Follow by Email

Sunday, October 4, 2015

My Last Blog on Google........please read

Dear Blog Followers,
I got fed up with Google and the way it forces people who want to comment to have a Google account.  I've also had problems with passwords with Google and I accidentally created a gmail account which Google won't let me delete.
Therefore, I've found a much better blog hosting site.  It's simpler and very user friendly.  It's Wordpress.  The new blog is at the top.  Go there and click on the follow button on the lower right and sign up (if you want to read our blog). My thanks to Carol Billingsley for telling me about Wordpress.

Thank you for following us and thank you for the comments.  We've already planned two new cruises.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Quebec du haut de l'autobus!

I've been asked more than once,"Wayne, why do you like to travel so much?" Here's the answer. My brother and I didn't travel a lot growing up.  We lived in Vidor, Texas and just going to Beaumont was a big deal. Our mother was a single parent who made barely above minimum wage so trips were not in the budget.

I started working at age 16 while still in high school and then joined the USAF at age 19. Basic training took me to San Antonio and then Tech School in Denver.  From there the Air Force sent me to Bitburg Air Base, West Germany. 

My AF roommate, William J. Muzenski, ("Muz") loved to travel and since we had a lot of free time on our hands (30 day leaves), a VW bus and some spending money, we went on a lot of road trips, in fact, in all, to 16 different countries! Many of our buddies would spend their free time by flying back to the States.  Not us.  We wanted to see the world, well Europe anyway.
Chateau Frontenac: World famous landmark in Quebec.
As a police officer/sergeant I didn't really have a desire to travel much, that is until I met my wife, Mary Alice Amsler.  MA, as she likes to be called, was a Pan Am flight attendant and travel is her middle name.  So the answer to the question is that two important people in my life, my wife and my Air Force buddy are the reasons I love to travel.  

We are in our second full day in Quebec and it has been a joy to see this beautiful place. Our plans today included a Hop-On Hop-Off bus tour of the city and lunch.  We've accomplished both so far. 

The day began with breakfast in a basket, delivered to our door at 8:00 am this morning. The basket included 2 sweet rolls, 2 croissants, orange juice, yogurt, oranges, and jam.  The room had a coffee maker so I made coffee.  

Our first goal of the day was to walk up to the Chateau Frontenac (see first picture above) and buy tickets for the bus.  The weather was cool and windy, making it feel quite cold. Nevertheless, we climbed up to the open air top so I could take some photos of the city.  

These tour buses normally have a prerecorded narrative you listen to with an ear piece.  This Quebec bus had a live tour guide, "Daniel" who provided us with more information than I could possibly remember.  He was informative and funny and communicated one on one with the many different tourists.   

The one thing that stood out from other places we've been to is the different roof lines with the turrets, angles and crosses that dot the Quebec skyline.  The one structure that stands head and shoulders above all the other buildings is the Chateau Frontenac, now a 600 room hotel.  

After our frosty trip around Quebec, we walked down the hill to the 1640 Bistro and had lunch.  From there it was just six blocks back to our hotel, L'Hotel du Vieux Quebec.
1640 Bistro on the right

Plains of Abraham, where the Battle of Quebec was fought between the French & English.

Street harp player:  MA bought a CD from him.

4am wake-up call tomorrow for our 6:50am flight to Newark and connection home to Houston (Hurricane Joaquin permitting!) All in all it's been another wonderful traveling adventure for both of us, it's time for home, church, Tanner and close friends! Then we'll start working on our next trip!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Quebec City and Fall Colorful Leaves

Our last port of call is Quebec City in the Province of Quebec.  1st lesson for today is in pronunciation is Quebec.  The Q is pronounced as a K, so the locals say kay-bek. That and $2 will get you a cup of coffee.

The weather turned cold, windy, cloudy, and foggy earlier with some very light rain. Fortunately we were on a bus tour to the Montmorency Falls and the Isle d'Orleans where they make maple syrup.  The bus was packed but Mary Alice and I were comfortable.

