The Tour Begins: Halifax, Nova Scotia
Friday, August 3 we flew to Halifax, Nova Scotia from Montreal. This was the beginning of our main tour of the Canadian Maritime Provinces. We learned from our guide, Anne, that Nova Scotia means New Scotland. Since I am part Scottish, I decided that it could be very interesting.
We checked into the Atlantica Hotel. The next morning after breakfast we met the rest our tour members. There are 31 of us now. After the welcome session where our Program Director, Anne, went over all the important information we need to know and after we introduced ourselves, we headed out on a bus tour of the city. The first stop was at the cemetery where 150 victims of the Titanic disaster were buried. Three ships from Halifax were sent to recover victims and many of them are interred in this cemetery. This includes a baby, who was later identified through relatives’ DNA.
We moved on to the Citadel where they set off a canon blast at precisely 12:00 Noon each day. We were able to witness the ceremony from fairly close. (See small video below.)
Our afternoon was spent roaming the waterfront, but first was lunch at the Stubborn Goat Beer Garden where we had our first lobster roll. We had just heard of them, but didn’t know what to expect: turns out it was a hotdog bun with lots of shredded lobster meat on it all resting on a bed of excellent French fries. It was a hot afternoon so after doing some walking around we were happy to visit the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. They had a small, but nice, display of ships, models, and of particular interest were the steam ships, including a model of the Titanic. The bus picked us up at 3:30 and we headed for a short rest at the hotel before heading back down to the Waterfront Warehouse Restaurant for our full group Welcome dinner. The haddock we had pre-ordered was very good.
The next day we visited Peggy’s Cove and Lunenburg.
Grace and Paul
Pretrip Continues: Montreal, Quebec
On Wednesday, Aug. 1, we left Quebec City and drove by bus to Montreal. It took about three hours and we made one comfort stop along the way. The first stop when we arrived in the city was for a delicious lunch at a restaurant that specialized in beef brisket. There we picked up a local guide for an afternoon overview of the city. The first stop was at the E Commerce Center. The center of this building is the location of the former city wall. They covered it over and placed there some artwork in the form of a reflecting pool, a statue, and a piece of the Berlin Wall.
The driving tour took us along the waterfront and then up the Rue Sherbrooke that passes McCord Museum and the University of McGill. We drove by our hotel - a Best Western at the corner of Rue Peel. We drove up Mount Royal where there is a large city park at the top. This gave us a nice overview of the city. We were on our own for dinner and from the hotel we walked a few blocks down Peel to Alexandre, a nice restaurant that had outside seating.
Thursday was a day completely on our own. I put Paul in charge of planning our day and he did an excellent job. After breakfast we headed for the closest Subway (Metro) station. It took help to figure out how to buy all-day passes, but soon we were headed for The Notre-Dame Cathedral. We had to change trains once to get there. Notre-Dame is a beautiful cathedral and we enjoyed viewing the interior for a while. Next we headed down the hill toward the harbor and the Rue Saint Paul, which is a pedestrian street lined with interesting shops geared toward tourists. From there we walked to the Hotel de Ville, which Paul thought was a hotel. Nope, a policeman explained to him that “Hotel de Ville” in French translates as “City Hall.” We then headed for the Metro again and retraced our steps stopping at the Place des Arts. We discovered quite an underground area of shops at this stop, but we found our way out and had lunch a La Cage, which is a sports bar. They had a lovely eating area outside, and it was a pleasant day. The weather frequently seemed like it would rain, but it didn’t. By the time we finished lunch it was mid afternoon so we decided to call it quits on our day’s adventure and return to the hotel. I managed to get checked in for our flight the next day, using my trusty iPad Pro. For dinner we went back to Alexandre’s and our guide, Anne, joined us. The rest of the evening was spent getting ready to leave in the morning.
Bags were out by 9:30 and we left for the airport. Our flight to Halifax was about 1:20 and only took about 1 1/2 hours. We lost another hour as Halifax is on Atlantic Daylight Time, which is four hours ahead of Pacific Daylight Time.
That is all for now. More about Halifax in the next post.
Grace and Paul
Pretrip Starts in Quebec City, Quebec
We are beginning the pre-trip part of our Canadian Maritime Provinces Tour with Grand Circle Travel. As usual, we arrived in the origin city a day ahead. In this case it is Quebec City. We are staying at the Clarendon Hotel which is perfectly located in the center of historic “Old Town” In the morning, after just happening to wander into the oldest restaurant in town to have breakfast, we took a tour through the famous Chateau Frontenac Hotel. The tour began below the hotel on a wide boardwalk called the Terrasse Dufferin. We had bought our tickets while at home for this hour-long tour guided by a fellow in period clothing from the late 17th century. As we went through parts of the old hotel we learned a bit of its history. Some claim that it is the most photographed hotel in the world. We spent the rest of the day wandering around the old town. After a ride down a funicular we walked through the lower section of the city and to a ship dock where a couple of cruise ships were located. We had some lunch at an outside cafe where we enjoyed resting and people watching. Somehow rather than riding the funicular back up the hill, we ended walking the whole way to the top, taking our time on long flights of stairs and windy sidewalks. Diner was next at another outdoor cafe. The weather was really very delightful.
