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Atlantic North-East

Eurodam Cruise 2015

It is rare that I start a cruise with a train ride but it is exactly what I did for this one! A lovely train ride between Montréal and Québec city (in first class no less, complete with breakfast and internet!). The scenery lit up as the sun came into view and there were still a lot of colors on the trees. It looked like a strange modern painting….

The train station in Quebec is called Gare du Palais and has a lovely art deco vibe to it.

We hung around for a while before heading out to the port to board our ship. The much loved Eurodam.

Our stateroom was in the middle of the ship right next to the glass elevators…. as long as we did not lean out of our balcony our privacy was safe.

We started with an overnight in port, which was a novelty for me, and a very pleasant one at that, as the Vieux Québec (Old city) is only a few steps away from the docks. We did go for a walk amid very old buildings to the Auberge Saint-Antoine Hotel where we had a drink while seated in comfy couches in front of a log fire. It made me want to go back for a weekend to try out all those great restaurants… Usually I will drive there for a museum visit or a family reunion and head right back home. *Note to self*.
The iconic Chateau Champlain was all lit up as if it was posing for photographers…

It looked just as imposing the next morning in the light of day.

The next morning we again set out, this time for the Musée de la Civilisation, where we had a lovely guided visit of their “Masters of the Olympus” exhibit. It was interesting to me because this collection comes from the Berlin Antiquity Museum that I saw on my trip there in 2013.

And soon it was time to set sail… down the St Lawrence River, towards the Saguenay. The fall colours were still blazing along the river.

Unfortunately we lifted anchor late in the afternoon so that most of the trip was done in darkness and overnight, so we did not see a lot of the scenery nor did we see any whales. We docked in Saguenay early the next morning. It was very windy and on the cool side. You could tell they had a nice set up to welcome cruise ships but because this was nearing the end of the season most of the kiosks were un manned. We did however get to experience some local flavour during show we attended called: “La Fabuleuse Histoire d’un Royaume” or, as they translated it in English: “The Kingdom of Saguenay”. This is a show that has been running for years. It is more than a musical. There are real horses on stage and canons going off and all sorts of pyrotechnics. It tells the story of this isolated region and its very tenacious and inventive people. This English version has been shortened and translated to appeal to the cruising market and although I would have loved to see the entire show, I enjoyed it a lot and was very happy to have finally seen it!

We set sail in the afternoon once again so never got to see the fjord, as we exited it nor the whales.
We spent the next day sailing towards Prince Edward Island.
We did get to see the wind turbines as we sailed by Cap Chat.

This day was the perfect opportunity to explore the ship and its amenities. It is a beautiful ship and although called the Eurodam it seemed to be dedicated to Rembrandt as there were auto-portraits of him everywhere.

Given the cool and drizzly weather the pool was covered and the outside decks not overly inviting but the bars were welcoming as always. The Holland ships are pretty much all built on a similar model but this one boasts an extra feature: an Asian restaurant and bar that offered very nice views… comfy seating and fabulous cocktails…

We finally docked in Charlottetown on the morning of October 18th.

This is the land of the potato, of red soil and of Anne of Green Gables!

We chose to discover it through its food, so we took a walking culinary tour. It was very enjoyable. We got to taste some oysters, lobster, olive oil (nooo not local but still very enjoyable!) and vinegars (like a Cinnamon pear dark balsamic).

 

We visited a local brewery, located in a very old and charming building as well as a distillery by the waterfront.
It gave us the opportunity to discover a charming town, as we walked by St Dustan’s basilica and the Bishop’s palace, with many interesting sculptures along the way, as well as a picturesque boardwalk and beautiful fall colours!

 

The next day we were landing in a different province: Nova Scotia! Thoughts of Cape Breton and The Cabot Trail, the Louisbourg citadel and Peggy’s cove come to mind. We had two days, in two different ports, to explore this area called Mi’kma’ki by the First Nations, Acadie by the French and New Scotland by the British.

Our first stop was Sydney and we chose an excursion to the Fortress of Louisbourg in Cape Breton. When the War of Spanish Succession was settled with the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713, Britain was given control of mainland Nova Scotia and France was given Ile Royale, what is today known as Cape Breton Island. The French found an ice-free, sheltered harbour to act as a base for France’s interests; they named it Louisbourg, in honour of King Louis XIV. Over the years it changed hands several times and was basically destroyed by1760. It has since been declared a National Historic site and carefully rebuilt as it stood in the 1740s when it was not only a military base but also a thriving civilian community made prosperous by a profitable cod-fishery and strong trade ties reaching across the Atlantic.

