New England Cruise (Sept 2009)
The cruise took us to several ports in maritime Canada and north-east United States. Before boarding the ship in Quebec City, we flew to Buffalo to visit with brother Buzzy and Joanne. Buzzy then took us to Toronto, where we took a train to Quebec City.
Click on the light-blue links (i.e., paragraph headings) below to see some pictures.
Buzzy and JoAnn were wonderful hosts, as they have been on several visits before. While Carlene and JoAnn went for some exercise at the Buffalo Athletic Club, Buzzy and I went to the old neighborhood on Buffalo's east side were we grew up. Considering the general rundown area (abandoned houses, etc), our old house looked pretty good - fixed up and painted.
We relaxed at their place and on the deck and enjoyed a dinner out. We had another dinner out at a fish-fry place, where other family members joined us (Chris, Mary, Rosanne, and Ron). It was nice to see everyone. Who knows when we'll be back there again.
A beautiful city that celebrated its 400th anniversary in 2008. The celebration included a spectacular image and audio show projected on a line of grain silos 600 meters long and 30 meters high. The show, which was an abstract depiction of the city's history, was also presented in 2009, and we were there. It was awesome! The set of photos included here has a picture of the silos that is a composite of two photos (I couldn't capture the whole thing in one picture). It was too dark during the show to take decent pictures, but I tried. However, you must go to the following link to see a slide show and video clips.
We went up to the citadel fortress that once protected the city to catch a nice view of the harbor. On our climb, we encountered a uniquely-painted building. It gave the appearance of a courtyard in three dimensions, although it was painted on a flat wall.
The three ports we stopped at in Canada were mildly interesting from the point of view of history and geography. Saguenay and Sydney were nondescript. Charlottetown was more interesting and is the capital city of Prince Edward Island, and is called the "Birthplace of Confederation" after the historic 1864 Charlottetown Conference which led to Confederation and eventually the Dominion of Canada. We visited a museum that had displays of the various provinces and gave a brief history. Carlene focused on Saskatchewan. Halifax was an important port as the departure point for soldiers and equipment during the first and second world wars. We took a double-decker bus ride to the citadel overlooking the city and around the city.
In 1917 (WW1 period) two ships collided in the Halifax harbor, one of them loaded with ammunition, causing an explosion with more force than any man-made explosion before it, equivalent to roughly 3kilotons of TNT. (Compared to the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, which had an estimated power of 15 kilotons). The ship was instantly destroyed in the giant fireball that rose over 1.2 miles into the air, forming a large mushroom cloud. Shards of hot metal rained down across Halifax and Dartmouth. The force of the blast triggered a tsunami, which rose up as high as 60 feet above the harbor's high-water mark on the Halifax side. Much of the city was devastated and more than 2000 people were killed and 9,000 were injured, many seriously.
The weather was perfect the entire vacation, with the slight exception of fog in Bar Harbor and a little drizzle in New York City. We walked a nice little trail along the coast in Bar Harbor, and walked part of the Freedom Trail in Boston, including the Old North Church (one if by land, two if by sea), and the USS Constitution. We weren't able to board the Constitution (closed on Mondays), but went through the adjacent museum, which was fascinating. It's hard to believe that that little ship carried 450 sailors. We visited an old Episcopal church and took a guided tour of a synagogue in Newport. We learned that Rode Island in the 17th and 18th centuries was one of the few places in the colonies where all religions were freely practiced.
We sailed into New York just before dawn. It was dark and the Statue of Liberty was lighted. It seemed smaller than I remember seeing it many years ago. Getting in early, gave us two days to spend in the big city. Our hotel was in China Town and a few blocks from Little Italy in Lower Manhattan. It turned out that the San Gennaro (patron saint of Naples) Festival was happening. The festival was featured in a couple of the Godfather movies. At least 10 or 15 blocks of Mulberry Street were blocked off for vendors of all kinds, mostly food. Manny people and great food.
We did a lot of walking. The first day we walked south along Broadway through the financial district to Battery Park, which contains a memorial to fallen sailors. The next day we went north past Soho, Greenwich Village and the garment district to Times Square. I wanted to take a taxi back to the hotel, but Carlene insisted on walking.