Monthly Archives: September 2018

Bermuda – friends, sea, sand and rum cocktails – and 99th country visited!

Always exciting to visit a new country and even better when you are getting together with old friends – Marjory from Vancouver Island and our hosts Beth and John who I last say 7 years ago.

Bermuda is a charming place to visit – although pricey since everything is imported. First day was a Sunday so the lovely Coral Beach was a must – and it has been ages since I’ve had a beachy lazy day. The weather and sea colours were glorious

Then a visit to St Georges – on another side of the island (which is about 21 square miles). It was the old capital so lots of nice buildings and churches. Also a chance to view some of the pastel coloured houses that are all over the island.

A glass bottom boat tour is a must – we ended up on a huge boat with just six of us – it is the end of the season although the weather was still warm. Shipwrecks and feeding fish were fun – apparently there are a lot of shipwrecks around Bermuda (that triangle had a lot to answer for)

Time in the capital Hamilton enabled us to visit the Hamilton Princess Hotel which has a superb collection of contemporary art – and a chance to see a Kusama pumpkin in a neutral colour.

And then to the Arts Centre which had a Sheridan Fairley exhibit – I have seen some of his street art around the world (Obey campaign) so was thrilled to see this and a very good video with him discussing his art.

And all good vacations include wonderful friends and good food and drinks by the sea – this was no exception. Thanks to Beth John and Marjory for making it extra special.

USA, Cleveland

First time back in Cleveland for about 15 years staying with my lovely friends Terry and Brooks who I met on my cruise through the Panama Canal a couple of years ago. They were the perfect hosts and I loved being back at the I M Pei designed Rock and Roll Hall of Fame – we did about 3.5 hours there but it could easily have been six. Fantastic building and brilliant exhibits. I even got to connect with my beloved David Cassidy – RIP:(. Then we headed to the Science Museum to watch two IMAX movies.

Next day I was once again able to see experience the work of Yayoi Kusama – those who read my blogs regularly will know I am a great fan and always see her work whenever it is available wherever I go. This time if was at the beautiful Cleveland Museum of Art and involved 9 Infinity rooms – amazing as ever and what a treat to catch up with this exhibit which ends here in a week. And I got to catch up with Uschi – another Cleveland resident that I met on the last cruise – Uschi.

USA, Buffalo and Canada, Niagara on the Lake

Have spent three days back in Buffalo staying with friends Paulette and Michael (perfect hosts). We met up with another ex colleague and friend LuAnne who kindly drove us around for the perfect tour of Buffalo. First stop was the amazing Darwin Martin House which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and has been beautifully and painstakingly restored (only the garden left to do). I am a major FLW fan so am sharing a few photos for others who like this kind of thing. Extra special was that we have a private tour:)

Next stop was the Richardson Complex – formerly the Buffalo Psyhiatric home. It is huge and is also being repurposed/restored as a hotel and event location. We got another private tour thanks to my friend Betsy. Some great artefacts like the beams holding up the roof.

Then we headed to the Canalside area. Formerly grain silos and now being repurposed as a place to dine, skate, roller derby and generally have a good time.

And finally a quick day trip back across the border to Niagara on the Lake, Ontario where the Shaw Festival is on – we saw Henry V – but it was set in WW1 trenches and hospital beds. Sounds weird but it was really cleverly done and very moving. The town is gorgeous and decorated with flowers in abundance so a nice place to stroll and indulge in all things maple!


Lovely 5 days in Toronto visiting with old friends and meeting new ones too. This is a very cool and laid back city with lots going on – including at the moment TIFF (the international film festival – saw a couple of movies).

Museums of choice were the fabulous BATA shoe museum which provides a history of shoes – and as you can see bling and shoes have been around for a long long time. And then a whole floor of Manolos – works of art and impossible to actually wear.

At the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) – a place that has everything in it and it build like museums used to be (although has a very modern exterior) I especially enjoyed the Iris Van Hepern clothes design exhibit.

Back on the open decked bus I enjoyed blue sky and sunshine as we swanned around Toronto taking in the striking CN Tower plus a stop at the newly developed Distillery District – which is quite funky and I had never heard of before.

And best of all time to catch up with my friends – gin cocktails with Paul and Murray and flaming saganaki in Greektown with my friends Jim and Arlene (who kindly hosted my stay) and Gary and Ronalda who I haven’t seen for 20+ years. We all talked and reminisced a lot:)

USA, Massachusetts – Boston

Spent a couple of days in Boston post cruise and it rained a lot and when it wasn’t raining it was cloudy but I still enjoyed revisiting some spots and going to some new ones also. It is always a nice easy and compact city to visit -very walkable.

