Friday, December 13, 2019

Autumn in Canada #7

Autumn in Canada
Sunday, October 6, 2019
Bar Harbor, Maine

          Janet had a horrible night-sick as a dog. She didn’t get much sleep all night.

          When the wake-up call came at 6 AM, it was obvious she was in no condition to go to breakfast, let alone on the 3½ hour long shore excursion we booked for the tour of Acadia National Park and Lobster Bake. We figured we should use one of the $130 tickets. So Bill went on the tour and left Janet where she needed to be – in the stateroom, so she could sleep and do what she needed to do.
          At 7:30 AM Bill went to the showroom where the excursions assembled before leaving the ship. He met three women from East Texas and Louisiana.

          It was a large group for that toured and it took several tenders from the ship and two large motor coaches to accommodate everyone.

          Bar Harbor is the largest city on Mount Desert Island (part of Maine) and is lush with forests and lakes. Most of the lakes are reservoirs for drinking water for the towns on the island, so no swimming is allowed in many of them. This island was for years, a refuge for the ultra-wealthy families of the 19th and early 20th century. Gilded Age…Families like the Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, Ford, Carnegie, Mellon and others all had “cottages” real estates along the shore. John D Rockefeller built much of the infrastructure and carriage roads on the island.

          Our tour took us through much the Acadia National Park (the first national park in the nation) and up to Cadillac Mountain (the highest peak of coastal US.) the weather was cold, about 42º with a 20 mph wind. It was freezing. The fall colors were only at about 30% but they were impressive.
          We got to the top of 1,530 ft high Cadillac Mountain for the 360º view of the island and national park Bill could see the Veendam (our ship) off in the distance.

          Our driver took us through some more of the Park and then back down to town and the exclusive Bar Harbor Club for a luncheon of a whole Maine lobster, mussels, corn on the cob, potatoes, and blueberry tarts. Bill sat at a table with two groups of tourists. One from Washington State and the other from Ohio. 

          Afterward, Bill excused himself and walked up the hill to part of downtown that wasn’t too touristy. On the way back, he was stopped by a man and his wife who looked at Bill’s LBCC sweatshirt hoodie and asked, “Is that Long Beach City?” The man lived in Bar Harbor and graduated from LBCC in 1971. He was shocked to see an LBCC hoodie in Bar Harbor! Small world
          Bill took the Tender back to the ship and met two retired farm families. Ones from Eastern Washington and one from Central California (Merced).

          Janet woke from her nap and felt well enough to try the buffet for something bland. She got a plate of boiled white rice then sat at a table head in left hand wondering how she was going to get it down.
          A couple of servers saw her alone with her plate of rice and asked if she was feeling ill…anyway  about four different staff members, including the supervisor and chef came to see her. The chef made some clear chicken broth and a baked potato especially for her and explained how she could get gluten-free items anywhere on the ship. Others came by with different home-remedies to make her feel better.  They were very sweet

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Autumn in Canada #6

Autumn in Canada
Saturday, October 5, 2019


          Hotel checkout and cruise boarding day. We are going to miss this gigantic room here at the Boston Sheraton. We need to be at the Cruise port before noon. After breakfast and last-minute packing we headed for the port. The weather was 46º...brrr. Janet was not feeling her best.
          Bill scheduled an Uber to pick us up at 11 AM. Our driver arrived right on time and got us to the port on time. One thing we’ve learned about Boston is that there seems to be no direct way to get anywhere and traffic is always terrible – even on a Saturday morning.

          We arrive at the cruise port and our ship – Holland America Cruise Lines, the Veendam (one of their smaller, older ships), only to discover we weren’t allowed to bring aboard the 24-pack case of spring water we’d bought for the cruise. We gave it to our drive, who has small children. (We could tell by the toys in the back of his mini-van).
          Security has become much like the airport. We had to unload our pockets and run our backpacks through the X-Ray scanner.  We got our ID photos taken for our digital stateroom keycards and boarding pass for when we get on and off the ship at the different ports of call, and proceeded to the waiting area.
          The PA announcement stated that our staterooms were ready and we boarded. We found our stateroom on the main deck of the port (left) side, we head up to deck 11 for lunch at the Lido Market (buffet).

