Ed’s Cruise from London to New York on the Silversea Whisper – Part 8

New York, New York – Oct 10

While we were disappointed that we had to leave Boston earlier than planned, what this meant in the end was that we arrived in New York around noon instead of during the night.  Yay…some extra time to discover New York.

Coming into New York, the weather co-operated with sunshine  as we all awaited that iconic welcoming symbol of freedom – the Statue of Liberty!   “The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World” was a gift of friendship from the people of France to the United States and is recognized as a universal symbol of freedom and democracy. The Statue of Liberty was dedicated on October 28, 1886.  It was designated as a National Monument in 1924.  Employees of the National Park Service have been caring for the colossal copper statue since 1933.

The New York skyline is so impressive as we sail into the Hudson to dock at Pier 88 right in the middle of Midtown, New York.  For all my golfing friends, the area surrounded by green netting is a golf driving range!

The tall tower in this picture is the Freedom Tower or One World Trade Center is the main building of the rebuilt World Trade Center complex in Lower Manhattan, New York City by the 9/11 memorial. One WTC is the tallest building in the United States, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, and the seventh-tallest in the world.

When we docked, we were right beside the Intrepid Carrier museum.  Launched in 1943, the former aircraft carrier USS Intrepid fought in World War II, surviving five kamikaze attacks and one torpedo strike. The ship later served in the Cold War and the Vietnam War. Intrepid also served as a NASA recovery vessel in the 1960s. It was decommissioned in 1974, and today is berthed on the Hudson River as the centerpiece of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum.

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Beside the Intrepid is the record-breaking plane—the Concorde Alpha Delta G-BOAD. The fastest Atlantic Ocean crossing by any Concorde occurred on February 7, 1996 and took only 2 hours, 52 minutes and 59 seconds. It looks absolutely tiny next to the carrier.

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Also, beside the Intrepid is the Submarine Growler.  Growler is the only American guided missile submarine open to the public. Growler offers visitors a firsthand look at life aboard a submarine and a close-up inspection of the once “top-secret” missile command center.

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Unfortunately, we don’t have much time in New York, so instead we opted to visit the 9/11 Memorial Museum.   The last time we were in New York, we visited the twin towers, still standing in their glory.  It was a somber experience to go to the site now.

The National September 11 Memorial is a tribute of remembrance and honor to the 2,977 people killed in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center site, near Shanksville, Pa., and at the Pentagon, as well as the six people killed in the World Trade Center bombing in February 1993.

The Memorial’s twin reflecting pools are each nearly an acre in size and feature the largest man-made waterfalls in North America. The pools sit within the footprints where the Twin Towers once stood.

The names of every person who died in the 2001 and 1993 attacks are inscribed into bronze panels edging the Memorial pools, a powerful reminder of the largest loss of life resulting from a foreign attack on American soil and the greatest single loss of rescue personnel in American history.

This was an afternoon of filled with grief, tears, anger and emotional exhaustion.  Having said all that, the museum is extremely well done and not only shows the horrific event but honours all those that perished.  It is well worth everyone going to visit it if you have the opportunity.

That’s it for our Silversea experience and blog.  It was a truly wonderful experience and can highly recommend Silversea Cruises.  Given that their pricing includes large staterooms, butler service, fine dining, excellent wine and spirits and gratuities all included, it really is good value.

Thanks for following along.  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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Ed’s Cruise from London to New York on the Silversea Whisper – Part 7

Boston – Oct 8/9

Boston is admired for its beautiful harbor, museums, food, Revolutionary history, and sports traditions, including the beloved Red Sox baseball team. Boston is also the cradle of the American Revolution, and sites from early American history are visible all around; a great way to see them and the city itself is by walking the 3-mile Freedom Trail, which winds among tight, Colonial-era street. Not far from the city are Lexington and Concord, where the American Revolution was born with the “shot heard ’round the world.”

We arrived late afternoon on October 8, and since this is our first time in “Beantown”, we were anxious to get off the trip and start exploring.  The ship provided a complimentary shuttle that dropped us off at the Aquarium but only a couple of blocks from where we wanted to go…Faneuil Hall Marketplace.  Four buildings – Faneuil Hall, Quincy Market, North Market and South Market – constitute Faneuil Hall Marketplace, with the oldest being Faneuil Hall. Built in 1742 and now located on the Freedom Trail, Faneuil Hall has had a long and important history in Massachusetts politics. Samuel Adams once stood here to push for resistance against the British, and abolitionists and suffragists have stood on their soapboxes here. In fact, this is where Jonathan Mayhew famously challenged the Sugar Act of 1764 by proclaiming, “no taxation without representation.” Since Mayhew’s declaration, the marketplace has expanded to include more than 100 shops and restaurants.

