Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Wake of the Vikings: Breakfast on the Balcony in Montreal

It is another beautiful, soft morning as we dock in Montreal. This is the first time we haven’t been scrambling for the airport at o-dark-thirty; today we have time for a leisurely breakfast on our balcony before we have to vacate our room.

 

 

 

Exactly when we asked for it, breakfast arrives in our room; lovely fresh croissants, eggs, bacon, orange juice to pump up the Vitamin C for AdventureMan. We bask in the luxury of having breakfast made for us and delivered.

 

 

The roller coaster across the channel starts running early!

We finish our breakfast, we dress, we vacate, we wait for our ride to the airport. The airport is quiet, even serene, on this Saturday morning, even with all the cruisers coming through to head home.

We get to Pensacola in the early evening, and we barely stop to brush our teeth before we head for bed. It was a wonderful trip, and it’s also wonderful to be home.

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September 25, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Cultural, ExPat Life, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Wake of the Vikings: TugBoat Dances to Welcome us to Quebec

 

It is a joyful morning. The air is soft, the sky is blue, and Quebec shines like a jewel in the harbor.

The sun is gleaming off a smaller white boat – a tug?

 

The tug starts shooting off water. This is interesting! What is he doing? Is the tug able to use seawater to form the chute of water? Is it also a fireboat?

 

The boat starts toward our boat, and one chute of the water is grazing the bow! Oh no! Is he going to spray all the cruise ship guests? Is this a security risk?

 

No! He veers away, just in time to keep from giving us a soaking, but bouncing port to starboard, starboard to port, dancing for us, dancing with us. One of the crew members waves seeing me shooting this segment. AdventureMan joins me, he waves back.

 

What a delightful and lovely way to start the day. It just keeps getting better!

He is having so much fun. We are having so much fun! The water sparkles off his joyful waterspouts!

 

He almost disappears in a spray of water. He goes around the back to welcome the other side of the ship.

It doesn’t take much to thrill our hearts. This joyful welcome does the trick.

As we dock, the World Cafe is full of people and their cameras; we are docking in the heart of the old city, and views present themselves for the taking. You couldn’t ask for a lovelier day in Quebec; the temperatures will be in the high 70’s F.

 

 

The tug boat harbor:

 

 

“Oh look, the local Vikings are coming,” I said to AdventureMan, and looking right at them, he asked “where?”

“That’s them, the local Viking crew, coming to help get people onto their tours and hand out water,” I pointed out.

“Oh, I thought you meant REAL Vikings,” he grumbled.

LocalVikingsArrive.jpg

Hmmm. When I attended the Bayeux Tapestry lecture, the speaker said that the Battle of Hastings in 1066 is considered the end of the Viking Era, meaning exploration, pillage, plunder and settlement. But really, the Battle of Hastings was Norman (Norseman) against Northman, Viking fighting Viking, and perhaps . . . perhaps . . . the Viking Era goes on, hidden under a thin veneer of civilization.

Don’t you like that idea?

We have a tour late into the afternoon, then final goodbyes, dinner, and making sure our bags are out in the hall and ready to go by ten tonight. The good part about a cruise is unpacking and not having to pack and unpack again. The bad part is that a reckoning always comes, and we are stuffing our suitcases, and throwing out old underwear to make room for the few souvenirs we picked up along the way. The Viking Sky leaves Quebec City tonight for Montreal, and from our landing we head to the airport, en route back to Pensacola. I don’t believe I will be able to post again until we are there, and perhaps not right away, as you know what it is like, the deluge of things that must be done, when you get home . . .

So for now, au revoir from Quebec.

September 22, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Cultural, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Marketing, Pensacola, Travel, Weather | , , , | Leave a comment

Wake of the Vikings: Sunset over Saguenay

Ah, I do so love having a view of the sunrises and the sunsets. Here is last night’s late sunset over the city of Saguenay:

Bonne Nuit!