          After lunch, we headed to our cabin to prepare for the lifeboat drill at 3 PM. That turned out to be quite a mess with a lot of confused older people stumbling around and not understanding the crewmembers (many of whom had very strong accents from different countries) After the “all clear” sounded we went back to our cabin to unpack

          We dressed for early dinner at 5:30 PM in the Main Dining Room since all the later slots were filled.  It is quite beautiful. We were joined by two women from Utah. The older one was there because her husband was ill and couldn’t make the cruise.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Autumn in Canada #5

Autumn in Canada 

Friday, October 4, 2019
Boston, Mass

We find that we never leave our hotel without sunglasses and an umbrella! The high today was 60F and low 48F (at midnight). 40% chance of rain with 25 mph winds. That wind chill factor truly makes a difference in how cold one feels.
We took Uber to the John F Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. We thought we’d spend maybe 2 hours there and then take the bus for downtown Boston. We ended up staying 3-1/2 hours that's how much we enjoyed it! the library overlooked the Old Harbor. It was just beautiful.

We were amazed at his young life, his illnesses, that he was a poor student in high school and early college. But he managed to graduate with a law degree at Harvard anyway. Apparently, he had no desire for political life, his older brother, Joseph, was groomed for the Presidency. But he died in WWII and the presidency was left to Jack. 

Jacqueline Bouvier also had a young life in a well-to-do family. She went to Vassar College,  spent time in Paris before the war, then finished at Boston College with a degree in French Literature.

There was a complete section of his campaign for President. I was not yet in high school when he became president. But I do remember much of his campaign and his life in office. They handled his death with a great deal of sensitivity for the museum guest.
We had a snack at the museum cafe and ate a late lunch at the Cheesecake Factory after Uber dropped us off at our hotel. We went for a swim at the pool and met a man from Northern Germany his 8-year-old daughter. He was fun to talk to, his accent sounded Scandinavian, not German. After a few laps, we headed to our room for an HGTV marathon.

This is our last full day in Boston. We are amazed at how pretty the town is with its amazing landscape and vivid colors of flowers everywhere. Any place they can fit in a group of flowers, plants, or even trees they manage. And the colors of all the flowers are lovely. Most locals of Boston seem to take great pride in their city and enjoy talking about it. There just wasn’t enough time to see it all, so we plan to return… someday.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Autumn in Canada 4

Autumn in Canada 

Thursday, October 3, 2019
Boston, MA

       After a full breakfast we got ready for our cold walk to Symphony Hall, a couple of blocks away. We had tickets to see the Boston Symphony rehearsal at 10:30 AM. (Our visit to Boston was in between performances so we bought  tickets to the rehearsal.)

       After the hot, sticky, day yesterday – today was downright cold…51º at 10 AM.  It was a cold windy walk but we found a lovely tree-lined street along the way just starting to turn to autumn colors. You could imagine how lovely it will be once they fully turn color.
Once inside we had seats on the aisle very near the stage. Behind us was a nice Bostonian couple with whom we had a nice conversation before the music began. The theatre part of the Hall was magnificent! Gold leaf with heavy red curtains and a stage above us.

        The Boston Symphony played a modern piece by James Lee III called “Sukkot Through Orion’s Nebula.” We thought it was a bit dissonant. Luckily, the next number was by Bedrich Smetana called “The Moldau”.  Then “From Bohemia’s Woods and Fields”, and last, “Blanik” from Ma Vlast (My Country.)  These were much more melodic and enjoyable.

