Bar Harbour – Maine
Well here we are aboard the ship and it is good to unpack the bags for a week. Of course the new challenge is – you guessed it folks! So this one has so many levers and taps that we heard at dinner that one couple had to phone for the cabin attendant to get a lesson in getting water to come out in the right place. Well…….. I asked them to repeat the instructions 25 times so I could at least remember half of it and save the drama of ze bathroom. Voila – it only took 5 minutes to get it all set up and, can you belieeeeeve it but warm water we have coming out of the right shower rose! Couldn’t believe it myself actually but it just goes to show that practice makes perfect – almost!
Anyway, first stop was Bar Harbour, Maine and what a beautiful harbour this is, made difficult for ze captain navigating this boat because of the hundreds and hundreds of lobster pots set down in the harbour. As I write this we are turning and navigating out in a zig zag course to avoid damaging these pots and ze US Coast Guard is right there keeping a very close watch. They have a man at the bow with what looks like an automated harpoon. Not sure what that’s for – perhaps to retrieve their lobster pots if we snag one somehow. We tendered in this morning to see the beautiful Acadia National Park – in drizzly rain and only 15 degrees but, thanks to the Kathmandu sales, we are cosy, warm and dry!! Now we are off to Halifax, Nova Scotia and we put the clocks ahead 1 hour to get onto Atlantic time.
Halifax – Nova Scotia and Peggy’s Cove
Back in Canada now and off to see Peggy. Halifax is famous for a few disasters, among them being the Titanic which went down off the coast. One hundred and fifty of those who lost their lives are buried in three cemeteries here in Halifax. We were also told that on 9/11 just after the planes hit the Pentagon and the Twin Towers and all surrounding airspace was closed, 40 flights had to land here in Halifax. 7000 passengers had to be processed and accommodated here in the local stadium until the airspace opened four days later. Also, Swissair flight 111 crashed off the coast near Peggy’s Cove in 1998. Oh deary me – this is all sounding quite depressing actually.
Halifax gets, on average, 60 inches of snow per year, although in the past five years, they have had in excess of 100 inches of snow. The average summer temperature is around 12 degrees and they are doing well if they get up to 15 degrees so not a temperate climate by any means but, of course, we are getting further north. Fishing, in particular the lobster catch, brings in $600 million annually with the season running from May-November. Forestry is declining because here they mainly produced newsprint and that’s in decline and they also have salt and rock salt mines in the area.
Now Peggy’s Cove is interesting. This is a beautiful but extremely rugged coastline with severe weather a little like the west coast of the South Island. There is a lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove standing tall on rocks which are glacial deposits – interesting rocks and, because of this solid ground all around the area all power/phone cabling is above ground and there are no cemeteries in the area because the ground is rock. Houses are built on this solid rock base. There are notices everywhere warning visitors to stay clear of the dangerous black rocks, ie ones with slippery growth on them, as in the last two years a visitor has drowned after being swept off the rocks by a rogue wave, never to be found. So the one in charge of the B’s gives me the orders – DON’T go off the track, DON’T go anywhere near those black rocks, DO stay close by, and, by the way, also watch out crossing ze road! Of course I obey everything he tells me!! Only 35 people live permanently in this little fishing settlement with its slightly run-down buildings propped up on rocks and stones. Most are in need of painting but the very rugged weather here deteriorates the exterior we are sure. Artists are sprinkled everywhere painting Peggy and little souvenir shops, stalls etc are run by locals for the hundreds of tourists who flock here like the Kiwis to see this very wild place. So the Kathmandu gear was worn again because the sou’wester blows here and on this nice day, I can tell you that if we hadn’t been eating so much over the past three weeks you might have seen us sail past. But of course we were anchored down well and truly. And I must tell you that the tour guide today took a very big risk. He wore a kilt – in the wind – and he bent over!!!
Actually we have started exercising, brought about mainly because we get lost on this blimmin ship and we find ourselves at the wrong end at the wrong time. We made a commitment to use the stairs – all very well until you are lost and have to do them three times but we tell ourselves this will help us wear the clothes that the water over here has had the audacity to shrink in the wash. In fact something perplexing is happening because even the clothes we haven’t washed seem to be shrinking too so perhaps it is the air!
