After five days at sea it was good to have our feet back on solid ground. However, that shouldn’t imply that we don’t enjoy days at sea. We bring things to read, podcasts to listen to, and movies from home and alternate them with ship’s activities that we enjoy. Even with five days at sea, we only watched one of our films, I never got to a book and the trove of podcasts is only down 25%. And I love sitting and watching the sea go by while I listen to something interesting.
These days every ship has speciality restaurants where you can eat for an up-charge. As a rule the food in the regular dining room is more than good enough. But we treated ourselves to a mystery theater dinner where members of the singing and dancing troupe, took on mafia identities and we were challenged to figure out who-dun-it? A fun bit of silliness. On another night the Chef’s Table meal was a bounty of gluttony with six courses each paired with a different wine. One chef spent the entire evening cooking for the ten of us, even making things like the horse radish we put on the beef tenderloin from scratch. The food was so delicious; words are totally inadequate. After six different wines, we were glad that we only had to drive as far as our cabin.
So finally we came ashore in Halifax, a town where we spent quality time last summer when we toured the Maritime Provinces with the motor home. There are many interesting things to see in this capital city. It played a major role in rescuing and retrieving survivors and bodies after the sinking of the Titanic. Many of the dead whose families could not afford to bring them home are buried here. The Maritime Museum has great exhibits. The one highlighting the explosion of a munitions ship in the harbor during World War I tells a traumatic story we had never heard of before - the largest loss of life from an explosion until Hiroshima. The massive citadel fortification perched on a hilltop, has great views of the town and harbor below. Many tourists take a drive out of town to Peggy’s Cove, a picturesque fishing town. Others go the Bay of Fundy to observe the huge tidal changes, unique in all the world.
But we had just done all those things less than a year ago, so we took a walking/eating tour. Our guide set an Olympic pace as we galloped down the boardwalk, pausing here and there to refresh our memories on important events here. She reminded us that this is a navy town and takes in more container tonnage than Boston, due to its well sheltered and extremely deep harbor. She took us to a historic warehouse area where privateers from Halifax were given permission from the British crown to raid the colonies and steal the contents of their ships. She told the story of them ripping off us with an unCanadian gleeful tone. Today the warehouses are restored and house trendy stores and restaurants. Every so often the boardwalk features outdoor art installations with a sense of humor. The light poles which looked like they had blown over in the wind caught our eye. People were relaxing in bright orange hammocks suspended on the boardwalk which looked like construction barriers when no one was in them.
The highlight of the eating was a lobster roll. We had just had a lobster dinner on board last night, but the local stuff had such a fresh, vivid taste. We also sampled beaver tails, deep fried pieces of dough in beaver tail shapes that are covered with a variety of sweet sprinkles; ours had cinnamon sugar. You could deep fat fry a shoe and it would taste darn good so these were delectable. After another mile of galloping, the final food stop was for ice cream. The berries in the blueberry ice cream tasted like they were just picked yesterday. As we rode the shuttle bus back to the ship we joined the crew members who finally enjoyed a blessed few hours away from us. They were loaded with bags of snacks - Oreos and chips seems to be the favorite purchase. No T-shirts with moose on the front for them.
Even in a relative state of isolation from the news, it was hard to forget that this was the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11. Canada and Nova Scotia and Newfoundland in particular, were special friends to us during this traumatic time, housing thousands of stranded passengers when their planes were grounded. It’s great to have good neighbors.