Tag Archives: Photography

Bostin’ Boston

19th-20th September 2014

Bostin’ Boston – Massachusetts

P1030437

For those not used to Black Country terminology bostin’ means great or even superb. We’ve been here before and this is another place we really like. Boston has a very unique heritage having been the centre for the fight for independence against the oppressive English and the ‘Freedom Trail’ here is very interesting and thought provoking. That aside it’s a very, very, very nice place to visit. There’s a lot of construction going on and it’s very clear that Boston is also looking to build a thriving new modern city as well attracting visitors with its historical past.

So firstly it’s another beautiful day (ye gods are definitely smiling our way) but the bad news is there’s no shuttle busses being laid on and it’s three miles into town. The queue for local transport is huge, so what other choice do we have? Oh well off we go, and to be fair it’s a pleasant easy walk and within forty minutes we’re at central wharf in the centre of town.

P1030401          We have a whale watch booked with Boston Harbor Cruises, which we booked direct and saved ourselves over £50 compared with the ship tour going with the same company. We are aware that the morning tour was cancelled because of rough weather beyond the harbour (my spellchecker just quit because I keep spelling harbor/harbour wrong) Unfortunately this afternoons event has also been cancelled…….ah well, at least we get our money back. But then there’s so much to see and do here it’s not really a problem to make alternative plans. So we walk the ‘Freedom Trail’ and generally have a great afternoon in the city.

After a return to the ship to shower and change it’s time for our first theatre trip to see ‘Blue Man Group’ at the Charles Playhouse. But first let’s get some food…..erm Chinatown here we come. We stroll up and down for a few minutes and choose the busiest place, which is more like a canteen than a restaurant. But we’re not disappointed, the food is great and more importantly cheap (how do they do it?) Yes the attitude of the staff is a bit gruff and there is a great discussion and pointing in our direction when we refuse the offer of knives and forks, but the deliciously mounded plates of food makes it all worthwhile.

Following the food comes the show…….and what a great show. I admit I’m not a one for the theatre but this was nearly two hours of very cleverly choreographed fun. It’s simple but complex and appealing to old and young (and grumpy gits) alike. Definitely worth the money, and the walk which of course is a useful way of burning off all those ‘sweet and sour’ calories, but there’s a small price to pay for our energetic enthusiasm and as our second day dawns over Boston we can hardly move…….oh the joys of older age.

After a quick rub down with an oily rag (have you seen the towels recently?) we head off refreshed into the centre. Today the mission is most definitely food, more specifically Quincy Market food. A good long walk into town certainly improves the appetite and after enjoying a couple of the street entertainers the fun begins with some pizza slices. Mmmmm, mmmm. Then we share a bread bowl of delicious clam chowder and finish the whole thing off with a disgustingly large ice cream from ‘Sprinkles’. What more can I say? The food here speaks volumes for itself, and we never got round to sampling the masses of Chinese, sandwiches, wraps, lobster stacks, hoagies, hot dogs and burgers. I’ve said it before but I’m not surprised at the size of some of the locals here, they certainly don’t skimp on the portions. Yes it’s not cheap (compared to last night’s Chinese it’s very pricey) but it’s so worth spoiling any diet, after all we are on holiday J

Well, that was it really. A slow amble back to the ship and a farewell sail away from one (of many) of our favourites. You can bet your bottom dollar we’ll be back, there’s still so much left to try.

Bostin’ Boston with bostin’ fittle…..and that one I’ll leave to your imagination because New York here we come, I just hope the weather continues and we all have a wonderful time in the ‘Big Apple’ (hmm there’s a reference to food again but let’s hope it’s not that healthy)

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Goodbye Boston…..we’ll be back

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Bar Harbor – Maine USA

18th September 2014

Bar Harbor – Maine……USA

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Well………today was a very early start as the entire ship had to undergo an immigration inspection by US customs. What can I say apart from it was all supposed to start at a very early hour (about 5am) so we were all up and ready, passports and ESTA’s in hand, unfortunately they weren’t quite as prepared and things got delayed. Tempers frayed (a little) comments were made (a lot) and after an hour or so of waiting in line someone was sent to the back of the queue for an inappropriate remark. Nice….well you were warned not to mess with US homeland security guys and gals!

Anyway, by about 10.30 ish we were all done and ready to go ashore…..by tender (I can understand why they call it tender, because it’s very rough on the old posterior and makes it very…….yes you got it……tender) There are two other cruise ships in the harbour (see the word harbour does have a u in it) one of them being the QM2, so there’s going to be a lot of folk ashore.

