Our final cruise destination was St Johns, Newfoundland/Labrador (these two provinces have merged into one). I have always wanted to visit the east coast of Canada, and St John's was wonderful!
Before we reached there, we cruised across the Atlantic ocean. We went over the Arctic Circle, and in the wee hours of the morning the captain announced that the aurora borealis were out. (We couldn't hear the announcement, but our friend Mary Lou called us because she knew we would want to rush up on deck). What a glorious sight! My photos did NOT turn out; apparently you need an actual camera instead of a phone, so you can slow down the exposure. (I have two photos of blobby gray circles of light -- what we SAW were shimmering curtains of moving green and white light). I purchased a photo taken by one of the ship's professional photographers, but it is copyrighted and I can't post it here
During our final day crossing, we also saw whales again. AND we saw an iceberg in the distance. What a treat!
We did not get bored while crossing the ocean (4 days/3 nights). We took advantage of the gym, and swam in the indoor adult pool. We watched the entertainment at night, and I tried out a couple of dance exercise classes. I also enjoyed chatting with other passengers.
The coastline here is stunning! and the people were very friendly.
The harbor at St John's is very narrow, and it was thrilling to watch our big cruise ship maneuvering through it. This view (of the harbor and of our ship) is from Signal Hill
And images from the ship as we entered the harbor. Apparently I got up at dawn, which is rare for me!
After breakfast, we disembarked. Young local musicians played folk tunes as we left the ship, and local volunteers gave us maps and advice.
St Johns is the most eastern, and one of the oldest European cities on the continent. It showed up on maps in the 1580s. It is a beautiful city, with dramatic scenery all around. The hop on/hop off bus wasn't running until later in the day, so we decided to walk and tour the city on foot. It was beautiful! But the walking was challenging for my companions, who are 10-20 years older than me (Linda is 77; Mary Lou and Lee are in their mid 80s) -- the city is set on steep hills.
The brightly colored Victorian homes are called Jelly Bean row house.
Some residences have painted their mailboxes to match!
We continued up the hill to the impressive stone Anglican Cathedral of St John's. A friendly local parishioner was there to give tourists information about their church.
The volunteer also told us that The Rooms (which was our planned destination), a building housing historical and art exhibits, would not open until noon. Mary Lou and Lee decided to walk down to take a taxi or the bus. Linda and I proceeded on to the Catholic basilica. This was another beautiful church. A funeral service was in progress, so we only saw the outside of the basilica.
Linda and I walked back down the hill to downtown. Most shops were closed. Linda wanted to buy an amazing photograph, of an iceberg floating in the harbor at St John's. But the shop was closed, so we will just have to remember that view from winter!
We liked the war memorial, commemorating soldiers who lost their lives in the wars.
We also like the waterfront little garden with sculptures of the iconic dogs: Newfoundland and Labrador!
In the afternoon, we joined a private van tour. (There were over 100 people in line for the hop on/hop off bus! And the bus only held about 30 passengers. With only one bus running, I am glad we opted for the private tour!)
We went to Signal Hill. Signal hill would signal the town to let them know about approaching ships. It is also where Marconi received the first trans Atlantic telegraph message in 1901.
View from Signal Hill
Locals walk up to Signal Hill as a fitness training. This local gentleman brought his Newfoundland dog, who did a great imitation of being a giant furry cushion.
We visited a small fishing village called Quidi Vidi (pronounced kiddy viddy). What a scenic place! A few locals were up in the high cliffs, picking blueberries. I would be terrified, the cliffs are so steep! The entrance to Quidi Vidi harbor is VERY narrow.
The final destination of our van tour was Cape Spear, the most easterly portion of land on the continent. It is also the site of the first manned lighthouse. It was windy, so we bundled up in our jackets to enjoy the very dramatic scenery.
Walking Man rocks ...
Lighthouse at Cape Spear
We sailed away to the US in the evening. After another sea day, we arrived in Cape Liberty, NJ. Our port was directly across from Manhattan, and we could see the Statue of Liberty and the New York skyline across the water.
This stunning memorial at Cape Liberty was donated to the US by Russia as a 9/11 memorial.
We had a LONG journey home. I was already sick with pneumonia. So this past week has been time spent recovering, and I am grateful to be feeling better. I am also THRILLED to have gone on this cruise. It was the trip of a lifetime!!!
Also as a postscript: I decided when I retired to try and be more creative. I am glad I kept a journal and did sketches while on the cruise. And yesterday I did my first landscape in pastels, inspired by the Iceland fjord. I know it's not professional or perfect, but I'm pretty happy with the colors, and I had fun doing it! I might even frame it.