Tea at Chateau Frontenac Castle

 

View of the city from our balcony

A noise distant in my mind’s memory woke me this morning at 4:45 am.  I rose from my bed and tip-toed quietly to the window and looked out and all I could see was a thick, wet fog that had evidently wrapped itself around our ship during the night.

I listened quietly and heard it again; the long mournful sound of the ship’s fog horn alerting all who could hear that we were slowly cruising up the Saint Lawrence River.

 

I returned to bed only to lay awake in the dark so I returned to the balcony and could see a few lights twinkling along a strip of land, a small lighthouse and when I shifted my eyes downward a hint of the green-gray waters below.

Now fully awake, I bundled up and stepped out onto the balcony and watched as the fog lifted just a little so I could see just a hint of the shoreline.  The fog lifted and I could see the city’s shoreline and another cruise ship already in port.  As I sat there, I found myself thinking about the day that lay ahead of us.

Chateau Frontenac Castle-designed by American architect Bruce Price (1893) and the Canadian Maxwell Brothers (1920-1924)

What is it about the word castle that stirs daydreaming of crystal chandeliers, ball gowns and beautiful gardens?  I found myself reminiscing about our tour of Europe several years ago and the many castles we visited.  I remember marveling over the beauty and opulence of these wonderful places and wondered what life was like for those who inhabited these beautiful places.

When it came time to choose a tour for our visit to Old Town Quebec, of course, I chose the one called, “Legendary Quebec: Old Town Walking Tour and Tea at the Chateau Frontenac Castle”.  I love castles and I absolutely love tea!

We actually visited Old Town Quebec while on a motorcycle trip with friends back in 1996.  We walked all over the lower and upper portions of this beautiful walled city and loved it so we were excited to be back.

As I mentioned a day or two ago, the ship was cruising very slowly because of the right whale migration consequently, we arrived in port later than scheduled.  Because of the late arrival we were docked at the old port instead of the port at the center of town.

After lunch, we met our tour guide on the pier and started our journey towards the city.  Our guide was very nice and made our rather long walk from the pier interesting sharing a great deal of information about the city.

We finally arrived at the city and it was just as I remember; beautiful.  I love the cobblestone streets, lovely stone buildings, the flower boxes hanging from the windows, the narrow streets lined with shops and restaurants. We continued our walk and came upon the most amazing building.  If you looked straight at the building you would have thought it was three dimensional and yet the walls were as flat as any building.  But the paintings on this wall gave you the illusion that you were looking down a street you could walk through the archway and continue on.  Amazing!

Place Royale

We then entered the Place Royale square credited with being the birthplace of French civilization in North America.  According to history, “In 1608, Samuel de Champlain chose this site for his fortified ‘habitation,” New France’s first permanent settlement.  As we stood listening to our guide, characters in period costume walked around the square stopping to talk to visitors.

Notre-Dam-des-Victories church

 

 

The focal points of the square included a bust of Louis XIV and the beautiful stone church Notre-Dame-des-Victories.  Construction of the church started in 1687 on the site Champlain’s residence and was completed in 1723.

 

 

We left this lovely square and continued our walk along several wonderful and very busy streets and made our way to the funicular to go up to upper Old Town Quebec.

While waiting in line to board the funiculaire I stepped into a small shop to purchase a magnet for Kristine.


The first thing we saw as we exited the station was a large bronze statue of Champlain.  But that is not what caught our attention.  There was a large crowded gather around a man who was preparing to do some ‘magical feat’ while they watched.  We could not as we had to move on.

View of the Saint Lawrence River from upper Old Town Quebec

We walked along the boardwalk taking in the sights and sounds that surrounded us.  There were several ships in port today so it was the town was very busy and very noisy.  We took a moment to look from our vantage point to see the St. Lawrence River below.

Lˋéléphant Spatial (Space Elephant) by Salvador Dali

I love to look at sculptures and statues whenever I visit a new city but I must say what caught my eye as we started our walk down the boardwalk was a statue of a 7 meter tall bronze elephant by Salvador Dali called Lˋéléphant Spatial (Space Elephant).  I found this piece to be very different, interesting and yet beautiful.

Walking around Old Town Quebec in 1996

 

We walked along and saw the cannons that Randy and I had straddled when last we were here and, on the hill behind, the obelisk commemorating the gallantry of generals Wolfe and Montcalm who fought in the battle of the Plains of Abraham.

Wolfe and Montcalm monument

 

To the right of the obelisk was an entrance to the chateau.  We were off to have tea at the Frontenac.  I was so excited.  We entered the chateau and were the first tour group to arrive.  Unfortunately, there was a bit of a mix-up and we had to wait as two other groups went ahead.

We were finally escorted to a small room with tables preset with delicious looking treats.  We took our seats and shortly a very handsomely dressed server came around and poured tea for everyone.  All the treats and tea were delicious.

We sat with another couple and had a lovely conversation about our tour and our impressions of the tea and before we knew it the tea was over.