There’s a lot of folk ashore (see what did I tell you) and the whole place is wall to wall Americans (I’m not sure what I expected to find in America? But I’m glad to see my observational skills are still intact) There’s a bit of a hold up as several of them are comparing their babies in the middle of the boardwalk so no one can pass. Well I say babies but I mean cameras, which are actually the size of small children, and they cradle them like they would a baby, lovingly caressing the telephoto lens and drooling over the pixels (which of course are mega) The main problem though is they can only take pictures of stuff that is smaller than a microbe and at least 5 miles away, and owing the sheer weight of their equipment they can’t hold it steady for any longer than 1/250th of a second at 800 ASA with the f:stop set at 4 (I’ve no idea what I just said but it sounded good)

P1030378           Anyway, we eventually got passed them without too much damage to our sanity (or thankfully their babies) and had a really interesting walk around the coastal path then up into the Arcadia National Park via ‘Strawberry Hill’ and amazingly we’re completely on our own up here. We spot lots of squirrels and for the first time we see some of the trees putting out their autumn colours, very pretty.

Following the local trail map we come across a cemetery with the most amazing views across the hills to Cadillac Mountain. As you would expect it’s very peaceful and we sat for a while alongside the residents who almost seem to welcome our presence. Then we continue on our way and after about an hour we’re back in the town, and of course we pop into the church. WOW……..one of the nicest we’ve been in for a long while. All highly polished dark wood pews and Italian stained glass windows.

We visit the fire station and the local square then it’s time for a bite. The Thirsty Whale is packed so we wander around until we find a side street café which is aptly named ‘The Side Street Café’ where we indulge in macaroni cheese with fresh lobster and burgers, really yummy, oh and just for your information the beers not bad either………

More wanderings and we find a pen for Polly then indulge in a really naughty ice cream.

Well, I think it’s fair to say that Bar Harbor is well worth a visit if only to sample the lobster and local beer. But fortunately it’s more than just that and we had a really nice day here even if it started late!!!

Shame we had to leave really, but not because there was more we were desperate to do, it’s because we had to go back on that bloody tender………Oh well into every buttock some ointment we must rub……

 

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Halifax-Nova Scotia…looks like it’s been hot :)

P103036816th – 17th September 2014

Halifax – Nova Scotia…..I love this place

             Day 1….The city of Halifax, in my humble opinion, is one of the best visits for those cruising the east coast of Canada and the USA . There is a fantastic boardwalk with great views across the harbour towards Dartmouth and the island of St George looking toward the mouth of the estuary. Unlike most places the cruise terminal (?) doesn’t share space with the container port, so everything appears bright and clean and exceptionally well looked after.P1030367

There are plenty of interesting sculptures along this easy route which takes you past some of the most desirable places to eat, without the need for walking up into the city, where of course there are also numerous places serving excellent local food (and drink)

The town itself a very interesting mix of old and new, the highlight of course being the citadel at the top of the hill. But don’t ignore the mass of wonderful parks which are crammed with beautiful flower displays and no vagrants can be sleeping rough on the benches (none that we noticed anyway) to spoil the atmosphere (literally)

We walk up the steep hill to the entrance of the fort and arrive just minutes before midday and the firing of the signal gun. Because we’re right under the wall from where the cannon is fired, we’re asked to step to one side (for health and safety reasons of course) and given a countdown with clear instructions to cover our ears. As usual there are a group of belligerents, either claiming they were in the military for years so are used to such loud reports or those just refusing to take advice. Many are clutching their tablets with both hands, arms fully extended and ready to capture the moment as a few million pixels, never again to be viewed!!

Now I like my hearing, I find it’s quite important for the continued enjoyment of my life, so I take the proffered advice. But I’m not watching the firing of the gun, that’s going to just be a big puff of smoke, preferring instead to watch the individuals who don’t realise exactly what is about to happen.

Ten seconds, nine, eight, seven….the gathered are smiling and happy…..four, three……they tense with fingers poised to take this most memorable of photos……….one………BANG!!!!

One of the ex-navy guys swears so loudly I can hear him even though my ears are still covered and he’s twenty yards away. Most of the people in my field of vision act on their natural instinct and duck, hands instantly flying to cover their assaulted ears but it’s far too late.  Tablets and photographs are momentarily forgotten and in some cases they’re almost thrown to the ground in violent retribution as if they had somehow committed the user to the task and were now solely responsible for the outcome.

