Saturday, December 22, 2018

Maine, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Quebec and Ontario

Our son, Andrew, lives in New York City and we try to get out and visit him once a year. Judy has four other siblings and they planned to do a cruise with their spouses in Eastern Canada in 2018. We decided to combine that cruise with a visit with Andrew. 

I will provide an outline of our trip as well as links to posts I've done about it that generally relate to food, animals and religion. Judy does step-by-step posts on our trips but has been bogged down on posts for trips to Central Asia and Southern Africa. If she does get around to posting about this trip, I'll provide links to her posts as well.

Overall, we met Andrew in Bangor, Maine and spent the next 3 1/2 days with him driving up into New Brunswick and then back down through Maine to Boston where we caught our cruise and Andrew flew back to New York. Our cruise had stops in Bar Harbor, Maine; Halifax and Sydney, Nova Scotia; Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island; Quebec City and Montreal, Quebec; and we ended our trip by renting a car and driving to Ottawa, Ontario, before flying home to California. 

Flight to Maine:
We left Los Angeles (LAX) on Tuesday, August 7, 2018, on Delta at 11:05 a.m. for JFK in New York with a projected flight time of five hours and ten minutes. By the time we got near New York it was experiencing a horrible thunder storm and we circled widely for an hour, seeing frequent and huge bolts of lightening. Once we landed, we spent an additional hour on the tarmac waiting, along with all of the other delayed flights, for a space to open up to unload. Andrew was going to join us at JFK on our Endeavor Air dba Delta Connection flight to Bangor, scheduled to leave at 10:00 p.m. We originally had a two hour window, but that flight was delayed as well and we did not board our flight at JFK until around 1:00 a.m., three hours late. Once we boarded we sat on the tarmac for another hour. After a two hour flight we arrived in Bangor about 4:00 a.m. and caught a cab (the rental car place was closed) to the Quality Inn Bangor Airport where we spent 45 minutes in their lobby while they tried to get us our room back. We had prepaid our room through, but they closed it out about 3:00 a.m. when we did not show up. We got to our room about 5:00 a.m. and slept until about 9:10 a.m. It was a tough way to start a trip. 

I got a shuttle to the airport to get our rental car, then back to the hotel to pick up Judy and Andrew. We'd originally planned to leave by 8:30 a.m. It was about 10:00 a.m. when we checked out. We'd planned to visit a chocolate museum and chocolatier in St. Stephen, NB and then had reservations for a 2.5 to 3 hour whale watching tour with Quoddy Link Marine in St. Andrews, NB starting at 1:30 p.m., with a 1:00 p.m. check-in time. Then we learned that there was a one hour time change to the Atlantic Time Zone I'd never heard of before, which gave us an hour less, and still had a 2 1/2 hour drive, which meant that if everything worked perfectly, we'd get there right as the boat was leaving. Judy got on the phone with Quoddy and they said they would wait for us and I put the peddle to the metal and drove as fast as I could. At the Canadian border I explained to the border crossing guard that we were probably going to miss our whale watching trip and needed to hurry and I think he intentionally sent us inside for a more formal inspection which added 15 minutes. 

New Brunswick:
Judy was literally on the phone with Quoddy letting them know where we were as we drove down to the end of the pier to a spot they reserved for us. They held the boat 15 minutes for us and did not leave until 1:45 p.m. I can't say enough good about Quoddy Link Marine for how they treated us.

The boat left St. Andrews and passed through Passamaquoddy Bay out into the Bay of Fundy. We saw seals, various sea birds, particularly the great shearwater, and quite a few humpback whales. It was a lot of fun.
     Humpback Whales - Bay of Fundy  (Bob)
     Great Shearwater  (Bob)
     Sooty Shearwater  (Bob)
     American Herring Gull  (Bob)
     Great Black-Backed Gull  (Bob)
     Western Atlantic Harbor Seal  (Bob)
One of our guides recommended we eat at Spear's near the beginning of the pier and we had an okay picnic style lobster, some salads, corn and beans.
     Spear's Fishing & Charter - St. Andrew's, New Brunswick  (Bob)

We drove about an hour to St. John, NB and stopped just briefly at the Reversing Falls Bridge. All was calm and it did not look worth the price to go in, so we drove to and checked into the Chipman Hill Suites on Union Street. Back out to the car, we visited the beautiful Irving Nature Park and walked into the forest on a small peninsula while Andrew looked for mushrooms, his favorite pastime. Afterwards we drove to a store and picked up some supplies for a home-made dinner in our hotel room which included a stove and refrigerator.