Our guide then escorted us down to a square in lower Old Town to wait for our shuttle back to the ship.

Tom and Miramack

John and Audrey

Randy and I had a wonderful time but were happy to be heading back to the ship to prepare for the evening.  Tonight we would be saying our goodbyes to our tablemates who will be leaving the ship in the morning.

Nighttime comes to Old Town Quebec

Today we overnight in Quebec as tomorrow is the last day of this leg of our cruise and the beginning of our third leg that will take us back down the coast and back to Cape Liberty, New Jersey and home.

Quebec magnet

Enjoy,

Mary

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A busy, fun, musical day at sea

View of our gray day at sea from the bridge.

Although our day started with gloomy skies, and gray seas we were looking forward to a full, fun day.  The first sign that it was going to be a good day was yet another visit from a little bird that happened to crash into our sliding glass door.

This playful little bird hopped around the balcony, jumping from railing to chair and back for quite a while before it finally took to wing.  The coloring is different than yesterday’s yellow throat warbler.  I opened the door as quietly as I could and walked to the opposite side of the balcony and put my lens on zoom to get a picture of this colorful little flyer. Now, how much fun is that for morning entertainment?

As I stood on the balcony watching the bird I could not help but realize that we were barely moving through the water.  A little later in the morning the captain made an announcement that ships were by Canadian law only able to navigate these waters at no more than 10 knots per hour so as not to harm the right whales that were currently in the waters.

I did a little research and learned that right whales are the rarest of all large whales.  These whales have enormous heads which can measure up to one-third of their total body length.  Because their heads are so big, they can accommodate hundreds of baleen “teeth”.

We finally prepared for the day and made our way up to the concierge lounge to grab a quick bite to eat.  We spied a pod of dolphins slowly making their way through the water off the port side of the ship.  They moved so quickly I did not get a shot before they slowly disappeared from view.

We had a busy schedule for today.  First, off to the photo shop to choose our souvenir pictures.  Then, we were off to the Consecutive Cruisers meeting.  We will be staying on for the third leg of our wonderful cruise after everyone else disembarks in Quebec.  We learned that on this turnaround we would be treated to a special lunch.

Our next stop was the casino to pick up our three gold coins for the slot machine.  We decided not to use them this trip but save them for the next leg of our cruise.  We did however, use our free $5.  I picked a machine that happily kept hitting “7s” enabling me to play for quite a while.  Fun!

A quick lunch, a quick check of our email and Facebook and then we were off to attend an enrichment lecture in the theater.

Today was the second half of a two part lecture about whales by Professor Jeffrey Wolff.  Today’s lecture was called “Whale Tales and Legends” Part 2.  Today Professor Wolff started his lecture talking about a 2002 historical book that recounted the 1820 sinking of the whaleship Essex by an enraged sperm whale.

A predominant theme in Wolff’s lecture was the endangerment of whales all over the world, Green Peace and the many treaties that have been put in place to protect these beautiful mammals.  According to Wolff, aside from hunting whales, pollution and sonar testing also contributes to the killing of whales.

He spent a good bit of time talking about the largest whale of them all; the Blue Whale.  We learned that most blue whales are 98′ in length.  The largest on record was 108’.  Blue whales are also the loudest animals on earth reaching 188 decibels.  Can you imagine?  Amazing!

From the theater, we made our way up to deck 8 to prepare for the behind the scenes bridge tour.  Randy and I have been on many bridge tours and always find them interesting especially if the captain is on the bridge.

Captain Michael was indeed on the bridge this afternoon and conducted the tour himself.  Captain Michael is most engaging and relishes interaction with the passengers.  He explained the workings of the bridge, the various pieces equipment on the bridge, and the duties of each offer on the bridge.

View of iceberg spotted as we cruised on the trans-Atlantic leg of our trip.

During the question and answer period someone asked him about the iceberg that was spotted on the trans-Atlantic portion of the cruise.  He said, “Just a moment, I have a picture on my phone of the iceberg that I will share with you”.

My shot of the iceberg from deck 5 of the ship. Using his binoculars, Randy was able to see the blue and white colors of the iceberg.

Oh my, what a different picture than I was able to capture.  My picture of the iceberg was dark and gray the captain’s was blue and white and the outline much more detailed.  I quickly asked Randy to hold the captain’s phone while I took a picture.  Before you knew it, everyone wanted to do the same.  The captain was very sweet and accommodating as we passed his phone from one to another.  Normally, the tours last about 30 minutes, today it lasted an hour.  We were all very happy.

By now we were running a bit late for cocktails and decided to just go to the RBar and pick up a cocktail to take to dinner.  During dinner we alerted Besim that we needed to eat quickly so we could make the Parade of Flags event in the Centrum.  So, no dessert this evening.