 

I find it fascinating to try and imagine the life of the people in those times…there are striking differences between the garrison and the homes around it.

Life could not have been easy… judging by this pillory.

I found the presence of the ocean so close both appeasing and menacing…

That afternoon we lifted anchor and woke up the next morning in Halifax, Nova Scotia! The home of Alexander Keith’s original 1820 brewery! This time I chose a bus tour of the main attractions of the area. We started in the public gardens, that I found absolutely beautiful even if this was fall and the end of flowering season.

Next we drove up to the Citadel. As we did not go in, there is not a lot I can say except that the view is pretty from up there and the kilt clad guards seemed to be freezing….

Next we drove to one of the most photographed places in the province:
Peggy’s cove, a picturesque fishing village with a stately lighthouse.

 

On the way back we stopped to meet the author of a picture book called “Peggy of the Cove” I have no comment on the book but the man is as colourful as his house.

The next stop was definitely not as light-hearted, as we visited the Titanic Grave site at the Fairview lawn cemetery. One hundred and twenty-one victims of the Titanic are interred at Fairview, more than any other cemetery in the world. Most of them are identified with small gray granite markers with the name and date of death. Surveyor E. W. Christie laid out three long lines of graves in gentle curves following the contours   of the sloping site. Accidentally or voluntarily, the curved shape suggests the outline of the bow of a ship.

It was an interesting closing for me after having visited the docks where the Titanic was built in Ireland a few years ago.

And it was time again to get back on board as we headed for the US onto Portland Maine.

In Portland we went to see a lighthouse…the setting was nice… foliage and flowers…

The weather was not great but it did not deter these sailors.

The last northern stop on this cruise was Boston. The rain kept us from exploring on foot so we chose a trip to Salem. As this was the end of October we felt the mood would be right…. And it was: houses were decorated for Halloween everywhere.

 

Once again we visited a cemetery: the Salem Witch Trials Memorial, such sad stories.

We then visited the Salem Witch Museum, where a presentation and exhibits retraced the events and attempted to explain what caused them: a strong belief in the devil, rivalry between neighbouring towns, a recent smallpox epidemic and the threat of attack by warring tribes created a fertile ground for fear and suspicion and mass hysteria.

Underlining another time in Salem history, we later visited the Salem Maritime National Historic Site where the Friendship of Salem, a 171-foot replica of a 1797 East Indiaman, is docked. The Friendship made 15 voyages during her career, to Batavia, India, China, South America, the Caribbean, England, Germany, the Mediterranean and Russia.   She was captured as a prize of war by the British September 4th, 1812. We were told there were so many built all at once that they were short of captains and had to send young boys at the helm…

Back on board the ship we were preparing for two days of sailing southward and looking forward to some warmer weather as the ship left Boston.
Everyone was taken by surprise when a very sudden and strong wind tipped the ship 5° sending plates and glasses flying in the dining rooms and bars. In true cruise line fashion everything was cleaned up in record time and life resumed its course in time for the second seating supper albeit to a shorter menu.

After 2 days of relaxation on board I was excited to get off the ship when we got to Port Canaveral, always busy…

I had elected to plan my own excursion and had booked a wildlife boat expedition with a company called “Wildside Tours” which turned out to be lovely.
The boat was small and quiet so you felt like you were respecting the animals rather than intruding. The captain and her mate were great at spotting wild life and would stop and let us really watch and take all the photos we wanted. We saw dolphins, manatees and many many gorgeous birds.

 

I completed the day with a quick stop in a shopping mall and a nice seafood lunch by the water. This turned out to be a lovely day in one of my favourite places.

We lifted anchor for the last time as we headed for Fort Lauderdale, the end of this journey. The day started with a spectacular sunrise…

As we had quite a bit of time before boarding our plane we took one more tour. This one was called “Land and sea excursion & transfer to Ft. Lauderdale” airport. The name tells it all. We had a bus tour through the Arts & science district, the Riverwalk and Las Olas Boulevard and then boarded a double decker yacht for a journey into the Intracoastal Waterway. This last part turned out to be very exciting as the city was hosting their big boat show that weekend! We saw some impressive vessels in that port, as well as very luxurious homes! It was a fun way to spend a few hours rather than wasting them in an airport.

 

And this concludes this “Canada New England cruise” story. We did not get the best weather but we did get to see some fall foliage and a great number of lighthouses. I was glad to get to know that part of my country better.

 

 

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