Now visitors are greeted by an animatronic William Strachey, the Virginia Company secretary who wrote a firsthand account about the founding of Bermuda and the salvation of Virginia. The Deliverance is open to the public Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4p. M. $3 adults, $2 students. What's in a Name? The Town of St. George, named after the patron saint of England, was founded by Bermuda's first Governor, Richard Moore, in 1612, and the names of the streets reflect the history of the settlement through the centuries. One of the oldest names used by the original settlers and still used today is Water Street, which runs along the waterfront of the town. During the 1700s and 1800s, most streets were given names which simply described who lived on them, or where the street would take you. After the American Revolution loyalists to the British Crown led a flurry of renaming to demonstrate allegiance with the mother country - thus were born Queen, King and Princess Streets, plus roads named after Dukes Kent, York, Clarence and Cumberland. Colloquial names came later in the 1800s, when locals renamed Duke of Cumberland Street Old Maids' Lane (for obvious reasons!) Blacksmith's Hill was so named because Samuel Brown's blacksmith's shop was located at the bottom of it. With the arrival of tourists in the early 1900s, streets which had remained thus far un-named were duly christened with monikers Invoking their past residents. Barber's Alley pays homage to Joseph Rainey, a free black American who set up shop in town during the American Civil War. He later went on to become one of the first black Americans voted into the U.S. House of Representatives. Printer's Alley is the home of Stockdale House, where the publisher of Bermuda's first newspaper lived. Major Norman Walker, the Confederate shipping agent who oversaw the interests of the South from 1891 to 1895, lived on Blockade Alley. Church Lane runs behind St. Peter's Church, the oldest Anglican Church outside of Great Britain in continuous use. Church Folly Lane takes you to the Unfinished Church, grand remains of a house of worship whose construction began in 1874 and was never completed. A nearby farming district exported so many turkeys that its local road was titled Turkey Hill. One fact remains true of all of the streets of St. George - they are difficult to drive around! The town has a complicated system of one way streets for a simple reason: The streets of today were the footpaths of the first settlers who arrived in 1612 on board the Plough. Historical Points of Interest Alexandra Battery Barber's Alley Bermuda National Trust Museum Bermuda Perfumery, The Bob Burns Park Bridge House Building Bay Charlotte Hope's Grave Deliverance II Fort Bermudian Fort St. Catherine Globe Hotel Heritage Museum King's Square Mitchell House (St. George's Historical Society) Old Rectory Pilot Darrell's House Segregated Graveyard at St. Peter's Church Sir George Somers Monument Somers Garden St. George's Foundation St. Peter's Church State House Stewart Hall Stocks and illory Town Hall Tucker House Museum Unfinished Church Whitehall World Heritage Centre A Small Price to Pay How much would an ancient Masonic lodge pay to lease the oldest British stone structure in the New World and the original home of Bermuda's Government? At the age of 391, the State House, an Italianate-style building constructed between 1618 and 1621, is home to the Freemasons' lodge on King Street in St. George - and it may continue to be so for the next 391 years. That's because the organisation gets a sweet deal on rent: one peppercorn, just enough to bind a contract under English common law. Open to the public on Wednesdays, the State House once served as the legislative assembly hall in Bermuda. When the capital was moved to Hamilton in 1815, the government leased the building to Masonic Lodge St. George No. 200 of the Grand Lodge of Scotland. Since 1816 the rent has never increased and a tradition now in place sees the Peppercorn Ceremony mark the payment of annual rent. Much pomp and circumstance surround this day, one of only three state occasions in Bermuda's calendar (the other two being the reconvening of Parliament and the Queen's Birthday Parade). To the delight of locals and visitors, the spectacle takes place each April on the Wednesday closest to St. George's Day. It begins when the Bermuda Regiment gathers and marches on to King's Square. Then the premier, mayor and other dignitaries take their places, as the town crier rings his bell to introduce each dignitary as they enter the square. A 17-gun salute announces the governor, who makes a grand entrance in a horse and carriage and inspects the honour guard as the regimental band plays. With great flourish, the mayor of St. George demands the rent be tendered by the lodge to the government: a single peppercorn presented on a silver plate atop a velvet cushion.
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