Cruising the St Lawrence Seaway

I’m having trouble transferring John’s photos using weak wi fi and forgot the cable so will have to wait until Boston to post me and better photos.  I’m doing this in a cafe in Bar Harbour Maine.  Boston tomorrow.

Sunday, 5th June

After all the wonderful weather we have had it was a shock to wake up to winter. At 6.30 breakfast arrived in our room after which we ventured ashore in warm clothes. The Old Town of Quebec is only a short walk from the ship so we walked out with little idea of where to go except to find the funicular which would take us to the top of the hill.

imageQuebec is at the meeting of two rivers, St Lawrence and St Charles. A long row of picturesque buildings on the lower level have become elegant shops designed to appeal to tourists. This is called the rue du Petit-Champlain and was voted Canada’s most beautiful pedestrian street in 2014. The funicular took us up to the magnificent Chateau Frontenac which looks like a fairytale castle and is the most photographed hotel in the world. In front is a boardwalk called Dufferin Terrace which meets up with an intact city wall encircling the city. Our next stop was the visitor information centre where we asked for an Internet cafe which had espresso coffee. imageWe were directed to Smith’s where we escaped from the cold wind and downloaded our emails. The coffee was excellent. We have learned to ask for a double shot of espresso with some steamed milk and it usually turns out something like a flat white. Back to the information centre and we asked for advice on museums. They seemed like the best option on this cold day. We crossed the road to the Musee du Fort where we were joined by a group of teenage schoolchildren who had to complete a quiz in French at the end of the show. At the front of the theatre was a replica of Quebec in 1750. The sound and light show showed the successive invasions by British and Americans and the effect on this French/English city. It was very well done but we didn’t stay to answer the French quiz.

As we walked down the hill we saw another history museum which I planned to visit after lunch. Back on the ship I felt unwell with headache and sore throat so slept for a couple of hours. Fortunately I recovered enough to enjoy a glass of prosecco and dinner in the Rotterdam dining room. The entertainment this evening was a comedian and ventriloquist who was very funny. I particularly like his comment about his dummy. It is not PC, he said, to call them dummies. They must be referred to as Mannequin Americans.

Monday, 6th June

 

Today was spent on the ship but that was welcome as the weather is awful. At least it is comfortable and warm except for the decks and the pool so no Aqua jogging for us. There were a few people in the hot tubs but we weren’t tempted.

As the clocks were moved forward to Nova Scotia time and we got up late we found we had ten minutes before breakfast finished in the Lido. We made it however and then investigated the laundry rooms. On level 5 there was a queue out the door but on level 6 there were plenty of machines free. We needed 8 quarters for the washer and 4 for the dryer so now we have drawers full of clean clothes which should last us until Boston.

The Explorers Lounge (where the library is situated) does espresso coffee so we ordered our double shot with some steamed milk and found it very good. It is also a reasonable price (before tax, gratuity etc). After lunch at the Lido which was very crowded, probably because of the weather, we repaired to the Showroom on level 7 where the location guide Jeremy (Australian), provided an overview of Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia and what to expect at the ports of Charlottetown, Sydney and Halifax. We haven’t booked any ship excursions so I am hoping we can visit some Anne of Green Gables sites as they about 35 kilometres from Charlottetown.

imageIt was gala night tonight so we donned the formal gear. John wore his dark blue suit with a tie and I wore my dark blue dress. Somehow I lost a shoe in Niagara or Toronto but at least I had some black sandals which were not too bad. Just as well I didn’t have to wear my joggers! Very few men wore tuxedos but most had a jacket and tie. Women can wear anything and get away with it. There were a few in long evening gowns.

We listened to Adagio in the Explorer’s lounge sipping a glass of prosecco. The group consists of two women who play violin and piano. They played some Grieg and Rossini with great skill. It was very pleasant looking out across the rolling sea.

An extra effort was made with dinner tonight. The chairs were covered with white material and the menu was more extensive, with four courses instead of three. I think the food was better too. We chatted to a couple from Boston who gave us plenty of ideas for things to do when we arrive.

We read for a while after dinner in the Explorer’s Room. At 10.00 pm it was Showtime with the Veendam Singers and Dancers singing British hits from the 1960s, 70s, 80s and beyond. They were very good and rounded off a perfectly enjoyable day.

Tuesday, 7th June

It was so foggy that the ship could not pass under the Confederation Bridge and had to take the long way round Prince Edward Island. We woke to a grey sky as we tied up at Confederation Landing. Not booking a tour has its disadvantages. It was easy enough to find a driver outside the terminal but not so easy to find two others to share with. We asked two women but they were intent on getting to the Information Centre and seeing what they recommended. Finally a man called Steve approached us and said he had been told by the driver that we were looking for someone to share the cost of $210 for 3 and a half hours. He had to go and find his wife on the ship so we waited some more. imageEventually we were seated in a six seater van with a driver/ guide named Mickey. He was originally from Iran but came with his father to PEI after the revolution in Iran. As well as being a guide and driver he runs a B&B near the Anne of Green Gables house.

imageAlthough I would have liked to visit LM Montgomery’s museum and family farm, the fact that the New Orlean’s couple we were with were not fans of Anne meant that we followed the scenic route through New Glasgow, stopped at a pottery shop and a goat farm, saw the scenic red cliffs and beaches on the North Shore and finally drove into the Green Gables farmhouse. Although it is very touristy I was pleased to know that it was the original house belonging to a brother and sister related to LM Montgomery on which she based the setting for the book. The rooms have been furnished as they are described in the book. There was Matthew’s room downstairs. There was Anne’s little room with its window looking out over a blossoming crab apple tree.

 

Something I will be always grateful for was the gradual disappearance of cloud cover so that by the time we reached Green Gables the sky was a brilliant blue and the area looked every bit as picturesque as I had imagined.

imageAfter the tour we wandered around Charlottetown, choosing the Row House Lobster Co for a lobster roll (John) and seafood chowder (me). Did you know Prince Edward Island supplies nearly all the potatoes for McDonalds in America? The lobsters are also cheap at around $7 a pound but John was disappointed in his roll and is still searching for perfection.

imageIt was such a lovely day we stayed around the port for a while looking in the souvenir shops and admiring the scenery. Finally we were back on board but departure was delayed by an hour while minor repairs were done to the ship. Some sceptics we met said this was a euphemism for lost people who had not returned to the ship. Rather than go without them they delay departure until they are found.

The meals have been steadily improving and we have settled into a pleasant routine. Before dinner we had a G&T in the Ocean Bar as we listened to The Neptunes play and watched a few couples expertly dancing to the music. After dinner the Halifax Citadel Bagpipers encouraged us to visit them when in their port and played a few rousing tunes.

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