July 21, 2010

  • Hello from the Maasdam!

    I have got to get smarter about using the internet on board the ship, such as composing blog posts, emails, etc. OFF LINE, then cut and paste them in.  So far I've used half the minutes I bought on Saturday.  =8^o

    Yesterday Mom and I were in St. Pierre, France, a small island just south of Newfoundland that is part of France, and mercy Maud, is it ever!  You never saw such a French place, right down to the post office being closed for lunch.  Naturally Mom and I discovered this after we'd written the postcards we'd purchased and tried to mail them, wanting them to have St. Pierre stamps and postmarks.  To get to St. Pierre from the ship required either a tender ride or a hike into town, which the cruise ship info said would take 20 minutes but that was a bunch of baloney. 

    Mom and I left on the tender, returning to the ship to have lunch, then a bit afterward I decided a 20 minute walk would be good for me so off I went down the road to St. Pierre, intent on mailing those postcards.

    Took me over well over half an hour to get there.  At least the post office was open, so I was able to mail the cards, then instead of walking back to the ship, I caught the tender.  It's embarrassing, actually, considering the number of elderly people who'd passed me as I'd walked into town.  Presumably they'd walked in as well but by jingo, there they were walking back again.  The weather was phenomenally gorgeous, and the port agent told the captain it was literally the best weather this year!  We were quite blessed.

    Last night we heard Elliot Finkle, who is a pianist, and we enjoyed him tremendously.  He's going to have a classical show later in the cruise, which should be terrific.  The night before we'd gone to the ship's 'Club Nevada' show and left after a few minutes, as the two male singers weren't especially good, and there were just four dancers who didn't do much.  Sad to remember the wonderful shows HAL's performing troupe used to put on.  I guess the costcutting measures hit the entertainment area hard.  Tonight was a comedian I didn't care much for, but tomorrow night will be 'Livewire', a "whirlwind of music and Celtic spirit."  That sounds good.

    Today was St. John, Newfoundland (did you know Newfies hit the "land" hard?), which was utterly charming.  It's a city of about 160K, built around a bay, with buildings running down to the sea.  There are lovely row houses painted in bright colors, reminiscent of both San Francisco and Bermuda.  Mom took a trip to a science museum, while I went on a bus tour that took us to Signal Hill, St. John the Baptist basilica (the tour guide said the big Anglican church was also named St. John the Baptist, as are a couple of other churches....very popular name in the area), the Governor's grounds, and Cape Spear, the easternmost point in North America.


    Here am I at Signal Hill:



    Then me at Cape Spear:


    To get to the lighthouses on Cape Spear required hiking up long wooden steps, and again, doggoned if a couple of older men didn't stride briskly past me as I huffed and puffed and paused along the way.  Very demoralizing, it was.  However, I eventually got up there and saw one or two whales!  Okay, fine, it's not like they splashed their tails or leapt out of the water, but still I saw the dorsal fin and part of the back.  A whale's a whale.


    Which reminds me of an amusing warning on the shore excursion listings; when an excursion is intended to allow viewing of whales and such, the listing adds "The wildlife is not in the employ of Holland America Line, therefore sightings cannot be guaranteed."  That's a diplomatic way to put it.  ;^)


    The tour guide also told us about how St. John's bay entrance had submarine nets during WWII, as it was feared Hitler would attempt to enter North America in that way, seeing as how it's the closest point to Europe, and in fact a U-boat sank a couple of ore frigates (well, something like that) off the coast, with great loss of life.  Years after the war it was revealed that Canada and England had a secret agreement that in the event of Newfoundland falling into enemy hands, it would be firebombed, with everyone killed, so as to protect the remainder of the continent.  My seatmate on the bus was from Ontario and she was stunned, saying she'd been told that in school but had assumed it was a joke. 

    Oh, and the weather was also remarkably beautiful in Newfoundland today, at least where we were.  Now we're out on the ocean the fog has come and the ship's fog horn keeps sounding.  Did it during the night, too.  Makes it hard to sleep.
    Next day!  It's Wednesday at sea, and so far I've attended a short worship service (I love how we sing every single verse of the hymns), a talk about Alesund and Bergen in Norway, gone to the Cruise Critics (an internet forum for cruisers) meeting, then left there to go to the Mariners' reception.  The captain was supposed to be present but due to the foggy conditions and ice beginning to be seen, he decided it would be prudent for him to remain at the helm, with which decision we all heartily concurred.

    After awhile I'm going to the swing dance class, then listen to another speaker, this time about the Innuit's justice system.
    It has finally dawned on me I've not posted my itinerary, so I'll do that in another post.

Comments (2)

  • Wow, you are keeping yourself on the GO, woman! Sounds wonderful.

    I recently had heard about that "firebomb" thing - shocking but poignant, too, don't you think? I'm sure the general population might not have been so willing to give their lives for the rest of N America, but that the idea was put forth says a great deal about how important they felt it to be to keep the Nazis off our continent.

    Looking forward to more posts and MORE PHOTOS! (I know, they take up a lot of time to upload, I'm sure. Ok. We'll wait for photos)


  • Thank you so much for your updates.  It sounds like you are having a wonderful time, filled with amazing experiences.  Have a ball at swing dance lessons : )  How fun!!!  I've always wanted to do that, but I have 2 left feet.  Wouldn't stop me from trying though.

    Don't feel bad about the older guys passing you up.  I would have been about 20 steps behind you, and slow going.  One of the perks of Asthma.

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