We spent our evening strolling through the market’s halls where we found various cuisines served in Quincy Market and a variety of souvenir shops surrounding the halls.

That night, upon returning to the ship, we were advised that we would be cutting our visit to Boston short given that the weather necessitated us leaving at 1PM instead of 5PM.  A number of people were disappointed as the tours they signed up for were cancelled.  However, we had opted for a Freedom Trail Walking Tour that finished by 12:30, so we were not affected.

Stretching 2½ miles, the Freedom Trail weaves past 16 of the city’s most historic sites, including Faneuil Hall Marketplace, the Paul Revere House and Old North Church. Taking in only some of the trail’s attractions requires our half a day (and some comfortable walking shoes) but with the guide’s commentary, we learned a lot of American history on the tour.

The following map might give you some idea of what we saw.

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We started at Boston Common and the State House.  The grounds of Boston Common started as a cow pasture in the mid-1600s. After a few years, overgrazing became a problem and the area was transformed into a British camp. After the Revolutionary War, the park became a popular locale for public speeches and rallies. Now, the Common is best known because of its status as the oldest public park in the country. You’ll also find a variety of activities and events, including theater and musical performances, hosted here throughout the year.  Right across the street was the State House.

Next stop was the Old Granary Burying Ground.  Established in 1660, this is the resting place for some of America’s revolutionary heroes including John Hancock, Samuel Adams and of course, the most famous, Paul Revere!

While there were several other historical stops along the way, some of the most interesting were the site of the “Boston Massacre”.  The Boston Massacre was a deadly riot that occurred on March 5, 1770, on King Street in Boston. It began as a street brawl between American colonists and a lone British soldier, but quickly escalated to a chaotic, bloody slaughter. The conflict energized anti-British sentiment and paved the way for the American Revolution.

When you think of Boston history, for me, two incidents come to mind…the Boston Tea Party and Paul Revere’s ride.  While we only saw the location of the Boston Tea Party from the bus, we did get to sea a couple of Paul Revere sites, including his house which still stands.  The house dating back to the late 1700’s gives you a glimpse of how houses looked in his time.

In the background of the Paul Revere statue, you can see the Old North Church.  Most people who know anything about American history have heard of Paul Revere’s famous midnight ride, when he rode through town to warn people about the arrival of British troops. Before heading off to Lexington, Revere gave orders at Old North Church. Robert Newman – the church’s sexton – and Captain John Pulling Jr. – the church’s vestryman – then climbed the steeple and held two lanterns as a signal (from Revere) that the British Regulars were indeed coming, but by sea.

The church itself, which is officially named Christ Church, is filled with beautiful relics from the past, including North America’s oldest set of change ringing bells and chandeliers brought in from England in the early 1700s. The pews have a long history as well; Pew No. 54 was reserved for the Revere family.

Along our way, there were some very old and famous pubs.  Check out the dates on some of these pictures…

Final stop before heading back to the ship…Mike’s Pastry.  Founded in 1946, Mike’s Pastry is located in Boston’s historic North End on Hanover Street. Michael Mercogliano (the “Mike” behind the famed Mike’s Pastry) created the one-of-a-kind cannoli that keeps loyal Bostonians and tourists coming from around the world to enjoy. Going to Mike’s has become a Boston tradition and we are told that even JFK would send for some of the famous cannoli when in town.  We sure enjoyed ours!

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Next stop is New York.  Since we had to leave Boston early, this means that we will arrive in New York early which will give us time to see some of the sights there too!  That’s a bonus.  Thanks for reading along, next and last blog will be about our short stay in New York.

Ed’s Cruise from London to New York on the Silversea Whisper – Part 6

Halifax – Oct 8

Named one of the Top 10 Global DESTINATIONS ON THE RISE in TripAdvisor’s 2018 Travelers’ Choice Awards – everyone’s talking about Halifax.  There’s just something perfectly endearing about Halifax.