Today we are in Sydney and a beautiful day it is without a cloud in the sky. We have been told about 20 times by our tour director that there is nothing there except for an enormous steel fiddle on the wharf. He explained that a tour of Sydney would take about 3 minutes if you were dawdling. Well, he was almost right actually but we don’t dawdle so probably would have done it in 2 minutes but, as it happens, we set off on an excursion to Baddeck – home of Alexander Graham Bell and his wife Mabel and daughters. The drive took 1 1/4 hours along part of the famous Cabot Trail which is considered one of the most scenic drives in North America along the Atlantic shoreline and into Breton’s Highland National Park. Now we felt like we were back home on a larger scale – beautiful scenery, lakes draining into the Atlantic and stopping the Atlantic waters coming into the lakes. Interesting. Beautiful peninsulas, lots and lots of lighthouses too on our way to visit Alexander’s Museum in the picturesque Baddeck. He was a very clever man, inventing lots of things including the telephone – kites, hydrofoils, tetrahedron building structures, desalinisation, air conditioning and over 40 years he tried to breed sheep that would produce twins – experiment failed but he was initially convinced that if sheep had multiple nipples they would produce twins – failure!! He gave up! So it was an “educational” day as we looked into the life of Alexander and I am thankful he invented that phone – I can’t imagine Georgia and Hannah without that phone you know. They would be totally lost and would have to find something else to hold onto and look at like a book or something! So we are back on ze boat and the Dutch Captain has just announced the plan for the overnight sailing to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island and we are on ze way! Going to visit Anne tomorrow!
And we are visiting Anne of Green Gables fame. But first we explore Charlottetown which is a pretty little seaside town on PEI. This island has a population of 146,000 – Charlottetown has a population of 35,000 and is Canada’s birthplace. The island grows crops of canola and 25% of Canada’s potatoes. It is the tuna fishing capital of the world and, of course, lobster is plentiful. We were very fortunate in the township to come upon an amphitheatre adjacent to the Conservatory of Music and 12 very talented Canadian singers put on an absolutely wonderful energetic show of Canadian songs to tell the story of the history of Canada and its diversity. We set off on an island tour to travel the 50 km to Green Gables and this beautiful setting where the author, Lucy Maud Montgomery, lived at the homestead with her Macneill grandparents for half of her life. Descendants now own the land and historic sight. We did the walk down Lover’s Lane – can you belieeeeeve it? No – probably not! It was very pretty indeed but no hand holding or sneaking into the bushes! Just a quick photo stop for the one photo a day the boss allows of us both! Oh deary me! Back on board to get lost again and do the usual laps of the various decks and stairs (which is good actually because of the problem with the shrinking waistbands that I told you about!) Dinner – oh no – we have to just force ourselves to do the three courses but “when in Rome” you just have to do it because you don’t want to offend do you? As we were having dinner the ship sailed under the amazing Confederation Bridge – the longest bridge in the world over ice-covered waters and a marvel of engineering. It is 8 km long and two lanes wide and takes approximately 10 minutes to drive over. The ship had to lower all antennae in order to get under the bridge and we got a close up view of the bridge supports which we were very close to. It is truly an amazing structure to see.
Quebec tomorrow, where we have already been for a few days so we have chosen to go out into the countryside to a vineyard along the Beaupre coast on the St Lawrence Seaway to Ste-Anne-Canyon where we go past the spectacular Montmorency falls. Quebec we love as it makes us feel we are back in France. Truly a very French city so ve ‘ave to try owa best to make owa selves understood.
Now I must tell you that I have had a promotion here on ze ship. It seems that everyone who comes to the laundry assumes I am running it. They ask how many coins need to go in? – How does it work? – How long does it take? Where is the detergent? How much does it cost? Of course I av all ze answers. Then when they hear the accent they ask “where are you from? When I proudly tell them New Zealand without a doubt the answer is “Jeez – Nooooo Zeeeeelund”. And you get the distinct impression they think it is just over the bay from that big opera house!