Sometimes my brain doesn’t work

Non-arty content ahead…

Sometimes when I’m preparing for a trip, I do silly things.  The packing for this trip to Italy was no exception. One of the items I bring with me is a small adapter to plug my camera’s USB cable into my iPad so that I can edit and post pictures. Apparently a vintage phone cable looks similar to the adapter cable. Sigh. So I don’t have a lot of pictures to share, as I forget to use my phone for pictures. Hopefully I’ll track down one of the connectors, but until then here are a few pictures of the ground floor of the place we’re staying in Naples.

Entry

It’s an unusual place.  When our cabbie dropped us off, it was across the street at a fairly posh place (similar name) – that wasn’t where we had booked. One of the hotel guys walked us over to where we would be staying, and there was a little culture shock at the entrance. It’s a wonderful, crumbly old place, that gives no indication of what the B&B we’re staying at is like.  The B&B is modern, clean and lovely and we’re all very content. The elevator takes one person at a time, but yay – there’s an elevator!

More pictures to follow if I either find a cable or remember to use my phone.  Ciao!

Lovely arches everywhere

More arches

Pleasing doorway

So many slogans…

I was trying to think of a title for this post, so I asked Bo and her family if Winnipeg had a slogan.  Much debate and Googling ensued.  Winnipeg does have a slogan, which apparently no one knows without looking up – it changed seven years ago.  I’d tell you what it is, but I’ve already forgotten.

As you may have guessed, I’m in Winnipeg now.  On Wednesday we left Halifax on ViaRail.

Leaving Halifax

Leaving Halifax

We were SO excited, because this time we were allowed to check our bags through to Toronto (we found out later that they could have gone all the way to Winnipeg, but this worked out just fine).  I don’t remember if I wrote about the Ocean route in a previous post (Montreal to Halifax), but at that time we were not permitted to check our bags – we ended up in a tiny cabin with two good size suitcases, two carry-on size duffel bags, and two purses.  Oh, and also two of us.  It was cramped, to say the least.

Trains are filling up… it’s that time of year, I guess.  We did “claim” a corner of the Park car – the last car on the train.

Train on a bridge

Train on a bridge

Bo talked knitting with a woman from Chicago, and we were entertained by Steve, the Activities Coordinator – he’s a man who loves his job!  The train was an hour late getting into Toronto, and those of us catching the commuter train almost didn’t make it.  We were walking down the platform at a fairly good clip, and caught site of the commuter train – the attendants were lifting up the mats that covered the gap between platform and train and closing the doors.  We had to run.  It wasn’t pretty, but we made it.  Then the train stayed in the station for about 15 more minutes.  I think they were loading our luggage 😉.

It was a smooth, um, train.  You can say it was a “smooth flight” for a plane, what do you say for a train journey?  They plied us with food and drink, and it was very comfortable.

The Toronto station (Union Station) is very comfortable, which is a good thing, as we had a very long (over five hours) layover.  Rather than go out for dinner, we hunkered down in a comfy corner and took turns going for a Toronto wander. On my wander I picked up an extension cord.  Bo and I have been fighting (okay, fighting is a little too extreme of a word!) for electric outlet use – there are only ever two plugs to use, and between us we have up to six devices that need charging.  We made good use of our layover:

Charging devices

Charging devices

The waiting area got full… so very very full.  Guess what?  The train was also very very full.  It was a totally different experience, and we spent a bit more time in our cabin.

Winnipeg is very pleasing.  Mosquitoes are not.  We’re staying with one of Bo’s brothers and her sister-in-law.  They’re lovely and make me laugh.  We’ve been out wandering around Winnipeg during the Aboriginal Day(s) celebration, to the Museum for Human Rights, and to several extremely amusing family events.

In addition to mosquitoes, I have another complaint about Winnipeg.  Cats fear us.  We keep trying to pet the cats that we see… calling “hey kitty kitty” on the boulevard outside the house where they apparently congregate… carefully approaching cats that are under cars or crossing streets (at least they’re crossing the streets after seeing us!)… making kissy noises into someone’s yard… etc.  They all keep running away.  Sigh.  We’re nice people, honest… just a little starved for some cat -brand affection…

Ah well… Never give up, never surrender!

To’ing and Fro’ing

What do you know… I’m behind on my writing again.  Shocking!  I’m sitting in the dining car on the Ocean route, somewhere in Quebec.  We’ll be getting into Montreal this morning, then to Toronto, then back on the Canadian for a few nights on our way to Winnipeg.  But that’s the future… right now I’m dwelling in the past.

We’ve had such a good week.  After PEI we were off to the Annapolis Valley to visit/stay with a friend of Bo’s.  The drive was lovely, and we didn’t get lost (Bo had figured out the route beforehand and didn’t need my stellar map reading skills).

