Manatu

Pig's Ear Park and Other Adventures

Month: May 2019 (page 1 of 2)

Chicago

Sitting in the lounge at Houston Airport and was approached by a staff member with a wheel chair. No , I definitely did not want it!!!

Flight from Montreal to Chicago totally uneventful apart from having to eject a young woman from MY window seat. She went quietly.

50$ us taxi ride into town, had been quoted 240nz by travel agent.

Had a run around at the hotel, nice room but 10 big airconditoners rattling away on a roof right next door. Offered a dog box , refused to have it, told hotel was full, said as it was3.30 pm she had plenty if rooms she could juggle. A BIG black lady not accustomed to having little old squirts stand up to her.

Got a decent quiet room with a view.

Out for a walk, three hours later back and went next door to a very ordinary restaurant for dinner- a burger of course plus a glass of wine 26$us

Next day stricken with a widdler infection so most of the day was a right off. Staggered onto a big red bus and viewed the sights.

Had a ceaser salad that night, 28$ and pretty mundane. Whoops lost some of this – inflight internet.!

 

 

Prince Edward Island

PEI  as the locals write it has long been on my bucket list. I worked with a really nice woman from there when I lived in Canada in the sixties. 

Well, it rained, and rained and blinking well rained. I am sure it is a lovely island, they produce a lot of potatoes and have lovely red soil rich in  something which enables them to grow stuff! However it has rained so much this spring that they are three weeks late getting their crops in. Same story from Boston on, everywhere is three weeks  late.

So saw very little…. the bridge connects to the mainland, 12 ks long.

Quebec City-sunny!!!!!

What a lovely city, dating back to the 1600’s all gray stone and steep narrow  streets. They even have a funicular as some of the streets are almost perpendicular!!! I am sure there are malls tucked away somewhere but we never saw any

Then out into the countryside to visit a maple farm. Hundred year old trees  producing the maple water which is then boiled for a zillion ours and becomes maple syrup, more hours boiling becomes toffee even more hours and mixed with cream becomes maple butter.  We were given a sample of maple taffy. Some frozen snow in a trough, lines of maple syrup poured on the snow which you then rolled around a stick-yum. Basic lunch at a countryside restaurant, you get very used to classy meals on board, takes no time at all.

After lunch a visit to St Anns Basillica. 

A most impressive building, St Ann still performs miracles apparently. The interior decorations were paid  for by a local benefactor in the early 1900’s after it was rebuilt after a fire. Boy, he let rip, mosaics everywhere and in the lower church, under the main church they even had an Indian Madonna noticeably pregnant, hand on tum a la Meghan. She and Joseph have since been relegated to glass cases along the wall. 98% of Quebec is Catholic. Plus naughty Quebecians only have signs in French , the bilingual message   did not reach there.  

Last visit was to a huge waterfall. Basin underneath abounds in trout and salmon, yes there was someone fishing there. The sun being sort of out made a hige difference to the trip.

Montreal

It took to Quebec  to get the feeling we were actually on a river and it is from Quebec that it gets narrower. Had to leave promptly or the tide would have been too high to go under a bridge just out of the city. Montreal is only 100 k upriver so it was a quiet dawdle overnight.

Managed my luggage, well not really, just looked pathetic a few times and nice men carried it-truly. Even the taxi driver carried my bags into the hotel, nice tip helped.

Montreal is very substantial and has some yummy shops. Perhaps a framed picture is a step too far. Hotel is on the edge of the historic district  which is heaving with tourists and  shopaholics. Buildings are several stories high in this district unlike Quebec’s one and two story buildings.

Large number if skyscrapers and most signs feature English as well. Will report more when I have done my red bus  ride.

 

 

Sydney, Breton Island but still in Nova Scotia

Later start this am , quick zip around Sydney, smaller population (20,000) than Halifax. Has a real success story with its First Nation tribe-Manatoucs, they have a thriving parallel town. 

Sydney area had huge coalmines, still has one today , it is under the sea, golly that gives me the willies just thinking about it.

Visited a small museum in the Wentworth area which was/is very multicultural and now has Unesco status.

Wooden houses, some quite scruffy but I guess that goes with the climate which must play havoc with paint. Too expensive to build in stone or brick as it has to be brought in.

Poles, Lebanese, Blacks, Chinese, Greeks you name it they all came here to either work in the steel mills, now gone or in the coal mines. Not nearly  as  prosperous as Halifax. No way could I access anywhere that sold sim cards so am parked up in a cafe drinking cheap coffee  and eating carbohydrates. 

Even colder here and expected to rain and blow so better get hopping back to the boat.

 

Pictures

Lovely duo on board last night

Severe landscape, wooden houses

Wild blueberry bushes

Halifax

V chilly, leaves not even furled let alone tightly. Golly Nova Scotia has a turbulent past, typical English /French shenanigans. Strong Scottish influence. Gaelic is taught in schools!!!

The fort on top of the hill in Halifax has mock soldiers all done up in kilts, students hired for the summer.Nova Scotia even has its own tartan. The accent is softer here than in USA.

Went on a seven hour tour here and even got to hold a lobster had to ooh and aah… There is only about three inches of topsoil on the area around Halifax so fishing and tourism are all the go. Very few flowers, very few gardens, just too harsh an environment. Walked thru  the Victoria Gardens, small cheese compared to NZ public gardens but we do not have months of snow. Tulips only just in bud.

Bleak landscape but would be softer in summer when/if the leaves ever get out. Chowder for lunch in a pretty manky cafe but the chowder was good.

Still cold, about 10c by the time we got back to the bus. Guide was shorter than me but not quite as old…

Boat building is big here and the Canadian Navy has a strong presence. Tourism is up there too as an earner. Someone made a very bold  move with the boat building , set up training programmes, free training for the needed trades as long as they agreed to an apprenticeship. 

Pikkies

Houses along the coast

Sideways Margaret

Lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove

Houses at above

Trees  trees  and more trees

Cemetry in Halifax has 129 Titanic victims buried in it

Boat building area

Fort with a finger

Downtown(Halifax seems v prosperous

Cruising…

Have no Canadian sim card and can find nowhere in Sydney Nova Scotia to buy one. So, am holes up in a cafe  writing this. The ship charges100us so boo to them.

Left Boston courtesy of an Uber taxi, she got lost finding the ship!! Cabin is fine,, food is very good can feel weight chasing me trying to latch on…Took a couple of days to get the wine package sorted, think it was a perk for this voyage, however it all seemed like 8$ cheapies from the supermarket  so paid a bit more and am now a happy camper. Put a limit on myself as can have 15!!!!! free drinks a day…

Dinner companions are ok, retired policeman and talkative wife, about herself  and  another retired couple, pleasant as well. Policeman  is now a semi professional gambler!!!!

Bar Harbour, would be much prettier ina couple of weeks time as the leaves are still tightly furled. Cute wee town, did a tour with a local geologist, Bar Harbour and its surrounds are set in a caldera from earthquakes aeons ago. The coastline has some interesting geological formations including a whiye stripe in one place which is compressed ash!

Bar Harbour is holiday home territory to the rich and famous. Boy I bet there is a hireachy there with the local serfs being bottom of the heap. Pleased to go there though as it has featured to a larger or lesser degree in many books .

Cold wind , about 12c.

pikkies

Luggage mountain, cabin, I occupy 20% of the bed, blow hole up in Acadia National Park , nr Bar Harbour,gray sea gray day.

Loved the crafty wee chair.

Boston 2

Pikkies

A skerrick of sun-truly

The Newbury Hotel

Boston contrasts

My Cobbler, Boston Common Burial Ground, Hostas coming up to replace the spring bulbs.

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Had a quiet day after the marathon walk on Tuesday. Did further sociological investigations on the shopping habits of Bostonians.

On Wednesday went on the  hop on hop off bus tour. Only in Boston, no red two storey buses, one storey only and no prerecorded tour, live narration.  The first driver was very good, had those interesting snippets that give colour to the narration, second driver a bit grim, third one just wanted to talk about himself. There is a newly developed part of Boston at the bottom of the port area, huge , whole  blocks of new multi storied buildings. Driver said the Bostonians are not sure what to think of the new development. Lots of cafes and restaurants  and of course it is on the river so attractive for that reason.

Sort of got my bearings with the bus ride. It is not a large city, had a population of around 700,000 . There are dozens of private colleges the best known of course is Harvard. In the town Emerson College  has finished for the year and students are being collected by parents. They bring all their stuff down from their dorms in big rolling carts, bedding etc. First lot I saw thought they were homeless people. Then realised the anxious older people were the parents and were trying to stuff all the students junk into their double parked cars.

Had a shoe disaster, my walking shoes, fabulously comfy were looking dusty so decided to get a shoe shine. Said I just wanted shoe cream and a polish. The shoes had a nice metallic look. Not for much longer, shiner says he washes all shoes, I am protesting as he vigorously  washes off some of the metallic finish. I am squeaking as he dries my shoes and applies the  cream, nasty blotchy patches, he finally realises this is not good  and takes me downstairs to an oldtime  shoe repairer, nada. I am quite upset as I carefully selected what shoes to bring, three pairs and the other  two pairs are not serious walking shoes. 

Next day during my sociological  investigations I spied a shoe repairer, yes, give me 24 hours and they will be fine. $15. Only problem was to get to shoe repairer the next day was a five k round trip. I managed the walk incorporating some more sociological surveys along the way, nasty weather, windy and showery. Shoes are great, rather more black than metallic  but fine.

Was going to do the Freedom Walk but weather was not very inviting. So ambled comfortably shod back to the hotel.

Boston is very attractive and I probably should have gone to Salem but the energy level has not been high this week after the full on NY tour. Catch the cruise tomorrow.

Harvard

 Pikkies- political statements abound at this church.

Nice water feature at Harvard

Harvard Book Store and the Mueller Report in its window

Not a prison, a game of baseball. Neither the physiques or skill were impressive.

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Is across the River Charles from Boston. Managed the metro system and spent a pleasant time in the town of Cambridge which Harvard dominates. After eating my first burger in the USA (fairly boring ) joined a walking tour around the huge campus. The majority of the buildings seem to be posh digs for students including one of the Obama daughters.

I then walked down to MIT which I had not realised was so close to Harvard, about 2 ks away…

The whole area was heaving with tourists , lunch choice  was determined by availability of seats.

Then back on the metro over the river and a walk  back thru the gardens and back to Newbury Guest House and my spartan cell. No skerrick of sun reaches my room.

I walked 14 ks so felt a bit tired . Have bought tickets for a hop on hop off tour- no big red buses here, called Old Trolley Tours…50 us$.Ouch!!

Weather is Ok , between13-16, so jacket weather.

Boston

 

 Day two, three really if arrival day is counted. The sun finally came out yesterday  pm and is happily shining now, 9.40 am . A high of 68f is expected today(18? C) feels warmer anyway.

Walked 7.5 ks yesterday, staying in Newbury St, walked down to Boston Common. Much popping into shops…well I needed /had to have a wee quilted bag for my earbuds….Resisted Tiffanys thought that may have been a step too far.

The Public Gardens , 1870 something are fab. First time I have seen a 2m wide 30cm deep ring of compost around mature trees. Talked to a local woman, she said they do it every year. Lovely spring flowers and loads of blossom trees, flowering cherries, crab apples and some I could not identify looked like plum trees, plus lovely dogwoods.

The dog exercising area was fun , the owners as strange as some of the dogs.

Bagel and coffee was a treat  and dinner was chicken salad at the current Parker residence. 

Supposed to rain tomorrow so better get out

Pikkies 

Boston Policeman posed for me.

Doggy people

Famous sculpture-apparently

Washington on his horse amongst the tulips

Blossom trees

Dear wee sculpture

eeny meeny miny mo

Cheeky squirrel

 

 

Gotterdammerung

  1.  Pikkies

1 leaving Ny 2 . Outside Bolosud restaurant, sun!!! 3. Gray New England 4. More gray NE but closer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Was /Is the name of the last opera in Wagner’s Ring Cycle. Not too wildly different from Tolkein’s own Ring Cycle. Similar in viewing length. This last saga  was 51/2 hours.Because the staging was so fantastic and the singing pretty damn good  time passed quickly but it was midnight before we got back to the hotel and my train left at 10 am next day!! Not sure at this stage if I would go to another ring cycle.