I think it’s the bustling waterfront and the fact that the city is steeped in history at every turn. Whatever it is, Halifax has come a long way since its early days as a trading hub on the Atlantic, and has been charming visitors with its east coast hospitality ever since.  There are craft breweries and trendy restaurants and bistros galore, especially around the harbor area.

We honeymooned in Halifax and Nova Scotia 39 years ago and it has really changed.  We started our visit with a walk down the lengthy boardwalk along the harbor.  It reminded us a lot of Vancouver’s waterfront with it’s plethora of sailboats, restaurants and bars.  We were lucky to have a warm sunny day which made the walk most enjoyable.  The only issue we had was that Karen was stung by a wasp on the neck which proved to be very painful.  Thankfully she is not allergic, and we continued our walk.

The last steps portal is in memory of over 350,00 of troops called to action during the course of WWI that sailed away from this port.  Some 67,000 never returned.  For these heroes, these would have been the last steps on Canadian soil before they sailed away and watched the Port of Halifax disappear behind them.

Then up the hill and there perched atop the grassy hillock looming over town, is this star-shaped fort that played a key role in Halifax’s founding. Construction on the Citadel Hill National Historic began in 1749; the current citadel is the fourth, built from 1818 to 1861. The grounds and battlements inside the fort are open year-round, and we could visit the barracks, the guards’ room, the signal post, the engineer’s store and the gunpowder magazines.   The view from the top is amazing but the landscape has certainly changed as I remember.

At the pier is housed the Halifax Seaport Farmer’s Market.  Although it has operated in several locations since its inception in 1750, what’s now known as the Halifax Seaport Farmers Market (in its present location since 2010) is North America’s longest continuously operating market. With more than 250 local vendors from a province that prides itself on strong farm-to-table and maritime traditions.

Next stop was the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. There’s an argument that this dockside museum is Canada’s most important institution. Between 1928 and 1971, Pier 21 was the Canadian version of the USA’s Ellis Island, where all prospective immigrants arrived. More than a million people passed through these red-brick halls, and it’s an emotional experience to walk through the very same doorways where refugees from across the globe began new lives.

Our hope was to get some information on the immigration of Karen’s Grandparents on her father’s side.  With the help of their wonderful and knowledgeable staff, we were able to locate the date of departure July 29, 1927 from Liverpool on a ship called the Megantic.  We were able to get a copy of the page of the ship’s passenger’s list showing their information as well as a picture of their ship and port of arrival information.  I think that actually made our stop in Halifax very special!  In looking at the information, their ship was half the Gross Tonnage of our ship and while our ship holds a mere 382 passengers, their ship held 1660 passengers!

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Our final stop of the day was at the Alexander Keith’s Brewery.  I had expected a chance to sit and sample some of their wares (for the appropriate cost) but their store front was very anticlimactic.  They wanted approximately $26 per person for a tour and perhaps that included some sampling, but I just wasn’t that interested.

That’s it for our stop in Halifax.  Thanks for reading along.  Our next port is Boston and we are looking forward to experiencing at least a small part of BeanTown.

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Ed’s Cruise from London to New York on the Silversea Whisper – Part 5

 Sydney, Nova Scotia – Oct 7, 2019

Small, but with plenty of character, Sydney is best known as the gateway to Cape Breton Island, in north-eastern Nova Scotia.  We docked right on the waterfront at the Joan Harriss Cruise Pavilion offering shopping boutiques, art gallery, craft market and a bar.  Right outside quayside is a giant sculpture of a fiddle.

We opted for a lovely walk along their boardwalk before going to the historic part of Sydney.  This was founded by the Loyalists during the American Revolution and still contains six buildings that are still standing built in the late 1700’s and a couple in the turn of the 19th century.

We did go into the Jost House Museum, one of the buildings built in the late 1700’s.  Thomas Jost, a Halifax merchant bought the property in 1836 and his descendants remained there until 1971.  In the early 1900’s the roof was raised, and the second floor extended to include bedrooms and a bath.

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Since we only had a few hours in Sydney (all we really needed), we walked back to the ship, again on the boardwalk in time for lunch and sail away.

Next stop…Halifax, Nova Scotia!