        During a break, We went up to the Balcony to see what the view was like. Just like the view from some of the old New England movies of 18 century people dressed in hats and canes enjoying the theatre. We returned to our seats to watch Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No.1 in C Minor. With the virtuoso pianist Yuja Wang. The rehearsal finished up around 12:45 PM. We bundled up again and headed to the big mall that runs through the hotel, Prudential Center and several hotels (including ours). Best of all, it was enclosed.

      Lunch was at a place called “Eataly”, a huge Italian market, shopping and restaurant establishment indoors. The food was scrumptious and "real Italian".  They have a huge space for cheese...all kinds of cheese. And die for!!

       As tired as we were, when we got back to our hotel room, we decided to go for a swim. The pool was much warmer than yesterday and we swam twice as long before. Again it felt good to move in the water.

        We settled in with hot chocolate from Starbucks in the hotel lobby and a marathon of HGTV. It began to blow and rain again. It was nice to be warm and cozy in our hotel room

Friday, November 15, 2019

Autumn in Canada #3

Autumn in Canada 
Wednesday, October 2, 2019
Boston, MA
We found out today was going to be hot and sticky with a 60% chance of rain. We left the hotel about 10:00 and waited for our second day of the trolley tour.

          We took the trolley to the USS Constitution. It was miserably hot and humid by 11:00am, a big contrast from yesterday! We went to the museum and then to the actual ship. We were amazed by how many ropes, cords, and blocks and tackles there were on the ship! How does the crew know which rope to pull for what? It's still commissioned after 200 years!  Bill went below to investigate the two decks below.

It began to drizzle while we waited for the trolley. We got off at One Washington Plaza in search of lunch. We walked down the narrow, brick streets and found a plaza of department stores and eateries. It was getting hotter, more humid and starting to drizzle...just plain miserable! We settled on a Falafel place to eat. We walked down the plaza and found some benches and ate lunch. Just as we finished eating,  the wind came funneling down the narrow street blowing autumn leaves. Then the drizzle turned to warm, gentle rain. We sat together listening to the rain coming down all around us. It finally stopped about 10 minutes later, then the wind took up again and blew the leaves again twirling around us and our park bench.

We tried to see the Old State House but it was closed. Built-in 1712-13 it was the site of the Boston Massacre. It is considered one of the most significant events that turned colonial sentiment against King George III.

When we headed for the trolley it was pouring hot rain.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Autumn in Canada #2

Autumn in Canada  

Boston, MA
Tuesday, October 1, 2019
          We slept great under the thick, warm quilt.

          The hotel package came with breakfast. We didn’t know what to expect at the Side Bar Grill in the hotel lobby. We've learned that not all breakfast buffets at hotels are equal. So we were expecting the usual dry scrambled eggs, salty dry sausage, strips that look vaguely of bacon, some kind of warmed up freeze-dried potato cubes and assorted cereal and bread. BUT this buffet was to die for!! Five tables were full of appetizing foods. Our waiter, Dick, was delightful. He greeted us with the warmest welcome and catered to our every need. We struck up a conversation with two ladies at the next table and learned they were from Glendora, California…about 30 miles from where we live. Small world!
          We talked to the Concierge and bought our “Hop-on/Hop-off” bus tickets before heading across the street to the Hilton Hotel to pick up the trolley. We met a group from Liverpool, England. There seem to be many visitors from the UK in Boston.

         The large trolley/bus arrived a little after 10 AM. It was open-sided but had roll-down plastic windows. Surprisingly, the weather was much cooler than the 78º predicted by the weather service. Felt closer to 40-50F because of the wind chill factor. We pulled the plastic windows down, but the view through the fuzzy plastic was not ideal. However, it was better than freezing.
Our tour took us through narrow streets lined with very old buildings nestled between looming skyscrapers that blocked out the sun. Our driver/guide pointed out historic places along the way, sprinkled with interesting trivia about Boston.