September 22, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Sunsets | , , | Leave a comment

Wake of the Vikings: A Wonderful Welcome in Saguenay, Quebec

 

We awaken to a beautiful morning on the Saguenay river. As I am fixing my hair, there are dolphins – or porpoises (is there a difference?) playing just outside the open window, and whale spouts and tails from time to time. It is a glorious morning, and AdventureMan is feeling better, but not better enough to take the Zodiac ride in the park which we had scheduled.

It doesn’t matter. It is a glorious day, we have some fog as we pass along the river, but the day is beautiful. Blue skies and whales! AdventureMan snoozes after breakfast, building up energy, and I leave him alone so he can recuperate.

 

 

 

We have to go very slowly; Canadian Maritime law is humane, and protects the migrating whales.

 

 

Around noon, we dock in Saguenay:

This boat is not us, it is one of the French Soleal line. Only one boat can dock, so this time they have to use the tenders.

 

 

AdventureMan and I exit the boat to walk through Saguenay and find a bite of non-ship food to eat. Viking Ocean cruises has a lot of nice food, and most of it is lightly seasoned so as not to offend anyone. They do a great job of taking care of a lot of people, but sometimes there are slips. We ate mussels one night, and they were delicious – but served tepid! Almost cool!

We are blown away by the Saguenay welcome. We have been told these are all volunteers, they dress in old time costumes and greet the arriving passengers with welcomes, photos, flags, free little blueberry juices, free blueberry pie, a small musical group playing local music – oh, it is a total party on the dock! Many of them don’t speak English, but they understand my French and I feel terrific. They understand my French! I’ve lost so much because I so rarely get an opportunity to use it, but the fluency comes back and I feel exhilarated.

Here is the man handing out Saguenay flags to all arrivals. AdventureMan tells me that the green signifies forestry and wildlife, the yellow is for agriculture which is a mainstay of their economy and he can’t remember what the silver stands for; you would think it is white, but it is really silver and as it is the cross, he believes it has to do with faith.

These people are so much fun, and are having such a great time. So are we!

 

They get one of the passengers to try the saw – it’s harder than it looks!

This man was flipping his son all around, and they were both really having fun with this local greeting party.

Yes! Yes! a “bluet” is a blueberry! I have a new word in my French vocabulary!

They are making natural maple sugar candy here, on a bed of ice, and giving it out. I get to show our grandson this; we were reading that American children’s classic, “Little House on the Prairie” and the author, Laura Ingalls Wilder described perfectly how this is done.

You know what I love about this? This is pure generosity of spirit. There really isn’t that much going on in Saguenay that would make it a draw, but these good people with their slices of blueberry pie, their costumes, their music, and their warm welcome, have created something worth traveling to see. They have their heritage. They are proud of it, and they are happy to share it with visitors. It’s just all win-win.

I love the juxtaposition here, the First Nation representatives against the background of the Viking invaders 😉

 

We asked one of the guides if they could recommend a good restaurant and they recommended one I had seen on TripAdvisor, just a short walk down the bicycle path. And Big Bravo for AdventureMan, the person I asked didn’t speak English, and we were trying to find the bicycle path and AdventureMan remembered “piste” from when we lived in Tunisia, and as soon as he said it, the person’s face lit up and he pointed us in the right direction.

 

It’s a perfect day. I am in short sleeves; temperatures are in the 70’s F. and the local young folk are in short shorts, halter tops and summer dresses. It is probably a wonderful late summer day to them. We dine outside at La Grange aux Hiboux.


 

 

It reminds us of places we used to eat lunch when we would get up early early on cold mornings to go to the big flea market in Metz.

We took the long way back to the ship, and passed this church.

I have to tell you something funny. Or at least it strikes me funny; I guess there are times when I am still silly and seven years old in my heart. The bay that Saguenay is situated along is called the Bay of Ha! Ha! There is a hop-on hop-off bus for cruise passengers, called, the Ho Ho. The HoHo is right next to the Bay of Ha! Ha!

Well, I think it is funny.

What I love, too, about Viking is their willingness to accommodate religious observances. (Did I already say this?) Tonight they are having a special dinner for those celebrating Rosh Hoshhana. How cool is that?

September 21, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Character, Civility, Community, Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Geography / Maps, Heritage, Humor, Marketing, Restaurant, Travel | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Wake of the Vikings: A Short Day in L’Anse Aux Meadows

 

We have a wake-up call for six o’clock; we are on the first tender headed into L’anse Aux Meadows and we are excited. Who wouldn’t be; just look at this gorgeous morning sky to greet us. I’m good with drama if it is a morning or evening sky.

We wait a long time to get clearance; there is one other boat in town, and it is the National Geographic Explorer. Canadian Customs officials have to go through our paperwork and interview a select few face-to-face. Our 0700 departure is more like 0830.

 

No rain, so we are thankful, because rain is predicted. We are hoping it will hold off until we have visited the L’anse Aux Meadows Viking Site. Or is it a Native American Camp? For many long years it was believed to be Native American, but a team of archaeologists did a re-look and determined it may well have been an early Norse settlement.

The people in L’anse Aux Meadows go all out to make this interesting for their visitors. They dress in Viking costume to welcome us, and the site we visit has people who are “in character” telling us about their challenging lives in the early settlement, which only lasted maybe ten years.

Below is the woman who organized the buses:

 

 


A beautiful statue of the Vikings reaching the new world:

Statue detail of the ship:

 

There are a series of rooms built together, covered with sod. At one end is an outbuilding with a lathe. This may be someone’s imagination rather than something they really found, like they may have found evidence of an out-building and someone thought “oh it might have been a place where people worked wood, which Vikings did, a lot.”

 

These character actors really enjoy playing their roles. They were a hardy lot, and they work hard.

Decoration on entry to middle of houses:

Outside view of houses:

To the far end of the connected rooms is a multiple bedroom, with kinds of clothing they might have worn. The beds are small, the mattresses thin. It would appear this might be where a family might live, or a father keep his unmarried daughters, as it looks like the next room, much larger, is more of a lodge room where unattached men might sleep along the side of rooms or on the floor near the fire.

 

 

 

More clothing, and cooking tools. Sigh. I am guessing mostly women did the cooking, and that those are women’s clothes, and the corner where they speculate women might have worked preparing meals.

I love the room at the far end. I bet some old woman lived there, some old woman who loved fabrics and colors and textures, who would shear the sheep and clean and comb the wool, card the wool and make it into yarn, or thin threads that could be woven into serviceable clothing.

 

And I am speculating that old woman slept in this chaste little bed among all the supplies for spinning and weaving the wool into yarn and fabrics to clothe the inhabitants. Maybe she even made warm blankets 🙂

Outside the far end of the long house, with an opening for smoke to escape, and light to come in.

This was a forge. What it seems they might have made there was nails, using the most primitive tools and techniques.

We walked back to the center, where we were told to catch the bus, but we are told no, go to this bus-gathering place. Our meet-up seems to have been scheduled about the same time as the National Geographic Explorer meet-up, as their buses are there and . . . ours are not. It is starting to rain.

We wait a long time, and then our bus comes, to take us to another stop, a sort of re-creation of someone’s idea what things may have been like. AdventureMan and I look at each other. He is really tired. He wants to go back to the ship. When the others get off, we stay on, and one other couple asks if the bus can take us to the ship. More and more people figure out that this bus might be going back to the ship, and hop on.