Thursday morning, August 9, we'd not had much sleep the night before. I got up early and tip-toed out to let Judy and Andrew get more sleep. In shorts, flip-flops and umbrella in hand, I walked into the jaws of a thunderstorm and down pour about a block and a half to the St. John City Market. Not much was open, but the size and variety of shops belied the fantastic things I'd read about it.

We drove a little more than an hour to St. Martins where I allowed a sign to cause an unplanned stop at Seaside Restaurant for a quick taste of the "world's best" fish chowder and a lobster roll. It wasn't. Andrew chided me for not looking at Yelp or Trip Advisor. He was right. From there it was not too far to the Fundy Trail Parkway, a 12 mile drive along the beautiful Fundy coast. This was one of my favorite activities of our trip. There were very few people, perhaps discouraged by the rainy weather. Umbrellas in hand, we slowly walked a trail near Flower Pot Rock, and ogled the variety of shaggy barked trees, flowers and landscape. Andrew is a gem companion when exploring the understory. We drove a little further and hiked a short distance to a waterfall where Andrew found lots of chanterelle mushrooms. After visiting the Interpretive Center, we drove back out to St. Martins, then up through Sussex and south down Hwy 114 through Fundy National Park to Alma. Because of the lateness of the day and the rain, we didn't really see much of anything of Fundy National Park, but I think we caught the best of the scenery along the Fundy Trail Parkway. We did stop in Alma, which was much larger than I'd envisioned it to be, at Kelly's Bake Shop where we stocked up on some cookies and pastries. We drove another 60 minutes to Hopewell Rocks Park, another jewel, and walked out among the incredible eroded sea stacks. Tide was coming up as we left. Another amazing destination. We drove 30 minutes north to Moncton and had dinner at Skipper Jack's and the best poutine we had on the trip, double lobster poutine with a whitish gravy. We spent the night at Amsterdam Inn & Suites in Moncton.
     Seaside Restaurant - Saint Martins, New Brunswick  (Bob)
     Skipper Jack's Maritime Restaurant - Moncton, New Brunswick  (Bob)

Our drive up through Maine had been on Hwy 9, then Hwy 1 and Hwy 114 in New Brunswick. Friday morning, August 10, we decided to alter our route on the way back, more inland. So we took Hwy 2 most of the way, from Moncton to Fredericton, taking an unsuccessful sideways diversion before Fredericton looking for a hiking trail that might provide some mushroom hunting. In Fredericton, we stopped at the Christ Church Cathedral, part of the Anglican Church of Canada, not far from the St. John River. A morning concert was going on, so we were not able to get a good comprehensive view inside. We continued on and Andrew researched a hike on his i-phone near Woodstock: the Maliseet Trail to Hays Falls. It was a great discovery for mushroom hunting. We found and gathered nice quantities of lobster, chanterelle and black chanterelle mushrooms and Hays Falls was beautiful. Afterwards we drove to Woodstock, near the Maine/Canada border, and ate at The River Restaurant, near where the Meduxnecegue River empties into the St. John River.

From there it was a two hour drive along Hwy 95 in Maine southwest to Bangor, where we stayed in the Country Inn at the Mall. We purchased a hibachi, some charcoal and pie tins at a nearby Wal-Mart and set up near the parking lot on a picnic table and cooked the mushrooms we'd picked earlier in pie tins with butter. They were delicious.
     Chanterelle, Black Chanterelle and Lobster Mushrooms  (Bob)

Saturday morning, August 11, we drove south to Wells hoping to eat at the Maine Diner in Wells, a place we'd eaten on an earlier trip to Maine. There was a 45 minute wait. So we detoured to the nearby Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge where we had another fun walk with Andrew who identified a bunch of mushrooms we'd not seen earlier in our trip.