We stopped at the Grand Pré National Historical Site – our education on the Maritimes continues – and then to the water.  I believe we were at the Minas Basin, part of the Bay of Fundy.  The tide was out really far, and I had a good wander among a lot of sparkly stones… what a gorgeous place.  I managed to restrain my need to pick up a literal ton of stones, and limited myself to two tiny ones.

Then it was off to Margaret and Darcy’s house.  They live in a cozy and wonderful octagonal log home, with a view that could take your breath away.  We had a great visit with the two of them and the enchanting Basil – I think Bo and I both contemplated catnapping her.  Basil was probably very relieved when we packed up and left – she got a LOT of attention.

Margaret spent the next day and a half of our visit driving us to Mahone Bay, Lunenburg (where we saw the Bluenose II), Chester, Annapolis Royal and a variety of fishing villages (Blue Rocks, Harbourville and many others).  I loved the area, and the fishing villages were everything a photo junkie could want.

Margaret and Darcy spoiled us with a comfy place to sleep, amazing meals and really good conversations.  They had multiple bird feeders on the deck, and I got to see many woodpeckers, mourning doves and an Atlantic region blue jay.  I continue to know very little about birds, but I do find them fascinating to watch.

Thank you both so much for your hospitality – I really enjoyed the visit and hope to see you all again.

After the visit we made the trek back to Halifax – we had some issues at the toll for the bridge, but made it through unscathed (we were yelled at a little, but sticks and stones…!) We found the hotel, in an area of town we’ve never been to, and proceeded to tear apart our disastrous luggage (which had morphed from two suitcases and two train bags into two suitcases, train bags and a variety of knitting bags, laundry bags, souvenir map bags, etc.)  Putting it all back together took some time, especially as we weren’t sure if we would be able to check our suitcases on the first leg of the journey.

There wasn’t much in the way of restaurants around the hotel, so we went to Randy’s Pizza Seafood Donair cafe for takeaway.  We decided that pizza would probably be the safest bet, and it was surprisingly delicious (surprisingly because it was a rather… unprepossessing cafe… the name might have clued you in).

The next day it was back to the station.  Our tickets said departure was at 11, but it turns out that departure was at 12.  Luckily we had the very comfortable business lounge to sit in for two hours.  And we were so lucky… not only were we able to check our bags, but he checked them through to Toronto.  Seeing as our train was an hour late getting into Montreal – we had to run to catch the connecting train as they were already lifting up the mat to cover the gap between train and station – we’re not completely sure our luggage will end up in Toronto, but happily we have a long layover so hopefully it joins us…

Being back on the train was lovely.  The staff was, as always, wonderful, and we felt very looked after.  I think my favourite part of the trip was when we were in the dining car going through a particularly scenic area.  Bo leapt to her feet and starting dashing to windows, trying to get a good picture of the sunset over the water.  The entire car was giggling with her as she hopped from table to table.  She is very recognized now… heehee!

On to Toronto!

Nobody called me Carrots

Fans of the Anne of Green Gables series of books will understand that reference… Prince Edward Island was pretty amazing – the colours, the people, the history – truly a fun experience.

Chez Shea, the B&B we stayed in, was lovely. The food was delicious, the owners a lot of fun and very knowledgeable, and there were animals!  I fell in love with Rosy and Posy (Rosie and Posie?), the two black dogs, and Bebe (sp?), a gorgeous orange cat.

We started to plot out what to do with the one day that we had, and decided that rather than stressing about what we were missing, we would instead pick a few places to see, leaving a bit of time for anything else that came up.  We settled on Cavendish, home of L.M. Montgomery and the site of the Anne of Green Gables house, Cavendish beach, Victoria by the Sea and Charlottetown.

We started out towards Cavendish, but quickly stopped at a shop for a look around – outside and in.

After a little shopping we were back on the road to Cavendish.  We accidentally made a wrong turn, and instead of ending up at Green Gables, we ended up on the property where L.M. Montgomery was raised.  There was a small cabin that held a variety of books for sale, as well as various antiques from her life.  We found out that we could walk to Green Gables, passing the remnants of Montgomery’s farmhouse and going through the Haunted Woods.  Before we could head out, an older woman told us that she wanted to tell us the history of the place.  Turns out that she is the wife of Montgomery’s great great grandson (I might have the relationship wrong… I was getting confused after a lot of genealogy talk), and she told us about the author and the property.  She was quite dear and so obviously devoted to the subject matter.  She and her husband did a lot of restoration on the place as a tribute to Montgomery.

After the talk, off we went, battling hordes of mosquitoes.  Hordes.  I am not exaggerating.  I was walking behind Bonnie on the path, and the air was grey with mosquito wings around her.  I really don’t like those little beasties!  Other than the mosquitoes, the walk was lovely.