I love the Parade of Flags!  Members of the staff and crew of the ship parade out with flags that represent the country they are from.  Each country is announced as well as the number of staff and crew is represented from that country.  As they are announced representatives of each country parade to the Centrum holding their country’s flag. During the presentation a group will come forward to sing a song or do a dance that is part of their country’s culture.  It is always a colorful and exciting event.

Captain Michael thanking everyone for attending and saying goodnight.

As soon as the parade was over we hurried to the theater for the headliner show.  Tonight we were in for a treat.  Tonight’s entertainment was a group called ABBACADABRA.  We had seen this ABBA tribute band on another cruise and loved them.

Susan Campbell-Agnetha and Lesley Green-Frida

Rich Hamelin – Björn and Garry Raffanelli – Benny (at piano)

The band covers many of ABBA’s biggest hits including Mamma Mia, Waterloo, Fernando, S.O.S., Honey, Honey and more.  They were wonderful!  They had the entire audience singing along and a few dancing in the aisles.

I have seen this show twice now and both times loved it.  The music was spot on, the costumes were spot on the entire show was spot on!!!!


What a great way to end a lovely, lovely day,” I thought to myself as the concert came to an end.

Tomorrow we dock in Quebec, Canada

Enjoy,

Mary

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On a lovely walk around Charlottetown

Woke up to another day with a sky filled with gray clouds and cool temperatures.  Despite the damp, coolness of the air, I sat on the balcony watching our ship slowly cruising by beautiful red cliffs and lighthouses along the shore.

Today we dock in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.  Charlottetown is the capital of Prince Edward Island, on the southern coast of the province.  Prince Edward Island  has a population of 152,021 with Charlottetown’s portion of that count is 37,663.

We were both looking forward to visiting Charlottetown.  We had been here, only briefly, in 2010 and were excited to be coming back.  Once again, Randy decided he did not want to take a tour but rather just take a leisurely walk around town.  And so we did!

But first, off to the dining room to enjoy a lovely breakfast of omelets, bacon, juice and coffee.  We were in no hurry to go ashore so returned to our cabin to do a little housekeeping before going ashore.  While we were working we noticed a faint tap, tap,  tap on the balcony door.  We investigated and found a tiny bird standing outside looking inward and tapping with its beak on the door.

Well, of course, we were not going to let the bird in but I had to go out to onto the balcony.  This little bird did not seem the least bit worried that I was outside.  It continued to walk around and periodically flit about trying to get over the balcony railing.  This little bit of early morning entertainment finally came to a close when this little bird finally took flight and disappeared towards shore.  Fun!

We finally left the ship and started our walk through the port and noticed two very prominent symbols one of Canada and one of this lovely city.  There standing in front of a backdrop of flowers was a man dressed in a Royal Canadian Mounted Police uniform and a lovely young woman dressed as the character, Anne of Green Gables.  Well, I absolutely could not resist but have my picture taken.

 

We started our walk outside the port terminal and immediately encountered two symbols Prince Edward Island and Charlottetown.  One was a giant maple leaf and the other a giant lobster.  Too funny!

 

We continued our walk through the marina walking through Confederation Landing Park.  There was a lovely bandstand and walking trail around the park.  I was happy to finally see some evidence of fall with some of the trees starting to turn yellow and red.

Once we got to the marina across from the park we turned towards the main core of Charlottetown.  One really nice thing about Charlottetown is that it is a very walking tour friendly town.

We arrived at Queen Street and started our walk towards the Anne of Green Gables store.   When we were here before we stopped at this delicious store and watched a store clerk in the window dipping potato chips into chocolate.  Well, of course, we went in to sample this lovely treat.

As we walked down the street we noticed that there was a small fair taking place.  There were tents with many lovely items on display.  There was jewelry, makeup, clothing, plants, etc.  We stopped at a few but continued our walk.

Everywhere you looked there were signs  that Canada was celebrating its 150th year as a self-governing federation.  There were signs on the lamp posts and two large sculptures at the Confederation Library.  We learned that Charlottetown had a significant part to play in the country’s confederation with the Charlottetown Conference in the summer of 1864 leading to Canada’s signing of the British North America Act in 1867 making Canada a self-governing federation.

We turned onto Great George Street admiring a row of lovely, brightly colored buildings built in the 1900’s.  We walked along the street and came upon one of the many statues and sculptures around Charlottetown.  The statue is very interesting in that both men depicted in this sculpture had the same name; John Hamilton Gray.  Both men had a part to play in the Charlottetown Conference of 1864. Across the street was the church I had seen from our balcony on the ship. The church is the century-old St. Dunstan’s Basilica.  We waited until services were over and then slipped inside. 

On our way in, I picked up a brochure to help in understanding the history and architecture of this beautiful house of worship. I read that the Basilica is of French Gothic design. I marveled at the beautiful altar and the altar screen.  I read that the high altar was 37’ and the long altar screen was 44’.  Across this wonderful alter are 23 statues of saints and angels.

I turned my attention upward and admired the 14’ Rose stain glass window.  We continued our quiet walk around the church admiring the rich wooden pews, organ and ceiling.

 

We crossed the street and admired the home of the St. Dunstan’s Board of Directors and the statue of Angus Bernard MacEachern the first bishop of the diocese of Charlottetown and the founder of St. Andrew’s College in 1831.

 

We decided to make our way back to the harbor and came across a statue of a Blue Heron at the corner of Water and Queen Streets.  Blue Herons are a very familiar sight for us in Florida.  I thought this was very cool.

We returned to the waterfront to find a place to get a bite to eat.  While we were trying to make a decision we stop and take a few pictures.  Our first stop was at another sculpture placed here to mark Canada’s 150 years as a federation.

 

We continued our walk around the marina and found a fun statue at Peake’s Quay outside Cows Creamery.  Evidently, this fun cow statue is only on display during spring, summer and fall.  Fun!

 

 

The last statue we stopped by was of William Henry Pope, Prince Edward Island’s Colonial Secretary as he was being rowed out to welcome delegates from the united Province of Canada.  The delegates were coming to attend the Charlottetown Conference of 1864.  This statue was placed here in, “Recognition of the 150th anniversary of the 1864 Charlottetown and Quebec Conferences.

On our walk around the waterfront we passed a restaurant that looked interesting.  We decided to return to Brakish Seafood Restaurant and take advantage of the special they were advertising of half-priced food and $5 beers.  This turned out to be a great decision!

We learned from our server that they were having the special because they were closing for the winter.  We talked to our server a bit about local brews.  He suggested, based on our conversation, that I would enjoy the PEI Brewing Co. Sir John Honey Wheat Ale and Randy would enjoy the PEIBC Beach Chair Lager.  Both were delicious.  I was a little disappointed that they did not have the raspberry wheat available.  Our server brought over a small glass with a sample of Upstreet Craft Brewing’s Strawberry Rhubarb Witbier.  Oh my, this beer was so refreshing; a perfect summer beer.

We were only a little hungry so decided to order something from the starter menu.  We ordered the Black Bean + Cheese Dip.  The dip had cumin infused black beans, with diced tomatoes, melted cheese, a sour cream drizzle and nacho chips.  This was just the perfect complement to our beers.

After such an enjoyable interlude at the restaurant, we made our way back to the ship.  We made it back just in time to prepare for our evening of cocktails and dinner.  We had a great time with our tablemates.  We spent meal time laughing a little and sharing our experiences while on shore.

After all that walking, I decided to order the Thai Chicken dinner with steamed rice, bok choy and edamame.  The conversation and dinner were wonderful.

Tomorrow we are at sea.

Prince Edward Island magnet

Enjoy,

Mary

 

 

 

 

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Traveling back in time in Sydney, Nova Scotia

The Big Céilidh Fiddle – Sydney, Nova Scotia

I woke up this morning to a sky filled with hues of soft blue, gray and just a hint of yellow.  The shoreline was shrouded in a foggy mist giving just a hint of the lighthouse and windmills along the shoreline.

Today we are docking at Sydney, Nova Scotia.  This small city of a little over 25,000 Sydney was founded in 1785 and belongs administratively to the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.  At one point in its history, Sydney served at the Cape Breton Island colony’s capital, until 1820, went the colony merged with Nova Scotia and the capital moved to Halifax.

Even though we were in no hurry this morning, I decided to order room service so we could enjoy the view from the balcony as we made our way into port.

When looking for a tour for this stop, I was intrigued with being able explore a site that offered ‘180 years of Cape Breton’s Scottish heritage’.  The map of the village provided to us by our tour guide read, “Highland Village is an outdoor living history museum that tells the story of Gaelic settlement in Nova Scotia”.  The museum is located on a 43-acre property overlooking the Bras d’Or Laks in Iona, Nova Scotia.

The mission of this museum is to, “collect, preserve and share the Gaelic heritage and culture of Nova Scotia”.  Part of the museum’s mission is to also preserve the Gaelic language.  My grandmother on my mother’s side emigrated from Scotland to America in the 1900’s.  I did not know her very well, but from what I understand, she spoke fluent Gaelic when she first arrived on our shores.

Our tour would take us to the Highland Village and Gaelic Folk-life Experience museum.  We learned on the bus that the trip to the village would take an hour.  Our tour guide spent that time talking about Sydney, the surrounding area and what we would see when we reached our destination.

Once we arrived, I stepped a few feet from the bus and saw an amazing view of the Barramens Strait on the Bras d’Or Lake. I just wish it had been a sunny day.  Oh my, what a view I would have had then.

The village is made up of a series of dwellings that cover the 18th and 19th centuries.  Armed with a map Randy and I started at the the Black House made with stone walls and a sod roof.  This house represents typical homes of the Gaelic Scottish back in Scotland (1770’s-1830’s Gaelic Scotland).