The tour guide told us a lot about the history of Quebec and the conflicts between the French and English over this part of the world. The English finally won it but the people here insisted on speaking French as they still do today.  Mary Alice is right at home with these French speaking Canadians and she has fun practicing her foreign language skills.

The bus took us out of town and toward the Falls.  The waterfall is about 275 feet high and cascades into a small bay which then empties into the St. Lawrence River.  I didn't see much to photograph on this trip except for the changing colors of the tree and bush foliage and of course the waterfall.  I hope you enjoy them.

We disembark the ship tomorrow morning, spend a couple days here in Quebec and fly home via Newark NJ on Saturday.  We have two more full days on our own here so I'll do one more blog about Quebec (remember "kay-bek").

Monday, September 28, 2015

Corner Brook, Newfoundland and What I See When Looking at an Ocean Going Fishing Vessel with a 35mm Lens

We arrived in Corner Brook, Newfoundland this morning under clear skies and cooler temperatures.  We had no plans or tours for this port so it was a place that we would just go and see.  After breakfast we gathered camera and jackets and walked off the Caribbean Princess along with hundreds of other passengers.  It was evident that we were not going to see much at this port. 

At the end of the pier, there was a large ocean going fishing ship, Ocean Leader.  As we were waiting in line to catch one of the shuttle buses into town I photographed what I saw through the 35mm camera lens.  When you shoot with a prime lens you have to zoom with your feet.  The Ocean Leader was not manned so there are no fishermen in the photos.  I only had access to one side of the ship.  The deck was a mass of pulleys, cables, nets, floats, and ropes.  There was a small tender mounted on the stern to pull the net into a circle trapping the fish.  After the photo essay of the fishing vessel I joined Mary Alice in line for the shuttle bus.

We boarded a yellow school bus and after a short ride into the town of Corner Brook we were let off at City Hall with hundreds of other passengers.  If there had been a place to rent a car I would have convinced Mary Alice that we needed a way to get out of town for a few hours.  However, there were none so we toured a veteran’s memorial and a drug store and then caught the shuttle bus back to the ship.  Onboard the Caribbean Princess we enjoyed a delicious cappuccino coffee. 
Tonight is “formal” night with lobster and beef wellington on the menu.  I have this theory the food gets better and better as you begin the last leg of the trip so you’ll end up thinking “how great all the food really was”. Note to self: Do not order the chicken scaloppini ever again! It looked like it had been ironed instead of grilled.

Tomorrow we have a “sea” day and on Wednesday morning we dock in Quebec.  The ship becomes our hotel for 24 hours then we move to a local Old Town Quebec hotel which was highly recommended.  We’ll pack one suitcase of cruise clothes that we won’t even open again until we get home, and one of Quebec clothes.  Simplifies things!  Ooh! La! La!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Hello from Sydney, Nova Scotia

Hello from Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada. Nova Scotia is a maritime eastern province of Canada.  It was settled in 1785 by Englishmen seeking a better life and disbanded soldiers fleeing the Revolution in Colonial America.

The weather today is cool, a little windy, clear skies and lots of sunshine.  We were greeted by a (handsome according to MA) bagpiper.

In 1785 through the early 1800's, fifty thousand Scottish immigrants arrived in Nova Scotia. This whole area is known as Cape Breton and it is the only place in North America where Gaelic is still spoken. The local music, dancing and storytelling have remained a legacy of those who immigrated from the Scottish highlands.

As we walked off the ship the first thing we saw was a display of English motor cars right there on the pier parked in front of a huge fiddle. If you find MA in the violin picture above you'll get a sense of how tall it is. Anyhow, my favorite of the cars was a 1946 MG Roadster.

We hoped to find a hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus but they told us this area was too small for those types of tours. The only other tour available was for a 3-hour bus drive around town for $120.....we passed.