My hotel was a stone’s throw from Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall as well as the red pavemented Freedom Trail walk. I had my last lobster roll for a while in Faneuil Hall:(

Next stop – memorials to the holocaust – symbolic towers for each of the Death Camps which had hot steam floating through them – symbolic for sure. Bottom right is a memorial to the Irish who fled the potato famine for new lives in Boston

Then a nice walk around Beacon Hill – the traditional and swanky part of town. When i was 21 and came to the US for the first time, my friend Sue and I stayed at the parents of a friend who lived in this part of town. We had the whole of the top of the town house plus rooftop patio – we thought we had died and gone to heaven. A lovely part of town but the Cheers Bar is looking a little the worse for wear I thought – and nobody knew my name….

First time visit to the JFK Presidential Library – interesting to visit given the history up to and after his time as President. But the star of this place is the fantastic design of the building by I M Pei on the Waterfront – stunning.

In these shots you can see the hotel I was staying in – it was the very tall building with the clock on the top which was formerly the Customs House. Great to stay in such a historical building which still retains its old counting room. There is also an observation deck above the clock with fabulous views of Boston and surrounds – even on a gloomy day. And I loved the fountain which is hot and cold occasionally spurting out steam.

USA, Maine – Bar Harbour and Acadia National Park; last day of the Seabourn Quest cruise

Well I am finally departing the lovely Seabourn Quest after a wonderful trip covering a small part of Iceland (got to go back there for more), a lot of Greenland, and then a number of smaller locations in Canada’s Eastern provinces – Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Quebec and PEI. Finally entered US waters and had one stop in Bar Harbour – before disembarking in Boston.

Bar Harbour is a cute seaside town with an attractive harbourfront, some sumptious hotels and houses (even the birdhouse is plush!) plus more great lobster rolls!

The famous spot to visit in Bar Harbour is Acadia National Park – I took the free trolley bus there and it stops at loads of places so you can stay on it or get off and do some walking and then pick it up again later. Fab place and would love to go back in the Fall sometime in the future.

Then time so say goodbye to Seabourn Quest – my home from home. Lots of food and music for the final sail away night.

Canada, Nova Scotia – Lunenberg

Last stop on the cruise in the Maritimes and this time it was Halifax Nova Scotia. I had been there a couple of times so took a tour to the gorgeous town of Lunenburg about 90 minutes away – great views all the way there too.

En route we stopped at Mahone Bay

Lunenburg is the home of the Bluenose 2 ship – it wasn’t in dock on this day. It was (well the original one anyway) the fastest sailing ship ever for many consecutive years. It was named after one of the nicknames for people living in Nova Scotia. Apparently, back in the day, they all used to wear blue mittens in Winter and when it got cold and their noses ran they wiped them with their mittens and the blue dye came off on their noses. Great story:)

The first pic below shows three churches next to each other- although the third is a bit hard to see – and then some close ups.

Every road you turn into the buildings are traditional, well maintained and colourful. No wonder the whole old part of town has UNESCO heritage status

Finally in the land of the lobster I’m on a mission to taste, compare and contrast lobster rolls at various ports.

Canada, Prince Edward Island – oysters and almost last day of the cruise

For my second ever visit to PEI (home to Anne of Green Gables) I decided to bypass Charlottetown and do something different so I went to a private home in front of the Pinette River river run by a lovely couple who harvest wild oysters to supply three local restaurants.

A quick departure from Charlottetown.

Then onward to learn how oysters are farmed and shucked and then we ate loads of them – plus those fantastic steamed clams. Apparently 16 of us got through 300 oysters!!

Then they opened the Galley on the ship for their food extravaganza – lobster, cake, chocolate dragons and sea horse bread.

As we sailed away Charlottetown treated us to a beautiful sunset too.

Canada, Quebec – Saguernay and Gaspé (and an unexpected Channel Islands connection)

A visit to the quite remote area of Saguernay and Gaspé in Quebec City. As both places are quite small I chose to walk in their respective national parks to try and make amends for all the good food I’ve been eating on the ship. It was great to get some fresh air and enjoy the scenery.

Parc du Saguernay

Florillon National Park – Gaspé

I was surprised to learn that many of the original settlers in Gaspé came from Jersey and Guernsey – where I lived and worked for a few years back in the 1990s. As a result I saw many Jersey surnames I recognised. They fished cod and then salted it and shipped it to Portugal and Spain (I ate a fair bit of salted cod in Portugal as it is still popular there). There is even a cemetery specifically for those who came from the Channel Islands. Who knew?

Canada, Quebec City – still as charming as ever

We had an overnight stop in Quebec City which meant lots of time to enjoy this wonderful city that feels way more French than Canadian.

The area around the docks is full of antiques shops, cafes and 3D murals.

Then I headed to the upper part of town – good for accumulation of floors on your iPhone- and went to see the changing of the guard at the Citadel. Quite reminiscent of the UK version but with a regimental goat – an idea from Wales

While at the citadel I also opted for the tour of the Governor General’s residence – her second one as her first is in Ottawa. Btw – a very impressive Gov Gen who has been to space and speaks six languages plus lots more. Note chandeliers meant to look like icicles.

Then on to the lovely Chateau Frontenac Hotel – am old Canadian Pacific Railway Hotel now owned by Fairmont. I stayed here over 20 years ago and this time I did the one hour tour which was fun.