Halifax, NS, Canada as a tourist

I love Halifax and it is in my Province of birth. Today our cruise ship spent from 11 am to 11 pm in this beautiful port city. My mom, her friend Jim, and my new friend Lesley and I met to leave the ship together for a fun day.

Most of the rest of the group are on excursions as this is their first time here and there is MUCH to see … Peggy’s Cove lighthouse, Halifax history, Lunenberg … and more.
For our group of 4, we enjoyed walking, talking, shopping, (YES, we went to John David Shoes on Spring Garden Road and spent a few hours selecting from the huge 70% off sale! Wow!!), eating and even shared a bottle of prosecco. Jim went to Pier 21 and the gals enjoyed sharing the day together.  
Then a nice leisurely walk along Halifax boardwalk was also lovely … enjoying the bright sunshine and seascapes. This is a great city and a good representation of Canadian life. I feel proud to share it with the guests and crew on the Insignia.
Soon going to enjoy some wine and dining in the buffet, Terrace Cafe as we sit and talk and enjoy the ending of another great day.
Two days at sea about to happen … then three days in Bermuda.  
Ahhhhhhh, this is a great life!!!


Baa Ha Ba, ME. (Bar Harbor, Maine)

Bar Harbor was yesterday.
Good morning dear blog. Yesterday was spent in slow exploration and walking through the lovely quaint little town (approx 5,000 pop) of Bar Harbor, Maine (ME is the abbreviation of the state). Lots of unique individual shops up and down the streets.  
Lots of plays on words with Tshirts and hats, coasters and bags …. I heart ME, and Baa Ha Ba with pictures of sheep in a field, (making reference to how no one speaks the letter ‘r’ here) and so on. Cute and clever use of the language and including the sea coast in the nautical themed souvenirs.  
At times there were 7 of us walking around together, and at the last there was only two. A few took flight on a bi plane, and more just wandered back to the tender platform to return to the ship.
It started out so foggy and by noon with hot sunshine. We ate Mexican food mid day and margaritas. I found a quilt shop. There was a lovely park, home made ice cream and fudge. Lobster served however people like it …. it is a fishing village turned tourist area.  
The day was relaxing and the town a pleasure.
We came back on the ship, enjoyed the pool area, an enrichment talk about Halifax, and dining with the cruise agent on board the Insignia. There were 11 of us guests gathered, invited and with name tags :). Dinner and the service was fabulous, the company, conversation and wine were fabulous. GREAT day!!

Sailing to Bar Harbor

Waiting …. sailing in to Bar Harbor Maine. The fog is dense and I can hear the sea from my balcony window.
Within moments I start to see little markers (lobster traps) close to the ship, still with very limited visibility.
As the sun rises the fog lifts to reveal a rugged coastline dotted with small islands. Trees and crashing waves, variations in the coloring of the rocky shore marking tidal activity on this sea coast.
It is spectacular. What looks like thousands or more of colourful markers as far as the eye can see. Orange and white bobbles adorning the sea.  
Today is a walking day. Small coastal town of Bar Harbor, population 5,235 and promises to be 24 degrees with partial sunny skies. We have been so fortunate on this trip with weather. Last night it rained and blew mightily on the sea, but was so pleasant to sleep in the rocking.  
More later, breakfast is arriving 🙂

Boston, we did not see enough of you

Group of five went off together and enjoyed the hop off – hop on Trolley. Stops at USS constitution. 
 Freedom trail and monuments. Very historical perspective. Hot and muggy weather, with a welcome and lovely breeze. The sun was out all day!  
 Lots of green space and parks. Cemeteries. 
“The Big Dig” refers to the construction of the major Highway under city. There are tall structures /towers to rid the underground of the carbon monoxide. 
 You can stop at world headquarters Converse shoes. You design your own … takes two hours and you come get them. Or buy Boston converse shoes with all historic landmarks on the shoe. Stop 4 of the Trolley. The guide is very helpful with live commentators, music and giving hints of interest and what to see.  
They don’t pronounce letter ” r” in city of Boston. Entertaining driver native to Boston and he keeps us smiling. 
He shows us the Holocaust memorial with serial numbers ……. it was so touching. Tears well up. I clutch my heart. I stop to breathe. Then a photo. Stop number 5. 
We intend to go back to see Shopping at Quincy market. 
Tour of graveyards would be fascinating to do sometime if I return this way.  
We hear stories of the Boston commons. Within was an old Hanging tree till 1750s. It blew down. They built public gallows after.  
We drive past the Cheers bar …. the driver plays the Cheers theme song. We sing along. Sweet. 
We get off to check out newberry st. Shopping and beautiful buildings line both sites. We stop for a Starbucks!  
Back on … 

We go by Boston Fenway Park. Stop 12
The third and final driver guide we have is so great and his Enthusiastic story telling earns big tip. 
New Boston. Old Boston. The contrasts, the stories and buildings. Parks built on top of land after the big dig and the highway underneath. Parking lots underground as well.  
In the harbour, the white sails raised and strong wind is providing a wonderful site for our viewing pleasure as we sail away.
Good bye Boston, we did not see enough of you.