It is really raining now. A tender has just arrived, and a lot of people get off, more people than I would have thought possible. We get on. I learn that a tender can hold a total of 234 people. We head back to the ship. On our way to the elevator, we ask the spa lady if the spa pool is open and she says “YES!” We run upstairs and take off all our clothes and jump into our swim clothes and head down to the hot pool. There is no one else there, just us, rolling around, warming our chilled bodies in the relaxing hot pool and the “ya-kut-zee.” We have a quick lunch, AdventureMan sacks out, and the ship is making rumbles like we are leaving L’anse aux Meadows any minute now. Life is sweet, or as the Captain ends all of his daily announcements from the bridge – All is Well.

September 19, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Community, Cooking, Cultural, Customer Service, Education, ExPat Life, Geography / Maps, GoogleEarth, Living Conditions, Photos, Quality of Life Issues, Travel, Weather, Women's Issues | , , , , | Leave a comment

Wake of the Vikings: Day at Sea Between Qaqortoq and L’Anse aux Meadows, Canada

 

AdventureMan pokes me awake, he’s hungry. “I felt like I was falling out of the bed a couple times last night!” he told me.

I am sympathetic. I don’t have motion sickness, but the other day, after a massage, in the spa at the bottom of the boat, I felt queasy. I’m pretty sure it was the moisturizing lotion; there was something about the smell of it, but once I had showered it off, I was OK again. I can imagine what it must be like to have that feeling every time the boat rocks and rolls.

 

 

The sun is coming up; it may be a little rocky but it is a beautiful day. We even see some gulls.

After breakfast, we grab our reading material and head up to the Explorer’s Lounge, where we  have a 180 degree view facing forward. There is a rainbow, ending almost on our ship, and a shadow rainbow with it. Surely, that is the best of luck!

 

Midmorning, we still have beautiful skies, even some blue, lots of sunshine. A little rocky but people are getting used to it.

I love the way the wind blows the spray off the top of the waves and leaves a ghostly mist.

 

 

 

We had a wonderful dinner in the Italian restaurant, Manfredi’s, last night. I had a cold tomato soup, very tasty, even some peppery heat, and the seafood platter, AdventureMan had Caprese Insalata and the Seafood Platter. It was a lovely evening altogether, great food, attentive service and very interesting dining companions from the Carolinas.

 

Every day the Captain comes on at noon to give us a location and conditions update. “Ladies and Yentlemen” he begins and then brings us up to speed on what we can expect, ending with “From the bridge, all is well.” We love that ending. All is well.

September 18, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, Birds, Customer Service, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Restaurant, sunrise series, Travel, Weather | , , | Leave a comment

Wake of the Vikings: Three Q’s in Qaqortoq, Greenland

 

The day dawns calm and beautiful, and the tenders are in the water early, waiting to take us to Qaqortoq. We are eager for so many reasons. We want to get off the boat and walk. We want to set foot in Greenland. And even before we had a grandson whose name begins with a Q, we have loved living in Qatar, begins with a Q, and then in Kuwait, shortened in text-talk to Q8. We look for Q’s, we delight in Q’s.

When I say early, we are in the third group to leave, and our departure is scheduled for 7:45 A.M. Fortunately, we have gained another hour – love this traveling west by ship – and most of us are up and ready long before our tender time is called. We have to make the most of this early morning call, as the boat is scheduled to start on it’s long leg to L’anse aux Meadows, in Newfoundland, Canada. We will be at sea all afternoon, overnight, all day tomorrow, and tomorrow night. This is a great time to get off and WALK!

Qaqortoq is a great place to walk; it is big enough to have a lot of loops, small enough that we really can’t get lost. It is not only early, it is also Sunday morning, so we don’t have a lot of local people around, not much is open, and there are no other cruise ships in town. We have the place to ourselves.

 

Tenders emptying cruisers into the village:

We love the variety of house colors. There are no pastels, even the yellow houses are a bright yellow. I found several purple houses in the village. Back on board, people said how isolated this place was, how they couldn’t live there. I found myself wishing for a wonderful purple house 🙂

 

We’ve walked up to the top of Qaqortoq; all down hill from here 🙂

Do you see the purple house, next to the spearmint green house?