It was about a 3 3/4 hour drive from Bangor to Boston where we dropped of our rental car at Logan Int'l Airport and Andrew caught a flight back to New York. Judy and I caught an Uber to the Port of Boston and we checked-in on the Holland America Maasdam. We set sail about 4:00 p.m.

Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park:
The Maasdam arrived in Bar Harbor, Maine about 7:00 a.m. on Sunday, August 12. The ship was docked off shore and we had to take a tender. We walked around Bar Harbor for an hour or more, looking in shop windows and going in some of the shops that were open. At 9:00 a.m. six of us met At Your Service Taxi for a five hour private tour. We had a great guide who drove us on the 27 mile Park Loop Road to the summit of Cadillac Mountain and made some stops at Thunder Hole, Sand Beach, and perhaps others. Then the best stop of all, Beal's Lobster Pier in Southwest Harbor where I had the best lobster I've ever eaten. The ship left Bar Harbor at 3:00 p.m. I've always heard that Acadia was the most beautiful national park. My expectations were so high that I was quite disappointed. It was very crowded and commercial.
     Beal's Lobster Pier - Southwest Harbor, Maine  (Bob)

Halifax, Nova Scotia:
We arrived in Halifax on Monday, August 13, around 9:00 a.m. Our group of ten privately booked the Halifax Tour Guys.  We split up into two vehicles and: (a) visited Citadel Hill, a short distance from the ship, and watched the hourly changing of the guard; (b) spent time walking among the graves of Titanic victims at Fairview Cemetery; (c) stopped at a maple syrup store for a demonstration and some samples; (d) visited the warehouse of Ryer Lobsters Ltd, which has hundreds to thousands of live lobsters in large tanks with nearly freezing water - the largest supplier of lobster to the Netherlands; (e) were dropped off in Peggy's Cove to walk around - I bought a lobster roll from a food truck; and (f) we ate lobster at Shaw's Landing in West Dover. The Maasdam left port at 6:00 p.m.
     U-Cook Lobster - Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia  (Bob)
     Shaw's Landing - West Dover, Nova Scotia  (Bob)

Sydney, Nova Scotia:
On Tuesday, August 14, we arrived in Sydney, Nova Scotia around 10:00 a.m. My brother-in-law, Pete, and I took the ship tour with Bird Island Boat Tours. We traveled 1 1/4 hours each way to Big Bras d'Or and then traveled about 40 minutes each way out to the islands that are nesting areas for puffins, crested cormorants, and great cormorants and a great place to see bald eagles that feed on the puffins. There were also lots of gray seals. This was a highlight for me. Judy and the rest of her family rented a van and and drove to Louisbourg, the Canadian version of Williamsburg. The Maasdam set sail about 6:00 p.m.
     Atlantic Puffin  (Bob)
     Double-Crested Cormorant - Nominate Subspecies  (Bob)
     Great Cormorant  (Bob)
     Bald Eagle  (Bob)
     Ruddy Turnstone  (Bob)
     North Atlantic Gray Seal  (Bob)

Prince Edward Island:
On Wednesday, August 15, we arrived in Charlottetown, PEI at 8:00 a.m. We took the ship sponsored Island Drive & Anne of Green Gables House tour. Along the way we stopped briefly in PEI National Park and stood on the edge of some cliffs overlooking the ocean, and viewed Raspberry Point mussels and oysters being grown in a bay, before arriving in Cavendish where we walked through the Anne of Green Gables House and grounds. We got back to the ship around noon and satiated the desire to try PEI mussels and oysters with a lunch at the Water-Prince Corner Shop, not far from the ship. We walked downtown and spent time at St. Dunstan's Basilica Cathedral, then joined a pre-arranged Confederation Players Walking Tour downtown which included a visit to the Province House where an 1864 Conference on Confederation was held. We learned much more about Canadian history and the coming together of the Canadian provinces. On the way back to the ship we discovered Cows Creamery which originated in PEI in 1983 and is seriously the best array of ice cream we've ever tasted. Our ship sailed at 5:00 p.m.
     Water-Prince Corner Shop - Charlottetown, PEI  (Bob)
     Red Breasted Nuthatch  (Bob)

Quebec City, Quebec:
Thursday, August 16, was a sailing day. I walked seven miles (28 laps around the deck of the ship). Friday morning, August 17, I walked 3.5 miles (14 laps around the deck of the ship). We arrived in Quebec City about 8:00 a.m. We were among the first few off the ship and walked into the lower town of Old Quebec. We stopped at Notre Dame des Victoires (which we toured later on the way back to the ship), then took the funicular up to the Fairmont Le Chateua Frontenac, the most distinctive building in Quebec City. I was surprised to learn it was a hotel. I'd always figured it was a government building. Then we visited a few more churches, Notre Dame de Quebec Basilica Cathedral and the Holy Trinity Cathedral, the cathedral of the Anglican Diocese of Quebec. At 11:00 a.m. we started the Old Quebec Food Tour which started at Chic Shack, then visited La Buche, Chez Boulay and Club Bistro. It was the best food tour we've taken. The tour included a lot of history and a few historic sites thrown in. Afterwards Judy and I walked back to La Buche to eat and were put off by their refusal to speak English (they spoke English to our Food Tour earlier) and eventually made our way back to the ship which left port about 6:00 p.m.
     Old Quebec Food Tour - Quebec City  (Bob)

Ottawa, Ontario:
Saturday, August 18, we docked in Montreal about 7:00 a.m. Judy and I had been to Montreal previously and decided to drive to Ottawa instead. We caught a cab to the Montreal airport where we picked up a car and then drove about two hours (120 miles) to Ottawa. We stopped at Lapointe Fish Ltd. in or near the Byward Market and bought salmon smoked with maple, cold-smoked salmon, smoked arctic char (very strong and fishy). We tried to get tickets for the Canadian Parliament and they were sold out. So walked along Wellington Street on Parliament Hill. We visited the inside of St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church. Walked across the street and saw the outside of the Canadian Supreme Court building. Then past the Justice Building, the Confederation Building, the Parliament of Canada. Then over to Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica, where we caught the tail end of a wedding, and then the National Gallery of Canada, with the wonderful bronze Maman sculpture, a pregnant spider with Notre Dame as a backdrop. We ate dinner at Bite Burger where I had a burger made out of ground ribeye with added blue cheese. Judy had a burger with pineapple. We stayed that night nearby at Delta Hotels by Marriott, Ottawa City Centre.
     Woodchuck  (Bob)
     Parliament Hill and Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica - Ottawa  (Bob)

Sunday morning, August 19, Judy got in line early for Parliament tickets while I found parking for the car. We waited quite a while, but got tickets that required us immediately to run across the street and get in line. We saw the changing of the guard on the east lawn of Parliament Hill. The Old Guard and Pipes and Drums dressed in their red coats and tall bear hats was quite spectacular. Then we were ushered through tight security to the inside of Parliament and saw the Senate, the House of Commons, and the spectacular Library. It was fabulous. We felt very fortunate to visit as it is closing down for ten years for significant restoration. We crossed the street briefly to the National War Memorial, where the guards are stationed, then walked down by the Rideau Canal to the Ottawa River where we got on a Capital Cruises boat for the Ottawa River Historic Sightseeing Cruise. It was another gem. We crossed the river to pick up people in Gatineau, which is in Quebec, then under the Alexandra Bridge along the river where we saw the Prime Minister's home, a number of embassies, and a beautiful waterfall which we went right up to. Back to the car, we drove to Ottawa Macdonald Cartier Airport where we dropped off our rental car and took a Delta flight, operated by Skywest, at 4:40 p.m., with a layover in Detroit and arrived in Los Angeles about 8:00 p.m. We actually entered into the U.S. and did customs at the airport in Ottawa which was kind of nice. 

1 comment:

  1. It's amazing what we were able to squeeze into the time we had for this trip--including the pre-trip and the post-trip travel. I'm glad we had the time with family in the middle to slow down a little bit! Hoping to get to these posts soon...