Saturday, December 28, 2019

Autumn in Canada #9

Autumn in Canada #9

Tuesday, October 8, 2019
Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada

          After breakfast we took the gangway to the pier and onto the island. The weather was 61F, heavy drizzle and rained within the hour of us leave the ship, close to gale force winds. Fortunately, we brought our slickers and didn’t have to worry about the wind ruining our umbrella! As we walked off the pier there was an old man playing shanty music on his fiddle and singing Irish tunes. As we continued we heard bagpipe music, all Live!

          We stopped at St. George's the Anglican Church. It has quite a history.  It was established by Royal Decree in 1785. Rev. Ranna  Cossit was the first non-military pastor of the St. George's Church.

          We walked down Charlotte St. and stopped by Jost Heritage House (built 1784) and Cossit House Museum (built 1787) for tours but they were full. So decided to go east and walk towards downtown Sydney. As we walked we stopped at a few walking tours to hear what they had to say about the city. It seems Sydney was a steel mill town starting just before WWI and continued until recently.

           It began to rain heavily so we ducked into the Bank of Montreal Museum. We dried off, donated $2.00 and spent time reading about old Sydney. Apparently, Sydney was very much a part of the WWI and WWII efforts supplying men and material for the allies.

          They also had a story/song room. You chose between Mi'Kmaq (native American) Gaelic, or Acadian French. We listened to songs sung in each language. Janet was surprised at how much she was able to understand, reading French!

          We headed back in cold windy weather, stopped by the large Fiddle Statue (in honor of the Irish ancestry).
          After lunch everything hurt from the cold and rain. We headed to the indoor hot tub. Oh, what a relief!! By the time we got back to the cabin and showered we passed out cold. Thank goodness we had the where with all to make a wakeup call at 5:00pm.
          We went to the library to continue reading our books and have hot chocolate. We were going to stop by the Queen’s Room to listen to the violin and piano duo for a little before dinner music. However, the sunset was just beautiful and our view from the library was breathtaking so we stayed in the comfortable reading chairs with ottomans and relaxed.

          Dinner was in the main dining room. After dinner went to the showing of the movie BBC’s PLANET EARTH II put to live music by the Veendam Musicians. It was spectacular! Forty-five minutes of amazing nature footage from the entire planet and the music was perfect for each scene.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Autumn in Canada #8 Halifax

Autumn in Canada
Monday, October 6, 2019
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

           Janet is feeling much better this morning. She even had a regular breakfast! We were 2 hours late getting into port due to bad weather last night. The captain of our ship couldn’t get a pilot boat to guide us into the harbor so we had to wait. We went back to our cabin and watched out our window as we entered Halifax.

There was a very nice boardwalk we decided to enjoy the coast.  It was 57F windy, cold but sunny. It drizzled a little bit. You could feel the northeast autumn coming in strong with the strong gusts.

          We learned a lot about Halifax as we walked reading the many plaques along the way. Now it's a major business center and known for its maritime history. Waterfront warehouses are known as the Historic Properties remain from Halifax’s days as a trading center for privateers during the War of 1812. We didn't know the difference between pirates and privateers. The plaques explained that privateers were armed ships owned and officered by private individuals but authorized for use in war, especially in the capture of enemy merchant shipping. How about that!

          Along the route, there was a touching tribute to the families that had been separated while the husband set off to America for a better life. It was sweet.

Across the bay, there was Georges Island with a distinct lighthouse.  There was an old fort, Fort Charolette, named for King George III's wife, Charolette, 1755-1763 during the French and Indian war. Later the fort was used as a prison for expelled Acadians. The lighthouse was built in 1917 and still in use.
 The city is like any other city except for extremely tall skyscrapers that looked like apartment buildings. We walked to the Maritime Museum which we had planned to see. But by the time we found it we were exhausted. Bill’s excursion yesterday to Bar Harbor, and Acadia Nt. Park took a lot out of him, and Janet was just getting over a major bout of intestinal distress. So we walked back the ship, about a two-mile walk round trip.

We noticed every fast food place on the island was selling Poutine.  They are  French fries with brown-gray, and cheese. Apparently, they are very popular among the locals.

We went to Tea on the ship at 3:30 serving small sandwiches, sweetbreads, and the most amazing pastries!

We dressed for the evening, and headed for the library spent an hour reading (Janet began One for the Money by Janet Evanovich and Bill began reading If you lived here...I'd know Your Name by Heather Lende) with hot chocolate by the window. The sunset was amazing

We heard violin and piano music playing in the Queen’s Lounge and headed there to enjoy the pre-dinner music. It was lovely
Before we knew it, our reservations were ready at the Pinnacle Café. The food and atmosphere were exceptional. We dined for 1-1/2 hours! A real first for us.
We finished at 8:30 and decided to see the 9:30 comedy show. We headed  back to the library to read again until the show started. The show starred comedian Michael Somerville, he appeared with David Letterman, "6 times, 8 if you include re-runs". He was very good, we both laughed quite a bit.

Got back to our cabin, all made up with new towels. We had  most unusual towel object on your bed. Looked like an animal body head!?!

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.