There were two volunteer animators inside explaining what life would have been like at that time.   They explained that the fire pit in the center of the floor was for cooking food only and the smoke was vented by a hole in the roof.   The children that were in the house were quite interested and asked many questions.

The next three buildings were built between the 1770’s and 1850’s.  We walked up the hill from the Black House and stopped at the Log House.  This log house was very basic and plain but beautifully built.  Randy was fascinated that the entire fireplace was inside the cabin.  There was an animator outside the cabin roughing up a bit of flax to use for sewing.

 

Then we moved on to the Centre Chimney House.  This center chimney design made it possible to have back-to-back chimneys in the kitchen and living room of the house.  This was an actual house that had been built in 1830 and moved to the museum in the 1970’s.

 

Our next stop was the barn.  On our way I stopped to watch a very playful pig running around its pen.  There were a few chickens there too.  The barn was filled with tools, an old carriage and many tools used in that period.

Then it was time to walk up to the plain but beautiful Malagawatch United Church on the hill.  The church was originally constructed as a Presbyterian church in 1874 in the community of Malagawatch.  The church was moved on a barge across the Bras d’Ors Lake to its new home in the Highland Village in 2003.

As we walked along we were very aware of the fact that we only had an hour to see the entire village so we picked up speed as we made our way to the next house.  The next home was called the Centre Hallway House.  There were two chimneys, one on either end of the house.  I enjoyed walking through this house and seeing modern touches starting to appear.  There was a sewing machine, pot-bellied stoves and evidence of more finishing touches such as lace curtains and colorful rugs on the floors.  The volunteer animator was making oat cakes as we walked into the kitchen.

Now we have moved on to a period of buildings called Gaelic Nova Scotia (1880’s -1920’s).  In this section of the museum was a school house, general store, forge, carding mill and a turn of the century house.

 

My favorite of these was the school house.  We continued our walk stopping at each building to see what was on display.  The volunteer animators were quite gracious as they worked and answered questions from the visitors.

The General Store

 

Our time was running short so we made our way to back to the welcome building where the buses were parked.  Inside there were tables filled with coffee, tea, water and oat cakes.  The oat cakes were very tasty.  There were also a few tables on one wall where home crafts were on display.

The ride back to the port was quiet.  By the time we arrived back at the port it was past lunch so Randy and I decided to walk up the hill to the Governor’s Pub & Eatery for a bite to eat.  This was a good choice.  What was to be a quick bite turned into a lovely lunch chatting away with a Canadian couple who were traveling through the Canadian Maritimes by car.

As always, Randy and I asked about local beers that were available; Randy chose the Alexander Keith’s Red Amber Ale while I ordered the Alexander Keith’s Indian Pale Ale.  We both loved our choices.

We just happened to notice the table next to us as the server approached our table.  We realized just how big the serving would be so ordered only one and shared.  For lunch we decided on a pub favorite; the fish and chips.  The choice included Big Spruce beer battered local fresh haddock fillets, house-cut fries and crispy carrot slaw.  YUMMY!

A Land of Our Own – by William Ernest Brown

Canadian Merchant Navy 1914-18 1939-45 1950-53 “The life line of the world”

We eventually said our goodbyes and wished our lunch companions safe travels and started back to the port area.  We had a bit of time before we had to be back on board so took a leisurely stroll around the port area stopping to admire the various monuments around the port.  The most prominent of these was the ten ton Céilidh Fiddle inside the port gates.  This beautiful fiddle was unveiled in 2005 to, “recognize the pre-eminence of fiddle music and the fiddlers, past and presents, who have contributed so much to the musical heritage of Cape Breton”.

Other monuments around the port included a statue honoring the immigrants who came to Cape Breton, an anchor honoring the Canadian Merchant Navy and a very interesting statue honoring the merchant marines who served during WWII.

We finally returned to the ship and settled down for a bit of a rest before preparing the evening.  Cocktails and dinner were wonderful as always.

What a wonderful day we had.  I loved the living history museum and felt good that I had a chance to learn a little about the history, culture and language of my grandmother.

Tomorrow we dock at Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

Sydney magnet

Enjoy,

Mary

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On a tour to see the best of Halifax, Nova Scotia

Peggy’s Point Lighthouse – taken while on a motorcycle trip in 2010

I woke up this morning with our ship still encased in pea soup fog.  The long mournful sound of the ship’s foghorn that blew all night continued into the morning light.

I stood on the balcony for a while and could finally see just a hint of the shoreline and caught a glimpse of a small lighthouse.

Today we dock in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  The town of Halifax was established in 1749 and is the provincial capital of Nova Scotia.  Halifax has a population of 411,000.

Today we are off on a tour called “Top 10 Best of Halifax”.  We were up early and ate a hardy breakfast as our tour was scheduled to last 7 hours.  During this tour we would be taken to see Peggy’s Cove, Acadian Maple, Fairview Lawn Cemetery, Spring Garden Road, Public Gardens and Citadel Hill.