Cliff walk and total eclipse of the sun

Newport Rhode Island, 
In my research I found a great Cliff Walk as a highlight of Newport. That and the amazing mansions that dot the coastline along the 3.5 mile Cliff Walk.  
We met for a wee breakfast and then grabbed a local city bus to the far end of the Cliff Walk. Little did we research or know what we were getting in to. The far end was the rough and wild end. No flat surfaces, walking over treacherous cliffs. The vistas were spectacular and lovely … and we were worn out! We started as 7, then 5, then one left and 4 of us walked and hiked and rested and did more. Breathtaking views.  
Unique shops, friendly people. Very clean town and delightful to wander aimlessly. Great artisan displays. Sea birds and salty sea air were enjoyed very much.
One of the highlights was the eclipse of the sun. Last one 99 years ago. Today as we walked through town a cluster of people were sharing the official glasses for viewing the eclipse. We were offered to take a look and we were thrilled. It was memorable and spectacular.
Dining tonight in Polo Grill after the Captains cocktail party. 11 of us met and toasted to our good health. The ship is moving and the sky is beautiful and lit up by a few starts way off in the distance.  
We will meet again for tomorrow in Boston! Perhaps a hop on bus and some walking will be how the day goes for us.
Stay tuned ..

Entering Newport, Rhode Island

Rugged sea coast, isolated lighthouses, huge mansions, sailboats, water water water … the view from the walk around the track this morning at 630 a.m. Up early and I watched the sunrise. Now it fills the day with fresh sunlight sparkling off the water and windows, leaving beacons and spots of yellow gold.
Today we tender in to port. We will seek out the Information booth in town and find the Cliff Walk. After that, a wander through the town to take in the culture of this sea port city.  
I can see as we sail in to the harbour that this is a home for many sailboats and yachts. Not unlike the east coast of Nova Scotia that I know and love, similar green spaces and tall groves of trees, dotted with bright coloured cabins, well manicured homes and massive estates.
What looks like a prison or old fort walls can be seen as our ship takes its place in the harbour. Many sail boats, motor vessels and fishing boats are already out this morning, greeting this fabulous sea coast weather, blue sky and calm seas with a bright yellow ball sharing heat and illumination without distraction.

New York, New York …. as starting point

Start spreadin’ the news … New York!
I arrived today in New York City for embarkation on the lovely Oceania Insignia. This is my third sailing on this particular ship and my ninth Oceania cruise. It is like home to me now, getting on board and enjoying the luxurious familiarity of the food, the staterooms, the lay out of the ship, the pool area and of course the stunning library.
Long flights lead up to the taxi ride to the pier. One leg I was paged at the airport, in Calgary and presented with Business Class boarding pass. Not sure how I got selected but it was fun and much appreciated. The following stop I was one of those people who got singled out for extra security checks. Time in the little X-ray room with my hands in the air, my bags completely searched, ipad and iphone removed from their protective covers … and checked on all sides with wands and tests. My jewellery did not set off the alarm, it was decided before I went through the security area … by some random selection, I suppose.  
Patience is really the key to happy travel. Being hopeful for luggage to arrive at the other end, being practical about what zone they will call next and when is my turn to stand in queue to board the aircraft … and being flexible to adjust to announcements and realities, planes late and delayed departures, rushed connections or worse …. gratitude that I get to travel this modern way and also empathy for those young families trying to keep their wee children happy and not on the brink of loud screaming. Always asking for consideration for leg room, an exit row and some gluten free snacks. Air Canada is often the airline that gets selected by Oceania to be airline of choice for us.
I am travelling and sharing my room with a dear friend who I have known since about 1977. It dawns on me that we have been friends for 40 years. Rosemarie and I travelled together to Hawaii in 1980 when we graduated from University of Calgary. In some ways it seems like a lifetime ago, and in many ways, we just step back into our familiar friendship of deep understand and connection, combined with laughing and joy in each other’s company. Lucky me.
Also on the trip is my mom and her friend Jim, Darlene and Matt … sweet friends from many years ago, Kamloops days. Two other couples and one single gal have joined our group and I am hosting the cruise, although people will tend to do their own thing. We will all be a little closer at the end of the trip due to shared meals and experiences that vacations bring.
Tomorrow is the first day, first port of call …. Newport, Rhode Island. I want to do the Cliff Walk and see the sights of the city … I really don’t know much about this place and look forward to relaxing and being surprised and delighted at what we find.
Tonight we dined at Polo Grill, 9 of us in the group and tomorrow, we have arranged Toscana.  
Time for sleep and listening to the sweet sounds of the sea outside below our balcony. Waves of salt water spray are gentle sounds that relax and beckon.  
Sweet dreams one and all.