I didn’t actually see anyone collapse with blood oozing from their ears but some of the once belligerent bystanders were definitely having second thoughts about their own stubbornness. One lady announced (well rather shouted as she couldn’t actually hear anything)  “I hope that was worth it.” She busily slapped herself on the side of the head……………as if that was going to help or make the slightest difference.

Anyway…….we moved on, not into the citadel this time, but around the outside and down the hill toward the far side of the city. We had it in mind to head for the Titanic cemetery, but having stopped and quizzed a local we realised it was a bit too far to walk (something else to organise for next time)

P1030355We spent the rest of the morning wandering around a couple of interesting (not Titanic) graveyards and several parks, then finally the time arrived to head back to the port area for lunch. I’ll say no more than it was very nice (I think) and very boozy (I think) and we ate and drank far too much (that I know for definite)

More wandering around in the afternoon (more like staggering to be honest) and despite being completely stuffed to bursting I just had to have an ice-cream from the infamous ‘Cows Dairy’ very yummy.

As we have an overnight stop here we had our evening meal sat out on the boardwalk at one of the many restaurants, The Bicycle Thief, which was very busy but the food was really good (if a little on the expensive side)

(to be continued)

Quebec – one of the best

quebec11th – 12th September 2014

Quebec – Quebec (so good they named it twice)

Well the good fortune has finally run out and taken the good weather with it, and this morning there is quite a persistent downpour of the cold wet stuff. As there’s so much to do and see in this wonderful city there is a growing sense of disappointment, however……are we going to let that spoil our day?

Answers on a postcard please…….

We set off anyway, waterproofs and shorts being the dress code of the day. Within minutes we’re soaked right through, but in true ‘We’re British’ fashion we keep going, on up the steep hill to the Chateau Frontenac and a wander around the citadel walls and into the arboretum. It was an enjoyable walk but as we’re so wet we didn’t feel it was very fair on the local traders to wander in and out of their shops and galleries, as we would normally do, dripping all over their priceless wares, not a very good idea really. So on we trudge, well squelch really as by now even our waterproof shoes aren’t waterproof anymore. Finally we reach a point where we can no longer ignore the growing numbness in our frozen limbs and reluctantly we head back to the ship demonstrating the gated walk we normally display after several hours of horse riding.

After an hour or so of drinking coffee and doing the English thing by talking about the weather, the skies clear and the sun almost comes out. Now resplendent in our fresh and dry change of clothes we head back into the city and this time we troll in and out of everywhere looking at all the soggy stuff on display (obviously our fellow cruisers didn’t feel the same as ourselves about dripping around the shops) what great fun. With the threat of more rain we decided to change our plans to stay in the city to eat and headed back to the ship once more as the evening approached.

The second day dawned bright and cheerful and today there’s a cycle race in the city, the ‘Grand Prix of Quebec’ is an 11 lap race around an 18 kilometre course and will dominate the activities all around the city today.P1030303

Now we’ve never really been ones to attend live sporting events (unless you include the countless duties at the football and cricket for St John Ambulance) but I have to say we really enjoyed the atmosphere and the excitement this race generated among the spectators. I personally was amazed at just how quickly these guys race and as they passed by us each time they were followed by an entourage of vehicles laden with spare bikes, wheels etc. But following right at the back were three large ambulances ready to pick up the pieces if anything untoward happened, trouble was they struggled to keep pace and at each corner the squeal from the tyres was deafening. At one point we were sure one of them was about to leave the course in a very dramatic fashion, and we could clearly see the terror in the face of the paramedic sitting in the passenger seat. He looked quite pale and maybe needed to go suck on the oxygen for a while to recover, that’s if was able to prise his fingers from their death defying grip on the dashboard.

P1010449 Anyway, after a hard few hours of walking around the walls and watching the race from the high vantage points we made our way back onto the main street and enjoyed a very nice boozy lunch at a place called ‘Bello’ a very stylish Bistro/wine bar that served really tasty pizza and risotto.

Then a quick hunt around the souvenir shops for some pen’s for our friend Polly and back to the ship for a lively sail away party on deck.

Quebec is definitely one of our favourites, a truly cosmopolitan city with many interesting things to see and do. A little disappointed that we were here earlier than last time and all the Halloween festivities and displays hadn’t really begun yet, but hey ho there’s always be a next time……..hopefully.

Thanks Quebec, great visit, great city 🙂

 

Elephant in Norway?

Elephant

Photograph was taken in Hollandsfjord Norway and is original with no alterations.

Sunset over Islay

islay

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