After the walk back to the car, we headed off to the beach at Cavendish.  Wow.  The red cliffs were outstanding.  Bo kept stressing me out by wandering/sitting WAY to close to the eroding edge for my comfort.  I tried to take pictures of her on the edge, but couldn’t get the depth perception right – they all just looked like she was sitting level with the water.  She was not!  Sorry for the volume of cliff and rock pictures… I honestly didn’t include all the ones I took!

We both dabbled our feet in what we had heard was warm water.  We were led astray… NOT warm!

Then it was off to Victoria by the Sea… seemed appropriate!  It is a dear little town with a lovely boardwalk.

Yes – we did try the potato fudge… It was a little potato-y, but more than anything it was sweet… really really sweet.

Continuing on with our busy day, we then went to Charlottetown – I really liked what we saw of it.  We wandered around looking for the historically significant Confederation buildings. Finally had to get out the phone and check online to see what we were looking for…. Sigh.  It’s shameful… I know!

Then it was back to Kinkora for dinner at the neighbouring O’Shea’s Pub, and home to the B&B to pack up… again.

The next day we had an amazingly delicious breakfast of waffles with a ginger syrup and fresh fruit… yum!  We said our goodbyes – I had an awful lot of animals to hug – then we set off for Confederation Bridge.  It’s really long (shocking observation, I know 😉).  We were heading for the Annapolis Valley to visit/stay with a friend of Bo’s.  That is a story for another day… although I’m behind on recounting my trip, I’m weary and heading  for sleep.  We’re back on the train tomorrow (the one with WiFi), so I’ll be updating more then.  It’s been an excellent trip so far, and it feels like we’ve been gone for a month!

Playing catch up…

Must start writing… I’m falling behind!  Brace yourselves – it’s going to be another long post!

I believe I left off at the end of the garden tour. It had become a gorgeous sunny day, and so we went in search of the LYS (that means the Local Yarn Store – no, that was not the name of it, just the level of importance that yarn stores have on trips). The actual name is The Loop. It was a very pleasing yarn store/coffee shop, and Bo found some lovely local hand-dyed yarn. Then the search for somewhere to lunch, which was also sightseeing. We found a basement pub (no, not in someone’s basement, just the basement of a building) called Rock Bottom. We had a waiter named Buck who made us laugh, and Bo had lobster (which also made us laugh… a lot). After a very late lunch, we went to pick up our laundry which we had left at the laundromat, and went back to the Inn.

Bo and lobster

Bo and lobster

The lobster doesn't understand that the water is not an escape...

The lobster doesn’t understand that the water is not an escape…

“The Inn?” you say “You never finished telling us about the Inn!” Well, we were booked in at the Halliburton Inn – a heritage building that used to be townhouses. We were in the attic, and it was charming. One of the beds was upstairs, so we each had our own space – luxury – especially after train travel. There was a well-equipped kitchen and seating area. The beds were like a drug… neither of us ever wanted to get up. The staff was really pleasant and helpful. I’d stay there again in a heartbeat!

Various sites we saw:

After we dropped off the laundry, off we went for the next part of our day… We wandered down to the waterfront and saw the Harbour Hopper – an amphibious vehicle. We have wanted to go on one for years – Mazatlan… Victoria… it never happened. Now it has! The Hopper was a military vehicle in it’s former life, and is worth about $1,000,000. We trucked around town, listening to the patter, and got to see a lot of stuff we hadn’t seen… also learned a fair amount. Then came the fun part… into the water!

Going into the water

Going into the water

It was a gorgeous day, perfect for being out on the water. We went past the Navy shipyard:

Boats, er... ships

Boats, er… ships

We also went past a floating one-hole “golf course” – I’m a little baffled by that one:

Someone needs to explain this to me!

Someone needs to explain this to me!

View

View

View

View

Ship

Ship

Then it was back to dry land. We were dropped off next to the Maritime Museum, and as it was free on Tuesday nights, and it was Tuesday night, in we went. It was quite interesting. They have a parrot named Merlin (you can follow him on a live feed), and a variety of items they have salvaged from shipwrecks, including from the Titanic. I quite enjoyed that museum, and took so very many pictures of different style anchors as inspiration for jewellery.

After the museum we started getting chilly, so we went back to the Inn. We lazed about for awhile, then out to the restaurant next door for Thai food. SO tasty!

The next day was a wet and windy one. I had grown annoyed with my hair (not an unusual state for me) and decided a lot of the weight around the back of my hair had to go. I had made an appointment the night before (that was what got us motivated to leave the Inn the second time) for an early (to me – 9:45 am) appointment. That went well, and I determined that I’ll need to go to Halifax whenever I need a trim.