As soon as the bus was underway we were greeted by our tour guide Linda.  Linda was wonderful.  She was extremely informative and entertaining.

The Old Town Clock

On our way out of town to Peggy’s Cove the bus driver took us up Citadel Hill.  We did not see much because of the overcast weather and construction.  We did, however, get a very nice view of the Old Town Clock, the town center and harbor.  As we drove up the hill Linda gave us the history of the Citadel and the Halifax military.

The Bandstand & Bandstand Beds – Public Gardens

Incurved Cactus Dahlia

 

Our first stop was the Public Gardens.  The gardens were established in 1874.  According to the park’s literature, “The Halifax Public Gardens is one of the finest surviving examples of Victorian Gardens in North America”.

 

Orchid Dahlia

We started our stroll through the gardens as a beautiful bandstand came into view surrounded by lovely flower beds.  We then walked over to a lovely area full of various types of Dahlias.  They were all beautiful and all being attended to by bees.

Jubilee Fountain – Public Gardens

We continued our walk over to the bronze Jubilee Fountain that was installed in 1897 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.  It was just beautiful with its water babies, sea serpents and nymph Egeria.  Everywhere you looked there was something beautiful and colorful to see.  We were pressed for time and could not take it all in as one should.  “We will have to come back,” I thought to myself as we made our way back to the entrance.

Chalk drawn of super heroes on street. Did not see artist.

At this point, Linda gave us a bit of time to walk down Spring Garden Road on our own.  Randy and I walked up one side of the street and down the other and saw many shops and restaurants along the way.  But what caught my eye was a beautiful piece of wall art and street art.  The wall art was created by the students, staff, and alumni of the Sacred Heart School of Halifax with artist Kyle Jackson.  I loved it!

Fisherman’s Monument at Peggy’s Cove by William E. deGarthe

We returned to the front entrance of the gardens and boarded the bus for our ride to Peggy’s Cove. We came to Peggy’s Cove while on a motorcycle trip with friends in 2010.  I loved visiting this quaint fishing village then and was looking forward to visiting this beautiful place once again.   I love the beautiful giant white granite boulders that were created millions of years ago near, under and around the lighthouse. There are caution signs everywhere but climbing the rocks is what I love the best about the area.  Add in the spectacular view of the Atlantic Ocean to one side and the quaint fishing village on the other and I am in heaven.

 

As soon as we arrived Randy and I were climbing the boulders to get to the lighthouse then beyond to look out at the ocean.  What views!

 

Once we had had our fill of climbing, we took a walk around the village of small brightly colored homes, small fishing boats tied up to the dock, fishing nets and lobster traps all over and a small but very busy restaurant and shop.

With all that climbing I was getting a little hungry.  There was nowhere to sit in the restaurant and a long line so we left to see if we could find somewhere else to get a bite to eat.  As we were walking we came across a sign that read, “Peggy’s Dogs”.  We walked down the dirt road and discovered a lovely woman selling hot dogs and brats.  We ordered two dogs and drinks.  I must tell you at that point that was the best hot dog I have ever eaten.

 

It was time to leave this lovely place so we made our way slowly back to the bus but not before stopping for just a few more photo opportunities.

As we traveled along we spotted a large sign on the side of the road  with the title of a series of books called, “Peggy of the Cove”. The author of this series and curator of the museum is Ivan Fraser.  We spotted Fraser standing on the front lawn of the museum waving an anchor as we drove by.   Very funny!

On the way back to Halifax we stopped at Acadian Maple Products to learn about the maple syrup industry.  We heard a talk by the owner and watched a short power point presentation about how the business got started.  Afterwards we spent a little time in the small shop next door. I bought a box of maple cookies to take back to the ship.

Our next stop was to the Fairview Lawn Cemetery where 121 victims of the RMS Titanic were laid to rest.  We listened as Linda told us the story about the boats that were sent out by the White Star Line from Halifax to do the grim task of recovering the bodies and bring them back to shore.

The victims of the sinking of the Titanic were buried in three Halifax cemeteries.  We walked along the line of gravestones and listened as Linda told a few stories about some of the victims that they were able to identify.  You could hear a pin drop a she talked.  It was interesting to learn that the way the gravestones were lined up on a gently sloping hill resembled the bow of a ship.

It was time to make our way back to the ship.  On our way Linda shared one more piece of Halifax history.  She told the story of the largest man-made explosion in Halifax history that occurred 1917.  Two ships collided in the harbor, one carrying munitions, killing 1,800, injuring 9,000 and destroying the entire north end of the city.

It had been a long but wonderful day and now it was time for dinner.  There were only three couples tonight but we had a wonderful time sharing stories about our day.  I was not very hungry and settled for a bowl of soup for dinner.

We returned to our cabin and settled down for a quiet evening of reflection on all the beautiful things we had seen on our tour.

Tomorrow we dock in Sydney, Nova Scotia.