Getting a bit too casual, wore jeans to the lunch and same jeans to the met- covered by my nice coat!!!!

The last day in NY was jam packed- well sort of, two hour lecture  and a long lunch at Boloud Sud, not the Miichelin starred one but the one near the Met. Again, fabulous food, going to be hard going back to my usual rations usually eaten in my room!

Goodbye to the group, interesting lot of people and I really enjoyed Pam’s company ,we may venture another tour with Academy. Currently misplaced your email address, must be in the luggage mountain but email if you do not hear from me soon. The silver fox redeemed himself after the inappropriately long first lecture with lectures that made the operas accessible. 

So last morning in NY all made more difficult by a round the Boroughs cycle race which closed 6th Av which I had to get across to get to Penn Station.

Decided I would leave about 8.15 before the race started- mistake ,race started at 8!! The well tipped concierge from day one discussed the sutuation with the lesser tipped doorman. The latter took my two cases casually in one hand and said follow me!!! Concierge said he would look after the door!! All of this in pouring rain. Pedestrians were allowed across sixth av at intervals, I held onto the doormans coat like a five year old… Got a taxi, doorman stood in thee middle of seventh Av and flagged one down, I would still be waiting. More tipping, down to Penn Station, homeless man took my large bag down the escalator, more tipping, then along to the waiting room for Amtrak. Redcaps!!! I had read about them but never seen or used them. They really  are porters who take you and your luggage to the train, easy peasy, set tip, 20$ for one person. Counted up the amount of tips to get me on the train, 41$us….Tiny bag and it would probably have only been the taxi ….

Train comfortable and very fast . Slept part of the way with my head on the table-very elegant.The closer we got to Boston the tighter the leaves were furled. Daffs in full bloom , finished in Ny. Also picture postcard New England towns. Four and a half hour trip.

Got an uber at Back Bay station , Somalian who asked me where I was from , hearing NZ he went into raptures over Jacinda!!! He even carried my tiresome bags up the nasty stairs to Newbury House. Not pleased with guest house, obviously palmed off with the room over the cafe, made my displeasure felt and was virtually told to shut up or shift! Breakfast was probably one of the worst I have ever been served. Meat patties which looked like something to sole shoes…soggy french toast…,urgh. If I had had more than two hours sleep Sataurday night probably would have shipped out…should have….all this joy  for 300 $. Weather is cold but not raining.Here for five more days…sigh would have preferred two more days in NY.

Arty Day

Today, Friday, was the day for art. Private visit to MOMA , (Museum of Modern Art) which is just across the street from the Warwick Hotel where we are all staying-18 of us.

Very knowledgeable young male docent or was he a curator or heaven forbid, just a guide. Whatever he was good. Started with early Picassos and ended with Mondrian. Saw the enormous three canvas Monet… saw Kandinskys, Seurats, Klimts and even a Kahlo plus a few Diego Riveras….

By the time the hour long tour was over the gallery was  heaving. Had a coffee then went looking on my own. Found a Brancussi exhibition and realised where T got the face for the sculpture in my living room.

Lunch was at the Modern at the gallery, a two star Michelin restaurant. Set menu though and a private room. I would have liked to have been let loose on the actual menu. Food was good but not rave territory. Snow pea salad, julienned snow peas and a sheep cheese ? Mozzarella. White asparagus soup with  truffle infused pasta bites, lamb(again) Del Posto lamb was better and a rather unmemorable dessert, bit of this and that. Wine was good.

Wandered back to the hotel, a free evening, so spent it reading my kindle, oooh the excitement. 

Last opera tomorrow plus another lunch then the usual scramble to get packed and off-Boston by train on Sunday.- when rain is predicted, not showers-rain!

Weather is rather dreary, overcast but good tourist walking weather.

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