So sorry, for the past 8 hours the satelitte link has not allowed me to insert the images I uploaded. Not to disppoint you (I know you want to know what is happening) I am posting without the 7 planned images. I will add them when possible. I hope this does not happen the rest of the time away.
Tuesday 25 September I got to experience Saint John, NB (the first Loyalist City in 1783 when the pro-British left the new United States), and it was an enjoyable day. Located on the Bay of Fundy this is a small city of 70-80,000 people with 120,000 including the suburbs. Originally a shipbuilding and trade port, the only industry remaining is the Irving Oil Company. This is the company’s home, and where it started from a single gas station. I did not even know all those Irving stations in New Hampshire and Vermont are headquartered in Saint John which refines and exports a great amount of gas from here to the states. My plan was to experience the town on the “Big Pink Hop on Hop off Bus” which has two routes. I first took the route out of town to see the Reversing Falls Rapids where the bay and river meet, and then got on the All About Town bus getting a great overview passing the majority of the town including Rockwood Park which is three times the size of New York’s Central Park and also designed by Frederick Law Olmstead – it even has a campground. A fire in 1877 took most of the city, and in rebuilding the new law required buildings of brick or stone resulting in a great collection of late 19th century architecture frozen in time.
On my second “go-around” I decided to get off at the top of the town to walk back through town. I exited the bus at King’s Square and immediately entered the gorgeous 100 year old Imperial Theatre. Leaving the theatre I crossed into the park to see the two story Victorian bandstand which is a fountain at the ground level, and for musicians to use the second floor a ladder has to be brought in. Leaving the park I started down King Street which is the main street in town and 3 blocks long and the shortest, widest and steepest main street in Canada. You know I love old marketplaces so I first entered the original City Market where I got a grilled veggie pita. Walking down the hill I entered Market Square to see the New Brunswick Museum hoping to learn some history, but I was a tad disappointed because that is not what was there. The exhibits on industrial history are well done, but I breezed through the decorative arts and skipped natural history (remember I am on compressed cruise time). Because of the
slope of the main street you can exit Market Square, which is on the water front, via an elevated walkway, enter a newer mall and then enter a tunnel to the City Market – fascinating. At the bottom of the street about 50 years ago the town moved an original country store from the countryside to serve as a visitor center and greeting place, and again with my affinity for 19th general stores you know I went in. Formally a waterfront and industrial town Saint John has worked hard, and done very well in attracting and catering to the cruise industry. There are many, many tours offered (as compared to Halifax), but I would say you do not have to make a special trip to Saint John, but if you are nearby it is worth an afternoon visit.
Now, as I am watching us leave Nova Scotia on Wednesday from the Commodore Club I will tell you that I cannot wait to get back here, and it will be Via Rail Canada for 2-3 day stay (remember that train trek was “on-the list” so I could complete coast to coast by train in Canada – now it is a definite). We docked shortly before 10 and I was first in line to debark (yes! first of thousands – you know I am a hard-runner, I had to get started). Timing, weather, everything was on my side today, and I walked right onto the first of three double-decker buses I would take, each with a different route through this historic city of about 300,000. Nova Scotia is a perfect port resulting it its use as a Royal Navy port for centuries including defeating the French in the New World, staging during the War of 1812, and as the stopping point for convoys in WWI and WWII, not to mention a key “rescue” point following the sinking of the Titanic, and the scene of the Halifax Explosion in December of 1917 (I’ll let you google that one).
The first route was “All About Town” then “Boardwalk/Waterfront Route, and finally “Changing of the Guard”. I had to wait in the queue for a very short time for the B route, but exited that bus to immediately board the C route bus in time to arrive at the Halifax
Citadel for the firing of the noon cannon. For over 200 years the cannon has been fired daily (except on Christmas) to signify noon to all Halidonians. Once done I saw a 15 minute video on the history of the fort and then watched a 45 minute presentation called the Tides of History covering all of Halifax’s maritime history. Samuel Cunard, in fact was born here, and was the one who replaced sail with steam establishing Cunard Lines of which Queen Mary 2 is the latest ship. I figured I really could not tour the fort because of “cruise-time” again (not that you have seen one, you have seen them all), but I am pretty familiar with fort history, so I walked outside the gate and the “hop-on hop-off” bus was just leaving but stopped for me as I called out, “one more please.” Timing!
In town I walked over to the Via Rail station, its eastern most terminus, and then walked
through the original rail hotel which is now a Westin Hotel. Next I boarded the B bus and rode a few stops down the waterfront to walk back from the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic (I did peek in, however). I accomplished a great deal because I realized this was not a day to “waste” eating lunch. I re-boarded Queen Mary 2 shortly before our witching hour of 4 PM. Oh, you may know that I cannot collect enough travel booklets and brochures for future planning – I did very, very well accumulating a two inch thick collection from Nova Scotia.
Tomorrow is, finally, a full day at sea which will give me time to rest up to hit Quebec City hard – I have lots of history things I still have to see and do there. So I should have time to explore this grand ship some more, and find some images to share with you, and entice you to experience this elegant way of life (e.g. not a glitzy party-ship). I printed out my posts from May, so I know what I showed you before, so I may put together a “slide-show” of images for a short post tomorrow. Because of the slow satellite connection I do not think I will try uploading any videos however. Tomorrow’s program of events has arrived and I have 3 lectures that interest me one or two shows, and I will join one of my tablemates for the Wine Tasting Seminar. Because of their “Cunard World Club” status it is free for he and his wife, but she prefers not to go, so at dinner he kindly invited me. Most of our table tomorrow night also decided to attend as a group one of the “special” dinners instead of the “normal” formal dining room. Such is life! So, a day at sea, then down the St. Lawrence to Quebec City and a hard day and a half running. You will get an update. Thanks for reading, as always, RAY