The morning of Monday, July 30, we met the twenty people on our pre-trip and our guide, Anne Matheson. We embarked on a half day city tour with Marie, a local guide. Quebec is a city rich with history dating back to the early colonial period. The drive took us to and through some lovely areas outside the central city and to the Plains of Abraham - the famous battlefield of the French and Indian War. Quebec is located on the narrowest part of the St. Lawrence River and the daily tide fluctuation here is about 15 feet, twice a day. We stopped in the lower part of town where Samuel de Champlain created the first French settlement in North America in 1608. The area is called Place Royals. This is also where ships dock, even today, although now they are often large cruise ships. There we saw samples of the three kinds of roofs used in the past: cedar (too volatile), slate (too heavy), and tin, just right. Most are now made only of tin. In winter they have lots of snow from about November until April, but the streets are efficiently cleared during the night. The temperatures get down to -40 degrees. Yikes! We spent the afternoon doing some wandering around and getting a little rest before our group met for a “Welcome” dinner at a restaurant up the street.
Tuesday we took an extra trip our guide planned for us. The first stop was at the Copper Gallery and workshop of Albert Gilles. We learned about the beautiful work the family members do, and then we had a chance to try our hand using the tools and making a small piece of copper artwork. My elephant actually turned out quite well. The second stop was at the Basilica of St. Anne de Beaupre, which was finished in the 1930s. The third stop was out on the Ile d’Orleans, in the St. Lawrence River. The large island is the garden and agricultural area for Quebec and is 5 miles wide and 18 miles long. We stopped for lunch at a place that made delicious chocolate. From there we stopped at a winery to sample five kinds of wines they make on site from their own fruit: pears, apples and grapes, including ice wine from frozen apples which are left on the trees until it is 40 degrees below. Delicious. Back to the mainland, the last stop was at the famous Montmorency Falls. They are 1.5 times higher than Niagara Falls, but not nearly as wide. They are still impressive and we were able to walk out onto a pedestrian bridge to see them up close and personal. It was a great day’s outing.
After dinner at a popular restaurant and some gelato, it was time to turn in and get ready for our departure in the morning.
In the morning we will drive to Montreal for two nights. It has been a delightful stay in Quebec City.
Grace and Paul
Visiting Special Iranian Friends
On the way to start our tour of the Canadian Maritime Provinces, we stopped in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Our dear friends, Yousef and Narmin from Iran, are visiting their daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter there. Yousef’s daughter and her husband are attending the local university. Yousef was Paul’s mentor when he was teaching English in Iran with the Peace Corps. They have maintained their friendship for over fifty years, so this reunion was very special.
We were met at the airport and taken directly to the kids’ home for a delicious Iranian style dinner before going to our hotel for the night. The next morning we met at a nearby restaurant for breakfast and then enjoyed visiting the Western Development Museum. It was one of the best laid out history museums we have ever visited. We enjoyed the “Main Street” exhibit that showed an old town in 1911. Other exhibits covered more recent time periods.
In the afternoon we went to the one Iranian restaurant in Saskatoon and had delicious kabobs. We spent the rest of the afternoon just hanging around visiting. The kids loved the opportunity to practice their English and to listen to all the stories Paul and Yousef told as they reminisced about their time together when Paul was in the Peace Corps. The stories never quit. Narmin cooked a delicious dinner for us of chicken and saffron rice.
After breakfast the next day Hamid and Nazanin, Yousef’s son-in-law and daughter, gave us a tour of the University of Saskatoon. It is a beautiful campus. We started in the Geology building where they had a great exhibits that included replicas of a number of dinosaur skeletons. The last building we visited was the engineering school where they study. It was special that we got to see their labs and hear the explanations of their projects. The afternoon again was spent hanging around, visiting and sharing stories. This was what we stopped in Saskatoon to do. Again Narmin fixed us a delicious dinner of a special soup made with oats chicken and lots of vegetables. She is an accomplished cook.
The next morning after breakfast they took us to the airport where we had to say good-bye. It was a very sad time. The last time we saw them, we could not dream that this chance would come again, so now we can think that it might happen again one of these days.
Now we are on to Quebec City where the Pre-Trip begins to our tour of the Maritime Provinces of Canada.
Grace and Paul
Beautiful Day for Balloons
What Makes Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
Where do they get all that marble?
Interesting Transfer Day
Bologna to Parma, Italy
Grace and Paul Pitzer are retired school teachers who love to travel and share their stories and photos with others.
Grace and Paul Pitzer
We hope you will keep checking back regularly to see what is new. I'm always out and about with some camera and love to stretch my skills and add to my volume of work.
Motto: "Pack light and take lots of pictures."