After that, the rain was coming down so hard that I went to a coffee shop and started editing pictures. I went through several beverages waiting for the rain to lighten up. Bo was still at the Inn (also editing pictures – someone really needs to take our cameras away!), so once the rain stopped, I wandered off to another shop to visit the daughter of one of the people I work for – I found her and chatted a bit, both of us amazed that we recognized each other.

Then I heard a call… it was a lobster, and it knew my name. Off I went to one of the shops on the boardwalk for my first lobster roll from Dave’s Lobster booth. Wow. It was so very good that I don’t have words.

Bo was done editing by that point, so we met at The Stubborn Goat – a pub that really needs to have souvenirs…not that I know any stubborn goats or anything…heehee!

After food we decided it was time for culture, and we went to Pier 21. I was very uneducated prior to this trip about many aspects of the history of Halifax, part of which was Pier 21. We went through the museum, and I found myself almost in tears over some of the details about the immigration process and the emotions that people coming into a strange land must have had. It was very educational and definitely eye-opening.

Pier 21

Pier 21

Sculpture near Pier 21

Sculpture near Pier 21

After Pier 21 we walked along the boardwalk and decided to stay in that evening – we were both pretty tired and needed to pack.

Alas, the time came for us to leave Halifax. We taxied to the car rental place and rented a white Volkswagen (of some variety) that we named Gertrude (Gertie for short). Then came the fun times… trying to learn how to start the car (you have to press the brake to start it). Then came more fun – trying to get out of the garage while the car rental guy was chasing us trying to help us get out. I’m sure he went back up to the office rolling his eyes and shaking his head. But we did get on the road!

Bridge leaving Halifax, on our way to Dartmouth

Bridge leaving Halifax, on our way to Dartmouth

Unfortunately I was the one navigating, and we didn’t seem to have a map (it was found later in Bo’s purse). Honestly, having the map didn’t really help that much… I am many things, but one of those things is not an effective map reader/navigator. We did eventually get to Pictou, after driving on what Bo believes is the worst stretch of regional highway in Nova Scotia. The road had cavernous valleys with lovely green grass growing in them. Fortunately it wasn’t a busy (or particularly long) stretch of road, so she drove in the middle a lot.

Sheet Harbour

Sheet Harbour

Pretty beach

image

image

image

Once we got to Pictou and settled in the hotel, we went looking for somewhere to have dinner. You’d think that would be an easy task, but it was not! We did, however, find a place where we could adopt lobster. Unfortunately (?) it was closed. Fortunately we then found a lobster bar and each had a lobster roll. The lobster was great, the bun a little less so.

The next day (it’s Friday now, for those whose minds have wandered in my rather long post) we found ourselves at a little artists collective, where we were able to meet the woman who created a whole lot of hand-dyed yarn from her own sheep. We had a good chat with her, and found lots of little treasures.

At this point it would have been wise to check on the schedule for the ferry to PEI, but no one ever said we were wise. We had just missed the ferry – I think it was shortly after 11, and the next one wasn’t until 2:45. We decided to wait, as the terminal was likely going to get quite full. We tried to hand the woman at the ferry booth some money, but…insert drumroll here…there was no charge!! Maybe there will be to get off the island (once we’re trapped at the mercy of the ferry boat), but it was quite exciting not to pay.

The car, rather like the cheese, stands alone

The car, rather like the cheese, stands alone

I felt extremely Canadian… I was sitting on the purple/pink/grey rocks next to the ocean, looking out over land that was tinged with terracotta coloured soil, reading (for the kajillionth time), Anne of Green Gables. I had forgotten how much I enjoyed the book, and it is definitely getting me into a PEI state of mind.

Pretty rocks

Pretty rocks

The ferry ride (when it finally happened… we were really early) was lovely, and we’re hearing more accents now. PEI is spectacular… the pictures of the red earth surrounded by green growth are not lies. It is absolutely breathtaking.

On the way to the B&B Bo saw a sign for a local mill. We wandered through Belfast and found the Belfast Mini Mills. Apparently they are well known for making the milling equipment, but they also had a shop of yarn and roving…it was lovely. On the way back to the car we were treated to the sight of a pure white peacock with its tail feathers fanned out. Not sure who he was trying to impress, but so glad he was making the effort! There were also pregnant goats to pet, sheep, and some odd little birds – I think they were Guinea Fowl – they were not part of the petting portion of this stop…they were the squealing and running away part!

I was navigating again (when will Bo learn??), but we still managed to find our way to the B&B. It is owned by two sisters of one of Bo’s students. The place is gorgeous, and after dinner at the next door pub, we came back to find fresh lemon loaf with blackberries waiting for us. We are so spoiled!! Tomorrow will be a full day, trying to cram a whole island visit into not enough hours. We’ll do our best, though!