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  • nigeldalton

To Canada and back

Five years ago we flew to Canada to cruise Canada and New England. We were slightly early for the main colours of fall so were hoping to get a bit more of the reds and golds this time and we weren't disappointed. We started off in Liverpool with the first designated port of call as Cobh, where we planned to see the Titanic exhibition. We departed shortly after the main effect of the hurricane was being felt in Canada so it shouldn't have really been a surprise to find out that we were not going to get into Cobh because we were going to have to travel slower to get to St John's in Newfoundland and needed the extra time in order to arrive on schedule in St John's. The cruise across was fairly calm and we arrived without incident.

St John's is a pretty town with great views of Signal Hill and the Cabot Tower from the pier and there is a great circular walk which Sue and I did which brings you back on a wooden boardwalk pinned to the cliffs overlooking Fort Amherst lighthouse on the opposite side. The red plastic chairs you'll see were placed there by Parks Canada and you'll see them in many of Canada's unique and treasured sites - a thoughtful addition for weary legs or for people just wanting to admire the views.

We'd been to Sydney, Nova Scotia before - it has a huge violin at the port welcome centre (see post 5 years ago!). We were tendered at Sydney because there were two other ships docked. One was a Princess floating village and the other was Nieuw Statendam which we heard trading foghorns in the mist, then eventually saw coming out of it. In the town itself there was a fair amount of storm damage evident with one tree just missing a large house.

Our trip to Gaspe was cancelled because there were numerous whales in the area and we weren't allowed to use the water needed to get there. I found that amusing because I'd booked a whale watching tour which I obviously missed! Instead we went to Havre St Pierre, a small town with not much there - but we managed to have a walk around and a beer. The thing I loved about the place was that the whole town drove down to the pier when it was time for us to depart and honked their horns and cheered to say thank you for coming - a very warm goodbye - thank you to them.

Next we visited Baie Comeau - I have one picture of the local bus which was one of a number that were supposed to be ferrying passengers into the centre of the town for sightseeing. It was the only one that turned up - we spent 10 minutes waiting in the queue for the bus but it was freezing cold with a driving wind so we gave up and spent the day on board.

Saguenay was a different story. Last time we went, we just had a small walk around the harbour - this time we took a trip on one of the yellow school buses that seem to be the norm for guided tours. Be warned, they don't have air conditioning so the windows steam up and the heating is on stun in order to clear them. They also don't have suspension - at least that's what it feels like, a right boneshaker! Nevertheless, we went to Saguenay National Park to have a walk round and it was just spectacular - all the colours had just started to turn and the marked walking routes were well laid out. There were people rock climbing and I took a vertical pano from ground to mountain summit to show this. As we were leaving Saguenay to go to Quebec, we sailed past the Centennial Cross which was built to commemorate the centennial of the opening to Saguenay Lac St Jean to colonisation.

Quebec was a delight. We had booked a tour organised by Fred Olsen called Quebec through Photography and were promised the services of a professional photographer who would guide us to his favourite spots in Quebec and give technical advice to those who needed it. When our guide greeted us he told us he was a retired diplomat. The tour itself was a good walking tour around Quebec and we enjoyed it but I think it was miss-sold by Olsen. All the tours department did was to say "we'll take it on board" so I wasn't impressed.

On our previous visit to Quebec we'd seen a harpist called David Ogald - we saw him this time as well so took the opportunity to take his picture again.

Our last port of call was Corner Brook and we went for another walking trail which took us up to a little bridge, a river and eventually a small lake - again, lovely colours. Our last view of Canada for this trip was of a remote little seaside town with fishermens' cottages and a mist descending.

The journey home was supposed to take in Belfast where we were booked to go on another forest walk. Unfortunately, the weather got progressively worse and we spent more than two days with 6.5 metre swell and force 8 gales so we missed that as well.

Never mind, we had the company of a Snow Bunting which our resident bird spotters told us must have become lost in transit - it wasn't bothered by people walking past it on the deck at all and probably walked half the distance of the deck before it had rested enough and it suddenly perched on the wooden rail and then flew off.

We enjoyed Canada a great deal, as we had the previous trip.



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