          When the bus arrived at the Boston Tea Party site it was time for lunch.  We walked down Congress St. in the old warehouse district and found a place for lunch called Sweet Greens. It’s a healthy, veggie restaurant set up in the Chipotle model where you select ingredients and make your own lunch meal. We took our lunch and strolled back to the pier by the draw bridge, near the Tea Party site, found a bench next to a giant milk bottle-shaped building made of wood with HOOD painted on the side. We were enjoying our lunch when it started to sprinkle. We had our slickers so continued to eat enjoying the view.

      We strolled over to the Tea Party site, they have a reenactment, multimedia presentation, tea room, and gift shop. Unfortunately, the only time they had an opening for the next show was the time the last trolley picked up. We decided to try tomorrow.

          The trolley arrived at the final stop near Christopher Columbus Park. Everyone got off to wait for the next trolley. Meanwhile, Janet and Bill took a walk in the Rose Kennedy Rose Garden. The roses were not all in bloom but quite a few were.  
          We continued our  travel in the trolley past the Old North Church and heard stories of Paul Revere and the British soldiers.  We didn't know that Revere not only notified the community the British were coming, prior to his famous ride he took a boat in the darkness of night and met a "high ranking Brit who was an informant. Revere rowed in silence to meet him at the bow of the ship. He could have been captured or shot. With that information, he rowed back around the ship to the North Church and you know the story from there.

       Paul Revere's house was just a block from the Old North Church. Revere was quite a character and a real loyal colonial. The Paul Revere house, built around 1680 is the oldest residential building, still standing, in downtown Boston.
          We discussed taking the ghost tour tomorrow night, but we couldn’t figure out a practical way to get back to the hotel after the ghost tour, 8:30pm.  So we opted to pass on it.
          For some reason, the heated pool was almost as cold as the Naples Bay tonight. We swam about 4 laps, it felt so good to move freely through the water.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Autumn in Canada #1

Autumn in Canada
Flight to Boston
Monday, September 30, 2019

We just returned from our twenty-day vacation including our Boston to Montréal cruise.  We started in Boston, spend 5 days to enjoy the city. Then cruised to Montréal. We spent three days in Montréal enjoying the culture and the Autumn colors. We wanted to share our adventure with you

We took Uber to LAX and boarded a Delta Airline flight to Boston. Because of the long flight and our back problems we flew Business class. The flight was five hours. We flew out at 8:05am. Because of the time change (going east), we landed in Boston at 5:15pm.

The flight was uneventful with just occasion air turbulence for short while. We landed at Boston Logan Int'l Airport. The weather was 48F, wind chill factor 40F. Again we took Uber to our hotel which worked very nicely.

We checked into the Sheraton/Bonvoy Hotel, Boston. We went to our room and it was one of the best rooms we have stayed while traveling. It had a sleeping area, living room area and a small office area. It was perfectly set up for us to do everything we needed for our trip and writing our next novel.
Picture of Trader Joe's

          After registering and getting settled, it was 7:00pm and we were getting hungry. Because we are on a special diet we researched Trader Joe and found one two blocks from our hotel. With the help of GPS, we walked enjoying the lovely sunset. When we got to Trader Joe's, there was a sign out front, "The Smallest Trader Joe's in the Known Universe".  We took the escalator down and found the smallest Trader Joe's we had ever seen!

To make something this small, and well-stocked work, they had a strict system of shopping. You got your cart and got in line at the back wall. there was a line that snaked along the wall everyone with carts and pulled off the shelf what you wanted. At the end of the line was the cashier, you paid for your items and took the escalator up and left. So, when in Rome you do what the Romans do, we got our cart and stood in line. We took off the shelf what we wanted, followed the line all the way around, paid for our items, returned our cart and walked home. Everyone online was orderly and friendly. We talked to those in front of us, in back of us, cattycorner from us. It was a nice meeting place. Though, I wondered what you would do if you were in a hurry or only wanted to pick up one or two items. So I asked. Everyone I asked shrugged and said, "follow the line".
          As we walked to our Hotel with our bag of food enjoying the city lights of Boston Back Bay, we agreed this was probably how Lemmings feel, resigned.