Love these solar panels, even in Greenland!

 

Qajaqs!

See?

Village stone art:

 

 

 

Here’s the one I like the best, but it is the hardest to see. It is a whale, maybe a hump-back whale. Can you see its shadowy outline? Part of the rock is incorporated in the whale design:

 

Love this pine-tar finished house, which is old, not painted, and a museum which is also not open.

The old church. No photographs allowed inside, and a service (this is Sunday) was about to begin. The church had very large crystal chandeliers inside, held maybe 60 – 80 people. I am guessing it was a Catholic church.

 

The old school; AdventureMan commented that the statue girl needed more clothes in this cold climate and I told him she was a metaphor for naked longing to get an education. Sigh. Sometimes it’s still a wonder to me that people who have conversations like this find each other. I am sure there are people who think we are a couple of nut-cases.

Sod livestock shed behind the school.

 

We really wanted to find a cap that said Qaqortoq on it for our grandson, who loves Q’s the way we do. We would have been happy to spend some money, but there was only one gift shop open and it seemed a little picked over. Everything was Greenland, not Qaqortoq. We never saw a cafe where we could have a cup of coffee or tea, or a cold drink – Sunday morning and nothing was open. I am not complaining. I loved being able to get out and walk and get the feel of the town. I liked Qaqortoq. Just wish we could have found a way to give a little back to the community.

Time to catch the tender and return to the boat.

 

September 17, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Cultural, Customer Service, ExPat Life, Fitness / FitBit, Geography / Maps, Living Conditions, Public Art, Travel | , , | 2 Comments

Wake of the Vikings: You’ve Got to Be Flexible; Missing Nanortalik, on to Qaqortoq

We got really really close to Nanortaliq. Really close:

 

And just when we are all dressed and ready, so ready to go, the Captain comes on and tells us that he and the port authority in Nanortalik have decided that the surf is too rough, the incoming weather too rainy, and the winds too strong to risk transferring us to shore by tender, tenders being the boats that double as our lifeboats if anything happens to the ship. We are disappointed, but not greatly, as we know we have another chance tomorrow with Qaqortoq, and you know how it is, we love places with Q’s in them. Qaqortoq just tickles us, the very idea of a place with three Q’s delights our hearts.

The scenery is also not at all bad; we can just sit in our staterooms and watch gorgeous iceburgs drift by. Actually, we both make a quick trip down to the spa pool, which is quiet, and then spend some time in our room.

Nanortaliq means something like where all the polar bears get together, or the place of the polar bears. We saw some breath-taking scenery, but we never did see a polar bear.

 

 

 

I just love the sculptural quality of these icebergs; hope you don’t mind my showing so many, I actually am only showing you the best.

 

 

 

 

Near sunset, the air went all misty and glowing, and this iceberg looked pink.

Leaving the Nanortaliq area, a truly glorious sunset:

September 17, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, Beauty, ExPat Life, Interconnected, Living Conditions, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Wake of the Vikings: En Route to Nanortalik, Greenland

Suddenly everything begins to change. The smooth waves are gone, and the boat begins, once again to rock. We see more icebergs, or “ice-cubes” as our steward, Hilda, calls them.

The sunny skies disappear, and the thick fog returns. We are back in the North Atlantic. Glad I hit the spa during the quiet time :-).

We are supposed to land in Nanortalik around 2 this afternoon, and are able to get off and walk.

September 16, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, ExPat Life, Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Wake of the Vikings: Dawn in Reykjavik, Iceland

The omens are all good, the old Norse Gods must be happy, as we enter Reykjavik harbor:

 

 

We are up for the sunrise, we have a full day excursion on our agenda and we meet the guides almost as soon as the boat docks.

 

The day is beautiful and we can’t wait to get started.

September 15, 2017 Posted by | Adventure, sunrise series, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment