DP Challenge – Heritage

I love history and a lot of my travel adventures and explorations will relate to some historical aspect. It might be a museum in a city or it might be an old stone circle in a field. I enjoy visiting castles and cathedrals for the architecture and historical connections.

Where I live carries on historical traditions, too. There’s the 78th Highlander regiment at the Citadel. There’s the Freedom of the City ceremony giving the freedom of said city to said regiment. Halifax also hosts the majestic Tall Ships, echoing back to the golden age of sail with an accompanying waterfront festival. One year they celebrated the Acadian (French) heritage in the province. This summer, with the return of the ships, I think the First Nations are holding Mawio’mi throughout the weekend, with sunrise ceremonies, demonstrations, storytelling and more. (below is a photo I took at a Mawio’mi on the Halifax Commons a few years ago) There will be heritage programming put on at the Citadel and a few Pirate themed things going on for kids as well. Pirates, or, rather, Privateers ;) were common in the port of Halifax!

Schedule of events for the Tall Ships, July 29 – August 1, updated with more info closer to the dates.  (They will also be in a few other ports around the Maritimes through July and into August). All of my Tall Ships photos here. (includes waterfront events, people, etc)

Young Spirit drummers

Spirit Drummers, Mawio’mi, Halifax

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Mawio’mi performance competition. Halifax

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78th Highlanders. Freedom of the City. Halifax

Pipe & Drum Drill

78th Highlander pipe and drum drill. Halifax Citadel

Sagres (Portugal) and Unicorn (Holland)

Tall Ships Sagres (Portugal) and Unicorn (Holland), Halifax harbour

Waterfront at dusk

Halifax waterfront at dusk, Tall ships docked

Masts of the Cuauhtémoc

Masts of the Cuauhtémoc

WordPress’s Daily Post challenge. 

West Coast, here we come

 

Teatime in Vancouver

We booked our package to Hawaii last weekend! That’s one more thing ticked off the list. The next thing to be done is organizing ourselves for the Victoria and Vancouver legs of the trip. We’ll stay with my aunt and uncle for a few days in Victoria on arrival in the west and then we’re looking at maybe an overnight trip up to Parksville, and possibly another night with another good friend that lives in Victoria. I don’t like to overstay my welcome in any one place and it’s really nice to reconnect with good friends.

From there, we’re over to Vancouver. I’ve been trying to narrow down where we’ll stay. It’s going to be a hotel for the first few nights and then a couple of nights with a cousin who has graciously invited us. As they’re retired, we don’t have to stick to weekends so I think we’ll go there for the Monday and Tuesday before we head to Hawaii for five nights. When we get back, we’ve got an airport hotel booked for a night before flying home and since we arrive in Vancouver very early and leave for Halifax via Toronto on an overnight flight, we’ll have the best part of two days more in Vancouver. I think the hotel is close to a skytrain station to facilitate that.

There seems to be a lot of suite hotels and condo type hotels for rent in Vancouver which is very convenient. I’m leaning towards something like that, more than just a mini-bar fridge and coffee maker. I very much doubt we’ll actually cook but we might get breakfast things in if the rate we pay doesn’t have it included and it’s great for keeping fresh milk and pop, and a chilled bottle of wine, perhaps. I think though we could save money and get a hotel similar to a Comfort Inn or Travelodge, I’d like to get something a bit nicer. They are fine, usually clean and fit for purpose but the rooms are pretty basic looking and nondescript.

I’m actually kind of surprised at the hotel prices. I expected Vancouver to be quite expensive but there seems to be a decent number of hotels in a reasonable price range in the city centre. With taxes included, you can get a fairly nice place for under $200 CAD per night. Considering when we went to New York, a 40% sale at the Holiday Inn Express near Times Square was still over $250 and even hotels a bit away from TS were that and far more, I count myself lucky. Vancouver real estate prices are sky high, I expected the hotels to follow suit. (or should I say suite? *snort*)

I’ve been to the west coast twice before though my husband has not been there. I first went in spring 2000 and the next time I flew out on Halloween, 2003. Here’s a gallery of the photos from those trips, bearing in mind they are low res scans from film photos.

First, Vancouver

Next, Victoria

Travel 2017: B.C. and Hawaii

Vancouver skyline

Vancouver Skyline from the North Vancouver ferry

We didn’t do a lot of traveling last year though we did fit in a couple of road trips. I did go to the UK at the end of March to bring my husband back to Canada for good but there were no other travel opportunities involved aside from driving to Ipswich to spend some time with his family.  We made a quick trip to the Canadian/US border to validate his permanent residency visa and did a road trip around Nova Scotia’s south shore in September which was a lot of fun.

The first trip to book is to go on our delayed honeymoon in November to coincide with his milestone birthday or just before it, actually, since his birthday is late in the month and the later it gets, the more there’s a possibility of weather-related travel delays. The plan will be to fly to Canada’s west coast, visiting Vancouver, Victoria and maybe Parksville and Tofino. We will be able to see some family and friends and do some sight seeing there. We also plan to fly to Hawaii for 4 or 5 days for the “just us” part of the trip.

The first bookings for the trip have been made. I browse through the Aeroplan site frequently, checking out availability and dates and last week I found the best combination. Fail: there was no availability for flying on Aeroplan points in coach class anywhere near the dates. Win: No problem if we want to fly business class on points. Win: I had more than enough points for business class. Win: Every flight we needed has business class seats in exchange for my hard earned points. Booked! Now we can look at specifics for the rest of the trip.

English Bay, Vancouver

English Bay, Vancouver from UBC

An aside: Aeroplan is strange. Some times I’ll search for flights and there will not be anything, and other times there will be and I’m checking the same dates or close enough. What I really find irritating, though, is that you might not get business class for part of the trip but they’ll still charge you the full whack for all those points. I say no. It’s wasting my Aeroplan points if I don’t get to fly business class all the way.  Now, a free flight isn’t free exactly, because they still charge you for taxes and any fees but Aeroplan has changed things. Now you can use points for the taxes as well. Fail: It uses almost as many points for the taxes as it does for the ticket! I don’t think that’s fair but it’s a step in the right direction. Luckily, taxes for two business class tickets to Vancouver only ended up costing under $200 per ticket. Still a win in my book considering the price of those tickets paying cash is over $4300 return.

Market Square, victoria

Market Square, Victoria

Decisions, decisions…

Planning a major trip is all about decisions and then you worry if you’ve made the right ones. Do we rent a car at all and if so, when? What dates will we fly to Hawaii? Earlier in the trip or later? Maybe we should do that at the very end, fly back to Canada  and then home the day after a night in an airport hotel. If we fly back to Victoria, we could actually leave the big suitcases with my aunt and uncle and just go to Hawaii with our carry on rolling bags which would be more convenient.

In the end, I think we’re going to fly to Hawaii from Vancouver even though it will mean taking all our luggage. It looks like we’ll go at the end of the holiday, then stay overnight at an airport hotel on return, and fly home the next night on an overnight flight to Toronto where we’ll change to fly home. Next will be to get the Hawaii flights booked and once that’s done, the rest can fall into place, including picking hotels. In Victoria, though, we’ll stay with family.

Steam clock

Vancouver’s famous steam clock, in Gastown

As always, it’s frustrating trying to decide where to stay. You read many reviews,  you try to read between the lines of the ones that aren’t as good. If a hotel has quite a few negative reviews, it’s off the list. Most places will have some people complaining and then you decide if their complaints are valid and if so, are they deal breakers for you? For instance, I really don’t mind if a hotel room is small but some people do. I want a comfortable bed, free wifi (!), breakfast included if at all possible, and an en suite bathroom. Those are top priorities. A kettle or coffee maker is nice to have and a mini bar  or fridge is a bonus because we can then use the fridge for our own drinks and milk for coffee/tea.

Budget of course matters. I don’t stay at hostels but we can’t spring for anything expensive. For Vancouver, I think it will likely be something along the lines of a Best Western, Comfort Inn or that sort of thing. I’ve no idea what to choose for Hawaii and might actually go to a travel agent for some suggestions. They often can get good deals.

victoria inner harbour

Victoria Inner Harbour

Once the hotels are sorted, we can make lists of things we want to do and see. That’s always fun! It looks like five nights in Oahu with, we hope, 3 full days and a good part of a fourth. We will probably stay 6 nights each  in Victoria and Vancouver, visiting friends and family and seeing the areas. I’ve been to both cities before, but my  husband hasn’t and he’s really looking forward to it.

Planning a vacation adds to the fun, I always found. I make lots of lists but in the end, other than a few things we *must* do/see, the rest if flexible. Stay tuned for more organizational notes and please, if you have any hidden gems for Oahu, or Vancouver, please let me know!

 

Travel Theme: Quiet

This week’s travel theme from Where’s My Backpack is Quiet.

We set out on a road trip around the southern tip of Nova Scotia last September. Our first day was overcast and then turned quite foggy in spots. It wasn’t late in the month but it being a weekday and the weather not really being bright and inviting must have kept the tourists home. One of our stops was the town of Shelburne, an old historic town that has a waterfront area of very old buildings that were restored and used in filming several movies and series. The buildings contain museums, shops, cafes and a B&B. There is a theatre space and the old warehouses near the shipyard and marina and the side streets have some lovely old houses as well. We walked around and enjoyed the area. I think it’s quite busy there in the summer months but we had the place almost to ourselves.
Historic building in Shelburne

Cox building, Shelburne

An old warehouse, now housing an artist’s studio on the ground floor

Bottle Glass Window

Old bottle glass window detail

Houses the Dory Museum and shop

Down the road a little from Shelburne is Shag Harbour. Its claim to fame is a UFO sighting there in October 1967. They often get tourists through there, stopping at the small museum and taking photos at the park that looks over the bay, the location where the mysterious lights first appeared. They also have a festival in October and get a very good turnout. This year is the 50th anniversary and they are planning on some extra events. It won’t be quiet then but it sure was when we were there, the fog thick and eerie only adding to the mystery of the village.
Shag Harbour Shoreline

Shag Harbour Pier
Foggy Shag Harbour
Shag Harbour Museum sign
Further information about the Shag Harbour Incident:
The Shag Harbour Incident Society
UFO Casebook
Wikipedia
Books:
Impact to Contact: The Shag Harbour Incident
Shag Harbour Incident 1967

A Photo A Week Challenge: Props

Nancy Merrill Photography’s blog has a weekly challenge and this week’s theme is Props. It’s often easier to take portraits of people if they have familiar items with them, especially for children to try to keep them focused. People like to show off their things, creations, anything that gives you an idea of who they are. In my post, I’ve decided to show some photos from a historical fort, Louisbourg, in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia where the staff dress in 18th century period costume and portray what life was like in the French fortress in that era. To see more of my visit to Louisbourg, check out my Flickr album.

Declaration

He’s guilty! (Sentenced to having to stand in an iron collar for two hours a day for three days in a row. All for stealing a bottle of wine.)

Costumed "inhabitants"

Passing the time of day.

Louisbourg Drummer

The Drummer Boy

Basket Weaving

Basket Weaving 101

Travel Theme: Hills

Ailsa at Where’s My Backpack has a weekly travel photo theme. This week it’s Hills. While I don’t go hiking or hill walking, we do encounter hills on our drives, train rides, etc.  and traversing through cities which almost always have hills. Some more than others. The steepest city I’ve ever been in was St. John’s, Newfoundland, the easternmost province in Canada. The streets soar up from the harbour, some so steep they actually have little staircases in parts of them. Here are a few photos featuring hills.

First, from one of my favourite parts of England, the Peak District National Park

Peak_1520
Next up is a view from another of my favourite regions, the Lake District.
Lake District
Here in Canada, you can’t beat the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia for dramatic scenery.
Cabot Trail MacKenzie Mountain
Then there are the rolling hills of the tiny province of Prince Edward Island.
Country Roads
And last, Sacre Coeur, high on the hill overlooking Paris
Sacre Coeur

Travel Theme: Playing

Where’s My Backpack’s weekly challenge is Playing. Here are some photos from the town of Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia where they have a scarecrow festival every year in the autumn. These critters are scattered all over the town centre. Good fun walking around with hundreds of people in a good mood, cheerfully hunting down the scarecrows. These scarecrows mostly take up the theme of playing, games or music for the most part, or just because I liked them!

Welcome to our town

Welcome to Mahone Bay, home of the Scarecrow Festival

He rocks

Playing the blues?

Scored!

The home team “Bay Boys” vs the away team “Other guys”

Pig with a fiddle

Who knew one of the three little pigs could fiddle a happy tune?

Elvis, Ray Charles, Tina Turner and Diana Ross

Elvis, Ray Charles, Tina Turner and Diana Ross all making sweet music

 

DP Challenge: Home

The Daily Post Challenge this week is Home, asking people to show photos of where they live, home being where the heart is and all that. Halifax, Nova Scotia is my home, on the east coast of Canada. Halifax has one of the largest ice-free harbours in the world and is home to Canada’s East Coast Navy. There are two large container shipping ports, and oceanographic institute,  and a ship building  yard. Needless to say, a lot of Halifax’s life is structured around the sea. There are also 5 universities and colleges and it’s the seat of the provincial government. Lots of lakes and beaches, culture, shopping, food and a gorgeous waterfront where there’s always something going on.

McDonald Bridge nearly dark

One of the two harbour bridges just after sunset

Halifax Waterfront

Halifax downtown skyline and the ferry

Public Gardens gazebo

The Victorian Public Gardens

Dalhousie effects

Dalhousie University campus

Lake 022

“My” lake, Albro Lake, in my neighbourhood

Cisne Branco (Brazil) and Kruzenshtern (Russia)

Visits from the Tall Ships (another visit coming in July 2017)

DP Challenge: H2O

The Daily Post weekly challenge is H2O, or water. Water features strongly in my travel photos since many places we travel feature lakes, oceans, canals, fountains etc. because bodies of water attracted settlements. Water provides a living, it provides sustenance, it provides life to the creatures that live in it. It provides transportation and is a source for conversion to power supplies. You can cook in and with it, create beverages, keep yourself clean, travel on it in various types of vessels, you can make a living on or in it in many ways. Water is also reflective which makes a lovely photo, and feeds through fountains which are not only nice to look at but in former days, provided the means for people to obtain water for drinking and cooking.

Mahone Bay Harbour Boats

Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia where the harbour provides recreation and a home for fishing boats.

Coins in the fountain

Reflections of coins in a fountain in the Public Gardens in Halifax

Niagara Falls Maid of the mist

The power of water. Niagara Falls, Ontario

I mentioned that many settlements are on or near water. Canals are fascinating. In cases like Amsterdam and many other cities and towns in the Low Countries, the sea was forced back and cities were built on canals and islands. There are more cities with canals than the one you think of first, Venice. Amsterdam actually has more canals than Venice. Other cities on the list include Copenhagen, Stockholm, Bruges, Annecy (France), Bangkok, and St. Petersburg. Britian’s city of Manchester has a number of canals which were built in the industrial revolution to transport goods from local factories to the coastline for shipping.

Frederiksholms Canal

Copenhagen. One of the many cities that grew on a series of canals.