Which means: New York City to New York City via Quebec City on the Queen Mary 2 from 20 September 2012 to 2 October 2012. Yes, for those of you who don’t already know this, I am back on the Queen Mary 2 for 11 days. A couple months ago I got an email from Cunard with a sale (for a sail) that I could not pass up for this voyage that includes port calls in Newport, RI; Boston, MA; Bar Harbor, ME, Saint John, NB; Halifax, Nova Scotia; and 1 ½ days in Quebec City (what a shame). I felt I had plenty of time to pack, but put it off until the end probably because getting ready to travel is really a breeze with all the lists I have recording what I packed for each trip. And, this trip was easier since it involves no commercial travel. On Thursday night I drove to Danbury, CT to position myself closer to the city on Friday in case of traffic or car problems. I found that using booking.com I can get a last minute room for half price, and in fact I called La Quinta direct to check and got a price double what booking.com quoted. My plan was for an easy 1 ½ hour drive on Friday and park at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal after dropping my bag off. I left Danbury at 9 AM, arrived at the terminal, parked, checked in, and was in the waiting area by 11 AM with boarding starting at Noon.
It was like a comfortable pair of shoes getting back on board QM2, but I still am finding new spaces and finding myself “lost” on occasion (it was easier on a Guided Missile Destroyer with logical Frame Numbers and Compartment Numbers – you always knew where you were in relation to where you wanted to be – but Starboard is still odd, and Port even numbers for cabin numbers). I found myself falling right back into the routine, wondering where the time goes. This trip, unlike my Atlantic Crossing, is punctuated with the port visits, and as a result there is not the full onboard schedule of lectures and shows, etc. to fill up the days – only during full sea days which will come later. Of course I “know” Newport and Boston, but decided I would play tourist at both; I still have lists of things I want to do in Quebec City even after the 5 days I spent there during Christmas 2010, and Bar Harbor, Saint John and Halifax will be totally new for me – and I am treating these “quick” stops as an introduction for future excursions.
We sailed at 5PM Friday, and the New York City skyline was amazing, but what shocked me this time is how the Jersey City skyline has sprouted up from nowhere, even rivaling Manhattan. Again the QM2 squeaked under the Verazanno Narrows Bridge and it was out to open seas. In the Hudson I was experimenting with the new telephoto lens I purchased for my Nikon D3100 (and am happy with), and for the first time I used the continuous shutter, to capture the right moment under the bridge (amazing how quick 28 images can be taken).
Well “crossing tablemates”, I have nice group again, not topping you of course. At my dinner table of 8 I am joined by a couple from the Cornwall Land’s End region, a lady from Manchester (not NH) whose husband is home, another lady from the Manchester area who flew over for the voyage and two other ladies from the states, NJ and California, and a vacant mystery seat. A lively well travelled group, so I should learn a lot.
Arrival in Newport Friday morning found an overcast misty sky and I was in no rush to catch a tender ashore, but by 10 said, “better do it, Ray.” Having a good knowledge of Newport, I had no real plan, but wanted to visit the Newport Historical Society exhibit and walk the historic areas. Heading up Touro Street I was impressed with the continued high degree of preservation and restoration. Not remembering having before visited the Redwood Library and Athenaeum, chartered in 1747 and the oldest lending library in the
US, I stopped in – worth the stop. I then continued down Bellevue Avenue (mansion row) to take in the Isaac Bell House constructed in 1882 and one of the best surviving examples of shingle style architecture. It was only recently purchased by the Preservation Society in 1996 and restored thus I have never had a chance to see it before. Unlike my usual good timing I had just missed a tour, and waiting for the next would be tight, so I continued walking down a backstreet towards the bay ending up on Lower Thames Street for the first time. Turning right I headed back towards downtown only to chance upon the Whitehorne House restored by Doris Duke opening in 1974 housing her collection of Newport and Rhode Island furniture www.newportrestoration.org In the 1960s as early colonial structures were falling victim to destruction Doris Duke systematically rescued over eighty 18th and 19th century buildings. Not totally appreciated at the time, she is now credited with Newport being what it now is architecturally. Having specialized in furniture books and probably having owned more out-of-print copies of Michael Moses’ MASTER CRAFTSMEN OF NEWPORT, the work of the Townsends and Goddards is very familiar to me and I found it an exceptional treat to see this collection and loan exhibition of three highboys. Even if colonial Newport furniture is not your thing, you should stop for the $6 which is a bargain compared to $28 at the Hunter House owned by the Preservation Society which displays similar furniture. I have one of the limited editions of this book on-hand, and when sold that is another QM2 trip!! The first formal dinner was last evening, and before I knew it the day was over – a tad over 24 hours gone – seemed like weeks or months. Below is the ship with the Newport/Jamestown Bridge in the background as I returned to the ship.
This morning, Sunday, I got out on deck to take in the islands in Boston Harbor for the first time, as we sailed in, and also get an appreciation for the “lay of the land.” Somewhat knowing Boston and the area I did not sign up for any tours, but instead caught the shuttle
where 19th century Boston literary history was made. It is now a Mexican Grille, and as I passed I said to myself, “you need to eat, what better place, and probably not even one tenth of one percent of the people who walk by know how important the firm of Ticknor and Fields, located there, was. You don’t have to be as fanatic as me, but what an appropriate stop for a history and book buff. Going back to the marketplace I got my ticket for the 2PM tour heading north on the Freedom Trail and had time to go upstairs to the Great Hall to enjoy that lecture. The next hour included heading to the North End and Paul Revere’s house and the Old North Church. Originally thinking I was going to do a walking tour of the Freedom Trail by myself, the discovery of what the Park Service provides for free is fantastic, and I am sure they are better history and detail wise than the commercial tours, and I discovered there (and immediately got from the App Store) one of the best tour apps I have ever seen – so go get nps boston).
I decided a tad after 4 to head back to the ship get my laptop and notes and head to the Commodore Club to write, sip chardonnay, and watch the sun settle over Boston. Shortly after 7 we leave port and I will watch. Dinner is 8:30, I may take in the show (ended up passing), but I still need to prepare myself for Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park tomorrow, and also post this tale when there is not as much satellite traffic from onboard. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned, yours, RAY