Halifax magnet

Enjoy,

Mary

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Touring St. John on a big pink bus, a lovely green train and walking around downtown

As soon as I stepped onto the balcony this morning I knew we were going to enjoy another beautiful day; and we did!

View of St. John from the ship

Today we docked in St. John New Brunswick,  Canada.  St. John is the port city of the Bay of Fundy in the Canadian province of New Brunswick.  The current population of St. John is 75,000.

Our plans for the day included a tour that would begin on a double decker big pink bus, transfer to a green passenger train to see the natural wonder of the reversing falls.

Fortunately, we did not need to be on the pier until 10 am so we decided to have breakfast in the dining room.  Once the food came to the table I realized I was not very hungry so ate very little.

When it was time, we made our way to the pier and boarded the bus and immediately went to the upper deck.  We were so glad that the bus was not full.  The seats were very small making it very tight for two people in one seat.  Once everyone was on board, Randy and several other men moved to other seats to be comfortable.

On our way to meet the train our guide gave a little history of St. John and brought our attention to points of interest around town.  We learned that St. John as a major settlement was established by loyalists fleeing the American War of Independence in 1783.

Carleton Martello Tower

We were taken on a ride through the city only stopping once at the Carleton Martello Tower.  The tower was built in 1813 to protect the port against an attack from the United States.  Over the years the tower has served many purposes.  During WWII it served as the area headquarters for the anti-aircraft defense and firefighting services.  Today it serves as a museum.

New Brunswick Southern Railway

We finally arrived at the railroad track where we would be met by the New Brunswick Southern Railway train.  We climbed aboard and I was amazed at the modern, lovely look on the inside.

As soon as we were seated, we were greeted by our guide for this portion of the tour.  Lynn Adams was wonderful!  This lovely woman talked the entire time we were on the train sharing, the three part history of St. John, information about the power plant at the reversing falls and how the reversing rapids worked.

Essentially she shared that St. John was discovered by the French, settled by the British and built by the Irish.  She went into great detail about each phase of the city’s history.  I really enjoyed the train ride. Lynn was informative, interesting and at many times very funny.  I must say, I believe she was the best part of this tour!

Once we arrived at the falls we learned that the reversing falls occur when the waters of the Bay of Fundy and the Saint John River collide.  According to Lynn, at low tide the river empties into the bay causing a series of rapids and whirlpools.  As tides rise they slow the river current for a brief time.  The bay’s tides continue to rise, gradually reversing the flow of the river, and rapids form again, peaking at high tide.  This push pull of water sources happens every 12.5 hours.

 

We saw both bodies of water and the whirlpools below the train trestle.  We were a little disappointed that we would not actually see the reversing rapids occur.  We would have to wait 12.5 hours.

 

 

 

 

Once we left the train we boarded the big pink bus for our return trip to the harbor.  We decided to take a walk back up the hill to market square.  As we drove by the square I caught a glimpse of some life-sized sculptures that piqued my interest; and, why not?  The sky was clear, there was a gentle breeze and the temperature had risen to the mid-70’s.  Perfect!

 

I loved the wooden sculptures.  The display, People Waiting, was created by John Hooper.  The adjoining information read, “People fascinated John Hooper.  He received the Order of Canada for creating public sculptures that celebrate the extraordinary in ordinary people, such as his Terry Fox bronze near Parliament Hill in Ottawa.  People Waiting, carved from Philippine mahogany, was commissioned by Canada Post in 1975 as a part of a federal program dedicating 1% of public building costs to art.  The humour of these larger-than-life figures breaks down barriers to art and invites viewers to interact with and become part of the sculpture”.  And we did just that.

We spent a good deal of time looking over each sculpture, taking pictures with the sculptures and enjoyed watching other visitors doing the same.

While we were doing that, Randy noticed a vintage Volkswagen beetle police car and a man dressed in a 19th century Bobbie uniform just across the street outside the police museum.

We then turned our attention to the Barbour’s General Store museum next door.  We decided to go inside and take a look around.  We learned that the store was an actual general store from 1860 built on the banks of the Saint John River in Sheffield, New Brunswick. The store was moved to its present location in 1967 to celebrate Canada’s centennial.

Time Piece created by John Hart in collaboration with Jack Massey

We then decided to walk across the street to see what was happening in the square.  As we walked we noticed another sculpture by John Hooper.  The sculpture is called Time Piece and was created with the collaboration with Jack Massey.  “All carvings made of Honduras mahogany, are related, in some way, to man’s involvement with time”.

Just before entering the square we noticed a very large sculpture of a bronze life-size bull moose.  The sculpture was created by Forest Hart.  We walked over and learned that it was dedicated, “To the people of Saint John our hometown since 1918 with thanks and appreciation from Moosehead and Alpine Brewers of Great Beer since 1867”.   We were told by a passerby that there is a can of Moosehead lager inside the moose.  Very funny!

We had a wonderful time exploring but we finally turned our attention towards returning to the ship before preparing for the evening activities.