Anglican Church
Instead we walked around the town on our own.  It was cool but we were both comfortable with sweaters and a jacket.  We found an old Catholic church, Sacred Heart Church, that had been "decommissioned", meaning that the dioceses was reorganized and it would no longer be used as a church.  (See picture below.)

The parishioners we spoke with said that they paid all the bills and the church was well attended but the higher ups wanted them to come to another church on the other side of town.  Clearly they were saddened by what had happened to their beloved church. They even took the crucifix away explained one 81-year old gentleman whose job it was to greet the visitors.

We found a large arts and craft show at the back of the Anglican church. Mostly they sold hand-knitted scarves and baby blankets, neither of which are we in the market for.  We then walked to the edge of downtown and turned back toward the ship for a hot cup of coffee.  And thus was our stay in Sydney.  MA logged 2500 steps on her Fitbit! Really proud of her, she's averaging about 7000 steps a day. Goal is 10,000!

Checking in with local law enforcement!

This was not an English sports car.....but a caddy parked on the street all painted up.

Inside Sacred Heart Church (Decommissioned)

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Halifax & Peggy's Cove with Joe and Charlene

Joe and Charlene with us at lunch
Today began several years ago during our last visit to Halifax when we made friends with our tour guide Joe McSweeney.  We've stayed in touch with him and when we booked this cruise we let him know we'd be back and wanted to say hello. Well, Joe didn't want to just say hello, he wanted to spend the day with us on a personal tour of Halifax. Happily we accepted and arranged to meet him and his wife, Charlene this morning as we got off the ship. They were waiting with big smiles and hugs and our day began!

I'd first of all like to thank the Lord God Almighty for a beautiful day.  We were greeted with clear skies and cool temperatures.  It was a great beginning.

Our first stop of the day was the Halifax Public Gardens, a beautifully maintained garden in the middle of the city with fountains, a stream, bandstand, and statues. Our next stop was the Fairview Lawn Cemetery where 121 victims of the Titanic are buried.  There are four rows of grave markers.  Some are unknown. Others were identified at the time and some identified later at which time their names were engraved on the marble headstones.
One of the Titanic crew....he maintained his post

We then stopped at the Citadel, a British fortress, which overlooks the city of Halifax. It offers a great view of the city from a high viewpoint.  We continued off through the city and headed to lunch and Peggy's Cove.  Lunch was at the Rhubarb, a restaurant near Peggy's Cove.  Joe had a reservation and everyone there knew him! He and I had fish and chips, MA had a salad and mini-pizza and Charlene had muscles.  Everything was excellent.

After lunch we piled back into their car stopping at the memorial to Swiss Air Flight 111 which crashed off the Halifax coast on September 2, 1998, killing all aboard. It is said that when the locals heard the tremendous noise of the crash, they all rushed to their boats to search for survivors.  This was a particularly poignant moment for MA who in her heart is still a flight attendant!
Bag-Piper at the Lighthouse (making a buck)

We continued on our personally guided tour to Peggy's Cove.  Joe drove us almost all the way to the lighthouse and we agreed to meet him at the visitor center down the hill.  Mary Alice and I had about 45 minutes to take it all in. This little fishing village is a photographer's heaven.  There are so many photo ops.  I hope you enjoy the photos I've attached.

We found Joe and Charlene as agreed and continued on our way stopping at a local house whose owner had painted a mural of Peggy's Cove that covers the entire front facade of the house!

Joe drove us by a small park in Halifax and pointed out a memorial to American soldiers and sailors captured during the War of 1812 and who died while in captivity.  These soldiers and sailors are still honored on Memorial Day.

It was time to return to the ship and say our good byes.  What a great day we had with Joe and Charlene. We invited them to Texas and hope they'll take us up on that! They're the kind of folks you would like to have for your next door neighbors!

Titanic Cemetery
 Photos of Peggy's Cove: