Autumn Colours: Cruising a coast line of Canada
Heavy rains pounded the runway and pavements in New York. Our private driver met us at the airport, sheltered us with his umbrella as we made out way to the car. We proceeded slowly through the rain and congested Friday afternoon Manhattan traffic before we arrived at Hotel W, 541 W Lexington Avenue. We explored the surrounding area, tried to walk The Highline and find Agora Gallery but the heavy rain, impatient pedestrians, unruly umbrellas and noisy cars all conspired to slow us down and we decided to return to the Century Club to meet Scott for a fantastic dinner and interesting conversation.
The rain had stopped by Saturday morning and we found a great spot for breakfast– we chose our breakfast at a buffet, took it to the cash register where it was weighed and ate at small tables. We then wandered around the area of our Hotel W, checked out or the hotel and took a taxi to the Manhattan Piers to board the Gem, of the Norwegian Cruise Line. Our suite, the Amber stateroom, was extremely comfortable, with a small eating and bar area, a sofa, large TV, balcony, large bathroom with both a bath and shower that looked out onto the water. The suite also had a small second bedroom/sitting area with another shower and TV.
The steward, butler and concierge, attentive and friendly, are ensuring that our time on board is pleasant.
Sunday was a sailing day. We travelled through thick fog and moderate winds but managed a few laps on deck to get some exercise.
Monday, our day in Halifax began under clouds but by mid afternoon, the sun broke through. We had decided to take a tour to Peggy’s Cove in the morning and explore central Halifax during the afternoon.
We docked at pier 22, the pier next to Pier 21 where immigrants to Canada passed through customs and immigration before setting out for new lives. That pier now houses the newest national museum and houses records of immigration. Haligonians take pride in their heritage and the city itself. Our tour to Peggy’s Cove included a quick tour of Halifax, passing by Dalhousie University, Halifax Public Gardens, the Commons, and Citadel accompanied by tales of the Loyalists as well as folklore from our guide. The leaves, lichen and ferns are just starting to display their colours. About 10 k outside of Halifax, the landscape changed: deciduous trees made way to evergreens and earth gave way to rock. We crossed over smooth rocks to the base of the lighthouse and a short stroll along the craggy coastline. We visited Amos Pewter wear and bough a tree ornament, had a quick cup of coffee and boarded the bus to Halifax.
We returned to the harbour front, enjoyed lunch at the Farmer’s Market, the oldest continuously running market in North America, and walked through the Historic Properties, the extensive boardwalk lined with shops and hotels. The wind was biting so we stopped at souvenir shops, the Nova Scotia Crystal workshop, the only hand cut, mouth-blown crystal in Canada. We then decided to climb up to the Citadel, the fortress overlooking the harbour that extends 16 k inland. Our stroll took us into the university and back to the ship.
Tuesday in St. John New Brunswick began with a stroll through the city. From the Harbour, we followed a well-marked path leading away from the water and directly to St. John City Market. This area houses many of the cultural activities of the city with museums, shops, restaurant, bars and cafes.
We were struck by the lack of information about the founding and development of the city, the oldest city in Canada, having been incorporated in 1755. In 1783, more than 200 Loyalists landed at the mouth of the St. John River. More settlers arrived a few months later. The winter was difficult for the new arrivals, many of whom lived in tents and perished during the winter months.
From the market, we climbed up King Street and crossed a delightful park, complete with a copper roofed Bandstand and metal framework. The park is bounded on one side by the Imperial Theatre and on the other by museums and city buildings. A great fire in 1877 destroyed most of the original wooden buildings. A sign led us to the historic part of the city and we enjoyed and admired the architecture of the old wooden houses, stone churches. After lunch, we had arranged to take the tour, Highlights of St. John, to view various parks and the reversing falls. Our guide planned the trip to enable to visit the falls site twice. The first time, we saw the river rushing inland and the second visit, we saw the river moving towards the sea. What was strange about our time in New Brunswick was the lack of signage in French since NB is the only officially bilingual province in Canada.