Ed’s Cruise from London to New York on the Silversea Whisper – Part 4

St Pierre et Miquelon – October 5

How many of you knew that just a few miles south of Newfoundland there are a couple of islands owned by France?  The islands of St-Pierre and Miquelon aren’t just French-like with their berets, baguettes and Bordeaux – they are France, governed and financed by the tricolore. Locals kiss their hellos and pay in euros, sweet smells waft from myriad pastry shops, and French cars crowd the tiny one-way streets. It’s a world away from Newfoundland. St-Pierre is the more populated and developed island, with most of its 5500 residents living in the town of St-Pierre.  Miquelon is larger geographically but has only 600 residents overall.

Jacques Cartier claimed the islands for France in 1536, after they were discovered by the Portuguese in 1520. At the end of the Seven Years’ War in 1763, the islands were turned over to Britain, only to be given back to France in 1816. And French they’ve remained ever since.

As we land in St Pierre by tender, we are greeted by the locals dressed in period costumes and are offered coffee and wonderful French pastries.  In heavily accented English, they explain the series of brightly coloured shacks called Les Salines.  Formerly used to store salt, salted fish and fishing gear, these colorful little cabins located on the coast are now used to protect artisanal fishers’ equipment. Primarily a scenic cluster of multihued fishing shacks.

We then headed toward the Saint-Pierre harbor to see the Pointe aux Canons Lighthouse. While the lighthouse itself wasn’t open for the public, there’s a jetty where you can take photos. There’s also the remnants of a cannon here that was used during the Crimean War.

As we walk into the downtown area, we pass Le Square Joffre. You can’t miss the sculpture of a sailor that overlooks this peaceful park. This statue, erected in 1964, was sculpted out of a block of granite and is dedicated to the many sailors who lost their lives at sea. During the Sailors’ Festival, the procession stops there to lay flowers at its base.

The balance of the day is spent wandering around the small town.  Some of the people, again dressed in period costume, danced in a square to a local 3 piece band.  What surprised me is that we found a couple of large wine stores there that carried an impressive amount of French wines for a rather small population of 5,000.

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Finally, we went to the local church.  Once a wooden church, it was ravaged by fire and rebuilt with concrete and stone.

That’s it for now…next stop…Sydney, Nova Scotia!

Ed’s Cruise from London to New York on the Silversea Whisper – Part 3

Land Ho!  St John’s, Newfoundland

After 5 rather turbulent days on the Atlantic avoiding Hurricane Lorenzo, we docked in St John’s, Newfoundland!  Not that we didn’t enjoy our sea days because we did, even though the ship was rocking and rolling.  What’s not to like having all your meals prepared, your room cleaned, beds made and nightly entertainment!  We also enjoyed cooking classes, on board lecturers and a wide variety of premium cocktails and wines!

The above was at The Grill, outdoor dining on Hot Stones.

St. John’s, Newfoundland:  The beauty of arriving at St John’s is that the ship docks right downtown.  For more than 500 years, St. John’s has been visited by European explorers, adventurers, soldiers and pirates.  St John’s, the provincial capital, is the economic and cultural centre for Newfoundland and Labrador.

It was first discovered in 1497 by John Cabot and later claimed as the first permanent settlement in North America for the British Empire by Sir Humphrey Gilbert.  St. John’s has a rich and colourful history.  It offers an enticing combination of old world charm, unique architectural, historic and natural attractions, top notch facilities and services and is located in close proximity to spectacular coastlines, historic villages and a diverse selection of wildlife.

Our ship arrived a day earlier than planned as we had to miss our stop in Ireland.  Once docked we headed out.  Downtown St. John’s is truly one of the most unique destinations you will ever visit.  A place where old world charm mixes with a bustling business core in the oldest commercial district in North America.  Downtown offers historic churches, art galleries and museums, pubs and more pubs!  On George St, just a couple of blocks from the ship, there are more drinking establishments per square foot than anywhere else in North America.  So, off we go in search of some local brew and music.  We found it at Kelly’s Pub where we had to have a beer and listen to the wonderful local music.  The beer we had was called Iceberg Beer brewed by the Quidi Vidi Brewing Company.  They actually use chips from Icebergs to make the beer.  Apparently, the ice is formed tens of thousands of years ago from compacted snow. That means there are no minerals and lots of tiny bubbles trapped inside. They say “it gives the golden beer a special, very light taste.”

St. John’s has been the site of several significant modern events.  Marconi made the first reception of radio signals from across the Atlantic in 1901 on Signal Hill, above the harbor.  Cabot Tower on Signal Hill is the last North American landmark sighted by Charles Lindberg on his famous solo flight across the Atlantic in 1927 as St.John’s is located further east than any other city in North America.

This is where we started our Coastal Hike shore excursion.  While it was cold (5 C) and a bit windy, the hike was exceptional.  A school bus took us up to the top of Signal Hill.  The hike  is an awesome way to return to downtown along the 1.7km North Head Trail, which connects Cabot Tower with the harborfront Battery neighborhood. The walk departs from the tower’s parking lot and traces the cliffs, imparting tremendous sea views.

The Battery is a small neighbourhood that sits on the entrance to the harbour located on the slopes of Signal Hill. It is sometimes described as an outport within the city. The area is noted for its steep slopes, colourful houses, and its importance as a battery for the defense of St. John’s Harbour in both World Wars.

The Battery is home to Chain Rock, a land outcropping to which a large chain and anti-submarine boom were attached connecting to Fort Amherst in order to prevent the entry of German U-boats into the harbour during World War II. Chain Rock is one of two rocks located on opposite sides of the Narrows, Chain Rock on the battery side and Pancake Rock on the opposite. The space between the two rocks is 174 metres. Chain Rock and Pancake Rock were used as early as 1770 where a defensive chain was stretched between both rocks at nightfall to prevent illegal entry of enemy ships. During World War I the chain was replaced with anti-submarine nets.

After returning to the ship for lunch, we wandered out again to explore some of the colourful sites of the city.  One of the main attractions is the Basillica of St. John the Baptist.  It’s located on Military Road, with a fine view over the Narrows and is claimed to be Newfoundland’s architecturally most important    building built between 1842-92. It is built in the form of a Latin cross and graced by slender twin towers 46 meters high and is noted for some fine statues and its beautiful ornate gold leaf ceiling.

The thing that stuck me as being beautiful throughout the city is the lively, colourful way the houses are painted.  Every street is like a painter’s palette of colour.  Not sure how they decide on the colours or how they are mandated to have to paint the houses but it is certainly unique and beautiful

That’s it from St John’s.  Hope you saw how beautiful this city is.  I appreciate you reading along.  Next stop is St Pierre et Miquelon!

Ed’s Cruise from London to New York on the Silversea Whisper – Part 2

Silversea Whisper

We are now on board this beautiful ship.  Although quite a small ship by today’s standards (only a max of 382 passengers), it is beautifully appointed and has all the amenities such as casino, shops, show lounge, bars, optional restaurants, etc.

Our stateroom (410) is the entry level of rooms.  Located on deck 4, we do not have a balcony but quite a large window and the stateroom is exceptionally roomy and well appointed.  We are not disappointed!  While our butler is available to unpack our suitcases, we prefer to unpack and store all our items ourselves.  A bottle of champagne is cooling off in the ice bucket for when we finish.

The beauty of a luxury line such as Silversea is that all beverages are included and tipping is not necessary, so our in room fridge has or can have whatever we want stocked.

The following are some pictures of our lovely stateroom.

Falmouth:

The city enjoys a supremely scenic setting on Cornwall’s southern coast, just inside the entrance of the deep and indented Carrick Roads estuary.

As well as being a historic port and a holiday resort, thanks to the presence of its arts-focused university it’s a lively and cultural place. The town is often selected as one of the best places to live in the UK.  For our day in port, we opted to go on a coastal walk by the Lizard Peninsula, Britain’s most southerly point.

Although the weather was a bit windy and a little chilly, we were very lucky that it did not rain on us.  However, because the weather was forecast to get worse, we were advised to be back on ship an hour earlier than planned in order to get out to sea before the weather got really bad.  So, while it may look like we were quite bundled up in the pictures below, it really was a very enjoyable 2 hour walk, followed by a wonderful fish and chips pub lunch, complete with a pint of the local ale.  I should mention that this coastal trail runs some 300 miles, so clearly, we only sampled a small part of it.

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Upon return to the ship, we were sadly advised that due to the inclement weather blowing in, we would have to skip our stop in Cork, Ireland.  This was a real disappointment as it was going to be a highlight for us.  However, for the safety of the ship and passengers, it was felt that we needed to set sail for Canada, crossing the Atlantic and avoiding the remnants of a hurricane moving through the Atlantic.   I think we are in store for a bit of a wild ride the next few days…I’ll let you know!!