By the time we made it to the dining room a thick fog had enveloped our ship.  The fog horn could be heard all through dinner.

It was good to be back at the dining table with our lovely tablemates.  We spent a good deal of time catching up on everyone’s activities for the past few days.

I felt hungry enough this evening to order a meal.  I ordered and enjoyed a delicious dinner of tender pork shoulder, mashed potatoes and vegetables.  Not wanting to push my luck, we retired back to the cabin for a good night’s sleep.

I stepped out onto the balcony and could not see beyond the balcony railing.  We were cruising in pea soup!

Tomorrow we are in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Enjoy,

Mary

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Visiting one of the loveliest botanical gardens I have ever visited

Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

 

This was a wonderful and magical day!  Today we dropped anchor in the waters off Rockland, Maine.

Sunrise just before we anchored off Rockland, Maine

We were up early as we had to be down in the theater to meet our tour group at 7:15 am.  Today our tour will take us to the 248 acre Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens and then on to enjoy a lobster roll lunch in the village of Wiscasset.

Once gain we tendered to the town pier.  The weather was warm, the waters calm and we were happy to learn that the temperature would rise to a wonderful 76°.

The trip to the gardens lasted an hour during which time our guide talked a bit about the architecture of the area, and the hard life of the lobstermen.

 

We arrived at the entrance to the gardens a little late because of road construction but, oh what a wonderful day it became once we started our walk through these beautiful gardens.

The green house in the Children’s garden

Randy enjoyed sitting for a bit on a cool chair outside the house in the Children’s Garden

We decided to start at the Bibby and Harold Alfond Children’s Garden.  I was like a giddy little girl as I wondered through this magical space.

Water fountains at entrance to Children’s Garden

 

 

 

Of course the flowers were beautiful but what I found wonderful was the child-sized house, furniture, green house, cat fence, laundry line, the leaning garden, the reading room and more.

We walked from display to display as I kept saying, “I love it.  I just love it.  I wish we could stay all day”.

 

 

We walked along visiting as many gardens as we could.  We walked through the Burpee Kitchen Garden, Arbor Garden, Woodland, Cleaver Event Lawn and Lerner Garden of the Five Senses.  Everywhere you looked was beauty.

 

Sentinel Island II, sculpture by Gary Haven Smith

Wind Orchid by George Sherwood

There were many pieces of sculpture scattered among the gardens. One such sculpture was the a stone sculpture called Sentinel Island II by Gary Haven Smith located at the Burpee Kitchen Garden fountain.  Another was a beautiful stainless steel sculpture called Flock of Birds by George Sherwood located beside the bridge in the Lerner Garden of Five Senses  Still another was the Wind Orchid also by George Sherwood located at the edge of the Great Lawn.  All were beautiful!

One of the things that Randy and I really liked was the seating that was available throughout the gardens.  There were swings, benches, and stone seats all so a visitor could rest a little and take in all that surrounded them.

 

 

There were also many streams, ponds and fountains around the gardens.  All were beautiful!

 

Bear’s den

We walked down as many paths as we could in the time we were given.  We walked down one path and found a fun tree house, a bear cave and a fairy house.  Wonderful!  The miniature fairy house was filled with miniature fairy furniture.  Fun!

 

All too soon it was time to leave the gardens. As we walked to the bus, I turned to Randy and said, “We have to come back again someday”.

We continued our bus ride to Sprague’s Lobster stand in Wiscasset Village.  Just before we arrived, our guide asked for a show of hands of those who did not want a lobster roll.  Ten passengers including me raised their hands.  I was not sure what I would be served for lunch but I was sure it would be okay.

The restaurant was ready when we arrived and everyone lined up for their lunch.  Randy was a happy camper with his lobster roll and I was happy with my chicken roll.  The chicken was shredded and placed on a bed of lettuce on a toasted roll.  It was quite good. What Randy really liked a great deal was finding claw meat in his sandwich.  Randy said, “This lobster roll is my favorite part of the day”.

After I ate, I spent a bit of time walking.  I loved all the flowers, wooden artwork, lobster buoys here and there on the patio.  I also enjoyed the view of the Sheepscot River.

Because we were delayed along the road with construction our time was cut short and we did not take a ‘stroll’ in the village of Wiscasset.  But that was okay.  We loved the gardens and loved our lunch so we were happy.

 

We boarded the bus for our return trip to Rockland.  We spent our time in Rockland walking around stopping at a shop to pick up a magnet for Kristine and more lozenges at a nearby RiteAid drugstore.

 

When we started our return to the pier we noticed a very long line for the tenders.  We decided to stop at the Time Out Pub for a cold beer and wait until the line shortened.

We were very tired when we returned and decided to go to the Windjammer for a lite dinner.  And then it was off to the cabin for relaxation and turning in for a good night’s sleep.

Tomorrow we arrive in St. John’s, New Brunswick, Canada.

Enjoy,

Mary

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