|Today is the first official day of our Grand Circle Tour entitled Nova Scotia & the Canadian Maritimes. I awoke to rain and fog! What?? Hopefully it clears up.
We went down to the buffet breakfast (very nice) and sat with a couple from Washington, Lila and Gary and had a lovely conversation about traveling, he was in the Navy, etc.
At 9:00 we met in the 2nd floor meeting room for our introductions and briefing. Kim introduced herself - before becoming a tour guide, she worked for the Canadian government. She went over the usual stuff - welcome, be punctual, seat rotation, etc. She also went over some extra walking tours that were available with a local guides in the days ahead. There are 41 people on the tour. We had to stand up, say our name, where we were from, and one word we think describes Canada. At the end, Kim had a Canada flag lapel pin for each of us, courtesy of her local parliament representative, and a slice of blueberry banana bread that she had made for everyone.
At 10:00 we departed on the bus for the city tour. We drove around the city in the rain seeing the layout, parks, where the museums were located, and discussing: the history of the city; why the statue of Cornwallis was taken down from the local park (he authorized massacres of the Mmi'kmaq Indians); the Halifax explosion of 1917 (largest loss of life until the A-bomb was dropped); the role Halifax played in the recovering of the bodies from the Titanic; Africatown; etc.
We stopped at the Fairview Lawn Cemetery where a majority of the recovered bodies were buried (there are others in two other cemeteries in Halifax). Our mission was to find the number of the grave of "Jack" Dawson (#227) and the grave of the unknown child (#4).
We drove around some more but started to encounter problems. Now, today was Gay Pride Day with a run and a parade scheduled downtown, ok? So, near the end of the morning tour we were suppose to be at the Halifax Citadel to watch and hear the noon cannon. Well, they had already begun to block some of the streets, making it nigh on impossible for our driver to get to our destination. We finally arrived at the Citadel, but they had stopped the traffic to the parking lot because the cannon was going to go off in a few minutes. So some of us disembarked and walked up the short distance to watch/hear the noon cannon.
We then drove down to the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, again having to take multiple detours to arrive at our destination. We had the opportunity to either go back to the hotel, or we could get off at the museum and have lunch on your own and explore the waterfront area. About 18 people, including ourselves, decided to explore. The bus would be back at the museum at 4:00 to return us to the hotel.
As we drove around, we had seen a craft fair in a park near a store Jean had wanted to see, Jennifer's of Nova Scotia, on Spring Garden Road, which as we discovered was part of the run/parade route. So on the way up the street to the store and craft fair, we saw the runners and everyone lining the streets encouraging them. Jean found a nice Christmas ornament in Jennifer's and we just wandered through the craft fair.
On the way back down to the pier area and museum, we saw that the parade was starting and watched for a while. They marched in units. Some marchers were supporters, like churches and businesses (TDBank for example). It was interesting and fun. We did not stay for the whole parade as it was drizzling.
We went to the Maritime Museum to see the Titanic exhibit which was ok, but small compared to the Titanic exhibit that toured in the states a year or two ago. We saw a 15 minute film about the recovery of the bodies and how they were handled. We then left the museum to go out to the Sea Dome to see the "immersive 360 degree cinema" film "Bluenose, the legend" about the schooner that was the fastest in the world and can be found on the Canadian dime. It was interesting.
We browsed the outside gift shop before heading back into the museum to see the exhibit about the Halifax explosion, discussed on the bus earlier in the day, entitled "Collision in the Narrows." Part of the exhibit dealt with Boston helping rebuild the city. Halifax still sends a Christmas tree to Boston as a thank you.
We stayed in the museum seeing the other exhibits until it was time for the bus. The bus was 20 minutes late because of the traffic congestion from the parade and festivities.
We arrived back at the hotel about 4:40. When we got to our room, the maid was still in our room! We were tired and we had to wait! Harrumph! When we were able to enter the room, Jean had mud on her shoes and pant legs that needed to be cleaned.
We were back on the bus at 6:15. Jean mentioned to Kim about the late maid. Our welcome dinner was at the Waterfront Warehouse restaurant next to the Maritime Museum. We sat with John and Susan from South Carolina. She was a professor of Spanish Languages, Literatures and Cultures at Wofford College. We discussed genealogy, religion, travel, etc.
We returned to the hotel about 8:45. On the ride back, Kim went over the plan for tomorrow. On the bus at 8:00. As we exited the bus, Kim said to us to let her know if there was something special in our room, and indeed there was - a handwritten apology, a bottle of chilled wine and two glass with two maple-filled chocolate.